Sinclair User

Dragon Breed
By Activision
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Sinclair User #107

Dragon Breed

Imagine R-Type with flying reptiles and you have the main thrust of Dragon Breed - it's a fair comparison, 'cos this is also an Irem coin-op conversion, hurrah! Nonsensical sword-and-sorcery plots merge with non-stop trigger-finger action in this aerial blast-'em-up, which compares interestingly with the ancient Durrell title Thanatos, another dragon flight simulator.

In Dragon Breed, young King Kayus of the Agamen Empire faces the sorcerer Zambaquous, who has released the forces of darkness, which are eating away the world, as forces of darkness tend to do if you don't immediately wipe them away with Domestos. Kayus flies into battle on the war dragon Bahamoot, who looks a bit Chinese to me; it's not because he has slanted eyes, but because he's long and snake-like and mulyi-jointed, not the standard EEC dinosaur-like dragon with wings. Because Bahamoot flexes as he flies, you can manoeuvre him so that his tail protects you, warding off enemy missiles from your position mounted on his neck. You are armed with a crossbow which shoots an endless supply of magic bolts to kill the nasties. If you hold down the fire button, Bahamoot's dragon breath builds up, and when you release it, a roar of flame scorches the baddies. Does this all remind you of something? I thought so. As with R-Type, you can also pick up extra weapons by collecting tokens dropped by enemies. The dragon changes colour to indicate the weapon currently in use; red for flames, sliver for Homing Dragons (teeny silver dragon-shaped missiles), blue for lightning bolts, gold for protective scales. There are power levels for each type, and if you have the gold scales you can call the dragon protectively around Kayus. It's also possible to dismount to collect tokens platforms. When you jump off, the dragon continues to circle over you and can be controlled in up/down directions, and brought down to earth for you to leap back onboard. There's a time limit for each level, so you shouldn't waste time walking around - fly, boy, fly! The nasties are excellent - loathsome insectoids, demons, giant spikey fleas bearing weapons pods; let's face it, apart from the lack of any background features this could be R-Type 2. There are six multi-load levels to complete. The screen scrolls slightly up and down as well as left and right, so there's a large playing area and plenty of room to manoeuvre even around the biggest and nastiest baddies. Programmers Bob Pope and Nick Cook have made a damn fine job of this conversion; quite rightly, speed and joystick response have been giver higher priority than complex backgrounds or flashy graphical effects. Music and FX are good too. Though looked at critically Dragon Breed is nothing more than a variation on the scrolling weapon-collecting shoot-'em-up.

It's a fine work and if you don't get you'll turn into a nasty warty toad.

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