Historically, dragons have had a tough time of it. St. George skewered a big lizard and became a national hero, while fantasy writers have painted them as fire breathing demons with human blood dripping down their fangs and a malicious smile on their scaly lips. Truth is that they've just got a bad press. To see how they really behave, look at the one in Dragon Spirit. He risks his neck(s) just to help save some poor Princess who's had the bad luck to be kidnapped by an evil devil.
Now although this Dragon may have the best intentions, his methods are highly suspect. All he can do is fly all over the kingdom boffing all the bad guys he meets with a quick bit of the old napalm breath - unsubtle, maybe, but effective! All you do is follow the trail of the malevolent monsters right back to the lair of Zawell, the devil serpent.
Zawell's forces, mythical beasts created with black magic, are almost as powerful (if not as dexterous) as the dragon. Lizards patrol the rivers, phoenixes hide in volcanos for sneak attacks and dragonflies - what else?! - swarm in waves to overwhelm their enemy. To dissuade them, our friend the Dragon has his breath weapon for the airborne rangers, and bombs for those trying navy moves or land movement.
The breath can be made more effective by bombing dragon eggs which release a ball of magic power. If caught, these have highly beneficial effects: more heads and more range on the firepower, and even baby dragon drones to help you on your way. If you're really lucky, a final capsule of enchantment will transform your three-way shots into one huge fireball which cleans the corridor of all flying foes, allowing you to concentrate on avoiding ground fire.
Eight levels of apocalyptic destruction are the product of these magical powers, with the volume of assailants threatening to breach your defences at all times. Chaos reigns in the land of Dragon Spirit when melee is joined, enemies coming at you from all angles as well as firing from below. Some try kamikaze runs into your wings, bats hang at the top of the screen and then scream down intent on impact, while, on later levels, big blue creatures attack from behind in bombing runs.
The fantasy theme strengthens Dragon Spirit's chances of being an exception to the general "hi-tech" blast outs: eight levels of glorious destruction and not a starship in sight! Magic explains away the extra weapons and gives the programmers a free hand for those beasties not included in the coin 'op conversion brief. Another shoot-out it may be, but it is far from predictable.
For a hard day's wiggling, you would be hard pressed to find anything that'll make your trigger finger ache as much as Dragon Spirit. Intense is the word that comes to mind. Its depth will have most wilting under the pressure and pace. The ranks of high quality shoot-'em-ups have been swelling in recent months and it's the originality and the accuracy of the conversion that sets this one apart. You'll discover fire can fight fire... but then, you've got a Dragon Spirit on your side!
Fast, frantic and furious, Dragon Spirit will have you blowing on your joystick hand to cool it down. Tengen and Domark do it again!
True to the spirit of the game.
P. Strong sprites, fast action.
N. Small playing area.
P. Theme tune is well out of character!
Grab Factor 82%
P. Great shoot-'em-up appeal.
Staying Power 82%
P. Eight long enemy-packed levels.
Another stonking coin-op conversion from Domark!