Let's face it, you wouldn't want a dragon for a pet. Just think of the hassle. All that fireball dodging, scale cleaning, mouthwash buying... And the food bills. How long's it since you could get a couple of tins of fresh princesses' flesh for under a quid?
It's lucky then that the dragon in question isn't actually a pet. In fact, he's more of a robot (converted from a Jaleco coin-op to be exact) and he's out for revenge. Why? Because an evil race of moustache-twiddling monster machines is invading the universe and everybody who's anybody is very, very (very) scared. So scared, in fact, that they've all disappeared down to the Jolly Sailor and left Saint to wreak revenge on his own.
For a dragon, he's rather spunkily equipped. Secret weapon number one - fiery breath. It's hot, it's poisonous and a couple of whiffs spell death. Secret weapon number two - a snazzy flexible tail. Not only is this handy for lashing the odd alien, it also makes a natty little shield. All he has to do is writhe about a bit and you've got A1 improvised bullet-proof protection for your most sensitive part. (Your head, that is.)
And we're off. Within seconds, you're under attack from all sides. Here come some mutant green droids. Got 'em. Next, a white floating jellyfish belching bullets. Dodged. Look out! There are some camouflaged vegetably aliens firing lasers from the trees. (Indescribably horrible noise of vegetable aliens being squashed.)
Hold on a second - what's this? Looks like a strange pod-looking object. I'll just get a little closer. Yep. One strange pod-looking object coming up. I'll zap it with a bit of dragon-breath and... amazing! It's turned into an extra-weapons pill. Hmm. Extra plasma bolts. Could have been invulnerability, a power-up or an extra life.
Two or three screens into the action it's all looking blinkin straightforward. Then it all goes rather horribly wrong. Suddenly, ten or so ugly mug mutants leap on-screen and before you can say "Oh, Clifford" there's a riot of death-defying creatures, falling rocks and deadly bullets all over the place. Dragon-eating tigers spring out of the undergrowth, rocks crumble into monsters and gun emplacements throw out mines. Eek!
Phew. Just made it by the skin of my teeth. Now what? Uh-oh, looks like a huge end-of-level, mutant, metal bull. Right. let's get him. That's shown him! His head's fallen off. Hurrah! No, hold on, there's more. He's turned crazy, there are great big bolts of electricity corning out of his neck. Help! I want to get out of here. I want to go home. Aaaaargh!
And so it goes on - five blast-'em-up levels, to be precise. The best thing about it is that you don't lose all your weapons when you get shot - no annoying 'facing the end-of-level monster with nothing but a pea-shooter to your name' jobbies here. The worst thing is that it's all just a tad uneven - one minute you're swanning around admiring the spiffy scenery (and it's really very pretty, especially the animation of old Saint's tail), the next you're accosted by ten mad robots gnashing their teeth and greedy for your blood (not that you've got much, being a robot as well, that is).
So there you have it. It could have been faster, there could have been a few more levels (five isn't exactly loads) and the difficulty could have been evened out - but who cares when it's fun? I enjoyed it, and if you like your games pretty, tough and a blast-a-minute then you'll enjoy it too.
Snazzy shoot-'em-up with some very hard bits and some fairly ordinary ones - but not much in-between.