Welcome to 2010, welcome to February and last but not least, welcome to the next installment of NESWORLD's Game Spotlight articles. This time I have been browsing my collection once again for a game
I used to play back in the day, a game that isn't talked about that often anymore, most probably have forgotten about it already, so without further ado I bring you Dragon Spirit from Bandai.
Dragon Spirit came in my posession probably around 1996 or so as part of something called a "happy pack" which was 4 American NES games bundled with a game converter, so the games could be used with a
European NES deck. The very first thing about Dragon Spirit I noticed, obviously, was the box art, very cool box art that it.
The story of the game goes something like this... Peace has roamed the kingdom of Olympis for years, thanks to King Amru's heroic battle against the demon Zawel. After Amru had married his lovely
wife Aricia they were blessed with the birth of twins, Princess Iris and Prince Lace. But little did they know that the evil Galda was building an army of evil and he had even resurrected Zawel from
the dead. One day Galda managed to kidnap Princess Iris and her attending maids for a sacrificial offering at the Ceremony of the Dark. To rescue his daughter King Amru reveals the secret of the
magical sword to his son Lace, so he can save his sister and the kingdom.
Dragon Spirit was released for the NES almost 20 years ago, back in June 1990. But the original game had actually surfaced in the Arcades three some years ealier. The NES version is an altered version
of the original, and an improvement if you ask me. This was why it was named "The New Legend". A sequel to Dragon Spirit, called Dragon Saber, was released the same year as the NES version of Dragon Spirit, but
the sequel never made it to the NES. Originally released in Japan by Namco, as Dragon Spirit - Aratanaru Densetsu, Bandai picked up the game for an American release. Europeans however never got the chance to
play the game for unknown reasons.
What we have here is a horisontal-scrolling shooter where you, playing a dragon, must complete a total of 9 stages. The game starts off with a prologue where you must defeat the evil Galda, and
depending on wether you defeat Galda or not you'll be playing as either a "Gold Dragon" (if you fail) or as "Blue Dragon" (if you succeed).
The story of the two types of play is obviously slightly different, but either way you'll end up playing as Prince Lace.The golden dragon game is easier than the blue one as it each hit by enemies takes less
energy. So basicly, if you want to play an easier game, loose out in the prologue.
Well the game lets you blast of as a dragon and that basicly what you'll remain as for the rest of the game, however various power ups though out the game will allow you to turn into various flavours of dragons,
with or without sidekicks.
To complete the game you must complete a total of 9 stages, some shorter than others, some more tedious than others, but generally the levels are well layed out and some sure do give you a hard time, like stage
(area) 5 called Cave Road where spikes on each side of the screen goes towards the center and back, resulting in almost no space left to fly your dragon. Now the tough part is evergy, it only takes 3 hits when
playing as the blue dragon to drain the life meter, gold dragon (easy level) players have a bit more room to fool around as they can take 6 hits.
Now the hard part about the life meter is that it can't be refilled on the stage played, so you have to complete the stage and stage boss, presented to you... yes... correct... after each level on just one
life meter. Should you die either at the level boss or roughly half way into the stage, you'll be allowed to start around mid-stage. It is also possible to continue the game, but only two continues are available
for each game.
After completing each stage you're greeted by one of Princess Iris' maids which reminds me a little of Super Mario Bros., now if only they said that the princess was in another castle it'd be a total ripoff. If
you have no clue of what I'm talking about then I'm sorry, I got a bit carried away there :-)
The controls are spot on, if you die it's really your own fault, no game to blame here, some stages sure takes a bit of pratice to master and sometimes it's best no to be too aggressive when attacking enemies,
but it's also not recommended just staying at the bottom of the screen.
Personally I think the graphics are great for a game of this kind, very detailed where needed and the stage bosses are awesome. That combines with some great and catchy tunes is what makes a great game, and
you may curse the game to hell sometimes because of the "3 hits and you die, oh and no life-ups" rule, I still believe that Dragon Spirit is well worth a few hours of play for any gamer out there.
Dragon Spirit can be purchased from ebay for just a few dollars now, cart only, or roughly 12 dollars if you want a complete copy with box and manual, which I'd recommend, the box art is fantastic.
BONUS (CHEATER) OPTIONS!
As a small bonus you can hold A + B + UP on controller 2 and press reset, you be taken to a sound test screen where you'll be able to listen to all the great music within this game. The tunes are selected
by using controller 1.
Do you feel like cheating a little, then you can, while on the sound test screen, press B, UP, UP, B, DOWN, DOWN, B on controller 2 for a level select. Use LEFT or RIGHT on the D-Pad on controller 2 to select
the level you want to play, Then press START on controller 1 to play the level.
If you'd like to start the game with 20 dragons instead of just 3, then intentionally loose the prologue and then hold A + B and press START at the titlescreen.