There isn’t a polygon in sight, but that doesn’t stop Dragon Blaze from being one of the most charming 2D shooters in quite some time, with lots of colourful enemies, nicely rendered bosses and detailed backgrounds.
The fantasy theme is welcome too, replacing the formulaic spaceships, robots, tanks and flying ninjas with crossbow-wielding bats, mutineer turtles, poisonous mushrooms and mutated jellyfish. It’s not quite up there with Konami’s Parodius in the craziness stakes, but its pretty close.
There’s a choice of four riders and dragons to control, and they each have their own attacks and smart bombs. You can also separate from your reptile to let them clear a path, although the riders’ attacks are puny when on their lonesome. The first four levels are a breeze, as when using a continue you start from where you died, whereas the last three levels force you to go back to the start of the level and are more challenging as a result. The environments vary from a sea bed to a castle filled with turtle warriors, while the final level is a fight with Satan inside the belly of a giant mammal.
Despite a fondness for Dragon Blaze, it’s tough to recommend it to anyone other than collectors of all things retro. On our first go we stuck it on the easiest difficulty setting and finished it in under half an hour. We then turned the difficulty up a couple of notches, played through it again as a different character, and haven’t touched it since. It all boils down to what you expect to get out of a game retailing at a tenner.
Well, it certainly doesn’t drag on.