Monday, September 23, 2013

Nerdicus NES Review #8 - Advanced D&D : DragonStrike


Title : Advanced D&D : DragonStrike

Release Date : 1990

Publisher : Strategic Simulations Inc

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $10-25

Beware - incoming biased review here. I'm a huge D&D buff. When I think of D&D, I am transported back to my child hood where I went on nail-biting adventures into the wee hours of the night.  I still have some of my original character sheets that I designed when I first played D&D. Unfortunately, times have changed, and I just haven't had the chance to get back into the swing of D&D.

But this is about NES games, not about D&D. And frankly, this game has nothing to do with D&D. Bits and pieces of the "story" are tied into D&D adventures, but the game play is nothing like its parent pen and paper RPG. In fact, it's just a top down aerial shooter. You're just playing as a dragon, and the enemies are creatures from the D&D world. Still, this game has nothing on Dragon Spirit (still one of my favorite shooters for NES).

This game is also tied to a little bit of personal history with me. It was one of the few games that my very good friend and I played together thanks to the 2P element back in middle school. For two kids that loved dragons as much as we did, this game was all we needed. Ahhh, the good old days of gaming with your friends.

Hurl those balls of death!

You start off with your selection of 3 different dragons. A bronze, a silver, and a gold. The bronze is your beginner dragon, and the easiest to control. Silver is the speed demon with weaker attacks, while gold is the hardcore dragon about extreme power. Stick with bronze. Trust me. This game gets hard and frustrating.

Each map has a different objective. Either you're hunting other dragons down, destroying strongholds, or defeating a boss. I'll warn you here and now. From the first level on, this game is EXTREMELY difficult. Even on the easiest setting. You are constantly overwhelmed by enemies, and the controls take quite a bit of getting used to. On the plus side, you'll get two attacks to help you along your way. One is basically a "stunning" attack, while the other is your main, uh, fire breathing attack? It's not really fire though.. I have no idea, you would think a dragon breathes fire, but either they chuck balls or blow lightning bolts. Who knows. Stick with the lightning bolts - the multi-colored bolas never really helped me through the game.

I'm feeling a little bad about that giant - looks lonely.

As you can see in the screenies, you've got a pretty varied terrain depending on the level. One of the most difficult things this game does, is that you do not only fly within a single altitude. You're required to move up and down, depending on the dangers on the screen. It just adds to the difficulty, and while it was a nice little quirk, it became very irritating. I couldn't tell half the time whether or not I had to fly higher or lower, and I would slam into trees or hillsides. I never said I was an intelligent dragon....

Another little annoyance? When your health drops, so does the power of your attacks. Which actually, really sucks, especially since it's almost impossible to avoid getting hit. Considering you got people on the ground firing at you, and a slew of enemies attacking you from the air. Like I said, play on easy. Otherwise, you'll be tossing your cart out the window.


It took me quite a bit of time to beat this game, and the trick is learning the levels. Anticipate what's coming, and strategize against each enemy. Don't just fly mindlessly blasting away. Plan your strikes. And with a stroke of luck, you'll make to the last level. Which is almost impossible. Then if you're even LUCKIER you'll get to the last boss. And good luck with that. 

Trust me - this boss is a pain in the arse

PS - there's a trick. Stay in the corners. He can't hit you as much (cheap, I know).

All in all, this game is still a lot of fun, regardless of if you are a fan of D&D or not. It's a little bit on the pricey side if you're looking to buy it, but still a worthy addition to your collection

Until next time, keep on gaming.



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