Title : Castle of Dragon
Publisher : SETA
Developer : Athena
Genre : Action Arcade
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $8-$12
When you think about obscure arcade games that were apparently quite popular in certain circles, the name CASTLE OF DRAGON usually comes to mind. Frankly, I had never even heard of this and I'm actually quite ashamed with myself. It's got two of my favorite things lumped together in one game..Castles..and Dragons.
My nerd senses are tingling...although the title CASTLE OF DRAGON sounds a bit like broken English...
Hell, any fantasy nerd buff would have to agree that fantasy action arcade games were probably some of the greatest in the late 80's through the mid-90s. I can't tell you how many times I played through the Golden Axe games for the sole purpose of just slashing my way through orcs, dragons, trolls, and riding on griffons. But here we have Castle of Dragon. Certainly not as pretty as some of the other arcade masterpieces out there, and now that it has been ported to the NES, let's just say that the "pretty" factor has been thrown completely out the window.
I know, ports have to take a downgrade, but still, you always have a tiny twinge of disappointment when you're so used to playing a graphically superior arcade game. You end playing it on a console and your first reaction is "What the hell is this crap?"
First of all, if I even saw this game on the shelves at a video game store, I probably wouldn't even buy it. That box art is hideous. A knight dressed entirely in gold screams uptight royal ass, and the princess is one disgusting looking man-beast. Even the dragon looks a little dimwitted....he probably doesn't even know what he's doing. In fact, this game should be about you dragging that princess (who is obviously a man in disguise) and offering her up to the dragon as sacrifice who doesn't even know how to eat her..Wait a second...that's a brilliant game idea.
Well, let's get through this first.
I admit it, when that title screen appeared I got a little giddy inside. That knight looks a lot more badass than he did on the cover, and the music is pretty damn catchy. This may just be one of those cases of "bad box art, awesome game port". Let's continue, shall we.
The story of this game is pretty typical. Evil ruler controlling dragons, sends a dragon out to kidnap the lovely (see box art) princess, and it's up to you...THE CHAMPION GARADEN!!!...to save her, and the kingdom. *yawn* HEARD IT BEFORE.....but the game can still be good! Moving on.
And....there we go...two seconds into the game, you'll see some nice glitchy graphics to accompany some semi-decent artwork for the NES. The game does get bonus points, because the designs aren't bad, but the colors are way too washed out. I hated the limited palette on the NES.
Your avatar starts off dressed in all orange...but doesn't look like the bad ass on the title screen. Instead he looks a bit like Conan the Barbarian or something. The first monster you encounter, will just make you laugh. It's just a random zombie, that just walks into you. He doesn't even attack you. Bumping into you causes damage.Yet your shield is up.....so...apparently your shield does nothing against a zombie bumping into you. Oh boy...
A note - your shield is primarily useless in this game. Good luck trying to deflect anything, because you cant and using your shield against enemies is just as annoying because you won't be able to hit them after you block them. I suggest, if you're not blocking projectiles..just keep hacking away with your sword.
Once you collect your first major power up, you'll see that NOW you're wearing some cool looking armor. Okay, the game moved up a notch, but this gameplay is still absolutely horrendous. You've got to energy bars on the left hand side of your screen. The orange being your life meter, and the blue being your shield meter.
You will find some upgraded weapons during your travels, like the yo-yo above. Okay, it's not a yo-yo, it's a ball and chain, but you know that looks a yo-yo. So our hero, is fighting bees, with a yo-yo. That works, why not?
The lack of power ups you'll find int his game, can be an issue as you'll need to recharge after taking hits from the enemies. But there really is no excuse to take any hits from any enemies. It's not like other games where you are swarmed with monsters on the screen. You're basically only fighting on enemy at a time, until you get to the end of the stage where you'll fight a absurdly easy boss. It's a left to right, walk slowly, hack slowly, jump slowly arcade game. Makes me wonder if the actual arcade game was faster than this.
There he is, folks. My favorite boss in this game. The giant chicken cockatrice. He's so cute.
On that final note, this game falls short on a lot of things, and if it wasn't for the semi-impressive visuals it would have scored even lower than the two I'm about to give it. There are much better arcade games on the NES, so there's no need to play this one. Although, if you're a fan of fantasy like I am, you may find some enjoyment in this. Not much, but some.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!