Note: This game is reviewed on actual Turbografx 16 hardware with absolutely no emulation.
We are going to look at Dragon Spirit. Will this game be it? Will it be a forgotten classic that will cause the world to rise up and cheer? And will it win the infamous Malstrom Award?
As you can guess, Dragon Spirit is a shmup. You can tell the good shmups from the bad ones on the Turbografx 16 because the bad ones always have a gimmick. This time, you are a dragon! And you are in a Jurassic universe full of dinosaurs who pop their heads above water to shoot fireballs at you. When you gain power-ups like a double attack, you gain another head! When you take damage, you lose weapon ability. You have three hits to die. There is no way to replenish your life meter.
One button fires shots. The other fires bombs at the ground enemies that your fire shots cannot reach.
Above: Dragon Spirit has a good soundtrack.
Dragon Spirit’s ‘gimmick’ of being a dragon in a Jurassic atmosphere is refreshing. The game world, with its fine soundtrack, makes you want to keep playing the game. However, the game’s atrocious controls keep you away. Your dragon is freaking huge and will get hit very easily.
What I think kills the game is getting hit or dying. It is not easy to come back in this game. It is the classic shmup problem. When you die or lose your weapons, you are in a tough area with your pea-shooter. Dragon Spirit suffers this problem. This game is fun… until you get hit. When you die, you start back from a checkpoint.
Above: This reviewer hated the slow fatass hitbox of the dragon too!
I am struggling to find more to say about this game. There is an arcade version (found on Namco discs) and a NES version. The NES version is terrible. This is the version to own as the game view will fill up your entire screen. Dragon Spirit is a really cool concept, but it isn’t polished in the controls. Playing as a dragon, the cool music, and the really neat Jurassic atmosphere makes this game worthy to be checked out. But it does not get a Malstrom Award.
Above: “Um… yeah… I like it.” haha
This game is interesting enough to check out for its personality, but the gameplay is too annoying to be enjoyable.
Disclaimer: The ‘quality’ is gauged only by how often I return to the game. TG16 games are not isolated; they are compared to every other game out there. A game can be ‘bad’ and keep me coming back. A game can be ‘good’ that I never want to touch again. Irrational addictive-ness, which defies quantification, is the only element examined here.
-TG 16 Games Reviewed So Far-
Malstrom Awards: (Addictive and Awesome even today, they refuse to age. Score of 10)
Devil’s Crush ([$68] Imaginative sound and gothic theme. You’ll keep coming back to this one.)
Galaga ’90 [$34] (Purest shmup I have ever seen. This will still be played 50 years from now.)
Gradius [$30] (Four options can cause slowdown, but this arcade port remains difficult and legendary.)
Final Soldier [$30] (Good music and polish, easier difficulty, multiple powerup options. laser bubbles! Consistently fun.)
R-type [$40] (Never gets old because it can never be beaten. Fun to try here and there.)
Salamander [$40] (Challenging and addictive. If you like NES Life Force, you will love this.)
Honorable Mentions: (Good games that are flawed or gameplay has suffered aging. Score of 6-9)
(8) World Court Tennis [$16] (Most interesting RPG on the TG 16. Seriously.)
(7) Alien Crush [$22] (Interesting, addictive, but flawed. Good to play as a break to Devil’s Crush)
(6) Bonk’s Adventure [$33] (Meh platformer oozes incredible charm)
(6) Boxy Boy [$27] (Solid puzzle game, but it gets stale fast. Contains level editor.)
(6) Dragon Spirit [$30] (Jurassic atmosphere is charming. Sluggish controls, hard-to-come-back after dying)
Don’t bother: (Not fun to play today. Score of 5 and below.)
(5) Military Madness [$44] (Overrated, dated gameplay, repetitious, dull colorless setting of the moon)
(5) Neutopia [$76] (boring, bad game design, can’t hold a candle to Zelda, fire wand is only thing going for this game)
(5) Raiden [$72] (Overrated, more frustrating than challenging, no 2 player mode that was in arcade)
(4) Bomberman [$40] (dull and boring, totally surpassed by its sequels on this system)
(4) Ninja Gaiden [$80] (Compared to NES: worse sound and controls, terrible parallax scrolling. Nothing to see here.)
(3) Moto Roader [$17] (5 player party game, great upgrade system, terrible core gameplay. USE HANDLE B!)
(3) Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition [$20] (2 button controller is terrible for 6 button game. Good luck getting a 6 button controller.)
(1) Keith Courage in Alpha Zones [$10] (The 16 bit version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)