Dragon Breed logo

Activision £24.99 * Joystick

SSpace ships? Thing of the past! A new breed of shoot-em-up has riden and at the arcade forefront is Dragon Breed. Coming from IREM corporation - those nice people wo brought us R-Types I and II - it has a massively violent pedigree featuring more power-ups than you can eat and huge, flying-lizard graphics.

The game stars an everyday prince and his pet dragon. The creature is impressive, well animated and smooth moving. They are the last of the Dragon Breed, fighting for survival in a horizontally-scrolling battle over six levels. The dragon is invulnerable to all attacks and only the rider can be killed. Careful positioning of the dragon means that the tail can be used to either destroy enemies or protect the rider. As an extra complication the price can leap-off his mount and climb the scenery collecting power-ups for his scaly friend.

How Green is my Dragon?
The dragon at the start is your average, ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, green dragon that spits fire while the rider shoots single shots. All along the way, though, are magic potions, which change the dragon's colour and give him greater powers. Collecting the right power-ups to defeat the right aliens becomes a task crucial to the success of any Dragon Breeding adventure.

Each level features a different graphic theme and sports its own peculiar hazards. The aliens come at you in reasonably vicious waves and threaten to overwhelm you on every level, even though they are easily killed. It's positioning and timing that will see you through rather than firepower. Like R-Type, this is a shoot-em-up that can be progressively learnt and beaten.

The above factors all bode well for this dragon bash. There are, however, enough demerits to keep Dragon Breed relegated to the shoot-out second division. The levels are too short, a factor that is only offset on three of the six levels by reasonably tough guardians. The other three - especially the final boss - are wimps. The game design too, appears flawed in certain areas with blatantly obvious safe spots. As for design faults, the blame for them lies with IREM.

Deadly, but Safe
The safe spots problem is highlighted by the occasional detection hiccup. Particularly on the second level, creatures have been specifically placed to make an apparent safe-spot deadly, but then it turns out they don't do you any damage.

Dragon Breed is a good conversion, duplicating the feel of the arcade original. Certain levels are prettier and harder than others. The guardians vary, resulting in the game switching from heart-stopping action to mind-numbing boredom.


A BREED APART:
As the mighty lizard goes through the game he changes colour tanks to power-up pick-me-ups. Each of the five coloured dragons have a different speciality which must be employed at some point in the game.
Dragon Breed: Gold Dragon
GOLD - By flicking up and then quickly down the tail forms a circle around the rider protecting him completely. It can be used to bash through heavily packed areas. For good measure, as the tail flicks, the dragon throws out a hail of death stars.
Dragon Breed: Silver Dragon
SILVER This liz' fires guide magic bolts that seek and destroy the nearest enemies.
Dragon Breed: Green Dragon
GREEN - Only spits single shots. As with all the other dragons if the fire button is held down then these are saved up into one big mega-blast.
Dragon Breed: Blue Dragon
BLUE: This dragon has two powers. From its underside fall a hail of deadly blue bolts. The dragon can also form a circle beneath the rider. The tail can then be used to kill enemies by collision.
Dragon Breed: Red Dragon
RED: Holding the fire button sends a tongue of fire licking ahead of the dragon. As more reds are collected the length of the flame grows.

Dragon Breed logo Amiga Joker Hit

Wenn die Jungs, die "R-Type" gemacht haben, ein neues Ballerspiel abliefern, dann kann es sich doch eigentlich nur um einen echten Knaller handeln, oder? Genauso ist es!

Traurig, aber wahr; Bis "R-Type II" über die Amiga-Screens flimmert, werden wohl noch ein paar Monate ins Land ziehen. Ebenso what, aber alles andere als traurig: Mit Dragon Breed ist in der Zwischenzeit für actionreiche Unterhaltung bestens gesorgt! Ein hervorragend gemachtes Game, das ebenso hervorragend auf den Amiga umgesetzt wurde (von ARC Developments, die ja schon eine perfekte Konvertierung von "Forgotten Worlds" abgeliefert haben). Genug der Lobgesänge, betrachten wir uns das Wunderkind mal etwas näher; Kayus hat es mit seinen 15 Jahren schon weit gebracht. Nicht genug damit, dass er König des Agamen-Reiches ist, er hat auch bereits seinen eigenen Drachen. Den besteigt er jezt, um irgendwelche Gegner zu vertreiben, die aus irgendeinem Grund sein Reich verflucht haben...

Spielen tut sich der königliche Drachenritt denn auch ganz ähnlich wie "R-Type": Sechs umfangreiche Level lang wird von links nach rechts geballert, es gibt auch hier (wenn man länger am Feuerknöpfchen bleibt) einen Superschuss, viele, viele Extrawaffen und riesige Sprites als Gegner. Vor allem der vielseitig verwendbare Drache sorgt für Abwechslung: Er kann Feinde mit seinem Schwanz erschlagen, Extrawaffen tragen und seinem Herrn als zeitweiliges Schutzschild dienen. Und das ist noch längts nicht alles - das kluge Tierchen spuckt ausserdem Feuer und terrorisiert die Mächte des Bösen mit "Sideshots" und "Homing Missiles" (kleine Minidrachen).

Der blaublütige Reiter hat ebenfalls einiges auf dem Kasten, er kann nicht nur schiessen, sondern (and bestimmten Stellen) auch absteigen, um z.B. die Extras am Boden aufzusammeln. Bei aller Ähnlichkeit mit Irems Klassiker gibt es aber auch einige Unterschiede. So sind die Level länger und breiter, man muss auf und ab fliegen, um die Gegner an der oberen bzw. unteren Begrenzungslinie auf den Screen zu bekommen. Überhaupt die Gegner! Besonders die Endmonster sind dermassen gross geraten, dass sie kaum Platz auf dem Bildschirm haben. Und fies sind die Kerle...

Die Grafik is im chicen Drachendesign gestylt, hat zweifaches Parallax-scrolling aufzuweisen und ruckelt allenfalls dann ein wenig, wenn Unmengen von Sprites gleichzeitig daherkommen. Beim Sound besteht die Wahl zwischen guten Effekten und sehr guter , atmosphärischer Musik. Steuerung, Handhabung, das ganze Spieldesign - alles ist hervorragend gelöst, sehr fair, einfach vorbildlich! Dragon Breed stellt sogar "St. Dragon" in den Schatten und hat wirklich alle Voraussetzungen, eines Tages den gleichen Kultstatus zu erlangen, wie ihn "R-Type" ja bereits hat. (mm)

Der Amiga Joker meint:
Dragon Breed bringt es garantiert zum Klassiker!

Dragon Breed logo

Activision, Amiga £24.99

Kayus, King of Agamen, is just fifteen years old and his empire is under threat from conspirators who have freed Zambaquous, King of Darkness. To restore peace Kayus has called on Sahamoot, a huge snake-like dragon. Astride this beast he must battle through six levels, each with a horrendous monster loaded in at the end.

Kayus is armed with a fiery crossbow, and Bahamoot with fireballs which increase in strength the longer fire is held down before releasing them. Bahamoot can obtain additional weapons by collecting pods carried by special creatures. Red pods give flame breath, silver give homing dragons, blue give lightning bolts and gold give scales. The latter two allow the dragon to briefly curl into a semi-invulnerable circle. All the weapons can be upgraded three times, while the tail itself can be used to destroy enemies by slashing through them. To collect pods on the ground Kayus can dismount the dragon.


Phil King There's nothing more disastrous for a shoot-'em-up than dodgy collision detection, and Dragon Breed has probably the worst I've ever seen! The aliens seem to have a large invisible 'kill zone' around them while your supposedly protective tail often lets them pass through. Hence, dying is usually accompanied by cries of 'what got me?'. This flaw makes the game very frustrating - the C64 version (reviewed last month, earning 79%) is much more playable.
Stuart Wynne The graphics are a tad garish, but also big and fast which, combined with good music, establish a good coin-op atmosphere. Basic gameplay is R-Type with a tail, unoriginal but initially quite addictive. Unfortunately collision detection is off by a couple of millimetres, ruining instinctive play. It's particularly maddening since those fast, big graphics so often put you in tight positions where millimetres are critical. Of course the coin-op was very tough, so fans might accept the bugs but I'd rather play something else.