Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: DragonStrike (NES)
DragonStrike on computers was a pretty novel idea - a D&D-licensed flight and aerial combat sim. The NES did have a few such games like Top Gun and Airwolf, but they were all pretty primitive, held back by the limitations of the hardware. So rather than trying to adapt the PC version of Dragonstrike, Westwood chose to make an entirely new game - in this case, a top-down free-roaming shooter. Given a choice of three dragons to control with slightly differing stats, you fly around large maps, shooting down enemies with projectiles. One can fly low to attack enemies on the ground by pressing the B button, then switch back to aerial combat to engage other flying enemies like beholders, dragons and wizards on flying carpets. Every couple of stages you're pitted against a boss, ranging from a giant squid to a fortified castle to a heavily armed ship, and the final battle pits you against big-time D&D baddie Tiamat, the five-headed dragon queen. The game does look quite nice on the NES, with detailed environments and little sprite flicker, and the music is provided by Westwood alumnus Frank Klepacki, who would become famous for composing the soundtrack to Command & Conquer only a few years later. A decent if not amazing experience, though it is commendable that they decided to make an entirely new game rather than trying to adapt the computer version onto hardware it wasn't suited for; more than I can claim for some other NES games, for sure.