Another week, and another NES game I was only sort of aware of has popped up at my local game store...so, it's time for a new
picture-heavy dismissal of a dopey game
, oh wait, that's it - NES Quickie Article
And what game was it?
...or should that be, "Of Whose Castle is it?"
CASTLE of DRAGON, that's of whose!
Yup, it wasn't until I started working on this article that I realized that this game isn't called the more grammatically engaging, Castle of the Dragon. But I guess it could be worse -- they could have released it in the US with the Japanese title...
So, how's it play?
Ok, so I thought I remembered seeing pictures of this game, featuring fairly large sprites engaging in one-on-one battles, where each of you sported a sword and shield. Basically, I remembered something like this, as is found in the 1st screen of gameplay:
Based on that impression, I assumed we'd be getting some good fencing-and-blocking, stabbing-and-ducking gameplay, in the vein of, say...
Zelda II, Battle of Olympus
or even Trojan
After all, if your game is primarily built around one kind of combat, you'd think that the combat in question would be pretty polished, right?
Well, not so much.
Sure, the Skeleton battle is pretty hack-and-slash,
but it's followed by some high-range "pest" enemies. And as you take a minute to examine the controls,
you'll realize you have some pretty flighty jumps,
and when you press "Down" to kneel, you shield-block at shoulder height.
Sadly, it's not even a proto-fighting game with a basic "high or low", "block or attack" system...
(like, say, Urban Champion)
Once you get to the next few enemies, you'll spend most of your time
...striking then jumping quickly over them, because they're trying to rub up against you,
...or dispatching one-hit enemies (whose shields don't block your attack!), sent at you from alternating sides of the screen.
(come to think of it, that's pretty similar to what you do in Kung Fu)
Well, with this build-up, what's the first boss like?
Would you believe, not so good?
Jump fireballs, strike,
Get rubbed up against, jump over, dodge fireballs, repeat.
Ok, so you get some nifty armor for winning, AND a new visit to the ever-popular "between level map screen"
...but what do you bust out your blue-armored sword against next?
Rubbing-Up-Against-You Zombies again! (WAH-wahhh)
It's also worth noting that the above pictures include every enemy formation in the first level; aside from the Bats, Fireballs and One-Hit Dudes showing up in slightly greater numbers than "2", the first level really only contains those 5 different formations.
And now, my Castle of Dragon lament, as a haiku!
Hoped for a sword fight.
That sounds about right
In the end, Castle of Dragon feels a little like another game with big character sprites, flighty jumps and an interesting hack-and-slash premise. But Astyanax went the normal platformer route,
With a few you-sized enemies,
but mostly flying nuisance-enemies and jumps,
at least Astyanax
had some normal Platformer features to fall back on, like its between-level cutscenes
and giant bosses.
Because Castle of Dragon seems to be wedded with just one play mode -- and an under-developed one at that (the shield seems like it's more for show than anything else) -- it comes off pretty shabby next to any of the other NES games* I've compared it to.
*: though, your mileage may vary when it comes to Urban Champion, which I find inexplicably charming.
What a bummer.
But at least you get to chuckle about the game's name...
AND you get to see the titular Dragon flying off with a comatose princess during the game's intro!
— carlmarksguy, 2015-09-14