Monday, October 12, 2020

BRIEF: DragonStrike (1990)

       
DragonStrike
United States
Westwood Associates (developer); Strategic Simulations, Inc. (publisher)
Released in 1990 for Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS; 1992 for PC-98 and Sharp X68000
Game of same name and story but different interface released for NES in 1992
Ruling: Not an RPG for lack of traditional RPG character development, inventory, combat
    
In another "check it out while we're on the subject of Krynn" diversion, I decided to remind myself why I had rejected DragonStrike in the first place. On paper, it sounds awesome: a dragon combat simulator! Airplane combat simulators had been around since at least the arcade game Interceptor (1975), and the 1980s offered plentiful simulators for both the PC and console. To bring the same type of gameplay to a fantasy setting made a lot of sense. 
          
I've already bought the game; you don't have to sell it so hard.
         
DragonStrike is set on Krynn during the War of the Lance. The good dragons have rejoined the fight after learning that the evil dragons have been corrupting the good dragons' eggs to make draconians. The player controls a Knight of Solamnia who mounts a series of dragons in 22 missions against evil dragons and draconians. Armed with a lance, he directs his mount into combat with black, green, blue, and red dragons, death dragons, wyverns, manticores, Sivak draconians, and even flying citadels. The player can prompt the dragon to use breath attacks, to close the distance and engage in combat with fangs and claws, and attempt to slice the enemies himself.
         
The game occurs across the same map we've seen in Champions and Death Knights.
          
The game offers a mission-based structure that I like but that is rare to RPGs. The player gets a description of each mission, including the likely foes, and then has the option to take a test flight to scout the terrain. Once the mission begins in earnest, it lasts until all objectives are met, which usually means killing a fixed number of enemies. After each mission, the knight gets accolades and promotions, and at one point has to decide whether to remain a Knight of the Crown or switch to one of the higher orders.
   
This all sounds great, but I had a few problems with it. The first is that I don't think the computing power of the period was quite up to what the developers hoped to accomplish. I don't normally complain about graphics in RPGs, which are more tactical and cerebral, but I have no trouble complaining about them in action games. If you're going to advertise a game in which you swoop over seas and mountains on a dragon, those seas and mountains ought to look reasonably good. They don't. That of course is a retrospective opinion that wouldn't have occurred to players of the day, but I hold it nonetheless. There are better games from more recent years that I can play if I want to explore interesting terrain.
    
Dogfighting with wyverns
       
The second problem is more personal: I suck at this kind of gameplay. I don't take naturally to action gameplay in the first place, let alone when you have to navigate in three dimensions and watch a variety of meters. I could almost never aim my attacks properly or even line myself up with the enemies. Half of my attempts led to my crashing the dragon into the ground. 

But part of the problem is the controls are clunky and frankly don't seem to work as advertised. If it was an RPG, I might have put more time into figuring out why, but all I can say from my experience with the DOS version is that despite the in-game settings and manual assuring me otherwise, the "0" and "." keys on the numberpad did not activate the dragon's breath; instead, the "F" key did that, which according to the manual does nothing at all. I similarly couldn't get anything out of the "lance aiming controls" (maybe that's because I only have a sword), and the "1" and "2" keys did not apply healing salve to the character or the dragon no matter how much I tried. 
          
Does the dragon have no mind of its own!?
       
Commenters will invariably provide solutions to these things, but it wouldn't have mattered. Even the controls that worked, I found clunky. I won the first two missions but found the experience more frustrating than pleasant. It just isn't my kind of game.
    
In between missions, some limited character leveling occurs. The character gets promoted in the ranks of the knights, is invited to ride progressively more powerful dragons, and acquires a few new items to help during the missions. These include a Ring of Feather Falling in case he tumbles off the dragon, more ointment, and I think maybe a dragonlance. These features still aren't quite enough to qualify the game for RPG status in my mind. When leveling occurs at fixed intervals, it's not really "leveling," and a few items that you can use still aren't the same as a real RPG inventory that you can buy, wield, sell, and drop. Combat, moreover, depends entirely on your actions and not at all on your underlying abilities (yes, it depends somewhat on the dragon's abilities, but again that's all fixed).
         
The character "levels up" between missions.
       
The production qualities from SSI are excellent as usual. I'll never not get a thrill from opening an SSI manual for a Dungeons and Dragons game and seeing the same familiar fonts and headings. The artwork in the manual and in the in-game title cards is all top-notch.
         
The introductory title card for the third mission.
      
I can understand why some players like it, and I have no quibble with the rave reviews that it got in contemporary magazines, but to me it's a relief that I don't have to play through 22 missions of this. I occasionally like to fly an X-Wing or TIE fighter around, but I'm glad the more modern games in which I do that have smoother gameplay, better graphics, more intuitive controls, and--most importantly--difficulty settings.
    

81 comments:

  1. It is indeed an awesome concept, and surprisingly rare even in modern times. Very few games allow you to even ride a dragon, and I don't even remember any other game to offer this kind of mounted combat. Granted, it's little more than 3D jousting, but still. It's always about human(-oid) heroes murdering dragons with swords and lances and magic. Are dragons too overpowered? Is breath-strafing enemy positions an evil thing?

    22 missions seem to be on the shorter side if you happen to like the game. A longplay clocks in at a mere four hours. The combat reminds me of Wings which seemed like an interminable game back then, and for good reason: YT videos revealed it has no less than 243 missions, though it mixes it up a little with strafing and bombing missions.

    I'm more surprised they managed to port this to the C64. That little 1 MHz CPU was really not about 3D, it already struggled with the wireframe graphics of Elite and Moonfall, I can't imagine it ran very well.

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    1. The first Drakengard game comes closest to replicating this, in the stages where you can use the dragon.

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    2. Mounted combat was in Drakan, although there you could use just breath of the dragon, if I remember well.

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    3. While there are no human (or non-human) riders, Divinity: Dragon Commander is a dragon dogfight-simulator.

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    4. I can confirm that the C64 version of Dragonstrike did not run very well. I remember being very excited by the idea of Dragonstrike and then being very disappointed upon playing it.

      There was also Lair for the PS3 as a dragon riding simulator. Lair was rightfully savaged in reviews when it first came out as the controls, which were exclusively motion controlled using the PS3 controller, were very bad. Control via analogue sticks was patched in later and made the game playable at a minimum.

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    5. wasn't there a Divinity game more on the Action RPG side which let's you ride and fight with a dragon?

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    6. I loved it on C64, but I have no other point of comparison for how it ran on more powerful systems.

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    7. Divinity 2, an action RPG that was released in 2008, actually lets you become a dragon, fly around and burn things. :)

      Alas, Larian Studios(the same one making Baldur's Gate 3) failed to include controls to let you ascend and descend vertically. Horizonal motion is required to change altitude. Still, an interesting action RPG with some neat moral choices that could be even better had the devs fleshed out their controls a tad and also allowed
      for movement while shooting and casting.

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    8. "The I of the Dragon" is a PC game frim the early 2000s which lets you play as a dragon.

      I remember almost nothing about it, aside that it had some light RPG elements and that it was pretty cool.

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    9. Hold it, @Gnoman, you don't just casually drop Drakengard into a conversation like that and expect nobody to notice. :P

      @Vince I played that game, didn't find it terribly exciting.

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    10. Divinity 2, like the entirety of Larian's catalogue, is a game that skates by on the sheer energy, enthusiasm and creativity involved, and hopes that you forget the fact it's buggy, visibly unfinished, and a little bit misogynistic and homophobic.

      Which is to say I enjoyed it - it was, unlikely Beyond Divinity, actually playable - but that enjoyment comes with a load of caveats.

      And yes, you transform into a dragon for some sequences that are largely action-oriented with light RPG underpinnings, and they're somehow both laughably under-designed and yet a really enjoyable break from the rest of the game.

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    11. As for mounted dragon combat, the Panzer Dragoon series comes to mind. Both you and your dragon attack. One entry, Panzer Dragoon Saga, is a full on RPG with pretty interesting tactical dragon combat.

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  2. I'm eternally disappointed that "riding" a dragon in Skyrim is just gluing yourself to an NPC for a short while. It's not like flying vehicles in otherwise non-vehicular games had been known for around a decade by that point.

    For some reason I can never enjoy these early flight sims solely because the vehicles are sprites, rather than also 3D. It's a weird thing to be picky about since I don't mind games like Doom, but eh. I love MechWarrior 2.

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    1. Dragonstrike actually lets you choose between sprites or 3d models.

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    2. Oh, I'll have to check this game out myself then! I found a longplay (that I'm pretty sure is yours, it has your screen name) and it looks fun. If it's on GOG it can't be more than a couple dollars.

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    3. Yep, as Sinatar said, you can switch between sprites and 3d models for dragons. The 3d models are... interesting. I actually preferred to play with them, because it somehow made the game more consistent. However, I think most people will say that the 3d models are inferior visually to sprites. They resemble origami cranes more than they do dragons. But at least they don't become distorted visually when scaling.

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    4. Sprites also make it hard to tell exactly which way an enemy is facing in 3D space. Not so much a problem in Doom or DN3D, but can make a big difference in something like a flight sim. And as you said, they become indistinguishable at very close or very far differences.

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  3. TSR (and the companies it contracted with) really got a lot of mileage out of that Keith Parkinson illustration of the flying citadel.

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    1. TSR is well-known for reusing ANY illustrations over and over again in different games.

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  4. The game offers a mission-based structure that I like but that is rare to RPGs.

    You're not far off from 1993's Hired Guns, which offers just that sort of structure. I remember that game fondly, but haven't played it in decades, so I'm interested to see what you think of it.

    That of course is a retrospective opinion that wouldn't have occurred to players of the day

    In fairness, I do recall complaints about the visuals in magazines of the day, or at least the ones I read. The controls also were considered sub-par, so you're also not alone there.

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    1. I can only imagine Chet's reaction to MechWarrior 2, should he ever play it or if he already has. That game is the rare non-RPG that uses almost all of a full-sized keyboard. I had to manually hack the game's configuration files in order to get a layout that made sense, as many of the keys are reserved and can't be rebound manually. Then I had to make a reference for my own layout. I would love to buy a throttle and stick for it still, but can't justify it for just that one game.

      I agree that RPGs with a mission structure (not a linear series of quests, but a tree of individual level-based missions... hard to explain the difference) are all too rare.

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    2. Are mission-based RPGs more common in the tactical RPG space? I feel like the first few Front Mission games had that structure, although it's been a long time since I played those.

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    3. Isnt that mission structure what became so popular with Dune 2 and Command & Conquer?

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    4. Yes, SRPGs are generally mission-based. I think part of the reason you don't see that structure so much is that the conventional RPG market tends to favor open-world design, open-ended character development, and low-intensity gameplay (i.e. no permadeath, and you can always grind your way out of being stuck). These qualities are hard to balance with intricately designed missions. The more open-ended the game, the easier it is for players to figure out how to cheese their way through the mission; the more restricted it is, the more likely they are to get stuck due to making poor choices earlier. So the market tends to reward games that wrap simple quest structures ("traverse dungeon, hit boss with most powerful attacks", "take thing from place A to place B", "collect 10 widgets") with attractive dressing: graphics, voice acting, plot, and so on.

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    5. SRPGs do tend to use the mission structure more, but I also agree that balancing them seems to be the biggest problem. Lots of SRPGs can be awfully punishing with their carryover missions if you don't win in the right way. Front Mission is one of the few that does it really well. Another spin on the formula is stuff like Heroes of Might and Magic, where heroes levels, spells and skills that carry between missions, but since the combat is really more army based those things feel a little less important than getting your economy and production going ASAP in a mission.

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    6. I would class HOMM as strategy games; of course you do need to be able to win the tactical battles but ultimately - at least in most scenarios - it is a numbers game that you win by attrition, and avoiding combats you can't win decisively. Good tactics just let you engage in combat a bit earlier.

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    7. If I were to box them:

      Not RPG: 1 & 2
      RPGish: 3 & 5
      RPG: 4 & the KB reboots.

      I haven't played 6 & 7 but I'd anticipate they are RPGish.

      YMMV - All of them fulfill Chet's core criteria, but his criteria captures many fantasy 4X games and squad-combat games.

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  6. I always enjoy the posts here, and especially like when they are for games not necessarily RPGs. It makes for an interesting read.

    I loved this game as a kid. I was never all that good at it, and it was likely the controls and the fact that it wasn't optimized well for PCs of the day, but I still loved it. I played all the SSI AD&D games religiously, and when something different like this came out, I jumped on it.

    It would be neat to see a remake or something similar for today's computers and consoles. Would be a heck of a ride to fly a dragon in VR and have dogfights with other dragons.

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  7. It may not have been a good game, but I'd have begged my parents mercilessly for any game that lets me fly a dragon in first-person view in 1990.

    Fortunately for them I had never heard of this one, even though I was a big fan of SSI as a kid.

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  9. If you're going to play around with arcadey flight sims from this era (and I don't think you are, but whatever) then the obvious ones to try out would be the first three Wing Commander games, because (a) they're good and (b) they're from Origin, so relevant to the history of that company.

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    1. I don't see why this isn't equally relevant, coming from SSI. And unlike Wing Commander, it's set in the same universe as the company's RPGs.

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    3. Well, in Ultima 7 we saw an Kilrathi fighter, so it must be in the Same universe.

      /jk

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    4. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that this game *wasn't* relevant. I meant, you've already played it now, and if you're looking for more in this vein that would both be enjoyable to play and which you could have an excuse to talk about on this blog - which I don't think you are - then Wing Commander might fit the bill.

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  10. One has to wonder how many good ideas were wasted because there wasn't the technology for it.
    And one has to wonder why now, since we have the technology, there seem to be less and less good ideas.

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    1. It’s mainly that the cost of making games has increased with the expectation of the graphics. Which means producers want to play it safe. Trying out radical ideas would be really costly if it flops - and marketing is a lot more difficult due to the sheer number of releases

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    2. I was hoping someone would come along and recommend a modern dragon flight simulator. There honestly aren't any?

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    3. I haven't played it, but Drakengard features dragon riding, and the last one came out in '13, certainly modern. Mobygames has a list for the feature, but most of the recent ones look questionable or are VR.

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    4. We're in the middle of an indie gaming renaissance and have been for at least five years. It's never been easier to find good games on pc with original tones and premises and high quality design, though not always high production values or huge scope.

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    5. Amusingly, many of the Addict's complaints about this game would also apply to Drakengard's dragon segments. Most of all, the Dragon only gets real powerups at fixed intervals.

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    6. Divinity 2: Eco Draconis let's you turn into a Dragon. it's from 2009, I can't think on a more reacent one,

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    7. Gaming industry has changed a lot since the eighties. Nowadays(tm) creating games is just another job, not a passion. Guess it was inevitable.

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    8. ...except for the whole Indie scene, of course.

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    9. There IS a strong 'indie' movement in gaming, but (of course)the makers of such games lack budget and the manpower, to the result that most of those games are also 'retro', i.e. they *look* like games from the past.

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    10. From dragon games, there was "The I of the Dragon", released in 2002. One of the few games that ran with the concept of playing as a dragon as a main gameplay loop. I had a bit of fun with it, but it got too tedious too quickly, so can't really recommend it.

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    11. Well, the irony of this discussion is that Dragonstrike, which kinda serves here as an example of "they don't make 'em like they used to", is also a prime example of pure commercialism at work. I don't know who proposed the game, whether it was Westwood or SSI, but regardless - the nature of the project was basically work for hire. A big corporation calculated the project would sell, and hired a smaller corporation to make the project.

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    12. It seems like a simple RPG where you play as a dragon, slaughtering enemys and building your hoard, demanding maiden sacrifices etc would be a no brainer. You could have spells, lair construction and management, and maybe a plot about conquering the world. Think TIE fighter with Dragons. That sounds like so much fun. Why don't we have that?

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    13. I guess war dragons was a mobile game a bit like that, but a little too casual for my tastes.

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    14. I of the Dragon actually does sound a bit like that, I may give it a try.

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  11. There was only one fight in the entire game where you absolutely had to use the Dragonlance, and the miserable controls made that a pain, Fun for its time

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  12. I am wandering if this game had any impact on the Bullfrog's Magic Carpet?

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    1. I was thinking exactly the same thing. It came out about the same time beginning of the 90s. Never played it, though...

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  13. I approve of this little side-quest journey to find the most Krynntessential Dragonlance game, whether it's an RPG or otherwise.

    Makes me wonder which table-top RPG setting saw the most non-RPG video game spin-offs. The Dark Eye and Vampire: The Masquerade must be catching up to Dragonlance by now.

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    1. Taking into account the whole base rules, I think Warhammer is 1st, Dark Eye 2nd, DND 3rd, World of Darkness 4th, and...uh...Galactic Empire, probably. As settings, it'd probably be Warhammer, Warhammer 40K and Dark Eye in some order, then the rest spattered about in some order.

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  14. Hmm. I remember rather liking Dragonstrike when I played it, and I stuck with it long enough to reach (but never complete, sadly) the final mission. This was in 2000, mind you - which, while only a decade after the game's release, was a vast and enormous age in computer technology.

    Looking at the screenshots above, I actually don't find the ground to be entirely ugly - but this is probably sentiment talking, because I played a lot of air combat games of that era, especially the Microprose games, and so I simply felt at home with this kind of landscape. I actually found the early 3d textured landscapes to be uglier and harder to make out than this kind of thing. Certainly, though, it's the kind ofg graphics that one can only be positive about today, if looking through sentimental lenses. Yeah, it's ugly.

    I'm surprised you didn't give a word to the real problem with the graphics, though, which is the huge interface. I assume Westwood intentionally limited the size of the worldview window, to speed up rendering. The result is terrible, though. You could argue that this was fairly typical for RPG UIs of the time - after all, Westwood's own Eye of the Beholder devoted equally little screen space to the main viewport, and so did Ultima VI. But those are games where you spend a ton of time in the UI, and your life or death do not depend on being able to see everything clearly. Here, the tiny screen is a major issue (reminds me of playing Doom on a low-powered 386, where you'd actually shrink the viewport to improve framerate).

    I'm not sure about the controls. My memory is completely blank there. Whether they were good or bad, I just don't know. At the time, I was an undergrad student with a lot of time on my hands, so I suspect poor controls probably would not have been a big deal for me. The game's concept would have driven me on in spite of any minor control issues - but I do actually like flight combat games, so I can understand you not loving it if you're not into this kind of game.

    With regards to dragons crashing - it's funny, of all the games that could have given the player flying assistance without seeming "unrealistic", this one would have had it easiest - but it seems the thought never really crossed their mind. Or maybe it did, but the results were not good? Either way, I have no doubt that absolutely, the dragon should have an AI that prevents crashes with the ground virtually all the time, unless the player does something uniquely stupid.

    Finally, concerning its RPGness - there was that brief discussion about Dragonstrike under the Heroes of the Lance entry. I guess I'll just repeat a part of what I said there: it's a fascinating case, because this is a game that is clearly not an RPG, even though it actually seems to contain pretty much everything an RPG technically should have. But in spite of this, the gameplay is clearly not intended to belong in the RPG genre. To me, I think it's something worth pondering: that an RPG is not made only by having RPG features, but also by the way developers make use of these features, and what they intend the gameplay to actually be. In this case, it's a flight combat game, with RPG elements - but yeah, definitely not an RPG as such.

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    1. Sometimes I think about video game genre in terms of expected upper and lower bounds on required player skill. That is, if a game requires a high level of hand-eye coordination and other "twitch gaming" skills, it stops feeling like an RPG no matter what qualities it does have. If a game doesn't demand any strategic thought about how you develop your character or use resources (imagine a game with 'perfect' difficulty scaling where every battle was programmed to be winnable with correct use of your immediately available resources), it stops feeling like an RPG (but could be an interesting puzzle game).

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    2. I don't know. Somehow the balance between the action window and the interface doesn't really bother me. It's better than a lot of RPGs.

      Jakub, I don't have quite the dilemma that you do in your final paragraph. While I think that dilemma exists for some games--games that you struggle to call "RPGs" despite having all of the right elements--I just don't think DragonStrike is one of them. Getting promoted isn't the same thing as more conventional RPG character development, and acquiring a couple healing salves and maybe a dragonlance isn't the same thing as a proper inventory. Combat is action-based and dependent on your "equipment" (i.e., the dragon) rather than your attributes. I don't see it as having RPG elements at all.

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    3. That's fair enough. I guess if I were to make the argument that Dragonstrike has a full-blown RPG inventory because of the few items it does offer, I'd have to say the same thing about Doom or Commander Keen.

      Regarding combat, I think perhaps the most important thing of all is that unlike the conventional RPG, combat here is dependent not on attributes, and probably not even on equipment (including the dragon) as such, but primarily on player action skills. This wouldn't be the case even for action RPGs, which, while requiring the player to be fast and skilled in combat, also require the player to "build" the character that best suits them before entering combat.

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    4. There were no texture-mapped terrain 3D games or sims in 1990. The first time I recall any sort of texture-mapped terrain was F-15 Strike Eagle III which came out in 1992, and to a much lesser degree, Falcon 3.0 which came out in 1991. Falcon used shading techniques for the majority of it's "texture mapping" and texture mapping that was not. F-15 III had literal huge swaths mapped, but the hills and mountains were not mapped--only the flat areas. I think Strike Commander gave us some of the first texture mapped hills ever and that was 1994. So the capability to have what Chet wanted just didn't exist at the time.

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    5. Comanche, an helicopter flight simulator made in 1992, used a voxel based graphics, that was able to render very realistic landscapes.

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  15. I can't say anything about this game specifically, but having played more than a few flight sims from the era quite recently, I can say that in general, its a crap shoot on controls. Especially without a joystick. In fact, one game, A-10 Tank Killer, changed its controls radically from its first edition to its eventual CD release.

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  16. A early 3D. When computers weren't even able to push textures onto surfaces. How I don't miss thee.

    I actually played the NES version, and didn't know there was a first person variant on the more powerful home computers of the day. I kinda liked the NES one, which is a top down shooter, but I suck at those games so never got far. I probably would have liked this one as a kid, much like I did Gunboat and Abrams Battle Tank, but after Wolfenstein 3D came out these types of games paled in comparison.

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  17. A minor note, if you followed the convetional path, ie going to the gold Dragons, you really couldnt use any of the healing salves before you did, you had to sacrifice some magic items, and if you didnt have all the salves at that point in the game (MS Dos version at least) you had to sacrifice the magic arrow (Telling you where to go) and or the Crystal Ball (Radar.) Playing the game without either of those would suck. Trust me

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    1. Wow, I'd totally forgotten about that. I think I did use salves regularly, and ended up ultimately giving up the magic arrow and/or the crystal ball. Certainly, the game would have been easier to play had I saved up the salves for the occasion, but I also had the impression the game actually intended for players to sacrifice at least one of these items (and probably should have pushed harder for it, by not allowing salve to be given up instead).

      They're basically training wheels that the uber-super-gold-fying knight shouldn't need. Or something to that effect :).

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    2. If you won the one mission that you have to stay low and not be detected without the arrow, I applaud you for it.

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  18. Can we look forward to a brief on Shadow Sorcerer while we're in Krynn? Hmm, hmm?

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  19. Man, imagine being the knight who CRASHED HIS OWN DRAGON. Something tells me his compatriots will not refrain from speaking ill of the dead. I expect one of you will tell me that exact thing happened in a Discworld book.

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    1. Imagine being the dragon crashed by his own knight, though :).

      "Ok, if you insist on flying into the ground, I'll do it, even though it will kill me..."

      Not sure which of the pair deserves stronger criticism :).

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    2. Clearly it was a team effort, though we all wonder why they put in that particular effort.

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    3. Seems to me the dragon is FAR more likely to survive the crash than the person on his back. I can just here the dragon back a home, "so the guy told me to drive into the ground and I said, well, Okay then...".

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  20. Dragonstrike is awesome and Chet, with respect to your future-colored glasses, some of your conclusions are wrong. However, your ruling that the game is not an RPG is not. Dragonstrike is an action game with RPG-lite elements, thrown into the game to give it some semblance of connection to DND. In truth, the game is a Fantasy blast 'em up, with percieved dice rolls for damage.

    Your conclusion that the graphics are poor and the terrain was bland and disappointing does not reflect the perception at the time the game was released in 1990. I was blown away by the polygon count of the terrain, and the multicolored VGA graphics that ever changed as your flew. The game looked fantastic in 1990, and the gameplay was engaging and thrilling.

    If I recall correctly, I originally played the game using a joystick for flight and used the keyboard for small lance corrections, which was very intuitive and a welcome addition of complexity. The view controls were adequate, but alas, like every other old 3D "simulation" game, begs for head tracking support to better be aware of surroundings and track one's target. Padlock view hadn't even been concepted yet in 1990, not for another year when Falcon 3.0 was released in 1991.

    The 2D artwork was quite good, like many games of the 1990 - 1992 era, particularly D&D properties. We were gifted with some talented artist then, some of whom are no longer with this world. Great game if you can learn to fly these beasts and a very fun and challenging campaign.

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  21. Here is what Chet actually said about the graphics:

    "a retrospective opinion that wouldn't have occurred to players of the day, but I hold it nonetheless. There are better games from more recent years that I can play if I want to explore interesting terrain."

    All of this is true. Today, the graphics look bad. Why would you play this game today instead of a flight sim that looks gorgeous? The only reason I can think of is that you're flying a dragon!

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    1. Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to Biff Rapper.

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    2. Don't most modern flight simulations require super high-end PCs these days? I'm not sure into the loop though.
      Regardless, its a crapshoot of which flight sims are fun to play, so if an old one is fun to play, why wouldn't someone want to play it?

      Delete
  22. Glad to see I baited you into visiting this title! I shared some words here about how it was advertised: http://videogamecomicads.blogspot.com/2014/02/dragonstrike-1990.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this blog!

      My enjoyment and experience of gaming was almost equally divided between reading ads and reviews in 1980s/90s gaming mags - CGW FTW obv - and actually playing them.

      Seeing these again with detailed discussions behind the marketing of it is just awesome. Thanks for your efforts!

      Delete
  23. Yesterday I read this Brief, and the watch Karak's review of Falconeer where he brings up both Pander Dragoon and Lair

    ReplyDelete
  24. I hadn't heard of this. I was expecting the board game (and VHS tape) of the same name.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Speaking of reusing art assets and/or characters, I'm pretty sure the character in your "level up" image is Sturm Brightblade. This awesome Mustache is just unique in the dragonlance serie.
    Did you get to name your Knight? or is he given a name?
    (Damn,apparently, it's customary of the knights to have a flowing mustache they can stroke; a bit like tugging on one's braid in the wheel of time books)

    ReplyDelete

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