Played Dragon Spirit: The New Legend [NES]
It took a turbo-controller and save-states at the final boss, but I finally finished one of my favorite NES games for the first time. Dragon Spirit is a fantasy themed shoot-em-up where you play as - surprise - a DRAGON! The game uses Xevious attack mechanics, employing both a standard shot for airborne enemies and short-range bombs for ground enemies. Naturally, powerups increase your fire, but they also allow you to evolve into different dragon iterations - shrinking you for a smaller hitbox, summoning satellite dragons for auxiliary firepower, or adding multiple heads for a wider shooting-range.
Each stage offers a unique locale - from arctic tundras, to underwater reefs, to castle-grounds - with appropriately themed enemies and hazards. The environments are a standout feature in Dragon Spirit, with bold color choices and artful attention to detail (stark-white plains, well-rendered marine biomes, erupting volcanic landmasses, etc.) not often seen in standard NES pixel-graphics. And these environments are put to significant practical use for a vertically-scrolling shooter - as jagged cliffs close-in on you from every side, cocoon-like forest pods ensnare you with growing appendages, and glaciers carve-out a treacherous path through the speed-tunnel section.
Dragon Spirit's boss fights are equally memorable and unique, each fitting with the aesthetic of their respective levels and offering different attack-patterns to memorize and counter. You get to face-off against the likes of skeletal ghost-dragons, fire-breathing turtles, giant spiders, and two evolutions of the final-boss wizard. I’m admittedly regretful at having save-spammed the final boss fight, since I may have been able to clear the game legit with more practice, but I was over-eager to check this title off my backlog after just sampling it casually for so many years.
I'm interested to see how the TurboGrafx-16 port of Dragon Spirit compares to the NES title, as I have it pre-loaded on my TG-16 mini-console. If it’s a similar adaptation, then I’m in for a treat.