Switch version tested
Review code provided
Thank you for returning to my fifth instalment of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha review. This time I review Dragon Blaze, where instead of planes or jets? We ride dragons! I’ve seen screenshots and clips of this game from friends online and always thought it looked appealing. Published way back in the year 2000, will this shmup hold up today? Let’s find out!
I’m a big fan of Psikyo using their seven levels of difficulty in Dragon Blaze so more people can get into the game. A twitter friend was recently complaining of shmups being too difficult, so now I have another game to recommend with “Monkey” difficulty. For those unfamiliar that’s the easiest, then Child, VeryEasy, Easy, Normal, Hard, and VeryHard. In hindsight, I’ve found the difficulty scaling is perfect in Dragon Blaze. It’s nice to have differences in bullet patterns, the number of bullets, and sponge absorption of enemies. It’s truly approachable while still having a rise in difficulty in later levels.
Pick one of four dragons: fire, aqua, thunder, and skull. Each has a unique shot, dragon shot, and bomb.
- Quaid and Fire Dragon – Linear triple shot, fireball rain
- Sonia and Aqua Dragon – Bubble beam triple shot, Poseidon beam
- Rob and Thunder Dragon – Linear double shot, spark bomb
- Ian and Skull Dragon – Linear single shot, warrior beam
The dragon shot is pretty unique and helpful for the beginning of boss fights when the enemy is largest. Your character releases their dragon forward and it remains in place shooting most of your firepower, while your person can move freely with little firepower. Press the same button to return to your dragon or simply fly over your dragon to retrieve it. When the boss sheds layers and becomes smaller this is less effective but still a cool shot to have in your arsenal.
My favourite character to use is Quaid as the speed and power had a comfortable balance, but it was fun switching to Ian. That character has higher speed which is better suited for players that want knee jerk reaction speed. The other two characters are fun as well, Sonia the bubble beam queen has a nice thick shot and cool bullets, while Rob has an attractive spread shot. Rob may be creeping up as my new favourite. Shots are satisfying with all characters as they are followed by an explosion, lovely sound, and a quickly disappearing enemy.
Your goal is to collect four Magicstones and reverse the curse of the devil. With as many runs as I’ve played I should know what the curse is, but alas I’ve simply enjoyed this awesome shmup. Short cut scenes in between levels give little dialogue but I enjoy the character artwork. The underwater level is my favourite. Squids swimming toward you, plantlife taking shots at your dragon that’s somehow swimming underwater, it’s great. Second favourite is the grass level with scores and pitcher plants. Grungy, beautifully coloured sprite work makes Dragon Blaze an attractive game. It’s easy to get distracted and caught off guard, then brought to a game over.
Besides the lovely graphics, another way to lose concentration is collecting coins. Each baddie defeated will unleash coins to be collected for points. I love battling myself against the leader board that is sadly locked locally. Amidst the bullets and enemies flying about, getting caught up in the coin collecting can be difficult. Weighing the options of going for broke and getting the bag versus avoiding getting hit is a constant battle. It’s worth the risk and makes a big difference in your final score so I recommend it.
Absolutely loving the music! Each score is over the top and pairs perfectly with Dragon Blaze. Although I love the sound effects and character screaming for every hit I take, I had to turn down those sound levels in the pause menu to enjoy the music more. I’m glad the player has the option to adjust these levels because it can be a bit obnoxious. Crank up the tunes and press on because this shoot ‘em up has high replayability. It’s great to start on the lowest setting and build your way up while filling out the leader board as well as your confidence.
Overall of the five games I’ve played in the Psikyo Alpha collection, Dragon Blaze sticks out as a favourite. I enjoyed the four-character options and graphics very much, as well as the music. I’ve had great fun with Dragon Blaze and would recommend it. Thanks so much to NIS America!
TBG Score: 8/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 24/01/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Shooter, Arcade
Developer: CITY CONNECTION
Publisher: NIS America
Download link: eShop