Dragon Blaze is a 2000 Arcade SHMUP (shoot ‘em up) that was released on Xbox back on January 11th of 2023. Retailing at $9.99 and featuring some damned pretty pixel graphics I grabbed this one out of the id@xbox review code pile and came away pleasantly surprised.
Dragon Blaze is a classic arcade shmup. Featuring two-player co-op, and that is important later when it comes to achievement hunting, the four choices all have varied basic, powered up, magic, and bomb attacks. This was a quarter muncher so the difficulty is utterly ridiculous, though there are a lot of options. You have Very Hard, Hard, Normal, Easy, Very Easy, Child, and…. Monkey. The best I can tell you always die in one hit, what changes per difficulty is how much health enemies have and how many projectiles they toss your way. Even playing on Monkey the game is balls tough, with how often the screen completely fills with pink attack missiles.
A is your basic attack, called auto attack. Y is called attack but it’s actually your Magic attack and needs to be held down to activate. B is your bomb which varies in type between each of the four Spirit Wizards you can choose from. X offers up the cool ability to have your Dragon mount stay in place and attack straight ahead while your character magically flies around independently of them. Pressing X again will call your Dragon back to you and it all looks and feels really cool. Those Dragons all seem to be cursed people you know. Some are brothers, others are naked old men!
Graphically the game is low rez but the animations are great and it has a weird and awesome visual style. The sound quality is the biggest indicator of this title’s age, as the voice and music sample rate is incredibly low. As this was a game made for vertical arcade monitors the sides of the screen are filled in with meters and art by default. You can set the game to a vertical mode which looks great on my side vertical monitor when I tested it out. A saving grace for the title is the ability to set your continues from 1-99 and even unlimited, as well as how many lives you have to continue. It was made to suck your money out of your pockets so it is wildly unfair and built entirely around dying to get more Bomb attacks.
The biggest issue with this one is how rough the achievements are to get. You get a small amount for clearing each stage or beating the game solo with each of the four main characters. The rest are tied behind beating each stage without continuing once and beating the game with every possible combination of co-op partners. It means this one is going to take a long time to get 1000 gamerscore in and you’ll need a friend to help you. The other issue is the price. At $10 US while I had a decent time I can’t recommend it with the achievement setup being what it is.
Wrapping Things Up
Dragon Blaze is a nice-looking, decently fun 23-year-old arcade port. It’s overpriced and the achievements are a real p.i.t.a. to get. If you have a co-op partner and a vertical monitor though there are worse ways to spend your money.
Xbox Series X
- Looks Nice
- Solid Music
- Nice Variety Between Character Types
- Rough Achievement Grind