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Monday, September 10, 2012

NES Replay: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Dragonstrike

Developer: Westwood
Publisher: SSI
Released: 1990
Trogdor: The Burninator
In NES Replay, we go through each NES game from A-Z to see if they're any good. Today: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonstrike.

Does it matter who makes a game?

This question occurred to me when playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonstrike. It's a top-down shooter where you play as a knight riding a dragon. You can switch from flying high in the air to surface-level, and this is used to avoid attacks, kill certain enemies, and navigate narrow corridors.
When I first played the game, I was kind of disappointed. The dragon I chose was slow and the gameplay bored me. I set it aside for a bit and went to look up information about it. What I found surprised me: Dragonstrike was made by Westwood, the same company that made Command & Conquer. I've always enjoyed Westwood's games, as they usually are pretty well-made.

I retook to the skies in Dragonstrike, and this time I enjoyed it. I started to enjoy the sky/ground mechanic, picked a faster dragon, and actually found myself really liking Dragonstrike.

So is this because I discovered it was a Westwood game, or was the quality there all along and I just never noticed it?

This happens frequently among fans of movies, music and other art. For example, which art exhibition will be more highly attended: A random guy's, or a known master? Even if the quality of our theoretical random guy's paintings are the same as the master's, the master will have far more people visiting his exhibition.

If Martin Scorsese makes a weird movie like Bringing Out The Dead starring a pre-crazy Nicolas Cage, people will watch it because it's Scorsese and Cage. If a random guy makes a weird movie that's just as good with an actor no one knows, people won't watch it.

Now, in my case, did I like Dragonstrike better after knowing it was by Westwood? Yes. Did that enter into my decision? I really don't know. It may have been a subconscious decision, the same way that I'm willing to cut Mario games more slack than Rayman, the same way that you're willing to cut a Spiderman movie more slack than a superhero you don't like, the same way that you're willing to cut your favorite band more slack than Nickelback (and if your favorite band is Nickelback, get out).

Either way, I liked Dragonstrike, but not enough to give my highest rating. It's got some neat mechanics to it, as well as some great music tracks. It's at least worth a play, and it raises an interesting question that makes me think.

Final Rating:


Next Week: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of the Lance

Looking for more NES games? Click here for more!