Top Ten Dragons in Video Games
People are so excited for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that they're going into labor (at least the women are). Imagine! Skies streaming with dragons as big as twenty houses! Maybe we're exaggerating. Dragons do come in all shapes and sizes, after all. Below are ten of our favorites: the mightiest, deadliest, most run-away-and-take-the-children dragons from video games.
10) Singe (Dragon's Lair, 1983)
The original Dragon's Lair laserdisc game has its marks all over pop culture, from comic books to Robot Chicken. It helped that while most other games were representing their characters with sprites, Dragon's Lair told its story through animation done by ex-Disney employee Don Bluth. The impressive graphics made rescuing Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe all the more exciting. Green dragons are stereotypically fantasy, but considering what Singe—and Dirk the Daring, the game's hero—did for arcades back in the eighties, he deserves the recognition.
The cover to the first Dragon Warrior (later renamed Dragon Quest in the US, as in Japan) game was ferocious: a monstrous, sharp-toothed, green dragon with long, red horns looming over our brave hero. At the end of the game, the final enemy, the Dragonlord—"King of Kings," as he calls himself—offers the hero a chance to rule the world at his side. When his offer is declined ("fool!"), the battle begins. The Dragonlord is barely a threat until he reveals his true form, a blue dragon, and then any damage to the hero is nearly doubled. With the final strike, the player slays his opponent. Thou hast done well in defeating the Dragonlord.
We couldn't possibly leave out Spyro, quite possibly the biggest star of them all. Unfortunately, the purple rascal lost a lot of his fanbase after Insomniac stepped away from development, so he's high up on our list. When most people think of dragons in gaming, though, they can't help but think of Spyro, the little dragon that could. We still have fond memories of torturing poor, helpless sheep and teaching Gnasty Gnorc a valuable lesson in pain.
This three-headed, rainbow-colored dragon is the final boss in Golden Sun: The Lost Age (for the Game Boy Advance). The tedious battle on the Mars Lighthouse aerie is a final test for players and an exhausting one for those who are unprepared. The Doom Dragon has three stages, each fought in one big showdown. If you suspect those three stages have something to do with the number of heads, you're spot on. This is one dragon that lives up to its name, at least until it's good and dead.
Fighting dragons is great, but riding them is even better. Players take to the skies in Panzer Dragoon Orta, a challenging rail shooter for the Xbox. Part of the game's title refers to Orta, the heroine, who's released from her life as a prisoner by the dragon we're honoring here. Her mount can change between three forms (a favorite number among dragons, apparently), and each has its uses, strengths, and weaknesses. When a dragon can shoot homing lasers, though, it's pretty damn cool.
An apparition of any kind is rare to see, but the ghost of a dragon? Unspeakable! This Queen of the Black Marsh can be fought in the Awakening expansion for Dragon Age: Origins, and few dragons look anywhere near this cool. Summoned once all scattered dragon bones are returned to the skull on the hill, she confronts players with spells and breath of lightning. If her attacks don't kill you, her otherworldly form might scare you to the grave.
The realms of Boletaria are breeding grounds for dragons, and many of these encountered creatures make a lasting impact. What Demon's Souls player doesn't remember the shaking earth and scream of a dragon while sprinting across the bridge at the Boletarian Palace? The biggest and scariest, though, is the chief demon Dragon God, found in the Flamelurker Archstone section of Stonefang Tunnel. Thankfully, his roar packs more bite than he does—it's not much of a battle at all. But stare into his glowing red eyes long enough, and he might just be the one to claim a soul.
Of course we were going to put Skyrim on the list. Women are going into labor over these dragons! Haven't you heard the news? A devoted fan started experiencing contractions during the half-hour long Skyrim demo at QuakeCon and later gave birth to a baby girl named Atari Lynn (yup, after the console).
We're looking forward to playing as a dragon-born and slaying the colossal winged beasts with all sorts of neat tricks called "shouts." These dragons appear randomly and will hunt you down, so they're easily the smartest to come along in video games. Given the grandeur of Skyrim, the northernmost province, expect to see dragons everywhere.
This dragon will fight tooth and nail in a ruthless display. It's a fight to the death on a tower, which she scales and destroys from outside. She'll lunge and swipe at the player, breathing fire between attacks and letting her tongue loll freely as she tracks your movements. The most brutal part of this up-close-and-personal battle is the conclusion (skip the following description if you don't want spoilers): after the player painfully bends back the dragon's head, she crashes to the ground and is impaled on a tree branch. Players are then given the choice of finishing her off quickly or walking away without care. Ouch.
Our number one spot goes to Bahamut, the Dragon King who's been around since the first Final Fantasy (he dwells on Cardia Islands, or the Dragon Caves). He's been included in nearly every installment (every main game except FFII). He even had a game named after him—Bahamut Lagoon—but it was never released outside of Japan.
Often the most powerful of summons, Bahamut has evolved in his image over the years, and his strength and popularity guarantee that his latest appearance won't be his last.