Dragon Blaze

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Dragon Blaze

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Dragonblaze title.png

Dragon Blaze (ドラゴンブレイズ) is a vertical shooting game developed and published in 2000 by Psikyo. The game incorporates a fantasy setting, and focuses on four dragonriders and their efforts the slay the Demon King Nebiros. Gameplay is built around the unique Dragon Shot mechanic, which is a powerful short range attack that not only deals tremendous damage, but is also integral to the game's scoring system. Dragon Blaze was one of the last games to be developed by Psikyo, and is notable for its unique fantasy aesthetic, and for having a much higher bullet density than the company's earleir titles.





Gameplay Overview

Dragon Blaze is a 3 button game and consists of 7 stages. As with previous Psikyo titles, the order of the first 4 stages is randomised. The difficulty of these stages varies depending on how late they appear in the stage order. After clearing all 7 stages, the player automatically enters a second loop, which features significantly denser bullet patterns.

Controls


  • A Button (Press): Shot
  • A Button (Hold): Magic Attack (depletes Magic Gauge)
  • B Button: Bomb (depletes bomb stock)
  • C Button: Activate Dragon Shot. Tap C again to retract Dragon.

Weapons


Quaid attacks the stage 6 boss with the Dragon Shot

Main Shot

Basic attack performed by pressing the shot button. This attack is upgraded by collecting Power-Up items, and reaches max power after 3 items have been collected. After collecting two Power-Up items the shot is supplemented by a secondary attack, or sub-shot, which offers some additional screen coverage. Colliding with an enemy will reduce the shot power by one level, and losing a life will reduce the shot to its base level.

Dragon Shot

This is the primary mechanic of Dragon Blaze. Activating the Dragon Shot causes your dragon to dash forward a short distance, dealing heavy damage to nearby enemies. Following activation, the dragon will remain in place, and will attack separately to the player character. Tapping the C button again will retract the dragon, and reunite it with the rider. Enemies destroyed by the Dragon Shot will drop valuable gold coins, which are integral to achieving high scores. The Dragon Shot deals damage on a per-frame basis, so using it point-blank on large enemies will yield the best results.

The total duration of the dragon shot attack is 16 frames. The time required to retract the dragon varies dependng on the chosen character.

Magic

The magic gauge is located at the bottom left of the screen, and is filled by killing enemies with the Dragon Shot. Holding the A button releases a powerful magic attack which depletes the magic gauge. Magic attacks are character-specific, and will change depending on whether the player is mounted or dismounted.

Bomb

Bombs do not grant invincibility, but instantly clear enemy bullets and deal damage within specific areas of the screen. The precise effects of bombs are character-specific.

Characters


Dragon Blaze offers 4 playable characters, each with their own playstyle and unique advantages.


Dragonblaze quaid.png

Quaid & Fire Dragon

  • Shot: Red bullets aimed directly forward.
  • Subshot: Lances that fire straight forward. Lances are slightly delayed, and can offer some horizontal coverage when moving left and right.
  • Mounted Magic Attack: Slow-moving fire lances that pierce through enemies. Best used pre-emptively to damage enemies that are about to spawn.
  • Dismounted Magic Attack: Quaid's dragon breathes fire in a cone aoe. Deals impressive damage.
  • Bomb: A shower of fireballs that fully clears the screen of bullets for 2 seconds.

While Quaid lacks any form of wide shot, he offers good movement speed, fast dragon retraction speed, and a screen-clearing bomb. Strong all-rounder.



Dragonblaze sonia.png

Sonia & Aqua Dragon

  • Shot: Circular bullets aimed forward. Sonia's dragon has two options which also fire forward, giving this attack some horizontal coverage.
  • Subshot: A laser that pierces enemies. Useful for killing zako hiding behind more durable enemies.
  • Mounted Magic Attack: A 7-way wide shot with very good screen coverage.
  • Dismounted Magic Attack: Green projectiles aimed directly forward.
  • Bomb: Clears bullets and deals damage in a wide column. Does not cover the entire screen.

Sonia has a strong basic shot, and her magic attack has wide horizontal coverage, giving her an advantage in stages. However, she has the slowest dragon retraction time, so speedkilling large enemies and bosses can be problematic.



Dragonblaze rob.png

Rob & Thunder Dragon

  • Shot: A 7-way spread shot.
  • Subshot: Bombs that slowly float forward and explode on contact with enemies.
  • Mounted Magic Attack: Large balls of lighting that are fired forward in a cone aoe
  • Dismounted Magic Attack: Rob's dragon fires a horizontal bolt of lightning across the length of the screen. Exceptional damage when positioned correctly
  • Bomb: Creates a lightning storm directly in front of Rob that clears bullets and deals damage in a circular aoe

Rob offers great utility and damage, with a good spread shot and an extremely damaging dismounted magic attack. However, he has the slowest movement speed of any character, so he has the lowest scoring potential overall.



Dragonblaze ian.png

Ian & Skull Dragon

  • Shot: Green projectiles aimed directly forward.
  • Subshot: Homing daggers.
  • Mounted Magic Attack: A purple laser aimed directly forward.
  • Dismounted Magic Attack: Creates a circular aoe of death in a small radius around the dragon. Low screen coverage but high damage.
  • Bomb: A laser-like projectile that offers miniscule horizontal coverage, but lingers on screen for several seconds, dealing extremely high damage.

Ian offers the fastest movement speed and fastest dragon retraction time, giving him high scoring potential. However, like Quaid his attacks are quite linear, and his bomb, while powerful, has extremely low screen coverage, making survival much more challenging.


Items


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Power Up
Increases your shot power (max power after the 3rd item)
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Bomb
Increases your bomb stock by 1
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Silver Coin
100 point reward
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Gold Coin
200 point reward
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Coinhead
Secret item that grants gold coins when attacked

Loops


After clearing all 7 regular stages, the player automatically enters a second loop. The second loop features significantly denser bullet patterns, and enemies will now release small diamond-shaped revenge bullets on death. Bosses have all-new patterns, and now have attacks that specifically target the dragon only, requiring the player to separate from the dragon at specific times.

Scoring

Scoring in Dragon Blaze is relatively straightforward. Most enemies will drop silver coins on death, which give a modest 100 points when collected. Destroying enemies with the dragon shot will spawn gold coins which are worth 200 points each. When dismounted, the dragon can be used to collect coins independently of the rider, so correct positioning of the dragon is crucial to optimising score.

Destroying specific enemies in each stage will spawn a Coinhead - a golden totem which will linger on the screen for several seconds. Attacking the totem will release a torrent of gold coins to collect. There is one coinhead per stage, with the exception of stage 7 which has two. Coinhead locations can be found on the Dragon Blaze/Strategy page.

Technical Bonus


1-1 Boss exposing its weak point

This mechanic was first seen in Strikers 1945 III, and makes a return in Dragon Blaze. At specific points during the second phase of each boss fight, bosses will temporarily expose a flashing red weakpoint for you to destroy. Hitting this weak point with a Dragon Shot will instantly kill the boss, and award you a Technical Bonus of 30,000 points.

Bosses will only expose their weakpoint once per fight, and will usually release a barrage of bullets at the same time, so careful positioning is needed to take advantage of this opportunity. Note that the stage 7 boss does not have a weakpoint, so a Technical Bonus is not possible on this stage.

Endgame Bonus


Clearing both loops rewards the player with an endgame bonus as follows:

  • Lives Remaining x 100,000
  • Bomb Stock x 50,000
  • Power Level x 10,000


References

  1. Primary info provided by JayLab