|Format played:||Atari 2600|
Your treasure has been stolen by a fire breathing dragon!
Brave the perils of his lava spewing nostrils as you skip and jump your way to his underground lair to rescue what is rightfully yours and restore the pride of your people.
Or something like that. Anyway, it’s a fine excuse for some old fashioned arcade adventuring.
Split into two sections, the first sees you crossing a drawbridge to get into the castle to hunt down your treasure. But blocking your way are a series of fireballs which must be jumped, ducked or otherwise avoided.
Make it to the other side and the second section tasks you with reclaiming your treasure. But watch out because that pesky dragon is patrolling the bottom of the screen, chasing you around the room and firing balls of flame at you. Collect all the treasure and an exit appears, taking you to the next level.
This is a delightfully simple game, a real test of reflexes. The first section is a delicate balance of timing, patience and speed. Rush in too quickly and you’ll likely eat a face full of fire; take too much time and another round of fireballs will come tearing along the drawbridge.
Fireballs can be avoided either by jumping over low ones or ducking under high ones. For those really tricky scenarios, you can even utilise an improbable looking duck-knee jump combo. Occasionally the fireballs are simply too close together to avoid so cue a mad dash in the opposite direction as you hide in the castle walls until it passes by.
The second section meanwhile is a simple smash and grab but as the dragon hots up, you’ll need to move quickly to grab the treasure, angling your runs, timing your exit or even ducking back under cover and waiting for a better chance.
Once all the treasure has been collected you can exit the room, the game looping you back to the drawbridge for another go, the two screen challenge simply increasing in speed or difficulty for as long as you can last.
You start with seven lives, losing one each time you are hit, which seems plenty when you first start, the rate of fireballs and the dragons movement relatively sedate. But it’s not long before the action really heats up, the treasure collecting sections in particular a blur of activity as the dragon chugs along the bottom of the screen like a volcanic steam train, billowing out hot death, your man speeding up to compensate.
Limited it may be but this is simple and accessible.
There’s little in the way of longevity of course. But it’s great fun in short bursts in a satisfying, old-school, arcade way.