The Top Ten Dragons in Gaming
Three months into the Year of the Dragon, it is now time for a Top Ten that has been long overdue.
Their cultural and iconic status is unprecedented and their prevalence in modern gaming is comparable to that of zombies' and space marines'. Their common occurrence in both world culture and gaming alike is a product of their unsurpassed symbolism. They represent everything from the benevolence of the divine to the malevolence of the demonic. The traditions and beliefs of people across the planet culminate into the image of the legendary dragon. An incredible creature that symbolizes everything we fear and everything we respect.
I know I could go on and explain the cultural significance of dragons throughout gaming history in an article ten times longer than this Top Ten list. But... I will save that for another blog and perhaps another episode of the Game Over-thinker.
But for now, and for all practical purposes, let me just sum up the reason why dragons are in so many games. THEY ARE MOTHER-F***KING REPTILES THAT BREATHE FIRE, DESTROY KINGDOMS, AND RAIN CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION DOWN ON ALL THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEM!!! In other words, they are just awesome masses of mother fucking reptilian bad-assory. They are like dinosaurs with flame-throwers in their mouths! They are like super-sized crocodiles that can fly! They are... Okay, just give me as second to calm down. I apologize. You see, dragons have been my favorite animals next to dinosaurs since I was a kid. And whenever someone brings them up, I can get a little carried away. I was so hyped up for this list, I had to buy five different key boards because I got a little too crazy with 'em .
But all joking aside, I created this list out of both inspiration and obligation. Even if people made millions of these lists, I would still make my own because I love dragons so much. But the problem is that not many people have surprisingly. Let me just give you an idea about how few there are. My own post which was released only four days ago that simply "announced" this countdown was the SECOND search result on Google. And that article has not even garnered any more than 60 views during last time I checked! I think its about time we shed a hell of a lot more light on this subject.
Thankfully, I have decided to take the initiative myself, and produce my own list. And as far as I know, this will be the first of its kind on ScrewAttack. Hopefully, down the road, Craig and the crew will make a video with their suggestions. But for now, its up to one, lone, g1 to make a statement on the cyber street. But before I do, let me lay down some things before we arrive at the countdown.
Other than having to be from games I have played, all the dragons in this countdown are ones that I consider important in gaming culture and are just memorable and inspiring in general. And that usually comes down to whether or not I think the games they come from are good or not. Take these for example...
and The Ugly
I know that might seem biased, but I am simply trying to make the entries relevant and not forced . Along with that, I have made a very bold attempt to not include dragons that are just big bosses you had to fight in a game. Even though most of these dragons serve as bosses anyways, I made sure they played an essential role in the game they were featured in. Since what "qualifies" as a dragon is the subject of constant debate, I have decided that in order to qualify as a "dragon" and in order to make this list, they have to have at least two of these four attributes.
- They have to be called "dragons" in their respective games.
- They have to be reptilian.
- They have have some kind of fire-based attack or ability like fiery breath.
- They have to be able to fly.
All dragons on this list have at least two of these qualities even though they may only have them for a certain period of time (HINT HINT). I know you're probably confused already, but once we arrive at those particular entries on the list you will understand what I am talking about.
But before we move on, we now arrive at our honorable mention. These guys were ones I really wanted to put on the list but didn't because they either failed to meet the criteria or they just weren't as good as some other dragons. So here it is.
The Honorable Mention
You are probably already turned off by the fact that this guy did not make the Top Ten at all. Let me explain. From what I hear, Panzer Dragoon was and still is a hidden gem among Sega titles and marks a unique entry in the rail-shooter genre. Other than that, I really can't say much about him other than the fact that I have not played any games of the Panzer Dragoon series *face-palm*. I think its fair to say that I am a disgrace to call myself a gamer and dragon lover when I have not played this game. But fortunately for me, its cult following is more than strong enough let me know of the series' existence. And that is very telling. While he may not be well-known to me, The Dragon Mount's cult status alone earns it a spot on this list (Don't worry. I went ahead on bought the series online while I was writing this. I WILL play it). Hey Sega! I have an idea. Instead of vomiting Sonic title after Sonic title, why don't you give this series a reboot?
I was seriously considering making this gargoyle ace at least number ten. But after some serious consideration, I thought it best to leave him out. In spite of his high level of reverence in the retro-gamer community, he is just not as big as he used to. The only way people know him nowadays is by his more recent appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Other than that, most people do not give him a second thought. It's a shame though. Ghosts 'n Goblins remains a memorable title by my standards. He may not of cracked the Top Ten, but he deserves to take part in any dragon related material that refers to gaming regardless.
Due to his respective game being such an important one, I thought I might as well give him a spot on the list. As a game by itself, Dragon's Lair was a revolutionary title that broke new ground by utilizing some aspects of the laserdisc that had not been present before. Even though it just looks like a playable cartoon by today's standards, retro-gamers continually praise Dragon's Lair impact and design. Normally I would go on further to explain its main antagonist Singe, the game's evil dragon. But there's just one small problem. I have failed to play the game myself. My knowledge about the game and its dragon fail to go beyond anything other than what people have told me about it through second-hand experience. All I know besides its whole laserdisc thing is that Princess Daphne is probably the finest cartoon babe next to Jessica Rabbit. I would really like to put Singe on the list, but my conscience does not permit me to do so. But I will get around to playing the Dragon's Lair. Somehow...
Yoshi is universally depicted as a dinosaur of some kind. But there have been more than one instances where Yoshi adopts the dragon-like appearance as well. His final smash in SSB:Brawl clearly depicts him flying around and shooting people with fire balls. Some people say that he is called "Super Dragon Yoshi" in Japan, and their have been occurrences of several flying Yoshi before. Being a ride-able dinosaur, I have come to have some affection towards Yoshi. Sometimes, I actually feel guilty of letting him fall down those cliffs after a couple thousand times just so I could get to the other side. Even though he is not exactly the fear inducing beast that would make you jump out of your skin, I think he deserves to be in this honorable mention anyways.
Even though Nintendo has mightily attacked the notion that the Koopa King is anything other than a "koopa", he definitely acts like a dragon. He lives in volcanic regions, he breathes fire, he is a giant reptile, and he kidnaps princesses. The only things that seem to hold him back from being called a dragon is his lack of wings, the presence of his shell, and Nintendo's resilience to call him anything other than a koopa. For what its worth, Bowser at least deserves the title as a "dragon precursor" as he was one of the first famous dragon-like villains to grace a game (that I know of anyways). Simply because I respect Nintendo's position on his title, I decided to save him a spot on the honorable mention at the very least. But... If this was a top twenty, I would probably just say "screw it Nintendo, Bowser deserves a spot on this list!" But seeing as I did not do that (at least not yet), I am afraid I am going to have to show Bowser the slip. For now anyways.
So there's the honorable mention. Until someone like myself makes this a top twenty instead of a top ten or when I get to playing their games, those guys are just going to have to stay back stage for a while. But let's get this freaking show on the road! Here we are at last. The Top Ten Dragons in Gaming.
The Top Ten Dragons in Gaming
Undeniably the most famous dragon in gaming, Spyro's legacy is still carried on, but in ways that have also detracted from it a little bit as well. Back in the late 1990's, many gamers such as myself were blown away by the titular and tiny purple dragon's level of balls. I mean, he roasted giant green gnorcs, mowed down thieves, sheep on stilts, suicidal tribesman, and pretty much every single random enemy under the rainbow.
The very first Spyro game was an impressive entry on the Play Station and it takes me well over eight hours to just "beat" the game, and several more to just unlock everything. But that was back then.
Now, Spyro seems to be tossed around like a soul-less entity whose shameless marketing image is matched only by Sonic's as far as shallowness goes. He's gone through one image lift to another, and developers are not really sure what to do with his character other than just paste it on the cover of a children's game that has little to nothing to do with Spyro.
These were ok...
Spyro... What have they done to you?
I know some of you might hate me for this, but even with all the respect that Spyro struggles to keep, I simply cannot put some of his blunders aside. But as he is on this list, its worth mentioning that Spyro's popularity proves that the strength of a character can endure no matter how bad the games that feature him are. And for that reason, I still keep a little place in my heart for our favorite purple dragon (The only purple dragon that I know of anyways).
As one of Final Fantasy series's most popular and powerful summons, Bahamut the "Dragon King" still endures despite his most recent and forgettable titles. Similar to Spyro, Bahamut was once the pinnacle of dragonic finesse. That is, until most of the games that featured him slowly became less and less good.
Over the years, he has been reduced from being a hulking reptilian colossus to a rusty pile of mechanical pussiness. But in spite of his recent plights, Bahamut still remains as one of my favorite "power ups" in gaming and his former image still reigns as the "Dragon King" in both my personal eyes and memories.
Evolution of Bahamut Swim Suit Edition?!
Known for their ludicrous and LONG animations, Bahamut's attacks are typical of Final Fantasy summons. What does he do? Nothin much. All he does is unleash A GIGANTIC SUPER-NOVA IN YOUR FACE!!! He can even fly into space and breathe a column of fire down on your enemies!! From Giga Flare, Mega Flare, and Exa Flare, Bahamut's attacks are probably the most extreme displays of dragon power I have ever seen.
Trust me. If you play the Final Fantasy games, the image of Bahamut's attacks will literally be burned into your retina for all time. You WON"T forget them!
Even though people site Aerith's death as one of the most tear-jerking and memorable moments in the franchise, mine are the action sequences of Bahamut's attacks. And for that very reason, despite his recent flaws, maintains his spot on this list no matter how much Square Enix tries to ruin his image.
Like most Bioware material, their origins are somewhat cryptic and weird. And like ALL Bioware material (let's just let go of the ME3 endings for a second here), they kick a lot of ass. The demonic dragons of Dragon Age bring the beasts back to their good old origins as gigantic monsters you have to kill in order to save the day.
I loved this one.
But unfortunately, Bioware makes them so fucking cool looking and so ridiculously powerful, killing them is even more of a burden on top of them being difficult to kill already. But these are not your run of the mill dragons that just burn down villages and kidnap your princess girlfriend.
This is just the coolest damn logo I have ever seen
They are just down-right evil sons of bitches that command armies of hellish creatures that threaten to destroy the world. Tainted by the evil darkspawn, they concede to drown the world of Thedas in darkness. If that was not bad enough, they spread the worst disease-like agent since AIDS. The "Blight Disease" they spread corrupts and consumes almost all life in sight. Man, what happened to the old days when dragons were just these simple but large evil lizards that just ate people's livestock, hoarded treasure in their caves, and kidnapped princesses?
Apparently, dragons nowadays just say "Fuck the little kingdoms. I am just going to destroy the ENTIRE WORLD!!!" Its quite an impressive leap in the malevolent image of the dragon, and one that I strongly give the Archdemons credit for. Keep up the good work Archdemons, Old Gods, or whatever the hell you are. Bioware, just tell me the rumors about being able to play as a dragon in the next Dragon Age are true...
There is no doubt that Bethesda debuted some of the most badass, man-devouring reptilian titans to ever grace an RPG. Their dragons carry off wooly mammoths, burn down villages, and even make giants run for cover. Not to mention that the dragons can give you some pretty wicked abilities. Its really fun to terrorize villages yourself with dragon shouts. Until... All the villagers come looking for your head.
So... When you think about the visage of a dragon filled apocalypse and its vanguard wielding the title of the "The Nordic God of Destruction", you would expect the game's climatic boss fight to be intense enough to make your heart jump out of your ass.
Best. Idea. Ever...
This would have been so awesome
While this didn't happen to me, I was initially struck with enough awe at the sight of Alduin. But after fighting the him, I was a little let down. Me and my party were able to take him down in less than a couple of minutes on my first try. Not quite what I had originally expected, but despite my disappoinment over Alduin and the lack of Squid-Bears, Skyrim's dragons are more than awesome enough to land a spot on this list.
I think it is fair to say that almost everyone expected that the "secret antagonist" of Sonic Heroes was indeed Hyper Metal Sonic. However, I believe absolutely no one could have predicted that he would turn into a giant mechanical dragon that could lift entire air ships right out of the sky!
As Sonic Heroes represents in the eyes of many, the last decent Sonic game that would debt before its disastrous decline staring in 2006, I also see Metal Overlord as the last climatic boss the series had to offer until much later. Even though this edition in the list might be pushing the "dragon" criteria a bit, Metal Overlord earns this spot as not just an awesomely evil, mechanical, bad-ass dragon, but just as Hyper Metal Sonic himself as well.
He may technically be a metal hedgehog in his original form, but at the first look at him, you know shit's about to go down. And when he turns into a dragon, you know shit, ass, blood, guts, and all of hell itself is REALLY about to go down. In fact, he is so bad-ass, that it took Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails with the power of the power of all seven Choas Emeralds to bring him down. So yeah, he may only be a dragon some of the time, but when he is, you cannot deny that he fits the mandate pretty damn well.
Hyper Metal Sonic's Transformation
Quite possibly known as one of the most iconic fighting moves in gaming history, the Dragon Bite Fatality marks one of the most memorable "dragon moments" in many a gamer's life. Like Metal Overlord, Liu Kang lassos a spot on this list even though he is a dragon for only a part of the time. But when he is, there is no denying that Liu Kang is quite deserving of the dragon title.
Dragon Bite Fatality (MKII)
Dragon Bite Fatality (MK9)
You don't have to be a fan of Mortal Kombat to think that his move just oozes epic. Its kind of hard to imagine that previous to Mortal Kombat II, Liu Kang's signature move was just some acrobatic cartwheel attack that did not yield even the slightest amount of blood.
Developers argued that the oddly placed attack was used to demonstrate Liu Kang's devotion to the peaceful Shaolin way. But in MKII, the creators just said "F**ck Shaolin ideals! We are just going to turn Liu Kang into a dragon that chomps people in half." And boy aren't we glad they did.
Even though I know I am over-thinking this, I have always wondered what Kang must feel like when he takes a dump after eating half a human... Must be painful and nasty... But what am I doing? I am getting off track here. Back to the top ten dragons list.
Look, I know some of you might be wondering why I did not put Onaga or Goro on here since I brought MK into the loop. Well, seeing that Bahamut took the title of "Dragon King" way before Onaga, and considering that Goro is just half a dragon that does not even look like a dragon at all, putting Liu Kang on here was necessary simply because the image of biting a human in half is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear "Mortal Kombat". Kind of makes me wish Reptile could turn into a T-rex that chomps down a person instead of a monkey thing that chases people...
Their stuff is pretty funny
Formerly known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, this god-like incarnation of pure evil is such a sinister son of a bitch that he is known by titles like "Aspect of Death", "The World Breaker", and "The Destroyer". And the whole world breaker thing is not just a figure of speech. If you saw the trailer of WoW: Cataclysm, you would know that the big ass mother fucker actually did cause the earth to break open!
This is probably the best trailer ever made
He creates tsunamis with is wing flaps, rips a dam apart by just flying over it, and causes all other kinds of hell. Its kind of hard to describe my level of excitement and dread upon knowing he would be in an expansion of WoW. By that point, the closest thing to Deathwing was Onyxia, who seemed pretty damn intimidating enough. But to see that Onyxia's big daddy had arrived to dish out an Azeroth apocalypse made WoW players shit all over themselves.
And if being a shape-shifter, able to control most of the elements, and wielding a weapon that could wipe out an entire race of dragons (Demon Soul) was simply not enough, Deathwing is decked out with a mechanical under jaw that brings a whole new definition to the word "under-bite". Despite being a ridiculously powerful dragon, I can't help but feel that he is just a little over-powered sometimes. With the amount of power that people say he has, you think the only force capable of stopping him would be Chuck Norris. But sadly enough, he gets his ass kicked everyday by fat man-children that live in their mother's basements...Hey, hey, hey c'mon. I am only playing with you WoW players out there, I am one myself after all.
I could basically sum it up just like this. Pirates + space + dragon = Ridley. And with that, you get the equation of pure, 100% awesome. Do I have to say it again? He is a f***ing dragon pirate(if that wasn't awesome already)! IN SPACE!!!!!!!
+ + =
Just the thought of it pumps me up so hard that I... Ah... Never mind. But seriously guys, how much more awesome can you get than that? How?! No matter how much he gets his ass kicked by super sexy Samus, no level of abuse can erase his indelible image of the classic Metroid menace. Sure Mother-Brain is more of the main antagonist, but how can a pile of gray matter with one whack-ass eye compare to a combat killing, dragon, space pirate?!
My case in freaking point is that Ridley remains, at least to me anyways, one of the things Iv'e loved about Metroid for all these years, and serves as just one pf the reasons I always come back and play all of the old NES titles. The memories are just too good to throw away. Nintendo, if you are reading this... PLEASE make Ridley a playable character in the next Super Smash Bros. game. That would be the SHIT!!!
As the mascot of one of my favorite franchises, "The King of the Skies" is definitely one fire breathing bad-ass that a gamer will not soon forget. Even though every single "elder-dragon" or "wyvern" in the Monster Hunter franchise could have made this list, I have decided to be kind to other beloved games, and leave this spot for Capcom's best beast.
His very name commands respect, it even has "Wrath" in it for f***ing crying out loud! Along with being one of the toughest beasts to kill in the games, with its firey breath and poisonous talons, he is also one of the most satisfying to kill. Nothing spells out the definition of a monster hunter more than being able to murder a twenty foot long red-orange dragon that would make a Hungarian Horntail crap in his pants (if dragons had pants).
You only think they are cute now...
And for those of you who might be interested to know, I have always pronounced the 'los' part in its Spanish-like pronunciation as opposed to "loss". It just sounds a hell of a lot cooler. Even though I have reserved this countdown to one entry per franchise, I put Rathalos on here because to me he IS Monster Hunter. And since Monster Hunter is not only the home of great dragons, but also of great times in my gaming life, putting him anywhere else on this this list just wouldn't be right.
Can't fuckin wait
And speaking of awesome orange dragons, we now arrive at number one...
He is widely considered the best Poke'mon out there. But damn it, I think he deserves the title of the best dragon in gaming too. I mean, just look at him. He has a flaming tail, can incinerate you in less than a second (flame-thrower), and can pile drive you into the ground from the edge of the atmosphere (seismic toss). Not to mention the fact that you could probably play all the Poke'mon games with ease as long as you had just had one Charizard (the first games at least, have not played the more recent titles).
I am seriously thinking about getting a tattoo like this
Its been well over a decade, and Charizard's immense popularity has not seemed to diminish even by the slightest margin. For me Charizard is a double incarnation of everything that I believe to be epic. He is not one, but two members of my childhood obsessions. He is a Poke'mon and a dragon! I'm sorry, but if that does not make you want to go out and catch'em all, than what really moves you in life? And yes, not even Ridley's "space + pirate + dragon =" equation can stack up to the equation of "Poke'mon + dragon = Charizard". It just can't.
+ = (AWESOME)
When Ash gave up his Charizard (or released him into the wild or whatever) I felt like giving him a good sized kick in the nuts. How could you just give away your best fucking Poke'mon (and the only one you cared to evolve)!? WHY?! Its too hard to describe in words how much of my life has been dedicated to both dragons and Poke'mon. And since Charizard is both, making him any less than number one would be an abomination. All the hours I have spent drawing dragons, all the hours I have played the Poke'mon games, all the money my parents spent buying me toy dragons and Poke'mon trading cards, and all the time I have spent gushing over him makes my level of devotion to Charizard simply unmatched.
Both in the number hours and in the memories I made in them, no other dragon in gaming compares. Yeah, I know there are alot more dragon type (even though Charizard technically is a Flying/Fire Type)Poke'mon out there, but honestly. Who is going to come out and say that rolly poley and kiddy looking Dragonite is cooler than Charizard? Seriously who? You see, even though Pikachu might serve as the franchise's mascot, Charizard stands as a monument to all the things I and many other fans have adored about Poke'mon for so long. And even though some may feel that the Poke'mon franchise might be stretched and strained far beyond its appropriate life-time, the image and memory of that incredible ass-kicking Charizard never will.
And on that emotionally high note, I conclude this countdown. As dragons continue to flood the realm of video games more and more, I feel like this list is one that will continue to evolve over time. I just hope that this has generated enough interest in dragons to get the ScrewAttack staff on the ball with this. The top tens and twenties just wouldn't be complete without an entry for dragons.
The best might be yet to come...
You go Capcom!
I sincerely hoped you enjoyed this article. And remember; Stay screwy everyone!