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The Top Ten Dragons in Gaming

3/17/12 11:10pm
tl;dr

Three months into the Year of the Dragon, it is now time for a Top Ten that has been long overdue.

 Dragon

Their cultural and iconic status is unprecedented and their prevalence in modern gaming rivals that of zombies' and space marines'. Their common occurrence in both world culture and gaming alike is a product of their symbolic power. They're incredible creatures that represent everything we fear and everything we respect.

I know I could go on and on and explain the cultural significance of dragons throughout gaming history in an article ten times longer than this list. But... I will save that for another blog and perhaps another episode of the Game Over-thinker should he ever develop the time or the interest.

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 BRING CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION UPON ON ALL THAT 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're like super-sized crocodiles that can fly! They're... 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. 

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. 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! 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 a few ground rules...

 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 overall 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...

The Good

    

The Bad

   

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.

  1. They have to be called "dragons" in their respective games.
  2. They have to be reptilian.
  3.  They have have some kind of fire-based attack or ability like fiery breath.
  4.  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, let's take a look at the 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 I already came up with. So here it is.

The Honorable Mention

 

Dragon Mount 

Dragon Mount

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 this dragon other than the fact that I have not played any games in the Panzer Dragoon series at all *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' relevance. 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?

 

Firebrand 

Firebrand

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. He really is a niche chracter, and the only reason 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 regardless.

 

Singe 

Singe

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  in the industry with its story driven gameplay and fun animation.

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 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 about the game other than what I just said, is that Princess Daphne is so hot that she gives Jessica Rabbit a run for her money! Seriously she is smokin!

Ahem... Anyways, 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 

Yoshi Dragon Form

 Yoshi is universally depicted as a dinosaur of some kind. But there's been more than one instance where Yoshi adopts the more 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 several flying Yoshi before. Being a ride-able dinosaur, I have come to have some affection towards Yoshi. Sometimes, I actually feel guilty letting him fall down those cliffs a thousand times.

Even though he's 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.

 

Bowser

Bowser

 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, breathes fire, is a giant reptile, and kidnaps princesses on a daily basis. The only thing 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 of 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've 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 didn't 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 whenever 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

 

10. Spyro the Dragon

Undeniably the most famous dragon in gaming, Spyro's legacy is still carried on, but in ways that have also taken away a little of bit of his respectability 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, sheeps on stilts, suicidal tribesman, and pretty much every single random enemy under the rainbow.

Spyro the Dragon 1998

The very first Spyro game was an impressive entry on the Play Station and is still one the best games of my childhood.

But now he just seems to be tossed around like a soul-less commodity 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 paste it on the cover of a children's game that has little to nothing to do with Spyro.

These were ok...

  A New Beginning The Eternal Night Dawn of the Dragon

Spyro... What have they done to you?

Skylander Figure

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).

 

9. Bahamut

Bahamut "Lord of all Dragons"

As one of  theFinal 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 until most of the games that featured him slowly became less and less good.

Over the years, he has gone 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 histyor, and his former prestige as the "Dragon King" still lives in boht my heart and soul.

Evolution of Bahamut Swim Suit Edition?!

Evolution of Bahamut

Ugghh...

 FF13

Known for their ludicrous and LONG animations, Bahamut's attacks are typical of Final Fantasy summons. What does he do? Nothin much. He just unleashes 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, he maintains his spot on this list no matter how much Square Enix has ruined image.

Video Tributes

 

8. Archdemons

Archdemons

 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 than it probably should be. 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

Dragon Age Logo

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?

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...

 

7. Skyrim Dragons

Alduin

 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 probably expect the game's climatic boss fight to be intense enough to make your heart jump out of your ass.

Best. Idea. Ever...

Skynet

 

This would have been so awesome

Squid-BearSquid0Bear

 

 

Unfortunately, this didn't really happen for me.. Sheesh the trolls were harder to kill than the dragons!

Blunders aside, I was initially struck with enough awe at the sight of Alduin during the game's opening scene to be considerablly impressed. But after fighting the him, I was a little let down. I was 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. 

 

 

     6. Metal Overlord (Hyper Metal Sonic)

Metal Overlord (Hyper Metal Sonic)

 I think it is fair to say that almost everyone expected that the "secret antagonist" of Sonic Heroes was a some super version of Metal Sonic. But what people didn't expect was that he would turn into a giant mechanical dragon!

As Sonic Heroes represents in the eyes of many, the last decent Sonic game before the diasastorous Sonic '06, I also see Metal Overlord as the last climatic boss the series had to offer. 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 badass robotic villain as well.

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

 

 

5. Dragon Bite Fatality (Liu Kang)

Dragon Bite Fatality

 Quite possibly the most iconic fighting move 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 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, putting Liu Kang seemed like the only reasonable thing to do.

Whenever I think of Mortal Kombat, the image of a dragon biting a human in half is the first thing that comes to mind. And with that kind of reasoning, how could you possibly argue against this entry? Kind of makes me wish Reptile could turn into a velociraptor that chomps down a person instead of a monkey thing that chases people...

Their stuff is pretty funny

 

4. Deathwing

Deathwing

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'll know damn well that this big ass mother fucker actually did cause the earth to break open!

This is probably the best trailer ever made

He creates tsunamis with his 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 was, for me, the game's big highlight moment.

And if being a shape-shifter, being 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.

 

3. Ridley

Ridley

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!!!!!!!

Pirate DragonSpaceRidley

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 Ridley's badassery. 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 always loved about Metroid for all these years, and serves as just one of the reasons I always come back and play all of the old NES titles. You just done't get to many cool enemies like this in most modern games and 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!!!

 

2. Rathalos

Rathalos "King of the Skies"

As the mascot of one of my favorite franchises, "The King of the Skies" is definitely one fire breathing badass 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...

MH Fan Art

 

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...

 

1.CHARIZARD!!!

Charizard

 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 (Even though he's technically not a "dragon type"). I mean, just look at him. He has a flaming tail, can incinerate you in less than a second (Flamethrower), 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 of the Pokemon 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

Charizard Tatto Design

 

Its been well over a decade, and Charizard's immense popularity hasn't so even much as budged from its incredible high point. 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 Pokemon and a dragon. I'm sorry, but if a large fire breathing lizard doesn't make you want to go out there 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 "Pokemon + dragon = Charizard". It just can't.

 

Dragon + Poke'mon = Charizard(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 Pokemon (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 Pokemon. 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 a lot 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 polley 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 Pokemon for so long. And even though some may feel that the Pokemon franchise has been stretched and strained far beyond its appropriate life-time, the image and memory of that incredible ass-kicking Charizard never will.

Charizard Tribute

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...

Dragon's Dogma Monster Hunter 4

 

You go Capcom!

 

I sincerely hoped you enjoyed this article. And remember; Stay screwy everyone!

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