game Cover
game HuCard
©1987 1988 Namco Ltd
Release : 1988-12-16 (¥5500)
HuCard (2 Mbits) NC63003
Shooter / Vertical

American Version
Released in America as
( TGX020016 )
Dragon spirit is a vertical shooter by namco and conversion of the arcade game of the same name originally released in 1987. Alicia, the princess of the Mitgult kingdom, has been kidnaped by the demonic serpent king Zawel. Learning of her kidnaping, a courageous knight called Amul comes to her rescue. The young warrior begs the heavens to usher him into his quest, and , as he is about to start his journey, he points his sword to the sky and a lightning bolt turns him into a powerful and great fire-breathing blue dragon. Dragon spirit uses a gameplay formula laid down by other Namco's classics such as Xevious - the dragon can fire upon air and ground targets alike, giving the action additional strategy and depth. Additionally, two kinds of colored magic eggs are scattered throughout the game - bombs can crack them open, thus releasing two power-orbs, Increased Power (red) or Additional Head/Increased Firepower (blue). Although the blue upgrades automatically add a head to the dragon (and increase its firepower up to three times total), the red power-orbs need to be collected in groups of three before they do. Additionally, flashing enemies release all kind of special items when killed, from alternate dragon forms, Speed Ups (S), Three Way Shots (W), Multi Way Shots (X), Power-Down (skull) or Extra Lives (three have to be collected though, and they come in the shape of dragon eggs that need to hatch). Dragon spirit consists of eight levels and is single-player only.
Dragon Spirit (Fc) Dragon Saber (Pce-Hu)
screen shot screen shot
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Dragon Spirit arcade Dragon Spirit was an arcade game originally released in 1987 (it is interesting to notice that it was distributed in the United States by Atari, who also distributed Xevious in 1982). Apparently, the game was available in two versions (known as 'old' and 'new') - the first one (and the earliest) is normal, whereas the second version (more recent) features a stage selection menu at the beginning of the game. This is just a wild guess, but maybe Namco realized that the brutal difficulty of the original game (which features no continues!) limited its popularity and success, so it wouldn't be a too much of a stretch to suggest that Namco decided to release the second version to make the arcade game more exciting and appealing... Dragon Spirit was ported to several home systems at the time, such as the Sharp X68000 (1987), PC Engine (1988), Amstrad CPC (1989), Commodore 64 (1989), Commodore Amiga (1989), Atari ST (1989) and ZX Spectrum (1990). The game was also converted to the Famicom system in 1989 and renamed Dragon Spirit : Aratanaru Densetsu (aka "The New Legend"), and this version is more a pseudo-sequel to the original game and stars Alicia and Amul's son. Two other games are worth mentioning - the Namco Museum Vol.5 compilation released for the Playstation in 1997 includes the original Dragon Spirit arcade game, and an obscure LCD game also exists (maybe released in 1987 ?). Three year later, in 1990, Namco released Dragon Saber, the official sequel to Dragon Spirit. The game looks overall much better than its predecessor and it addresses many of the difficulty issues, but the most notable additions are the two-player simultaneous option and the power-shot dragons can charge up and release for maximum damage. Curiously, Dragon Saber was only converted to home systems in Japan - for the PC Engine (1991) and later included in Namco Museum Encore (Playstation, 1997).

This PC Engine version of Dragon Spirit is very faithful to the original arcade game, however it shows some notable differences. Namco must have had some problems fitting the game onto a 2 Mbits HuCard and they had to cut some content from the original arcade game. The most obvious is the omission of the short introduction sequence, where Amul raises his sword to the sky and transforms into a dragon - although it is one of Dragon Spirit's signature feature (and was even included in the Famicom port!), it was completely removed from the PC Engine version. Finally, some of the later levels didn't make the cut - the seventh (underwater ocean) and eight levels (ocean trench) are gone and were replaced by a castle level which ends with a new boss (a three headed golden monster based on the first boss).

Can we talk about Dragon Spirit and not mention Shinji Hosoe ? The artist behind the game's excellent soundtrack ? Interestingly, he joined Namco as a part-time game tester and the arcade game Dragon Spirit was his first project (and breakthrough) as a musician - but, in an interview, he mentioned that although his composition experience began there, Namco didn't know he was writing music and he was doing it secretly (he was supposed to be a part-time CG Artist). But it was the beginning of a long and outstanding career, and he composed a variety of other memorable soundtracks, most of them praised with their own audio album releases! He left Namco in 1996 (after finishing the score for Xevious 3D/G), and decided to pursue his own musical career (for instance he created the indie record label Troubadour Records and the music production company and label SuperSweep). His career is the subject of a vast and still-expanding library, and he composed some truly memorable soundtracks, such as Ordyne, Dragon Saber, Galaxian 3, Star Blade, Cyber Sled, Ridge racer, Xevious 3D/G, Street Fighter EX 3, Beat Mania, Xenosaga Episode II, Folklore or Ibara.

Teaser text from the American version:
Amur, the spirit of the dragon, lives within you. As the winged creature that breathes mega-tons of fire, your mission is revealed. Rescue Princess Alicia from Zowel, Demon of Darkness. So take to the skies and destroy enemy creatures with breath and fireballs. Add dragon heads and incredible power ups. Confront Zowel in a Super Battle of Beasts! (Careful not to breathe on Alicia).

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :


Character Design
Arakawa Da!

Music Composer
Megaten Hosoe
Astron Ishii
Thunder Nogushi

Main Programmer
Otenba Kid

Guest Programmer

Sound Programmer
Yoshi Kabasan

Greatist Asayan

Special Thanks to

The Tower Of Druaga
Battle City
Burger Time
Star Luster
Tag Team Prowrestling
Super Chinese
Super Xevious
Family Stadium
Dragon Buster
Family Jockey
Sanma No Meitantei
Family Boxing
Family Mahjong
Digital Devil Story
Side Pocket
Lupin The 3rd
Family Stadium'97
Family Tennis
Star Wars
Family Circuit
Yokai Douchuki
Dokuganeyu Masamune
World Stadium
Namco Classic
Youkai Douchuki
The quest of Ki
World Court


Dragon Spirit

The end

Presented by Namco

Dragon Spirit Sound Test screen Arcade mode:
Hold Select and press Run to reset the game. Do this operation fifty seven times (you can just hold select and keep pressing Run) to start the game in arcade mode.

Sound Test Screen:
At the title screen, press Left, Right, Down, Up, Select and Left. This should open the Sound Test screen (picture on the right).

Hundred Continues:
At the title screen, quickly press Down, Right, Select, Down, II, Down, I, Left, Select, Up and I. A sound should confirm that the cheat has been activated.

Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook


Dragon Spirit manual Dragon Spirit Turbografx-16 manual Guide Book misc art
Click on picture to enlarge

Add your Pov here !

Dragon Spirit is excellent. The difficulty level is well balanced (easier and more enjoyable than the original arcade game in my opinion), the music scores are gorgeous and the graphics are fairly good for a game released in 1988 (though some backgrounds look a bit undefined and flat in places). Namco decided to steer away from the norm and tried to provide freshness and originality to a genre dominated by space aliens and asteroid fields - and they succeeded for sure. As aforementioned, the game is easier than the original arcade game and I can only applaud this decision - it is not always a good idea to faithfully convert an arcade game difficulty level, especially when it was originally tuned up to gulp down coins (yes, I'm looking at you, Capcom, and your Makaimura series!). It is not to say that this port is easy, and it'll be a long while before you see the end of it! All in all, Dragon Spirit is a great shooter and although I prefer its sequel (Dragon Saber), it is still a solid game with a strong gameplay and some very innovative ideas for its time.

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