Dragon Blaze (ドラゴンブレイズ) is a vertical shooting game developed and published in 2000 by Psikyo. The game was ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2005 and to the Switch in 2018 as part of the Psikyo Shooting Collection vol. 3 and Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, respectively.
The game features 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 earlier titles.
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 with each credit. 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.
- 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.
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.
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 15 frames. The time required to retract the dragon depends on the chosen character. Assuming the player character remains stationary, the recall time will vary between 45 frames for Ian & Skull Dragon, and 71 frames for Sonia & Aqua Dragon.
The magic gauge is located at the bottom left of the screen, and is filled by killing enemies. 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.
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.
Dragon Blaze offers 4 playable characters, each with their own playstyle and unique advantages.
|Quaid & Fire Dragon|
• Shot: Red bullets aimed directly forward.
The 'soaring dragon knight' Quaid is considered a strong all-rounder. While he may lack any form of wide shot, he offers good movement speed, fast dragon retraction speed, and a very useful screen-clearing bomb.
|Sonia & Aqua Dragon|
• Shot: Circular bullets aimed forward. Sonia's dragon has two options which also fire forward, giving this attack some horizontal coverage.
The ocean princess 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 speed-killing large enemies and bosses can be problematic.
|Rob & Thunder Dragon|
• Shot: A 7-way spread shot.
The dwarven berserker 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.
|Ian & Skull Dragon|
• Shot: Green projectiles aimed directly forward.
Ian the Necromancer offers the fastest movement speed and fastest dragon retraction time of any character, 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.
|Power Up |
Increases your shot power (max power after the 3rd item)
Increases your bomb stock by 1
|Silver Coin |
100 point reward
|Gold Coin |
200 point reward
Secret item that grants gold coins when attacked
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 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 with a Dragon Shot 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.
This mechanic was first seen in Strikers 1999, 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 weak point 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 weak point 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 weak point, so a Technical Bonus is not possible on this stage.
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
See Dragon_Blaze/Strategy for secrets and advanced play strategies.
Following its original arcade release in 2000, Dragon Blaze was ported to the Playstation 2 in 2005, as part of Taito's Psikyo Shooting Collection Vol. 3 compilation. The game received an individual release on the Playstation 2 in Europe in 2006, courtesy of publisher 505 Games.
The game was ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2018 by Zerodiv. After initially only being available on the Nintendo eShop, the game was later released physically as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha compilation.
On August 3rd 2020, the game was released on Steam by Zerodiv and City Connection.
- Primary info provided by JayLab
- Attack names from Steam Store Page | https://store.steampowered.com/app/1279420/Dragon_Blaze/
- Control information adapted from Psikyobabble | http://psikyobabble.com/psikyo03/product/dra_bl/
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