Today is Appreciate A Dragon Day, so why not pay a visit to an old video game built around the fire breathing beasts? There have been more than a few. Spyro and Skyrim leap immediately to mind, but I want to drift back a bit further in video game history. Let’s travel all the way back to 1982.

That was the year that Imagic published Dragonfire, designed by Bob Smith. The game was originally released on the Atari 2600, but ported to systems like the Intellivision, VIC-20, Commodore 64, and ColecoVision. The game’s manual established the premise:

Dragons have driven the Royal Court from the Castle

“O we are lost, lost” laments the King.  “Without our vast treasures we
cannot raise an army ‘gainst these accursed dragons.  Our Kingdom must
now languish under lizards!”

“Nay, not so, my liege!” replied the young Prince.  “None knows that Castle,
those many bridges and storerooms, better than I.  Give me leave and I
shall loot those lizards of their plunder and restore my lord to his

“Brave boy,” said the King, fully pleased.  “But,” he added darkly,
“beware dread dragonfire!”

Each level was broken into two segments. The first involved crossing a drawbridge to reach the castle while dodging fireballs shot forth by the dragon. The flaming death could be avoided by jumping or ducking, depending on the flame’s location. The second stage found you inside a storeroom with the dragon. Your mission was to collect the treasure scattered about the room as you avoid the dragon’s flames. Once you have collected all the loot, a door opens which leads you to the next level.

Subsequent levels were merely repeats of the first, with the speed of the dragon’s attacks increasing with each new level.

The game was a success, going on to receive a certificate of merit  in the category of “1984 Best Video Game Audio-Visual Effects (Less than 16K ROM)” at the Arkie Awards. As an interesting footnote, in 2004 designer Bob Smith placed the game’s source code in the public domain.

So now, dear reader, we turn to you. In honor of Appreciate A Dragon Day, leave a comment telling us your favorite video game dragon.

Shaun Jex Shaun Jex (0 Posts)

Shaun Jex is a lifelong gamer, a journalist, and pop culture historian.His love of video games began with a Commodore 64 he played growing up, late night sessions on his NES, Game Boy and Sega Genesis, and frequent trips to the local Tilt arcade. He edits the Citizens' Advocate newspaper in Coppell, Texas and writes about Disney and Walt Disney World history for Celebrations Magazine and the Celebrations Magazine blog. He runs a weekly vlog called "The MCP" dedicated to retro video games, and a channel with his wife Kara called "The Marceline Depot," dedicated to Disney, amusement parks, and travel.