Dragon's Breath

Title           Dragon's Breath
Game Type       Action Strategy
Publisher       Palace
Players         1-3
Compatibility   OCS/ECS (Not AGA)
HD Installable  No
Submission      Karajorma

  Upon loading Dragon's Breath the game goes into the intro. A cool tune
plays in the background and the intro proper starts. A story about a
dragon eating a poor slave girl at the orders of his master. If you
haven`t read the manual you`ll be thinking that this guy is your enemy.
But no. In Dragon's Breath you are the bad guy! Your job is to enslave all
the surrounding villages and tax them to the hilt as you search for the
pieces of a medalion that will make you immortal. The problem is that two
other overlords are trying to do the same thing. The game always has three
players, but if you have no friends two of them can be computer controlled.

  Once the number of human players has been decided the game begins. You
are presented with a picture of your stronghold and given your options.
You can cast spells (I`ll come to this one later), check what is going on
in the world, check on your supplies of dragon eggs or send out your
dragons to ravage the country.

 You have several eggs from which you can grow more dragons. You will need
to do this as at the start you only have one dragon. Eggs are grown by
incubating them on a burner. The more heat you put in the faster the
dragon hatches but a "slow cooked" dragon is stronger.

 You can send out your dragon to attack one of the villages. You can
either attack the village to weaken it or try to take it over. If you
attack a village that is currently at war with another one, the other
village will reward you for helping them. However the rewards tend to be
low. Your main source of income is taxes from the villages you take over.

 The other thing you can try is casting spells. You can cast spells to
weaken enemy villages, heal or improve your dragons, or to get more dragon

  Spellcasting is done on the respective screen. The map screen allows you
to cast spells at villages, The dragon screen to improve your dragons, the
egg screen allows you to cast spells at your dragons while they have yet
to hatch. The interface for all spellcasting is the same however. You are
presented with an alchemists set up. You add the ingredients to your
mixture (choosing whether to grind, cut, mix or add them whole). You also
have a condenser and bunsen burner. All these things have a differing
effect on the spell. Add too much of the wrong ingredient and the whole
mixture will explode putting your lab out of commision for the rest of the
month. How do you know which copmpounds to use? Trial and error. The
manual gives you a list of the effects of the ingredients along with their
side effects (e.g. One compound might increase your dragon's strength but
decrease it`s eyesight meaning that you have to add something to the
potion to combat this) but apart from that list you are pretty much on
your own.

  Once you`ve decided what to do you end your turn. If your friends are
playing they too must choose what to do. Then the game decides the outcome
of your choices. The dragons fly from their respective fortresses and
attack villages. When your dragon attacks a village you can either have
the computer decide the outcome or you can play a little upward scrolling
shoot-em-up to decide the outcome. I found this section far too hard,
always resulting in the death of my dragon since the game gives you no
instructions whatsoever on what to do. If you let the computer decide
you`ll be rewarded with a shot of your dragon flying in and breathing fire
over the village. The game tells you how many innocent villagers you wiped
out and if the dragon has managed to take over or even destroy the village.
The game then allows you to take your next turn. The game is lost if you
run out of money.

 What did I think of Dragon's Breath? Well I tried really hard to like it.
To this day I`ll still play it for an hour or so from time to time.  The
game however just lacks a certain something to draw you in however. The
computer players seem to be able to hatch two or three new dragons in the
time it takes you to get one weak one. The amount of money you start with
is far too small, and the way spellcasting is handled while elegant is far
too confusing unless you have been told by someone else what spells to use.
Maybe I never came up with very good spells but I saw little effect from
magic (except a slight healing effect on my dragon). That said I do like
the open ended way that spellcasting was handled but I wish they`d given
some examples of weak spells just to show us what to do. The computer
players certainly seem to have no problems with magic. The other problem
is that your dragons get wiped out far to easily. Since you only have one
at the start if it gets killed it`s game over.

 Frankly Dragon's Breath is a game I would love if it wasn`t so hard. You
need to start with a couple more dragons or some more money to stand a
chance. The manual also needs to give you a little more help (especially
with manual control of the dragons). These things would have made Dragon's
Breath in to a classic. As it is Dragon's Breath a cool little game that
you may play once or twice a year for an hour or two until you get bored
of being beaten.

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