This is it guys! This is one of the main enemies that defines the word “Boss” in a video game. Dragons are one of the major, “big” enemies in not only video games, but also in any other medium. And the reason for that is because dragons are awesome.
How awesome are they? Well, they are so awesome that “Dragon” is a “Type” of Pokemon. This means you can look like a dragon – for example Charizard -but you are not a dragon until you have it as your “Pokemon Type”. Let’s also not forget that it is the second most common primary type among legendary Pokemons and one of the only two types in the game who’s weak against itself, because the only way to beat a dragon is with another one.
They are so awesome that they are part of the name of one of the most famous role-playing games in history: Dungeons and Dragons. Now, of course they could pick another name like “Dungeons and Wizards” or “Dungeons and Maces”, but they chose dragons because they knew that dragons are freaking awesome.
The Hobbit, one of the most well-known books in the world, includes Smaug, a dragon with almost impenetrable skin. Smaug gained infamy when he captured an entire kingdom of dwarfs all by himself, and he did that because he was a dragon, and dragons are awesome.
And what’s funny about them is that like vampires, dragons are one of most common creatures in several folktales. Basically, each region around the world has their own legends, myths and descriptions about their respective dragons. I could spend more time explaining why dragons are awesome but let’s cut to the good part; the meaning of a dragon in a video game.
In a video game, dragons are the heavy hitters. They are usually the boss at the end of the dungeon or even at the end of the game and they don’t usually appear as generic enemies unless you are in one of the hardest parts of the game- especially if you are playing an RPG. And of course, RPG’s are one of the many genres in which you can see a dragon and the reason for that is because they appear in everything. Fighting Games like Bloody Roar 4, racing games like Chocobo Racing , platformers like Megaman 2, puzzle games like Puyo Puyo, and beat em up’s like Castle Crashers. And these are just the literal representations of a dragon.
There are several kinds of dragons, so it’s hard to say how a typical one looks because each culture has their own style. However, they all have these things in common: first of all, they are reptiles, or at least they have a reptilian body that resembles a snake or a lizard. Second, they are always related to gods or deities, being a deity or the creation of one with the only purpose of challenging the hero of the story. And three, these guys don’t fall so easily unless you are a demigod or you are armed with some powerful weapons.
Non-Flying Dragon (Terrestrial Dragon)
These are some of the least known dragons so I really couldn’t find much about them in myths. However, in games they always have some similar features: a T-Rex kind of body without wings that usually works as a pet that the hero can ride or an enemy that jumps around and shoots fireballs at you in order to burn you alive. These dragons appear in games like Hudson Adventure Island 2 to 4 (yes, there’s a fourth game), Suikoden V, the Golden Axe franchise, the Pokemon Franchise and the Super Mario Bros Franchise, where we have the Yoshi race. These are a bunch of lizards with a big tongue that can spit the same enemies they swallow, turn them into eggs, spit fire and even get wings and fly. Let’s not forget to mention Bowser, whose design is kind of based on a Terrasque, a mythical creature with a lion’s head, six short bear legs, an ox kind of body and a turtle shell, who at the same time was considered a sort of dragon.
European Dragon (A.K.A Lizard Dragon)
This is one of the most famous styles of dragons, being the one who appears in movies like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Their style is so recognizable that I can describe it with my eyes closed: Long spiky tail, most of the time with a huge spearhead at the end of it, long back legs and big feet with huge claws, and slightly smaller legs in the front. There are two variations here, in the front legs they may have smaller feet than in the back or hands with three to five fingers and long nails. Its body is big, bulky and long, usually with big and spiky wings on its back similar to the ones of bats, a long neck with a head similar to a snake or lizard, with long fangs and horns. These guys appear in games like Elemental master, Dragon’s Age, King of the Dragons, Dark Souls, The Dragon Quest Franchise, Pokemon Franchise, Digimon Franchise and many others.
A variant of the European Dragon is the wyvern, which is a weaker, dumber and smaller dragon. The main differences are that they have two legs while dragons may have four or none and their wings can have small hands that they can use to grip from trees and cut your body in several pieces. These are the guys who appear in games like Skyrim, Kingdom Hearts, World of Warcraft, The Monster Hunter franchise, The Witcher franchise, The Fire Emblem franchise, and many others.
Asian Dragon (A.K.A Serpent Dragon)
These are the dragons that usually appear on your favorite anime. Their appearance is more similar to a snake for having a really long and slim body. Most of the time they appear with four legs that are usually very small in comparison with its body and a face that resembles something more akin to a lion or horse (according to their myths of course) rather than a reptile, alongside a Fu Manchu mustache and some very long horns. Despite being portrayed most of the time without wings, they still can fly by the power of magic and awesomeness. These creatures are a symbol of strength and good luck, not to mention that many deities and gods in Chinese or Japanese mythologies were depicted as dragons. This is the dragon you see in games like Pokemon (Rayquaza), TLOZ Franchise, The Shin Megami Tensei Franchise, Okami (with Orochi) and even new games like Blizzards Overwatch depicted above.
Oceanic Dragon (Water Dragon)
Similar to the Asian dragons we have the water dragons or leviathans (which by the way, is the most common name for a water dragon in video games). Despite their name these guys don’t only appear in water, but the thing with them is that they are on a very delicate spot in the bestiarium of video games. Unlike other dragons, their design owes a lot to prehistoric dinosaurs, so much so that it is hard to tell sometimes if we are fighting against a dinosaur or a dragon. They usually have one of these three designs: a giant snake with fins and an optional horn, or a body similar to a whale but more spiky and with a huge dragon head filled with shark teeth, and the last one is a big body, with four fins and a really long neck. If this sounds familiar to you and you are not that much into video games, it’s because all these designs are based on real prehistoric creatures such as the basilosaurus, the kronosaurus and the Mauisaurus. In video games, these guys appear in Legend of Dragoon, Okami, and The Final Fantasy franchise among others.
This is basically what you get by combining a human body with the skin of a reptile that’s harder than steel. This is essentially a dragon with humanoid proportions, with some minor exceptions of course like one or two fingers less than normal or inverted knees (the chicken leg syndrome for some of you). Usually having a long tail and some huge wings on their back. This is a deadly creature that can become even deadlier with some upgrades like weapons and heavy armor. Because of their humanoid features they normally have the size of a tall person, but they can grow to be as big as the European or Chinese dragons, which translates to ginormous. These Dragons appear in games like TMNT: Tournament Fighters for NES (Hothead), Skyrim (the Dragonians), The King of the Dragons, Megaman X4 (Magma Dragon), Mortal Kombat: Deception (Onaga), Ogre Battle: the March of the Black Queen, the Dragon Quest franchise and the Digimon franchise among others.
This is one of the most interesting hybrids I have found in my searches, and if you know me you know I’m being serious. This is what you get by having a kinky relationship with a dragon (not that there’s anything wrong with that): a human child with the power of a dragon, sometimes with some vestigial dragon traits such as horns, pointy ears, wings or tail. What sets them apart from the Draconians is that these guys are technically humans, which gives them resistance to some dragon weaknesses while still being able to use some of their powers. Another thing that makes them awesome is that some of these guys are able to transform into dragons. These creatures appear in games like Legend of Dragoon, where your characters are technically humans but with the ability to use dragon powers. Dragon Quest VIII, where there’s a whole race called Dragovians, a race of Half-Human and Half-Dragon with the power to transform into big dragons.
There is also Sol Badguy in the Guilty Gear franchise who can turn into a Dragon-Like creature which makes him super powerful. Draco Centauros, a dragon lady of the Puyo Puyo games that sadly can’t turn into a dragon. Volga from TLOZ: Hyrule Warriors, who’s basically Volvagia in human form. And lastly, Ryu, the main character from Breath of Fire descends from a dragon bloodline which means he can turn into a Dragon using magic.
Damn, this is long and I still have to mention what distinguishes a dragon in a video game from other enemies.
Big to Bigger
Dragons are huge, and I mean as big as like half the screen, or even too big for it completely. This is very common in bosses, and despite having a lot of meat to shoot or stab, these dragons will have a really small hit box or in some cases, a weakness to a certain element in the level (such as giant crossbows turrets that exist on this level for some reason). Of course there’s a good reason for them having such resistance, and that is…
Many tales say that Dragons have a skin as hard as metal, and considering that big reptiles like alligators have a very rough skin already, I’m pretty sure that those folks weren’t as high as some people thought they were. The only way to successfully pierce through the dragon skin is with a really good sword and some knowledge of dragon anatomy. In video games this only means two things; the first one is that they have very high defense stats and resistance to magic, and the second one is that they have a small hit box (normally their eyes or mouth when they open it). Of course, this means that any strike away from the weak point will do no damage at all.
Thankfully my pal Andrew did a review of the Immortal, so you don’t have to get burned like I did.
Dragons are famous for their ability to breathe fire. While this is the feature that most people associate with them but in some stories instead of fire they can breathe poison or shoot lightning from their mouths. In video games dragons can pretty much shoot anything they want from their mouths- I’m talking about ice beams, high pressure water or even lava, so be careful when you see a dragon opening their mouth because that only means he’s ready to shoot some of their magic at you.
Puff, The Magic Dragon
Dragons are described as ancient creatures with an immense power and wisdom. They are sometimes portrayed as gods, entities, forces of nature, or anything that sounds menacing as hell. This is very common in the myths of the East where we have a dragon whose name, Shenlong, literally means God Dragon. In video games, dragons are sometimes portrayed in the same way, being literally gods or spirits with a lot of power. This is the reason why are we fighting a dragon made of pure fire or a dragon that literally has their own dimension.
For some reason, one head is not enough, so why not add another one or two or even eight more? I don’t know why but for some reason dragons like to have more than one head. In several tales or legends, creatures like the Slavic Dragon are described as a three-headed dragon that can spit fire. And in Japan we have Kuzuryu, a nine headed-dragon that nobody dared to defy because if they did I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. In video games the sky’s the limit when we are talking about adding heads. I mean, just look at the evolutionary line of Hydreigon from Pokemon: first we have Deino (an Emo dragon), then we have Zweilous (A two-headed Emo dragon) and their final evolution, a three-headed pissed off dragon that will Dark Pulse you to death.
Now you see why dragons are used a lot in video games, these guys represent strength and wisdom. They can be a force of good that can help our heroes in their quest of justice, or a force of destruction that can annihilate everything unless we put end to their existence.
Normally, dragons are the heavy hitters for the real bad guys in the game. But in others, these guys are the main baddies, such as King of the Dragons, Dragon’s Lair, The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of Dragon, The Elder-Scroll V: Skyrim, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and of course the Mario Bros franchise, not to mention many more. So be careful next time you are dealing with a dragon.