Videogame consoles have never been thought of as the go-to venue for adventure games. Gameplay in point-and-click adventure games often ask you to review a single stationary scene, point at many things with a cursor, and click on them to see what happens. Nine-point-nine times out of ten, you’re doing this with a mouse–thus, the clicking.
Unfortunately, console controllers are not designed for this type of molasses-tempo action, leading to developers fusing the point-and-click style with other more commonly accepted gaming elements, like exploration, puzzle solving, action scenes, QTEs, and so on. Some of the more recent and more successful console adventure games include L.A. Noire, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Stacking, and Machinarium. It can work, but it has to be designed with a consoler gamer in mind.
However, back in 1996 or 1997, I played an adventure game on a console in my high school years’ bedroom that clearly would’ve worked better with a mouse and keyboard. Alas, it only came out for the PlayStation 1 and Sega Saturn. Yup, talking about everyone’s favorite medieval-themed, distinctly British Blazing Dragons.
Blazing Dragons is based on the animated television series of the same name that originally ran on Teletoon in Canada. Never heard of it? Join the club. Join it now, and join it some decades ago when I bought the game simply because it looked cartoonish and fun. Plus, y’know, talking dragons. Evidently, the Blazing Dragons episodes that did make it on U.S. screens were heavily bowdlerized. Anyways, the show, which came from Monty Python brainchild Terry Jones, was a parody of King Arthur and other moments during the Middle Ages, mixing it up enough by telling the stories from the perspective of anthropomorphic dragons beset by evil humans.
The game version of Blazing Dragons, which was developed by The Illusions Gaming Company and published by Crystal Dynamics, walks the same line. In a twist on the legend of King Arthur, you play as Flicker, a young dragon living in Camelhot. Oh, and he’s madly in love with Princess Flame; alas, he’s not eligible to ask for her hand in marriage because he is not a knight. However, a dragon tournament has been announced King All-Fire, where the winner will not only win the prize of the princess, but also become the new king.
With that in mind, you play the game. Using a controller. This means cycling through different cursor options (foot, eye, hand, face) with R1. Flicker can collect a number of various objects and interact with the eccentric cast of both other dragons and human characters to solve puzzles. Thankfully, this isn’t one of those adventure games where you can easily die or find yourself permanently stuck for bypassing a single item earlier on. Yeah, I’m looking directly at you, Beneath a Steel Sky. Many of the puzzles end up relying on your knowledge of fairy-tales, such as planting a bean in fertile soil or using Rapunzel’s hair as a rope to reach something previously unreachable. The other side of solving involves Flicker’s inventions, which end up being crafted with less-than-desirable materials instead of what they really need. Evidently, there is one moment of pure action, but I don’t recall exactly what you had to do and when it happened; I suspect probably near the culmination of the dragon tournament. Otherwise, it’s a lot of chatting for clues, gathering junk, and using items to get one claw closer to becoming a true knight.
I liked Blazing Dragons for its colorful characters, goofy, uncaring plot, and devotion to punny names, such as Sir Loungealot, Sir Blaze, Sir Juicealot, Librarian Pureflame, and Rapunsel Yablanowitz. I was too young to really care or be impressed by the game’s much-touted voice acting cast, which starred the likes of Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, and Terry Jones himself, though I do remember the audio not being that great to actually listen to. It’s not that many of the characters said lewd things, but rather they sounded poorly mixed, tinny. The game was not perfect, with long load times, some pixel hunting, and the occasionally forced action sequence, but it stood out at the time as something original, a strike of endearing imagination. If anything, I believe this game lead to me discovering Discworld II: Mortality Bytes and reigniting my love for Terry Pratchett’s series of same-name fantasy books.
GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.