Who ya gonna call?
This week’s Arcade Archives release takes us back to the very early days of one of gaming’s most formative genres: the dungeon crawler — Hamster has reached into its big ol’ catalogue of classics and pulled out Namco’s Dragon Buster, now available to download on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Originally released in arcades way back in 1984, before finding its way to the Japanese home computer market, Dragon Buster is a side-scrolling fantasy adventure that would carve a path for many followers to come. The game sees a daring knight, Clovis, venture into a deep subterranean labyrinth on a mission to rescue the fair princess Celia from the giant winged dragon that is laying siege to the entire kingdom. Save the princess, slay the dragon, save the kingdom. Classic.
Dragon Buster, though incredibly rudimentary, featured some pretty impressive mechanics for its day, including multiple-choice routes, sprawling dungeons, a map screen, an army of enemies, and even boss characters. The home ports would go even further, including short cinematic sequences to flesh out the story. Dragon Buster is also considered one of the first video games to feature a replenishable on-screen health bar, as well as a “double-jump” mechanic. So despite its age and understandably basic nature, it would serve as a blueprint for the ever-evolving dungeon crawler genre, and the many classics that we enjoy to this day, including titles such as Dungeon Master, Diablo, and even Hades.
Dragon Buster is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.