The recent news that Scalebound might well be Switchbound is a faint flicker of hope for a few parishes: the Switch players, Hideki Kamiya fans, and the people who are partial to dragons. I fall into two of those camps – I don’t know what I'm doing not having a Switch; I’ll get around to it – and it got me to thinking about the dragon in Scalebound. Thurban its name was (rubbish name), and it looked rubbish. Here are some better ones.
Hellkite Dragon – Dark Souls
Despite the high fantasy of Dark Souls’ setting, it contains surely the most realistic encounter with a dragon in any video game. Which is to say, your swift death from above in a tsunami of hellfire as a red blur flickers past in an instant, like a kite from hell. Fittingly named the Hellkite Dragon, this bastard paid no heed to the concept of fair warning or a fair fight. He’s merciless, he’s nasty, he’s dark, he’s gritty. He’s the Dark Souls of dragons.
Spyro – Spyro the Dragon
If the Hellkite Dragon were tasked with defeating Gnasty Gnorc, then Gnasty Gnorc would be very much dead before breakfast. I imagine Hellkite would look down on Spyro with disdain. Afterall, what sort of self-respecting dragon would hang about with cheetahs, kangaroos, and a faun? What sort of dragon can’t summon a decent bellyful of napalm with which to melt his enemies? What sort of dragon uses a skateboard? Spends his time trying to save lesser creatures? Minces around with an insect for company? The answer is: A dragon with a rude ‘tude.
Charizard – Pokémon Red and Blue
The original dragon bad boy, Charizard took having a rude ‘tude to the next level – into just being inconsiderate. In the cartoon, he would regularly disobey Ash Ketchum’s commands, leaving him in the lurch during pivotal battles – the fight against Blaine’s Magmar remains the definitive dramatic showdown of my early years. In the games, Charizard would also regularly disobey my commands, because I wouldn’t have the requisite gym badge (again, I was a
child moron). This added an element of suspense and thrill to the fights, and when he did as I politely asked and burnt my foe to a cinder, he was everything a boy could want from a dragon.
Ridley – Metroid
Space dragons count. Why wouldn’t they? For all his skulduggery (one of his aliases is The Cunning God of Death), Ridley is something of a pioneer: the first video game dragon in space! One small swoop for a dragon; one giant cretin of a boss fight, in which you have to freeze his flames, stand on them, and fire endlessly into his head. It’s actually a pathetically easy boss, but it isn’t when your tiny, grimy, 6-year-old hands struggle to wrangle the NES controller into submission, and you’re unreasonably nervous at the sight of Ridley – who resembled Barney the dinosaur after a long prison stretch and just before entering rehab for crack cocaine addiction.
Bub and/or Bob – Bubble Bobble
For a long time, I thought these little fellas were dinosaurs. They don’t have wings, don’t breathe fire, and they look as big as a pair of shoes. But this is because they are, in fact, Bubble Dragons. Originally, Bubby and Bobby were two human brothers, before being transformed by Baron Von Blubba; now, they parade around levels blowing bubbles at things and trying to rescue their girlfriends. Actually, these chaps just aren’t very good, are they? Well, I’ve typed it out now.
Valoo – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Valoo was great because, like Van Gogh and Kafka, he was misunderstood. He was portly, which was brilliant; he presided over a tetchy volcano, roaring and spewing flame into the skies above Dragon Roost Island; and his name rhymes with Baloo. His temper was far more foul than Baloo's, however, and for a long while you presumed he would be a boss – another beast for link to batter. But no. It turned out Valoo’s tail was trapped in the volcano, and he was in fact a friendly fellow. That’s another feather in The Wind Waker’s cap: it shattered prejudice against dragonkind!
Dragon Age – Dragon Age
Last but by no means least, it’s Dragon Age. Oh god he was a right dragon wasn’t he? Do you remember how good Dragon Age was, from the hit game Dragon Age? Gah, he was such a tricky customer – such a cheeky chappy. I would say that Dragon Age was the epitome of dragons, really. They may as well have taken out the space between the words and just made it Dragonage – as in, the height of sheer dragonage. So dragony. Many good times were had with Dragon Age. Do you remember them? I sure do, from when the game/s was/were released.