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Dragon Crystal

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Released: 1990

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: SEGA

Submitted by: Stephen Westwood

Role playing games like Zelda allow you to roam the countryside and dungeons, killing monsters, finding objects and solving puzzles. You get a top down or slightly to the side view of your world and the action is real time with a little arcade monster bashing.  You then save the princess and it’s all over.  You probably feel like you have been on a real adventure, but you have completed the game now, so what is your cartridge worth?  Ok, well right now, probably quite a bit on Ebay or at least a nostalgic memory in your cupboard, but do you want to plug it in and start all over again?  No, all you really wanted was Zelda 2.  Cynically, the lack of replay value is, indeed, to sell you that next game.   If I’m not being cynical then I guess a lot of people like the achievement of seeing a game through to its conclusion, but I don’t, I just get sad because I will miss playing it.  I would rather the game went on and on and / or was a little different the next time I played it, a new world to explore each time… which brings meet neatly to the point. Dragon Crystal.

This SMS and Game Gear RPG looks like a Zelda style game, but it is much simpler and extremely easy to play.  It may not be all that involved, it may not take huge skill or have an epic storyline, but DCs strength is in randomisation.  The 30 mazes which reveal themselves to you as you push through the ‘fog’ and’ foliage’ in ‘Rogue’ style are always different and place the objects, monsters and the exit to the next world in random positions.  A new world every time, familiar, but new.  A world that also happened to be packaged in some of the nicest box art on the SMS.

One button was needed to check your inventory where you decide to equip new weapons and armour or use and drop magical objects.  Magic rods, scrolls, potions and rings are listed only by their colour until you use one and then find out what it does.  This, of course, is also different every time.  So will the silver potion make you feel better or decidedly dodgy?  It’s a risk you take, and fighting monsters (by walking into them) is at your risk too.  If you are losing hit points and are going to die you have to run away and walk about a bit so that your character eats his food reserves and gets stronger.  That’s about it for gameplay.  Your character learns what the things do, gets a dragon buddy, listens to the nice music and hears that cool ‘ting’ as a sword thrust is blocked.  He then gets killed by a blood toad.

But if you do decide to go again, rest assured, your little adventurer will have forgotten everything and the world will be one that is fresh and exciting again.  Now THAT is an adventure!