Dragonfire, ColecoVision

Dragonfire is a fantasy action game designed and coded by Bob Smith and first published for the Atari 2600 by Imagic in 1982. This ColecoVision port features enhanced graphics and gameplay over the Atari original and was first released in 1984.

Each level of Dragonfire has two stages. In the first stage you must cross a side-viewed drawbridge while avoiding fireballs that move across the screen. You can duck under high-flying fireballs and jump over low-flying fireballs.

In the second stage you must run around a room, viewed from overhead, collecting treasure while avoiding fireballs shot at you by a dragon that moves at the bottom of the screen. When you’ve collected every piece of treasure a door opens in the top left-hand corner of the room that leads you to the next level.

The first stage is insanely difficult because of the terrible jump mechanic of the player character, and also the unfair close proximity of the twin fireballs that open every stage and give you approximately two seconds to react before you die… Getting across that drawbridge unscathed is almost impossible because of your unbelievably pathetic jump, which seems almost like a joke or a bug, because it’s just so awful and doesn’t make you go high enough for long enough to clear anything, really. Later drawbridge levels are even more difficult, with archers firing down on you as well… But that jump is a crippling handicap throughout the game, and ruins it, basically.

If you’re hit by a fireball at any point on either stage you’ll lose one of your seven lives. Lose all of your lives and it’s ‘game over’. As the levels increase the fireballs move progressively faster, making it more difficult to avoid them. If you’re going to last more than twenty seconds in this game you’ve got to learn how to jump. And – to be honest – I’m still not sure how to do that myself… Or if it’s even possible.

Playing Dragonfire now is like pulling your own teeth out with pliers… It’s archaic, stupid, and massively frustrating. If I’d have paid money for it back in 1982 I think I would’ve been furious. Mostly because it’s clearly two pointless screens that are so devoid of playability that it makes you wonder how Imagic ever got to produce games in the first place.

More: Dragonfire on Wikipedia

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