Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Matter of Import 003: Im Schutz der Dragon (Atari 2600, 1983)


Moving into 1983 we're seeing the effects of the console game bust first hand. Activision's successes have led to a glut of video game companies releasing games of highly dubious quality – and now, with the market in shambles, fewer of them are being released in the US.

It's hard to imagine but Nintendo of America's VP is reaching out to Atari to try and license the Famicom to them, but Ray Kassar – the CEO Warner appointed after they bought the company in 78 – resigns before a deal can be made, an event that will eventually come back around to save the industry in a few years.

For now let's examine some of these European produced Atari carts, starting with Im Shultz Der Dragon (Under the Protection of the Dragon), published by Quelle in Germany and cloned by other companies throughout the rest of Europe and Australia.

Gameplay is simple. You, the Dragon, fight off endless waves of geometric shapes by breathing great gouts of fire and... pooping out bombs, it looks like. There are three types of enemy – the regular ones that fly at you from the right side of the screen, the ones that shoot strange horizontal beams at you and kind of bounce around, and the one crawling down below you that has to be blown up.


It's not a terribly difficult game, all in all – holding down the fire button lets you breath fire continuously and drop bombs at a steady rate. As long as you can dodge the enemies that fly in your general direction you should be fine. Each one you kill is worth 100 points, and every 10,000 you move on to the next – identical – stage. After cycling through the forest, ocean, city, and... I think... mountains, you start back at the forest again, with no noticeable increase in difficulty.

That pretty much covers it in terms of gameplay. You start with a large number of lives and regain them at a nice pace, so I didn't feel in strong danger of a game over at any point.

The visuals are nice, even if your dragon is a bit doofy and I'm not sure exactly what the enemies are supposed to be, They do seem to grow with perspective as they near you, which is a nice touch, and the shooty-enemies do change in size and shape as you whittle them down. I don't like the way their shots look, though.

I didn't really notice much if any screen flicker.

The sound is just the sound of your shots being fired. No music, but it'd have been drowned out by the constant firebreath anyway.

This is by no means a good game, but I was able to figure it out without a manual, play a full round of stages without getting bored, and think of something to say about it. If there's a flaw, it's the same as a lot of these shovelware titles – there's just no longevity to it, no addictive quality.

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