Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Matter of Import 48: Draco [Cidelsa 1981]

Today we start covering games released in 1981 – in US arcades the most popular titles were Donkey Kong, Galaga, and Frogger, and these games will form the basis for evaluating what we play – how well does it stack up?

Draco was released by Spanish developer Cidelsa as a twin stick shooter similar in superficial ways to Berzerk. You run around a two-screen world, trying to accomplish different tasks in different stages – in the first, you need to shoot these bubbles to "free" the points held within – touching the walls, points themselves, or enemies will kill you. In stage two, you need to navigate this maze to collect the point values – which no longer kill you – before the time runs out. After a few tries I discovered you don't need to collect all the points, only the highlighted set at the end.

In stage three, you need to collect all the dots before time runs out. Is there a stage four? Is it different or more of the same? I don't know. I lost interest in the game after three stages. But I could have continued on, because Draco allows you to keep playing from the last stage you reached if you insert another quarter.

I haven't been able to track down exactly when in 1981 Draco was released, so I can't say for sure if it predates SNK's October release Fantasy, generally regarded as the first arcade game to feature continues... but it's possible.

While the graphics are primitive by 1981's standards and the music is certainly nothing special, the innovation of "Continues" – either as early adopters or inventors – is enough that I can see fit to giving Draco a C rating.


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