Dragon's Breath

Publisher: Palace
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #100

Dragon's Breath

Anrea is a land troubled by civil war. Three lords in the wasted plain around Dwarf Mountain are battling for supremacy, and for the right to claim the three pieces of a magical object: the talisman. Only the talisman, once assembled, allows access to the Throne Room in Dwarf Mountain, and only the Throne Room hides the secret of immortality.

Any combination of human and computer players can take part in this triangular conflict, but all have the same objective: to raise their armies of dragons to such a strength and number that they will find the talisman first and have the power to guard it.

Play takes place in turns, during which any player may perform six basic actions. Accessing the map allows you to plot attacks on enemy settlements; the dragon status screen tells you how good a dragon is at performing tasks (a dragon with poor eyesight, for example, won't find talisman pieces so easily). Nurturing a dragon in the egg involves gauging the heat of incubation and casting the right spells; checking books reveals information about other player movements, accounts and your magic stock; dealing with traders allows you to stock up on elements you lack.

Dragon's Breath

Spell-casting, however, is the most fundamental action: once you've learned your trade, you can create magic to increase the population of one of your towns, give a dragon greater strength, or give yourself greater wealth. Increased population means greater defences; a strong dragon will live longer and conquer more; greater wealth means you can buy more elements for magic potions.

A game continues until all players run out of money and dragons, or the talisman is found. There can only be one winner...


Every aspect of Dragon's Breath has been superbly designed, from general points like the difficulty level (the computer opponents make formidable challengers) down to little things such as the different faces of traders who come to sell items.

Dragon's Breath

However, the most rewarding aspect is undoubtedly the spell-casting. This system draws you right to the heart of alchemy and spell creation - it's so good that if you're not happy with one spell, you can create another yourself (as long as you're aware of the side effects).

Once you've mastered the art (and you have to, to win), you can explore all the other subtleties, such as raising and training dragons, occupying villages, searching for talisman fragments: there are so many actions you can perform that no game is ever completely the same.

On top of this, the graphics are excellent and the stereo sound effects and music superb! Dragon's Breath has to be one of the most original games for some time, and if you like your action heavily dosed with strategy, go for it. The only criticism I have is there are too few arcade-style sequences: a couple more would have made it a classic.