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Tagin' Dragon (NES) artwork

Tagin' Dragon (NES) review


Tagin' Dragon (NES) image

Step one: place cartridge in NES.

Step two: press power button.

Step three: facepalm at misspelled title screen.

Tagin' Dragon provides you with a misspelled title to let you know that you shouldn't waste your time playing it. Never mind the dumpy-looking, color-changing "dragon" staring at you from the primary screen... I mean, think of it this way: would you patronize a store with a sign outside of it that read, "OPIN FOR BIZNISS?" I know I shouldn't have touched the game, but I couldn't help myself. You see, Tagin' Dragon is an unlicensed title released by Sachen. Since I apparently hate myself and love obscure games, I decided to devote a portion of the finite time I have on this planet to playing it and crying in the shower afterward.

So I grabbed my controller and tucked in, discovering the game to be an arcade-style actioner similar to Pac-Man or Dig Dug. Unlike those titles, though, Tagin' Dragon isn't intuitive and its visuals are quite nauseating. Level one consists of mixture of lime green, a darkish-yellowish-green, indigo, purple and orange-brown foes that looked like puppies with manes. Did someone spill split pea soup on a My Pet Monster doll? These canines wander around a maze of blocks and obstructions, hell bent on doing something. You, in response, must fight the off by performing some arbitrary task. Shoulder shrugs ensue, followed by rapid presses of the A button that achieve nothing more than making your dragon open his mouth.

"Oh," you might think, "You're supposed to bite the others to death." However, that doesn't work. So you wander around, trying not to get killed whilst also seeking a means of offense. I, personally, stumbled upon it while messing around and attempting in-game suicide. Utilizing A near an opponent's butt causes the protagonist to munch a piece of the creature's tail off. This is assuming you've positioned your mouth in just the right place, though, because the game can be picky and decide not to recognize a blatant bite that was a pixel short of the acceptable nibble zone. Gorge yourself on enough of an enemy's posterior and he'll perish, leaving behind a pile of bleached bones. Likewise, the mutant puppy brigade can do the same to you. Allow one to get too close to your rear and it'll rip off a chunk.

Somewhere in there is a 'piece of ass' joke...

I wish I could say Tagin' Dragon was this easy, because then it might be at least mediocre. Rather, the game sports a combination of horrible AI and stiff control response, which makes getting around corners or shifting direction a needless pain. The former of the two also basically means the game's difficulty rating is random. Sometimes you'll be able to pick off your adversaries with no problem, even clearing a level in under a minute. All you have to do is lie in wait around a corner, let one pass you (sprites can walk through each other) and commence chomping. Yeah, the adversarial AI is that stupid. This strategy can also backfire on you as well, though. Randomly, the game might choose to spin around and run through your sprite, and gobble up your tail whilst sitting on top of you.

Tagin' Dragon screenshotTagin' Dragon screenshot

One other thing I found peculiar is that your opponents don't gravitate towards you. They go about their business, running erratically until they bleed out via tail wound. With all of the business of moseying around with demanding play control, tricky collision detection in regards to bite, no such detection when it comes to running into enemy sprites, and the aforementioned lack of computer opponent aggro, Tagin' Dragon feels more like drunken tag than an arcade ape. You stumble, you falter, you travel at torpor-inducing moderate pace and you mostly spend your time haphazardly running into your opponents while you mash the attack button.

There's nothing about this title that effectively pays homage to the arcades of yore. The stiff control response stomps out the quickness of the game, the lack of intuitive mechanics mars the much needed simplicity, and the dull gameplay nixes any chance of addiction. Truly, Tagin' Dragon is as slapped together as its misspelled moniker might suggest. With so many flaws and questionable design choices, you have to wonder if Bunch Games didn't try to pass its beta off as a finished product.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (September 28, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Leroux posted September 28, 2010:

Good review. I remember playing this years ago after SnowDragon ripped it. If only for a couple minutes.

On the subject of the name, I think we have an error in the database, since "Tagin' Dragon" is more common around the web and on the box art too, and I'm betting SD submitted the listing in the Games to be Added to the DB topic years ago (since he spells it the same way). Not even the only issue with the listing I caught -- Thin Chen Enterprises is better known as Sachen, and we should probably merge the two separate company listings.

Heads up I'm about to do that and you might want to edit the name throughout the review (or you can just be lazy and ask me to do it :P). I read over the intro and it still works with changing the proper title.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted September 29, 2010:

I always wondered about the Thin Chen/Sachen thing. I've only played a handful of Sachen games. None of them have been pleasant.

And I will change the name in the review. Thank you for the feedback Leroux!

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