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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: Puzzle (Stuff is Falling)

Awards: None
You Won't Believe How Much Installing Spiral Dragon Columns Can Increase the Value of Your Home Pros: Fun Dragon Motif/ Approachable Gameplay
Cons: Disappointing Sound Effects
I Don't Care If You Are Dragons... CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM... NOW!!!


Overview: Hide your kids, hide your wife... hide your husband because there's a crazy man on the loose and he's making Dragon themed homebrew video games
for the Atari 7800. This "Dragon Trilogy" is just the type of quirkiness I love in the Atari 7800 community. Hobby programmer Revontuli has recently completed "Dragon's Cache", the first of three dragon themed games for the Prosystem representing three different genres. This first game is one of those "stuff is falling" puzzle dealios that your girlfriend loves, but more specifically, its VERY similar to Sega's Columns. Its probably not as fun as Tetris, but it is much more easy to grasp than Klax. Columns/ Dragon's Cache/ Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine are all cut from the same cloth and may be the most simple falling pieces puzzle games ever made... and that can be a good thing.

Graphics: The game opens up with a really friggin sweet dragon motif, complete with curly-q dragon things, and evil dragon things, with a dancing dragon thing used as the cursor. By the way, the dancing dragon is the main sprite featured in the second game in the series, "Dragon's Descent" which is a very kick azz dungeon crawler. The presentation in this game is superb. There are several modes with different menus, and screens explaining the rules and even the ability to pick between playing as "The Dragon of Embers" or "The Dragon of Storms". Soooo mysterious. All this does however is change the color of the dragon (who looks like he his doing jazzercise as we deal with these damned gems) and the color of the score table. Still pretty groovealicious. Everything is great so far, but I do think the gems look a little blocky. Also, if you select 6 gems (as opposed to 5 or 4), there are two greenish gems that can screw you up if you are not careful. I don't know why my man Revontuli gotta be hating on the color orange, yo... but he do.

Sound: If the appearance of the game throws you off its Columns derivation, the sound should snap old school gamers back into reality. There's three songs in Dragon's Cache: A, B, or C... just like Sega's Columns. And... the three songs have that electric, medieval, spaceship, ballroom dancing vibe, as well (if that's a thing). Now, Columns' music was really spectacular, but lil ole Dragon Cache's TIA sound holds its own. None of DC's tunes are quite as catchy, but dammit, they try. But one tune... maybe its B... can grate the nerves and make you reach for the Zoloft if played at loud volumes. The sound effects are OK, but I think the biggest misstep in the entire game is the lack of audio ballyhoo when you do something special in Dragon's Cache. When we clear several lines, we get a few chirps... but a whirling noise, applause, a sexy chick going "oooooooooooooh!", a dragon fart... I dunno... something rock n roll needs to happen when we save the day, but all we get is what sounds like someone dropping a Pepsi can full of paper clips.

Gameplay: Is DC easier to understand than Klax? Yes. Is DC easier to understand than Tetris? Amazingly, yes. All you have to do is align three gems in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to erase the gems from the board and keep going as long as you can. When we clear enough lines, we will gain a level. YAY! But wait, that means the gems drop faster. BOO! We do this until we screw up and clog up the whole play field or our mom calls us for dinner. The left button shifts the positions of the three gem set one way, the right shifts them another, and both buttons together act as offense in the two player game. Two player game? Oh yes... this game has some modes in droves. And if it almost rhymes, its still kinda true.

Value: The biggest difference between Dragon's Cache and Columns are the modes. As with many 7800 games, the two player options are terrific here. Revontuli has included Score Mode (play until you die, scoring as many points as possible), Race Mode (count down from a predetermined score to get to zero, much like darts), Training Mode (so you can prepare for Battle Mode), and Battle Mode... which is probably the best part of the game. In Battle Mode, you and a friend or a bribed reluctant child will compete head to head, trying to do your Dragon's Cache thang... Storm Dragon vs. Ember Dragon style. When you successfully eliminate three gems in a row, you can cause problems for your fellow greedy dragon. You can use that power now or save up and unleash the power of 5 stored gem matches. When you do this, your opponent's gems fall faster for a turn. Saving up to hit your friend with a mighty 5 shot is tempting, but the cleared gem matches don't disappear until you use your power, which may become a hindrance and cluttered like a teenager's bedroom during its "Clash" phase. One cool mode that I wish was included was the dreaded "alternating turn" 2 player mode from the Sega Genesis version of Columns. That mode is always good for laughs, arguments, a black eye and tears.


Originality: This may be Columns with a Dragon paint job, but anything with a Dragon paint job is friggin sweet. Look-it. I'm capitalizing Dragon when I don't even have to, that's what's happening here, man. I want to know the back story of these dragons: Storm and Ember. Why the angst? Why the pain? Why the fear and self-loathing? There should be a poorly drawn comic book dedicated to the story of these dragons as we play through Cache, Descent, and Havoc. And for the love of god, let's unite at the end and kill one of those a-hole knights. Always with the "look at me! I'm a knight" BS. Screw those clowns. "For God and the Queen! Blah Blah Blah!" What primadonnas.

Overall: Dragon's Cache is a really good title, but in the days of free cell phone games, browser games, free games on Steam and beyond, spending full price cash money on "stuff is falling" video games may be asking a lot for brawlers on a budget. As an Atari 7800 fan, I bought it day one. But for more than any reason... dude... I gotta complete the trilogy. And how will this series end with the third game, the shoot 'em up "Dragon's Havoc?" It's gotta be better than how Game of Thrones ended! So... I'm there. As ubiquitous as Dragon's Cache's puzzle gameplay may be, the Dragon motif and the promise of more Dragon glory down the road has me sold.



Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank AtariAge for allowing the use of their screenshots for this review.