Dragon Buster

For the game featuring a sword named "Dragon Buster", see Secret of Mana.
Not to be confused with Dragon Booster.
Dragon Buster

Arcade flyer
Developer(s) Namco
Platform(s) Arcade, Family Computer, MSX, PC-8801, X68000, Wii and Wii U (Virtual Console), iOS, Android
Release date(s)


Family Computer


  • JP: December 19, 1987


Virtual Console

  • JP: September 15, 2009 (Arcade for Wii)
  • JP: January 21, 2015 (Famicom for Wii U)
Genre(s) Platform game
Dungeon crawl
Action role-playing game
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright, cabaret, and cocktail
Arcade system Namco Pac-Land
CPU 1x Motorola M6809 @ 1.536 MHz,
1x Hitachi HD63701 @ 1.536 MHz
Sound 1x Namco WSG @ 1.536 MHz
Display Horizontal orientation, Raster, 288 x 224 resolution

Dragon Buster (ドラゴンバスター Doragon Basutā) is a platform dungeon crawl action role-playing arcade game that was developed by Namco in 1984 and released in 1985.[1][2][3] It runs on Namco Pac-Land hardware, modified to support vertical scrolling. In Japan, the game was ported to the Family Computer, MSX and Sharp X68000;[1] the latter version was later released for the Virtual Console in the same region on November 18, 2008. Dragon Buster has been ported for the PSP and is available as part of Namco Museum Battle Collection. It was followed by a Japan-only Famicom sequel, Dragon Buster II: Yami no Fūin, and was later followed by the PlayStation game Dragon Valor, which was both a remake and sequel.

The game featured side-scrolling platform gameplay and a "world view" map similar to the later Super Mario Bros. series.[4] Dragon Buster was also the earliest game to feature a Double jump mechanic,[5] and one of the first to use a visual health meter.[2]


In the beginning, a prince named Clovis was born the son of the kingdom's chief bodyguard to the royal Lawrence family. As a young child, Clovis was very mischievous and undisciplined, so his father thought it might be best to place him under the care of a monk who lived in the woods far from the kingdom. Under the monk's care, Clovis began to learn various aspects of knowledge, including how to be a superior swordsman. When word reached the monk that King Lawrence's 16-year-old daughter Celia had been abducted and held by a fearsome dragon, who wished to break the kingdom's spirit and coerce the kingdom to do his bidding, Clovis felt a sense of duty to chase after the dragon and rescue Celia in the name of his father. In order to save the Princess, he trained daily with the monk and learned to withstand injury, whether cut by swords or burned by flame, and still be just as capable a fighter as ever.


Screenshot of Dragon Buster (arcade version).

The player must guide the hero Clovis through each round on to the castle to rescue his beloved Princess Celia. There are multiple Princess Celias in the game, one in every few castles. The goal is to reach the true Celia at the end of the game in the final castle. Celia wears a different outfit each time she is rescued. As the player progresses through the round, he or she must choose various paths to take on to the castle. There are many paths to choose from and the number of these increases as the player gets to the higher rounds. The paths take the player to the individual levels of the round. There are multiple bosses on each level and many less powerful enemies scattered throughout each level. The player must find the boss that contains the exit on each level to proceed through the round and finally reach the castle. Clovis's vitality restores itself by 25% after each level is completed. The game will be over when Clovis' vitality reaches zero.


There are five different types of levels: The Cave, The Tower, The Boneyard, The Mountain and The Ruins. Each of these levels boasts more of a particular type of monster than the others, for example The Boneyard boasts lots of the boss Skeleton. The Cave is a mostly linear type of level, with mostly only descends and horizontal movement. It boasts lots of bats and snakes. The Tower is notable for having many floors, and the player must do a lot of climbing in this type of level. The Boneyard is probably the hardest type of level for having a lot of enemies and paths to choose, and the player will most likely end up defeating every boss in the level before he or she finds the boss that contains the exit. The Mountain has the player dropping down most of the time as he or she starts at the top of the mountain and must work his or her way down. The Ruins is a standard type of level with a bit of everything the other four types of levels contain. Finally, there is the Castle at the end of each round. Every Castle is the same, it starts with a very long drop that takes the player to the Dragon's room and from there he or she must fight the Dragon.


There are four different types of bosses: Skeleton, Bishop, Wizard and Fafnil which resembles a Brontosaurus. Skeleton wields a sword and has one basic attack throughout the game. Fafnil only breathes fire but every round the player progresses through will extend the duration of its fire making it very dangerous to get caught in a corner with. Wizard uses magic to fight the player from a long distance, and has multiple flying swords to attack him or her head on and make sure he or she keeps his or her distance. Bishop uses a halberd to stab the player making it difficult to attack from the air or from close range, and also shoots magic balls like Wizard.

The Dragon is the main boss and resides in the castle at the end of each round. Each dragon has a weak point that the player must uncover to be able to defeat it quickly. The Dragon breathes flames much like Fafnil but with a bigger area of effect, and also swings its tail around which can cause significant injury.

The Purple Dragon is a special dragon that occasionally appears after the player defeats the Dragon of a castle. The Purple Dragon steals the Princess before Clovis can rescue her. Then the player must reach the castle in the next round to slay the Purple Dragon and rescue the Princess he or she should have rescued in the previous castle.

Besides the main bosses there are multiple enemies scattered throughout each level. These include Golem, Bat, Snake, Will o' the wisp (actually spelled Will-O-The-Wisp in the game), Inosai, Testoll, Coleo Crawler, Crawler, Leapen, Eyeful, Stingray, Slime and Cave Shark. Some monsters have variations. Examples include Snake and Bat. Some monsters merely have a palette swap, while others are a new entity entirely. With the increase in the number of defeated Dragons, the speed and toughness of the enemies greatly increases making the game more difficult with each cleared round.

There is a special monster called Cave Shark. This monster leeches on to the player and drains his or her life, and is extremely troublesome to kill. The player's best bet is to exit the level immediately. It appears when the player has been standing idle for a long period of time, or most notably when the player finds the exit and chooses not to leave at that moment.


There are very few items in Dragon Buster. Every item is dropped by a boss. Regular enemies drop some items too. The most common of these is the Fireball. Using it will shoot a fireball straight through the screen minimally damaging every enemy it touches besides those immune to it. A rare item is the Fireball Special which shoots four fireballs that start revolving around the player and continuing outwards until they leave the screen. This is most notable for heavily damaging large enemies such as the Dragon. The Fireball and the Fireball Special get stored in the player's possession to use by pressing the magic button. A maximum of 20 can be stored with new fireballs overriding the existing ones. A very rare item is the Vitality Extender which will extend the player's maximum vitality by 16 points. The Potion is a blue bottle and will restore some lost vitality. The player cannot store the Potion for later use, it is automatically used when he or she obtains it. The Poison resembles the potion but is red in color, obtaining this will drain some of the player's vitality.

Aside from the most common items there are a set of special items. They are Shield, Super Sword, Scepter and Crown. The Super Sword will power up the player's sword making him or her stronger. The Shield will block projectiles and some enemy attacks and is most notable for blocking Wizard's flying swords and magic.

Character moves

The hero Clovis has a minimal arsenal of moves. The most simple is the basic sword swing which is performed by pressing the attack button on the ground or in the air. Clovis can also use magic he acquires from bosses, the Fireball and the Fireball Special by pressing the magic button. Clovis can also jump by moving up on the joystick. Moving up at the peak of Clovis's jump will result in a double jump. Dragon Buster was the first game to feature the double jump. It has since become an iconic video game mechanic.

The Downward Stab is performed by double jumping and holding down while the player presses the attack button as he or she descends from the jump. This attack is most notable for being able to defeat the boss Bishop in one hit.

The Thrusting attack is performed the same way the Downward stab is performed, the only difference is it must be executed on the first jump as opposed to the double jump. Both the Thrusting attack and the Downward Stab can do over twice as much damage as a basic attack.


When the game was ported to the NEC PC-8801 computer by Enix, the port featured an introduction to the game and an entirely new ending, featuring cinema screens depicting a battle-torn Clovis and a teary-eyed Celia. Dragon Buster was also included as a hidden minigame in Tales of the Abyss. It was ported to the Ps2 and xbox 360 in the compilation Namco Museum Arcade.

See also


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