Dragon Saddle Melee is a classic 2D arcade action game developed and published by Main Tank Software. The premise is simple, you get to ride around in a dragon and fight enemies in an arcade multiplayer setting. While its simplicity causes the game to get stale after a while, the mechanics are quite fun and easy to pick up.
The main mechanic of the game is riding your dragon better than other players and reacting to the environmental challenges that change with each round. The controls are simple and easy to learn.
There are power-ups for the players to pick up, there is enough variety to keep the core gameplay interesting. The power-ups allow players who can masterfully make use of them to score easy points or make a comeback from a desperate situation. While they do provide the player with a leg up, they aren’t too powerful as to cause players to dominate the game by just using powerups.
The arena is simple and not visually distracting. It fits the overall vibe of the game just fine. However, I do believe having more than just one arena would have elevated the gameplay and prevented every match from feeling the same after a while.
Challenges and the goals change in each round, the game wouldn’t be as much fun without this feature. The rounds change often enough to keep the players engaged. One big improvement for the round system would probably be shuffling the different types of rounds, instead of always going in the same order. However, the rounds changing in the same order every match allows players to strategize and plan. While I believe the shuffle system would work better, this is not too big of a problem within the overall gameplay.
Players can choose to either play against bots or other players. The AI for the bots is not too bad but it doesn’t offer anything to write home about. From what I’ve experienced there’s no real way to invite friends to the same lobby or join a specific lobby which is a big minus for a game in this genre.
The animations and overall movement of the dragon is quite responsive, which alleviates possible frustration in a game where a small mistake can cost you a life. There is partial controller support which means you can use a controller to control your dragon and use items, but you can’t use it to navigate within the in-game options menu. I haven’t experienced any bugs while playing or had any frame rate problems or crashes. The system requirements for the game are quite modest and most PC’s will be able to run it smoothly.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics do a good job of capturing the retro arcade feel, the details of the dragon and the animations are also quite good. There is only one background for the whole game which is a minus, having multiple backgrounds would have added a lot to the “feeling” of variety.
The music is fitting for the gameplay and the genre. The sound effects are nothing special but they get the job done.
Dragon Saddle Melee doesn’t offer its players a lot of variety or many different mechanics, however the existing gameplay is quite polished and feels good to play. I had a lot of fun just bouncing around the arena with my dragon and on top of other dragons. Its price is quite cheap, it would make a good choice for a game to relax with after a tiring day.