Dragon Fire 2 is one of those rare titles that compels you to sit back, emit a self-satisfied sigh, and think about how far the industry has come since its humble WAP beginnings. Between its anime cutscenes and its brilliant power-up system, Dragon Fire 2 takes hold of you and never lets go.
The mobile equivalent of Panzer Dragoon, Dragon Fire is a top-down shooter. In the game, you play Lady Amond, ruler of the Amond Empire, a world on the verge of ruin thanks to the malevolent misdeeds of the Cora Empire. Constant combat with Cora conscripts has left you with no other recourse than to travel back in time to warn your people of impending aggression before your Cora enemies can make a first, preemptive strike.
The situation gets complicated, however, when cruel McFate breaks your time machine and leaves you stranded on Earth. It seemed strange to me that a broken time machine would teleport you to the blue planet, but I chose to suspend my disbelief. This was a smart move, because I discovered that I had arrived in Earth's "time of the dragons," which takes place sometime after God said "Let there be light" but before the Beatles sang "I wanna hold your hand." Enter Feanon, the lord of the dragons, another race that's fighting against the Cora Empire. According to dragon lore, the only way to combat these invaders is by fulfilling a prophesy and aiding she who falls from the sky--who, in this case, happens to be you. To save his subjects, Feanon vows to help you wage an intertemporal war against the Corans, spanning from the time of the dragons to Earth's distant future.
Because of its large size, Dragon Fire 2 on the 3650 (at least) is broken into two episodes. In Episode 1, you begin by flying over a prehistoric, volcano-riddled terrain, wielding only a single, puny laser gun as your only defense against hordes of pterodactyls. Fortunately, you can upgrade your weapon incrementally with each power-up sphere you collect. Every time you're hit, though, you downgrade a weapon level. Highlights in Episode 1 include a boss battle with a giant WWII fighter plane.
Episode 2 picks up where its predecessor left off. You must battle on a futuristic Earth and in space. It sets a dizzying pace, often sending dozens of baddies your way at the same time. You start this section at a weapon level that corresponds to the greatly increased difficulty, so the spray of your weapon all but covers the screen. However, if you're not careful, you can quickly be reduced to your old, single-shot self.
The only thing more impressive than DF2's level variety is its difficulty, so it's fortunate that you get more than just your main weapon. By holding down the fire key and charging a meter, you can unleash a devastating burst of flame for several seconds. This is especially useful during boss fights, when every hit has to count. Also, Feanon can pick up three types of magical scrolls, each with a specific function. One tosses killer lightning bolts all over the screen. Another shields him with a protective circle of energy. The third projects a giant phallus across the screen, which crushes anything and everything in its path.
Dragon Fire's graphics are just spectacular. The game seamlessly animates dozens of ships and scores of projectiles with no sign of slowdown. Although its color palette might not be as rich as that of Star Fighter for the NEC 515, nothing can match Dragon Fire's ability to smoothly render some of the most hectic battles on mobile.
While certainly not revolutionary in concept, Dragon Fire 2 is a cut above every other mobile shooter. Although it doesn't present anything groundbreaking, like brilliant multiplayer implementation, the game is polished enough to feel like an entirely novel experience. Dragon Fire 2 completely blew me away. I am tempted to compare the game not to Top Gun or Xfinity but to Ikaruga for GameCube or Tyrian for the PC. Play the game, and you will be too.