Dragons are universally beloved and despised creatures of fantasy. Every culture in the world has some form of a dragon or dragon-like creatures in stories or legends. The definition of a dragon can vary greatly as well as the descriptions to the point of having literal charts of different classifications each beast falls under. So it’s no surprise that these fantastical fire-breathers (or other elemental variety) have clawed their way into the realm of video games as well.
Be it a boss battle, a random foe to face, an obstacle or quest to complete, a pet or ally to aid you, or even as the character you play as, dragons find a way to burn a hole in your heart and make a game all the more special.
With that, here are the top 10 dragons in video games!
10. Dragon (Loom)
Despite the age of this game, I only recently experienced this old LucasArts classic. Loom is a point and click adventure game with no inventory and you have to rely on musical spells to make your way through. It offers a unique style of gameplay and storytelling, and it is upsetting it never received a sequel.
The dragon you encounter in this particular game was an interesting experience. I didn’t expect her to have such a ‘sassy’ personality. You meet her almost by accident as you travel to the land of the shepherds. A world where the sheep are too smart to be fooled by illusions but not enough to be turned green. So once you camouflage the wooly tricksters from the dragon’s sight, she decides to grab you for a snack. She quickly decides the player is not worth the effort due to lack of meat and seems content talking our ear off with her curt Cockney accent.
This dragon weirdly doesn’t seem overly malicious, just trying to live her life, what little she has left. She definitely tells you more than you want to know… Including an unexpected hint on how to chase her off. Despite having the ability to breathe fire, she’s actually quite frightened of it. So you can use that to your advantage.
9. Tengri (Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch)
What do you get when Studio Ghibli helps make a video game? You get Ni No Kuni, a colorful fairy-tale RPG with elements of Pokemon. You follow a young, upcoming magician, Oliver, looking to save his mother by entering a world where every soul is connected to another. This game features a lot of dimension-hopping as you work to help aid your friends and their magical counterparts before the White Witch takes over everything. There’s more to it than that, but right now we’re here to talk about the cutest mode of transportation you’ll ever meet since the Chocobo.
Tengri is a happy wyvern you meet alongside some sky pirates in Ni No Kuni. At least, for the most part, he’s happy. When you first meet him he’s sad and unable to fly due to struggles with his soulmate in Oliver’s world. Nightmares are a real troublemaker in this game, keeping people and dragons down with negative emotions. But once that conflict is resolved, good old Tengri is back to flying once again and becomes Oliver’s lifelong pal as he helps the party soar through the skies at incredible speeds. In fact, his wings play a vital role in reaching the end of the game.
Tengri is really fun to control as you zip around the world on his back. His cute, bubbly demeanor is a bonus as well. The fun of riding on your very own dragon has never felt so exhilarating. Being able to zoom over places you once had problems accessing in the blink of an eye. Totally worth it! Who knew the key to ultimate flight was by scaring off a nightmare or two. Can this be a real thing, please?
8. Grigori (Dragon’s Dogma)
With the new Netflix series coming out, this game will be getting more love. Dragon’s Dogma lets you climb on giant enemies in a ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ style adventure. The story is quite bare-bones so instead, you wander around leveling up and fighting enemies. Except for the unusual twist of being dead before the game truly begins. And that is all thanks to Grigori.
Grigori is the main villain our character must deal with and a constant looming threat, despite his limited appearance. The first thing this big red lizard does is destroy a tiny seaport town in one fell swoop before ripping our still-beating heart straight from our chest and subsequently devouring it right in front of us… This, in turn, makes us both dead and yet not dead at the same time. Left with the choice of hunting down and slaying this intimidating force or enjoying our newfound immortality as slaying Grigori, in theory, will end our life as well.
We don’t see much of the big bad dragon until endgame territory. Yet his presence is felt throughout the rest of the game. People are afraid, often in hiding. Kingdoms and armies are preparing for a war to begin. It only brings a stronger testament to this dragon’s might when he easily destroys a fortress along the Great Wall. Leaving the final battle against him all the more epic. All I can say is hold on tight when you do face him! Trust me on that. Hang. On. Tight.
7. Bahamut (Final Fantasy series)
The Final Fantasy series has been running for years with currently 15 titles in the “main” series. These games range from turned based RPGs to full-blown MMOs. But what’s so unique about them is how they can continue the lore going after so many installments in the series.
One such element is the character of Bahamut. Often seen as the king of dragons or the most powerful summon of the game (in the main storyline), he’s been a staple since the very beginning. Initially, an NPC that if you give a rat tail to he gives you new job classes to learn, he really started being a regular summon after the third installment.
Bahamut can appear cute and cuddly one minute, or a world-shattering beast the next. He can even take the form of a transforming robot or a small child depending on the setting and story. Often he ends up becoming an important role in the main plot, be it a guide or a test for the player to overcome.
In the spinoff series, Chocobo’s Dungeon 2, he is a seer, warning the player of future problems and aiding in taking down the enemy. And in a Japan-exclusive game, Blood of Bahamut, he’s the final boss in that. A rather versatile and important reptile to the Final Fantasy series.
6. Grim MatchStick (Cuphead)
Cuphead took the gaming world by storm with its beautiful hand-drawn animations and wacky gameplay. You run and shoot your way across a series of bosses and obstacles to square away your debt to the devil. One minute there’s a bunch of vegetables on your tail, the next a German rat piloting a robot cat, you never quite know what you’re gonna get as a boss fight.
One colorful character that stands out is Grim Matchstick. A lot of people consider the dragon to be one of the hardest bosses as he lobs fireballs at you or sprouts 3 heads to take you down. At least it seems like he’s trying to take you down, but if you watch the animations closely, he seems hesitant to actually want to hurt you. Losing to him, you receive an apologetic and nervous message from him. He doesn’t seem like he wants to be a big scary monster. He just doesn’t want his soul taken to the devil either, and thus must throw everything at you to prevent that.
5. Paarthurnax (Skyrim)
The 5th game in the Elder Scrolls series that has been ported to almost every gaming console known to man. This game makes fighting dragons a regular routine.
Most would put Alduin, the main villain of the game, on their list instead. And while the big scary World Eater is intimidating and ferocious foe, I always found myself more drawn to the good-natured Paarthurmax instead.
Once a powerful ally of Alduin, Paarthurnax chose to betray his old comrade and go on to aid the people of Skyrim. Specifically, the Greybeard monks who learned the power of the Thu’um. It’s through the monks that you, the DragonBorn, meet this gentle giant. Depending on your actions and quests you complete, you engage in a fight to the death with this old dragon, unsure whether he will turn on you and reconvene with Alduin or not. The choice ultimately is up to the player whether Paarthurnax is worthy of sparing or slaying, but like Alduin, he is a valuable component in the story of Skyrim.
4. Leventhan (Odin Sphere Leifthrasir)
Ever expected to hear the tales of Norse mythology mashed up and told through a 2D side-scrolling action role-playing game? Well, you have now. Odin Sphere by Vanillaware is a masterpiece with beautiful animations and a gorgeous soundtrack. You follow the tale of 5 different characters who work together to stop Ragnarok from happening.
Being a fantasy setting, there are a few dragons you run across throughout the game. There is the hot-headed Wagner, who rules the skies, the gentle Hindel, who foretold the end of the world and the kind-hearted Belial, who was forced to be a servant of a wicked wizard. But the one who really stands out among the group to me is Leventhan, the harbinger of the world’s end.
He starts out as an infant, albeit a very difficult infant with a lot of firepower at his disposal, and a regular boss as he attempts to serve his undead master for his ultimate goal: armageddon. Eventually, through the use of an ancient and powerful cauldron, the little beast magically transforms into a massive serpent of doom. His body is so vast, it serves as a complete level in the game. This fight is the ultimate culmination of the game and a fitting final boss to the entire story. You must pull out all the punches to take down this scaly foe and stop armageddon at all costs!
3. High Dragon (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Bioware’s fantasy epic takes the story building and character interactions people loved of the Mass Effect series and combines them into a fun and dark tale. In Dragon Age Inquisition you must take on multiple roles throughout an overarching story within one world. And one element you can’t forget in this Age is dragons!
From Flemeth and the Archdemon battles in Origins to the dragon fights in 2, there’s plenty of amazing dragons to slash your way through. Although, none can compete with the High Dragon. There’s ten in total (one extra with DLC) in various locations and all are a force to tangle with. All unique in looks and elemental attacks, you have to really strategize to slay these ladies (because all High Dragons in the series are female, fun fact). These are the most enjoyable fights in the game and well worth the reward for beating all of them. You feel like a badass after taking one down. Saving the world is one thing, but slaying almost a dozen dragons? Now that’s a story for a Dragon Age.
2. Spyro (Spyro the Dragon Series)
Being one of the most popular and well known playable dragon characters in gaming history, this plucky purple dragon had to make the list. Especially with the Reignited Trilogy making a big splash, gamers all around the world are reliving their nostalgia for this Playstation classic.
Although one of the smaller dragons on this list, Spyro is all full of pep and heart as he charges, flames, and glides his way across multiple consoles and unexpected crossovers. He’s been voiced by the Taco Bell dog, Spongebob Squarepants and even Elijah Wood has added their voice to the mix. But through it all, his innocence and energy charms the heart of gamers old and new. Sheep aren’t too fond of him, but that’s okay because plenty of others are.
1. Fou-Lu (Breath of Fire IV)
The Breath of Fire series from Capcom is well known for its portrayal of dragons, both cool and questionably designed. The main character of the game, Ryu, is always seen as having the ability to transform into a numerous amount of the scaly critters of varying sizes and elemental powers. However, his “brother” in the 4th game, the God-Emperor Fou-Lu, just inches out a little more for me in terms of badassery. Like Ryu he can turn into dragons as well and is a powerhouse, being level 64 compared to Ryu’s starting level 1.
On top of that his story arc is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the game. Fou-Lu struggles to get away from his once-loyal army who now view him as a threat, with any and all companions he makes being taken from him in horrifying ways. It’s a testament to the writers who make you root for the final boss of your game, and question if the ending is that bad with such an awesome and tragic character at the forefront of it.
There are a lot more dragons out there that do not feature in this list, but what are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below and keep an eye on the skies!