Because dragons are awesome
2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, not to mention the year in which the scaly mythical ne'er-do-wells returned to pop culture through the likes of Game of Thrones, Dragon's Dogma, and people still playing Skyrim. Whereas fads like superheroes or zombies encourage all manner of clever psychologizing, there's something admirably simple about a huge lizard-monster that breathes fire and digs shiny things.
With that in mind, we figured it was as good a time as any to highlight a few of our favorite fire-lizards from the world of gaming. As if there were ever a wrong time (possibly the Middle Ages?) for too many dragons...
7. The Ur-Dragon (Dragon's Dogma)
The Ur-Dragon (not to be confused with the Err-Dragon, who just develops a stutter whenever it's fire-breathin' time) packs a ridiculous amount of HP and offensive power. He actually shares persistent health when played online, meaning that players in separate games need to work together to down the beast. Sure, it doesn't "technically" make sense, but it's awesome, and if the fourth wall needs to be utterly shattered in order to take him down then so be it.
6. Alduin (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
The massive dragon is the biggest and baddest of Skyrim's flying lizards, and in a game full of flying lizards sold on the promise of fighting flying lizards, that's actually not bad. And even then, appearing as a world-devouring, fire-breathing serpent is something of a step down for Alduin, who dwells in eternal fire as a force of pure destruction. Nice of him, then, to put on the scaly costume and play along, burninating the countryside.
5. Deathwing (World of Warcraft: Cataclysm)
Deathwing caused volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, and massive tectonic reshaping throughout Azeroth during the Shattering, the WoW-wide event that heralded his arrival within the game. He'd also randomly show up and kill players, just because he's a jerk. And then things got serious.
4. Thanatos (Thanatos)
Thanatos is the real deal. No complicated cosmological backstory here: Thanatos' powers include breathing fire, dropping rocks, eating villagers... and being slain inside of a minute, because being a dragon is actually really hard. He also might be the inspiration for Trogdor, which immediately raises his credential astronomically.
3. Red Dragon (Demon's Souls)
The Red Dragon is giant, scary, and extremely difficult to actually fight. If you try to approach him early in the game there's a good chance he's going to leave you as a smoldering pile of broken controllers and expletives. You can kill it with God's Wrath or a Sincere Prayer, which seems... quite appropriate for a huge flying avatar of evil. Then again, there's also a tried and tested method of seeing it off with a Meat Cleaver, which doesn't seem very Arthurian.
2. Spyro (Spyro the Dragon)
Besides the power of flight, fire-breathing, and looking absolutely adorable, Spyro breathes ice, lightning, and, um, dirt... and a line of successful, collectible toys! He's also revered among the easily-confused for his achievements as 39th Vice-President of the United States, a common misconception Insomniac has done notable little to address.
1. Singe (Dragon's Lair)
Need more? Singe has an impregnable fortress of riches and death - that same one that's mentioned in the game's title. Dragon's Lair was setting the benchmark for in-game dragons 30 years ago; all subsequent efforts did was refine the gameplay some (considerable) amount and switch the QTEs for button mashing.
Have we been dragon our heels in assembling this list? Would you like to hit us wyvern other dragon or two? You'll find our commenting policies to be far from draconian, provided you don't try to flame us.
And if you want to read about more monsters, check out the top 7 villains that need their own spin-off games and the top 7 bestest frenemies.