DRAGON'S CURSE / Hudson / Turbografx 16
Dragon's Curse is a side-scrolling adventure that is something like a less refined version of the Metroid or later Castlevania games. Much like Symphony of the Night, the game begins with you in control of the overpowered hero as he re-plays the events of the end of the previous game (as to which one that was exactly don't ask me, the lineage of the Wonderboy series confuses me into submission). After defeating the Mecha Dragon, however, he gets hit with a curse that turns him into a fairly weak lizardman. The objective of this game is to break the curse by finding something called the Salamander Cross, though along the way you get hit with additional curses that turn you into different creatures ... each creature has different powers, however, that allow you to access different areas of the game.
You start out in some little town with not much going on but a hospital that you can heal up at, and some shops manned by chain smoking pirate pigs that sell you improved weapons and armor and toss out passwords for you to pick up your game later. Though the game is technically non-linear, it sort of forces you to go along one particular path to get your next transformation. It's obviously influenced by a lot of similar games that came before it - there's a touch of Castlevania 2 in the town and level layout, but the gameplay is a lot more like The Goonies 2 for NES. Your character moves fast, there's a lot of jumping on moving platforms, you have a short range main weapon that's augmented by finding stuff that you can throw at greater ranges, and you use a complex series of doors to get from one area to another. The tunes are straight out of Mega Man, though this soundtrack isn't quite as memorable. Like Zelda, you increase your life bar by finding hidden hearts that are lying around.
Don't expect this one to have the refined play control of say, Super Metroid or the post-SotN Castlevania game. It's an old school game from an 8 bit era and it shows. However, it's basically pretty solid and a lot better than most of the other games of it's time. If you're interested in a good action-adventure, this is probably worth checking out.
* Gameplay Video