Cart Art: The Worst Dragons of the Nintendo Entertainment System

After a little vacation and recharging, Cart Art back and ready to delve deep in to the world of video game box art. This time we will take a look at works that deal with those reptilian beasts, Dragons. Not just any dragons mind you, but dragons from NES games. Dragons have been a part of video games for as long as I could remember, as enemies, bosses, allies and even player characters. While Dragons are shown as powerful and frightening creature in Lore, on these covers, not so much. So let’s stop “dragon-ing” out this introduction and get down to it.

5. Astyanax

I know this article is about the Dragons but really, we need to address the hero first. How terrible must it be for our scaly bad guy that this dumpy, skirt wearing, super tall back collar wearing slob of a chump has got a hold of the Dragon’s arm and is going to give him all sorts of heck with that sword. Not only does the dragon have a wicked case of warts (at least that is what I think those bumps are) and some sort of set of wavy hair/horn, he has to live surrounded by sulfur yellow clouds while butterfly faeries flutter about and princesses cage dance while encases in crystal balls. In case you were wondering, Astyanax is the name of Hector’s infant son from the Iliad who was killed by being hurled from the walls of Troy by the Greeks in order to end of royal line of Troy. After reviewing this cover I wish to hurl my eyes off a wall to end my suffering of terrible covers.

4. Castle of Dragon
Castle of Dragon

Well let’s take a look at the winged beast in this one and. . . . .AHHHHHH, what happened to his neck and head? Apparently the Dragon from Castle of Dragon has Anorexia of Throat. It’s a shame really, that young dragons are assaulted by images of dragons with sleek and sexy neck lines which just causes them to have serious negative neck image issues. Looking at this cover, this Dragon really does not not inspire a sense of majestic fear in the heart of men. Due to the perceptive this beast only seems to be the size of a large dog. Seriously, the damsel in distress is larger (and more frightening) then the beast. This game seems less like a quest to save the girl from the monster and more like an evening of dragon house breaking at the Gold Knight house.

3. Ninja Gaiden 2
Ninja Gaiden II

Hey Grandpa Dragon, what was it like when you were young? Well I will tell you all young wipper-snappers about my day. Back in my day, no one argued about who was better Ninja or Pirates. It was ninjas, always ninjas and nothing but ninjas. We only had three fingers on each hand and luscious face beards/white manes. A puff of smoke in front of every face and a crystal ball in every hand. It was a great time to be alive! Okay, enough of that. My favorite part of this cover is the text on the bottom that says this game is “Hard to beat!!” If you have ever played a classic Ninja Gaiden you will know this is an understatement of epic proportions. Its should same something like “Hair pulling, Controller hurling, Anger inducing, Rage causing, Mind Numbingly fustrating to beat.” Guess that wouldn’t all fit on the bottom though huh? In the end, the “Hard to Beat!!” is not an advertising feature, it’s warning printed so Tecmo couldn’t get sued for making such a brutal, death march of game and unleashing it on the public.

2. Dragon Warrior
dragon warrior

My melty, seaweed wing dragon, what big teeth you have? Look at that mile wide tooth grin. I don’t think the dragon even has teeth, just some sort of long bone like pillars in it’s mouth. As for our hero, he apparently decided the best things to wear to slay an ultimate evil would be a blue spandex catsuit with red gloves and shin guards. In all honesty, I like this cover. It does a good job of making the dragon look fearsome, an overpowering presence looking down at our hero with an evil smile. However, after looking at this cover for a bit, I noticed something and it’s a little esoteric so bear with me. Look at the shield of our hero. Doesn’t it look like one of those roll over trigger lights in a pinball game. Yeah I know, I am grasping at straws at this point but once you look that the last cover coming up, you will know why I may be down a few IQ points.

1. Challenge of the Dragon
challenge of the dragon

This one is a Color Dreams game so you know it is going to be a steaming pile of suck. What kind of dragon is that? What is going on with it’s legs? This beetle/frog/dragon has caused me to reach my limit of malformed magical beasts. I can’t take it any more. You know what, it’s time for a little reader feedback. This week, I charge you, the loyal Retroist fans to come up with your best one liner about this cover. Go ahead and post them in the comment section. I challenge you to do your best with one of the worst.


OffisaPups is a lover of fine retro gaming (video as well as board), classic comic strips and has a noggin filled with decades of television ads and song lyrics. Due to fears of a zombie apocalypse, do not approach OffisaPups while groaning, staggering with out-stretched arms, or requesting brains. Needless to say, OffisaPups has a very understanding and patient wife and a daughter who has no hope of a normal, non-dork upbringing.

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