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Top 25 RPG Dragons (Part 2)

Top 25 RPG Dragons

Flammie (Secret of Mana)

Writeup by Patrick Gann

A screenshot of the main character trio riding Flammie in Secret of Mana

Lifting the spin drum into the sky and giving it a sharp turn, the Mana Beast, Flammie, descends to sweep up you and your two companions. Goodness gracious, I always loved calling upon this lovable cutie as the ideal mode of transportation around the world map of the classic SNES action RPG Secret of Mana. However, the story arc for our lovable dragon is tragic from beginning to end.

Your party rescues an infant Flammie from monsters, and upon hatching from an egg, it imprints the team as its mother figure(s). Once old enough, Flammie becomes your flight buddy, and the creature appears glad to join your quest to restore the balance of Mana to the world. However, in one of the most tragic twists in the entire Mana series, Flammie (and the world’s other Mana Beasts) goes berserk and identifies you as a threat as the floating Mana Fortress is brought low after you take out the game’s central antagonist. The developers essentially gave this dragon the same ending as Old Yeller. To this day, I’m not sure my heart has quite recovered.

Gleeoks (The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom)

Writeup by Mike Salbato

A Fire Gleeok spots Link in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Lynels were the biggest, baddest enemies in Breath of the Wild, mirroring their first appearance in The Legend of Zelda on the NES. Putting aside skilled players making “Take Down Any Lynel in 3 Seconds” videos, they made you think twice about crossing their path.

Since Tears of the Kingdom‘s devs aimed to one-up BotW in every way, how could they top Lynels? Bring back Gleeoks after a 16-year absence, make them the size of a house and more terrifying than any Lynel could hope to be. Seeing your first Gleeok from a distance is both fascinating and terrifying, and woe unto you if you approach one. My first encounter was a Flame Gleeok, and after quickly realizing I was ill-prepared, I fled, only to burn to death from fire lasers. In the water.

So yes, this new Gleeok left an impression on me, and strategizing how to take all the variants down was incredibly fun.

Gore Magala / Shagaru Magala (Monster Hunter 4)

Writeup by Michael Sollosi

A scaly and horned dragon, Gore Magala, in Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Dozens of Elder Dragons have graced players’ mission lists over the course of twenty years of Monster Hunter video games, from the horse-sized Kirin to the skyscraper-sized Zorah Magdaros. But for my money, Monster Hunter’s signature dragon is the Magala family, first encountered in Monster Hunter 4. The player loses badly to a menacing Gore Magala early in MH4, an unclassified monster. After multiple encounters and eventually a triumph over Gore, a cutscene reveals that Gore Magala wasn’t an undiscovered species, but a molting adolescent Elder Dragon that sheds its cloak to become a shining Shagaru Magala.

This dragon builds genuine animosity for the player as the roles of hunter and prey change throughout Monster Hunter 4‘s story. No matter the color of their coat, Gore Magala and Shagaru Magala are dragons worthy of your respect. Don’t go in unprepared.

Green Dragon (Dragon Quest)

Writeup by Zach Wilkerson

Green dragon in Dragon Quest Monster Joker

In a series with “Dragon” in the title, there are surprisingly few dragons littered throughout the Dragon Quest series. But the first one has one of the best: the Green Dragon. Granted, it’s not the final boss, and it’s even a random encounter in the latter portions of the game, but the Green Dragon is an enormous presence that lingers over the opening hours of the relatively short run time. Even though it’s optional, it’s hard for me to imagine playing through the original Dragon Quest without saving the princess by taking down the Green Dragon. Isn’t that what RPGs are all about, anyway? It’s the most classic trope in the most classic RPG series, and for that, the Green Dragon is truly iconic.

Grigori (Dragon’s Dogma)

Writeup by Sam-James Gordon

A roaring dragon from Dragon's Dogma, one of several RPGs coming this week

Dragon’s Dogma fans waited many years for the recently released sequel, Dragon’s Dogma 2 *gasp*, and a fun fact you can learn right here at RPGFan is that the games could alternatively be named Grigori’s Dogma. This is because the eponymous dragon has a name — Grigori! Grigori has a flair for the dramatics, causing some grievous heartache to our protagonist in just the opening scene. He steals our hearts. The fan fiction writes themselves, because Grigori spends the rest of the game in hiding while we callously hunt him down to save the world. If you’re concerned this sounds a bit spoilery, you learn this premise early on, and Dragon’s Dogma‘s storytelling lies in its worldbuilding and side stories. Grigori is impressively large in scale and was a feat of design when Dragon’s Dogma released in 2012. Enjoy killing him repeatedly to Dragon Forge your gear!

Gwydion (Bravely Default II)

Writeup by Sam-James Gordon

Gwydion majestically sits in a grove surrounded by waterfalls in Bravely Default II

Gwydion is the silver-winged protector of Rimedhal, and big bad superboss of Bravely Default II. Rimedhal is a holy land blanketed in perpetual snow, populated with fanatical citizens devoted to its Lord of Dragons and deity, Gwydion. I’ll avoid story spoilers, but one of the standout sections of Bravely Default II was pursuing Martha and Gwilym’s story. Gwydion is Gwilym’s father, and as is foretold in the lore of any dragon from a snowy RPG landscape, it is your destiny to fight him.

The fight is entirely optional and demands your most effective command of the game’s job system, as otherwise, Gwydion can decimate you with his counterattacks alone. I also appreciated the nod to Wales here, with Rimedhal’s inhabitants using Welsh-inspired spelling in their names and speaking with Welsh accents. That, and Wales has a dragon on its flag.

Hiryu (Final Fantasy V)

Writeup by Audra Bowling

Flaying across the world map on a dragon in Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster

I became enamored with Final Fantasy V‘s colorful characters and addictive job system. I greatly enjoyed how its plot features animals, from the faithful chocobo Boco to Faris’ determined sea dragon Syldra. Helpful wind drakes steal the game though, the most prominent of which is King Tycoon’s dragon Hiryu, thanks to his bond with Lenna.

In an attempt to save her dying mother in the past, Lenna nearly killed Hiryu for his tongue, only stopped by the queen’s wishes. While the decision ultimately cost her mother’s life, it instilled an understanding in Lenna of the importance of the wind drakes. Lenna even puts herself in harm’s way to save them. Hiryu serves King Tycoon faithfully until his death, helping Lenna and the party afterward by helping them cross rough terrain. Despite being separated from Lenna, Hiryu comes to her aid later and becomes the invaluable Phoenix summon, cementing his essential role.

Kazuma Kiryu (Like a Dragon series)

Writeup by Michael Sollosi

Kazuma Kiryu close up from Yakuza Kiwami

Kazuma Kiryu is the only figurative dragon on this entire list, as he’s a human man born in 1968. But if your definition of a dragon MUST include wings, fire, or vaguely reptilian physical features, then you’re thinking too small. Kiryu might not be a dragon, but few characters comport themselves with as much Big Dragon Energy.

Kiryu has presence and prowess. He is indefatigable in combat but gentle with women and children. He is always respectful to others, up to the moment he’s disrespected. He’s a legend of Tokyo’s criminal underworld, yet he spends more time helping the vulnerable and foiling villains than actually engaging in criminal activity.

To Kiryu, Dragons aren’t mythological monsters but a way of life: strength, compassion, and never backing down or giving up. His back tattoo tells us what every Yakuza player already knows: there’s no one more Like a Dragon than Kazuma Kiryu.

Mist Dragon (Final Fantasy IV)

Writeup by Aleks Franiczek 

Battle with the Mist Dragon in Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy IV‘s opening stands out to this day for starting players off as an anti-hero committing war crimes for a corrupt king. This carries into the game’s first dungeon and boss fight against the equally cool and adorable Mist Dragon. As it turns out, the Mist Dragon is a guardian spirit summoned by Rydia’s mother to protect her daughter and their unjustly targeted village. By killing it, we doom Rydia’s village, which is the final straw that sets our protagonist on a path of redemption. Like Cecil, I’m tormented with guilt every time I kill this cute dragon.

But the Mist Dragon fight is also a teaching tool that showed the ropes of the series’ revolutionary Active Time Battle system. Attack it while it’s in its mist form, and a brutal counterattack will punish you, so you must wait for the right opportunity to strike. This dragon is a revelation in both narrative and mechanics.

Zach Wilkerson

Zach Wilkerson

After avidly following RPGFan for years, Zach joined as a Reviews Editor in 2018, and somehow finds himself helping manage the Features department now. When he's not educating the youth of America, he can often be heard loudly clamoring for Lunar 3 and Suikoden VI.