Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap by Westone / Sega (1989) - Master System
As was the case with many games, it was my good friend Luke who introduced me to the marvels of Wonder Boy III, which was also, in fact, my first such experience with any Wonder Boy game. That meant I was not aware at the time that it takes place immediately after the previous game, and it also meant I didn't know what was going on. All I knew was, after being handed the controller, I found myself with a young green-haired fellow before me, brandishing a sword and standing in a decidedly castle-like corridor while some dramatic music played. Venturing along this corridor led me to my first enemies which were easily vanquished courtesy of some swift slashes, and before long I had even reached my first boss - a somewhat metallic dragon who, in typical dragon fashion, seemed to enjoy bathing inferior beings in his fiery breath.
Mecha Dragon, as I later found he was called, proved a challenge but his clanking carcass was soon smote upon his lair. BUT!! He left behind a surprise in the form of a curse that transforms Wonder Boy into a fire-belching dragon himself, albeit a much smaller one. You don't get much time to take that in though, as the castle has started to fall down. After making a hasty retreat, our scaly hero soon finds himself outside the now-crumbling castle. Upon moving away, however, we're greeted by a rousing title sequence and find that everything up until this point has been a mere introduction to the game! Lots of games have intros but this was the first time I'd encountered a playable one. This blew me away at the time - if the mere intro was this good, how amazing must the actual game be? The answer will come in a review (eventually) but suffice to say, this is a game that makes one hell of a first impression!