Written by Jonathan Wojcik



Long ago, in 2014, I was FAR too excited to finally talk about Last Armageddon, an obscure JRPG in which the player pits a band of ever-changing demons against an army of preposterously varied robots and aliens. It was only thanks to my scouring of Japanese fan sites that I was able to review a huge selection of my personal favorite playable demons and later the enemy aliens, but even then, I knew there was an even more obscure sequel to the title, and that some day, just maybe, I might get the chance to go over its equally varied array of pixelated beasts.

That day now comes entirely thanks to tumblr user Crashcarnival, whose blog is a treasure trove of seldom-seen game sprites and who bravelyslogged through the nightmarish grindfest that is 1995's After Armageddon.

Hardcore Gaming 101 details the convoluted storyline of this admittedly rather loose followup, but all you need to know is that you control only five demons this time around: Radune the Dragon, Dhalzam the Golem, Jokos the Ifrit, Freya the Succubus, and poor little Loperus the Slime, the only one who's weaker across the board without any elemental strengths or hidden advantages.

Whereas Last Armageddon had us hybridizing our demons into increasingly powerful forms, After Armageddon allows a demon to change form every time it devours a normal human, which disturbingly enough is always a willing sacrifice to your mostly-heroic cause. Each of our main demons has over fifty possible forms to change into, varying in abilities and powers with no necessarily "better" or "worse" options until you can unlock their ultimate evolutions.

So, today, we're going to check out every single form of Radune the Dragon, and if you still didn't think dragons were horrific enough for Halloween, After Armageddon's got a thing or two to say about that.


At the start of the game, Radune is really looking more "lizardfolk" than "dragon," or I guess one of those silly anthropomorphic dragonborn in modern Dungeons and Dragons. I'll never turn my nose up at a reptile guy, though, and he's got an enjoyable grisly set of teeth on him, far removed from the game's cover art!

So, what can this lizardman morph into upon eating even one measly human being? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

You'd better enjoy that utter gibberish of a name, because you'll have read 10,000 of them by the time we're done with this series. Demon forms lack any particular "lore" or any play mechanics that offer noteworthy context, but the designs alone should give us plenty to talk about. Whatever an Abartshimker is, it's evocative of both a massive ground beetle and a really weird, horned elephant, and that's definitely the kind of thing I'm happy they're going to call a dragon. It's only going to get better and better from here.

A lot of these are going to feel as if the artist reeeally scraped that barrel for any new shape they could turn into a monster, and as always, I say that as high praise. I WISH I had more of a knack for that design method. Bardinoshorn is great! It's just a rocky ball with stumpy legs and a weird, stretched out, eyeless claw of a head.

Not every name is pure nonsense. "Bonesplash" is well within reason for a giant skeleton with green sludge for guts. I like how it has kind of an alien bird skull going on! It also kinda feels like it was meant to be a dragon/slime hybrid, if they had retained that system.

Back to nonsense names, unless you can tell me what a "Gorm" is and what it means for a Gorm to be "Breakers." The face looks like it might be vaguely humanoid, or have some kind of weird proboscis on it. Either way, a pretty creepy face to put on the end of that sinuous neck, and the moth-like patterns on the wings are an interesting choice.

Now THAT'S a NAME! I still don't know what it means, but THAT'S a NAME! CAPSY BEAN!!! It's even better that something so adorable is the name of a screaming, armored bug-worm with gargantuan fangs!

Love this one. The fat, four legged dragon body isn't anything too special, but that face is just incredible, like the skull of a brachiosaurus with nothing in any of its various holes and sockets. The humanlike arms and the mouth that looks like a vacant smile really cement the unnerving qualities of the COMPSMADRUK.

I want to say this is our first really site-worthy one, but honestly, they've all been, and that's not really going to let up that much. Still, regular visitors surely know what I mean about this one. It looks like a flying maggot monster, complete with a pair of tusk-like mouth hooks, but also sports peculiar skull-like shoulders and menacingly bone, hooked talons!

This one may be very, very straightforward, but it seems deliberately fashioned after the kind of dragon you might see in a children's book of fairy tales. I just don't know what the heck that appendage in the lower left is supposed to be, because we can already see two arms and two legs. It's not in the right place to be a tail, but it's also not in the right place to be a dingadong.

Ooh damn, this is good. Back half like a big, predatory cat, but with huge, chitonous claws for forelimbs and a nearly featureless alien head with a long, looong gooey tongue. Superbly frightening!

A nice, simple croco-bug dragon, with a nicely bloated, lumpy body. The splashes of red look unpleasantly like its flesh is raw and bleeding in places, and it's hard to tell where its head is really supposed to begin. It looks, to me, like it has a fairly long set of jaws starting near the base of its frontmost limbs.

Love this scary inchworm-shaped reptile, which especially stands out for its gargoyle-man face and stringy green "hair." This feels like it could have come right out of a medeival bestiary, in which case it could have represented anything from an anaconda to a squirrel.

Very mysterious. A pot-bellied reptile with external tubes on its arms and a faceless, purple helmet-like cranium. Really would KILL for them to have included real descriptions in this game.

Don't ask me why, but I keep thinking this one is kind of shaped like a "bee." Maybe it's just that fat shape and the stinger-like posterior, and how the copper colored fins are aaalmost where wings might have been. It's an interesting thingymabob in any case, with four segmented "arms" and no otherlimbs.

This one's gorgeous! And an amphibian! I adore the pale, moldy coloration of its decrepit, slimy looking body contrasted by the brilliant blue of a tentacle-maned head that works perfectly as a frog-like face but also looks like just a whole entire octopus when you flip the thing around. 10/10!

This...is....um.....this...uh....wow. I REALLY don't know what I'm looking at! It's got a long, ridged neck, some sort of body with at least two arms or legs, and a head that's a sort of....veiny green seed pod shape? With a tiny little human face hanging off it? Again, wow, I am impressed by how incomparable this is to almost anything else I can think of.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love things that are shaped like fish, but seemingly not at all fish? It's certainly fishlike with its pointed, armor plated body, but where "fins" should be are just clumps of spidery little bug-fingers, and then it has what looks like eggs carried on its underside.

An almost reasonable name. It's definitely something with a "lamphead," like the illicium or "fishing pole" of an anglerfish, but with what might possibly be its only functional eye or eyes up there. The rest of it is more like an elaborately scaly horseshoe crab than a fish, with perpetually closed eyes and a single large comb of fangs. Extremely cool all around, and definitely feels like something that lurks just under the ground with only the "lamp head" exposed. Maybe that's what's up with the name. DON'T MIND ME. I AM LAMPHEAD NORMEL. PERFECTLEY NORMEL. A NORMEL LAMP HEAD.

This eyeless whatsit rather disturbingly crawls around on its knees while vivid purple flesh, or ooze, pours from the vertical orifice dominating its anterior. Very Freudian, and once we review the various forms of the succubus, this is going to look once again like it was meant to be a fusion form with her.

Some of these are wholly alien, nonsense fleshbeasts, while others have a very clear "creature concept," and Mournigzen falls into the latter column. It's pretty much a three-headed bird monster, but those skull-like, barely avian red heads go SO far to make an otherwise simple idea into a memorable and distinct looking horror.

Oohhh nice. Super nice. A weird-ass semi-faceless humanoid with a hornet-colored tail that begins, bizarrely, from its stomach rather than the tip of its spine. I don't know what could be going on here, but it's rad.

A real mean looking one, with an excessively armored body, nasty looking back spines and a head that looks kind of like something from The Evil Horde from She-Ra. Not much else to say except I could have seen this one being pretty popular.

Say, was this name drawn at all from John Carpenter's The Thing? "Norris" turned into one of its most memorable forms, with a long, thick, wrinkled neck. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but this certainly looks like it could have been a Thing, with its single human-like hand and single crab-like claw protruding randomly from a rugose tube of a body. Very scary visage, too, somewhere between a skinned rat and a shark.

The most sensible name yet, for a hilarious walrus dragon I just absolutely love to death. Look at that thing! It's horrendous! A gigantic, long-necked, blind walrus with frilly fleshy head flaps and a warty throat! And its name is just NORTHERN FANG!

Dang. Scary. This gigeresque, hunched whatsit would be intimidating enough all on its own, but they had to give it such a cryptic and dramatic name.

TOO COOL. This borrows the name of the largest pterosaur that ever lived, which in turn borrowed its name from a Mesoamerican serpent god, but what we have here is more like a big, long eel or salamander with a scorpion-like pincer for a tail and the head of a king vulture. What a glorious combination of things to draw from.

Now what kind of name is that?! And just what's going on in this thing? It's an almost dog-like monster, with teeth far too large to fit inside its mouth and some sort of huge, tumorous sac on its back. The tube leading from this cyst to its throat tells me it might have some kind of messed up breath weapon or projectile attack.

Tons of personaliy in this thing! It would be cool enough if it were JUST a hunch-backed, armored goblin with a toothy beak, but there's three of them mashed together!

In the midst of all these wacky weirdos, a simple semi-humanoid beast like this feels oddly novel. I like its "reptilian warthog" sort of face, too.

Another rare one that really feels like a traditional "dragon," but still a lot cooler than that usually entails. It's the kind of really wicked-looking, grotesque dragon I miss from older medeival artwork, and I really like the fanciful green head on the otherwise mud-colored body.

Exceptionally abnormal looking. I don't know how to describe that head other than a sort of featureless red "cigar," which I guess is pretty suggestive, but more than anything it makes me think of a flower bud that hasn't opened up yet.

Another one that seems like a "fish," but it also kind of seems like a huge, eyeless dinosaur head that was mutated to act like a fish, and SHABREEK is the perfect sounding name for that.

I'd already love this thing if it were really just a big, shaggy, shambling mass with little reptile legs sticking out of it, but on close inspection, that shambling mass appears to consist of human limbs, faces and floppy old skin. This is like one of those lacewing larvae that covers itself in the outer husks of old prey!

I guess this is kind of reminiscent of a turtle. A turtle that never evolved or evolved away from a shell, I suppose. Pretty neat looking thing, too, lanky and awkward with that strange, knobbly head and low-slung eyes. "Shiten" is Albanian for "sold." Maybe it sold its shell? Or maybe they just slapped some meaningless syllables together again.

If you were missing the skeleton demon from the first game, Radune's got you covered, though there isn't much to set this monster apart from the more interesting Bonesplash besides its actual human-style skull.

And here we have the most "direct" upgrade to the dragon's default form. Practically the same monster made a little less humanoid, bluer in color and finally winged. Not my thing, but I'm glad it's there as an option for those who would want it, I suppose.

But, honestly, why settle for a regular dragon when you get so many choices this screwy? It still has reptilian monster legs, a long neck and a set of wings, but its face is just a leechlike sucker and it seems to have a squid beak in its stomach.

Another exciting skeleton option here, too, like a fossil carnosaur with much longer, scarier arms and just enough rotten flesh clinging to it to be several leagues scarier than the bones alone.

Now THIS would be the fan favorite. It would just have to be. Still not my favorite, but I'm pretty sure a very large number of people, given the choice, would definitely prefer to turn their dragon into this purple flesh "spaceship" with ghoulish heads for engines. They're having such a great time, too! They LOVE being TWINSHARD! Who wouldn't!

Wwwwhoaa this thing. Everything else here focuses mostly on "cool factor," but this one is strikingly uncanny and eerie in comparison, a clearly aquatic creature with a sinuous fish body, a clump of wormlike tentacles and such a marvelously grotesque, polypous head with all-too-human eyes. Is that a closed or missing eye below the topmost one, or a smiling, toothless mouth?!

Not as "ghostly" as Gradino, but another fairly eerie one. This creature has an overall somewhat frog-like or even flea-like shape, with an exposed rib cage down its back and a horned, humanlike face for a head. I say "face for a head" because I don't think the "eyes" of the face are Doras's actual eyes. I think that might be the bright blue panels beneath them, like multifaceted wasp eyes. The snaking red tongue was the perfect final touch for a design like this. Unwholesome!

"Device?" That's this one's name? Alright then. I want to say this is another skeleton one, but then I look at it and realize it's still covered in flesh, even if it's very, very tight against the bones of its strangely arranged legs. A crawling, smiling, eyeless thing with a strange name.

What is EVEN going on with this one!? It's a thin, spindly, finely segmented creature with insect-like legs and a needle-like proboscis, which is cool enough, but the way it only bends in an angular zig-zag pattern isn't something I see very often in creature design at all!

This...looks like nothing. I know I've said something like that before, but this one REALLY looks like nothing. There's nothing that looks like a head. Nothing that looks like an arm or a leg. Or a mouth. No recognizable anatomy and nothing we can compare it to. If anything it just looks like a chunk from some other, bigger creature, part of an organ with some bones still lodged in it. That level of nonsense honestly used to be my single favorite sort of monster design, though nowadays I like at least a little something "recognizable" to give a design character. Nice to see something like this, regardless.

Nothing confusing about this one's design or name; it's a giant, monstrous centipede-worm with multiple fly wings. Exactly the kind of thing you expect with a name like "bane crawler!"

I like how this one boasts the kind of detail you might expect from some terrifying, demonic end-game RPG dragon, but it's all been condensed into a squat, fat tsuchinoko sort of body. That is just too cute. I know it's probably supposed to be enormous but I'd like to pretend it's only the size of a football.

Now WHAT is THIS?! Seriously WOW! It's like some biomechanical, chitinous mutant tree stump with an entire snake just kinda grafted onto it as a "tail." I love the lidless eyeball, obviously, and I love the circular orifices dripping with spit. The top of the thing also seems to be one big, gaping cavity, so it really does have a sort of hollowed-out stump kinda shape, but that's not even where the "serpent" is coming from. This would be my uncontested favorite of the dragon forms if not for one we'll get to in JUST a moment, but first...

Every demon has four possible "ultimates," the only forms that aren't available from the beginning, and unfortunately, the ultimate dragons aren't nearly as interesting as just about any others we've seen, but that's the way these things typically go I guess. Not that they're "bad," necessarily. Seaking is a rather elegant and majestic dragon we can assume is aquatic, with a pleasantly bulbous body shape that looks pretty good with those segmented armor plates.

This one's pleasant to look at too. Broad like a tortoise, with dense green scales, and its wings are a rather strange set of purple "petals."

Uh...isn't that a nazi reference? Unfortunately not all that uncommon for Japanese anime and video games of the time. I'm gonna have faith that it's just a tasteless attempt to be dark and edgy until further notice. An alright design I guess, oddly a lot like a "more mature" version of the Nebelkeruten dragon we saw earlier.

The nicest looking of the ultimate dragons, in my opinion. It has a pair of tentacles instead of forelimbs, a reptilian face with slightly whimsical, ear-like fins and another of those delightfully bulbous abdoments, very vaguely reminding me of a rust monster.

Finally, we have my easy favorite of the bunch. You can't look at it and have possibly expected anything less, really. A giant cave cricket with the head of a fly and a gruesome collection of external viscera? SIGN ME UP. Or, I guess, sign my dragon guy up in the hypothetical scenario where I ever play this game. Sorry, Radune, this is just who you are now. Because I said so. Because I'm living through you.