Dragon’s Rage is a simple action game with a simple premise: torch all the good guys before they get to you. Decent controls, good visuals and the basic fact that you play a dragon all make this an appealing pick up and play outing in my book. Unfortunately there’s one problem that gets in the way of total enjoyment: a severe jump in difficulty between levels in the same world. Otherwise, I’ve quite enjoyed my romp as a vicious fire breathing dragon.
There’s really no background story to the game, so I guess you’re just a dragon that’s having a bad day and taking it out on the populace. Truthfully, I never really need a reason to play a dragon, because dragons are cool. Anyway, you’ll travel through several worlds, torching first and asking questions later. Along the way you’ll pick up power ups like a bomb that kills several folks with one quick shot, a laser beam that wipes out anything in its path, and a skull and crossbones that obliterates all your opponents on the screen. You can also pick up a shield to afford yourself temporary invulnerability, and green and red potions that restore health and stamina respectively. At the end of the day it’s kill or be killed.
You are always at the bottom center of the screen, and you can use the accelerometer to turn around that focal point somewhere between 180 to 360 degrees, depending on the level. Waves of peasants, knights, archers and more will come at you from all sides, and you must dispose of them before they reach you and start poking you with their sharp, pointy sticks (or in the case of archers start shooting at you with arrows). Little red arrows will show up indicating which directions folks are coming from, and they get bigger as the enemy gets closer. Of course, once archers stop to shoot their arrows go away, and when you’re in the middle of torching a crowd of sword wielding foes it’s often easy to miss a set of arrows headed at you from the opposite direction.
To fire on your oppressors you must use the button in the lower right corner of the screen, which will change depending on whether you have any special weapons equipped. When you have your standard fire or the laser, holding down on the button will release a continuous stream of your ammunition until your stamina has run out. Then you have to wait for it to slowly build back up or hope there is a red potion lying around. With bombs, every time you tap it releases a bomb, but this power is still governed by your stamina. Most battles will be lost because you either didn’t see a group of soldiers sneak up on you and start prodding or you let your vocal chords get dry and you can’t power back up in time.
You start with three lives, and when they are gone you go back to the beginning of the world you were working on (at least you don’t have to start completely over). This seemed pretty reasonable until I got to world 3. I can pass levels 1 and 2 with ease, but I’ve played level 3 something like 20 or 30 times without success. Of course, now that I’ve inadvertently started the game over, I seem to be experiencing the same difficult transition between 2-1 and 2-2. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have to replay the levels I can beat in order to get to the ones I can’t, which in world 3’s case means I’ve unnecessarily played certain levels upwards of 30-40 times.
I’m not normally a fan of the pseudo top down / side view perspective employed in Dragon’s Rage, but it actually works quite well here. The dragon looks pretty nifty, and the range of enemies are well drawn and nicely animated. There are nice little touches like the singed remains of buildings and trees and little piles of helmets where waves of troops used to stand.
The sound effects serve their purpose. All the troops basically sound the same when screaming, and it would be nice if they made a bit more noise on approach so I didn’t just have to rely on arrows to know something was coming. An audio cue when you’re close to death would be nice as well. The music is nice, though it almost seems a bit too subtle for the intensity of the game. Still, I’m just happy that there’s background music at all.
For the most part Dragon’s Rage is an enjoyable game to fill some time between whatever else you’re doing – just make sure you always exit the game via the Home button rather than trying to go back to the main menu. The jump in difficulty between levels on the same world just gets to me, though. I want to beat world 3, but I’m growing tired of playing levels 1 and 2 repeatedly just to get defeated every time on level 3. Still, if you have the patience to persevere (or are just better at the game than me), you should find Dragon’s Rage quite entertaining.
Final Verdict: 7/10
- Simple, fun mechanics
- Nice visuals
- Decent music
I don’t like:
- Needs “turn around” button
- Use ‘em or loose ‘em on power ups can be frustrating
- Unbalanced difficulty within worlds
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G