How To Train Your Dragon
Posted 3 years ago By - Zach R.
(We usually put screenshots but Activision failed to provide screens at the time of posting)
I’ve always been a strong believer that it’s a difficult task for developers to make games that tie into the children’s movies. The cycle for development has a strict deadline, for one. I mean, the game has to be ready to go at roughly the same time as the movie and sometimes even weeks before. Game makers also don’t have as much familiarity with the subject matter as the writers of the film do, which can lead to weak scripts. From there, you’ve got scheduling conflicts, rewrites and other trials that make developing a movie-based game a nightmare.
Griptonite, the makers of How To Train Your Dragon DS, seem to have embraced the challenge, providing a simple, fun and focused affair. This is one licensed game that may leave fans of the film pleasantly surprised.
The DS verison of How to Train Your Dragon is a much simpler affair than its big brothers. Instead of taking the kitchen sink approach to gameplay, the DS version focuses much more on providing an enjoyable, if derivative, light RPG experience. The premise is basically the same; with your character, either Hiccup or Astrid, compete to become the ultimate Dragon Master. You’ll still spend your time wandering about the land performing various fetch-quests but the tedium overall is far less taxing here.
What works best about the game on DS is the combat system. Instead of making it a button-mashing fighter with RPG elements, HTTYD DS uses a turn-based system. While there’s nothing overly new about that, there is one neat aspect that makes it click. The combat system works using a time-based meter, with each attack costing a certain amount of units. The more powerful the attack, the more time units it costs. It works by adding a little bit of strategy to the mix, as using large attacks may effectively wear an opponents hit points down, but if you’re opponents smart, they’ll use smaller attacks that cost less of that meter. You see, players aren’t able to attack until the meter is at full, so you really need to think about what attacks to use to be truly effective. If your opponent is using big attacks, you have to think carefully about how you should retaliate. On the other hand, your dragon may be able to cook the other opponent with a fire attack that will cost you your entire bar of time-units. While the older gamers out there won’t be wowed by it, it’s a neat way of introducing a small amount of strategy to the younger crowds.
Of course, there is a slight problem. Overall, the game is extremely easy, even without learning the nuances behind the time-based system. During the course of the entire game, I remained undefeated until the last fight. Granted, I’ve been playing RPG’s a lot longer than the target audience for HTTYD, so the younger crowd may find it a bit more challenging. Overall, for anyone with even a casual interest in RPG’s, you may find this a bit too easy in the long run.
In addition to the fighting you’ll be doing, there’s also a clever group of minigames that let you forge armour for your dragon. The game makes decent use of the DS touchscreen and mic, allowing you to tap the screen to chisel out armour, or blow into the mic to stoke the fires of a kiln. The better you do on each game, the higher the quality of armour you will produce. Other developers should take note; just throwing in a minigame to hopefully extend total playing time is a terrible practice. Make it fun and functional within the game and it will be truly appreciated.
Graphics & Sound
The visuals in-game aren’t exactly built to impress, but they get the job done. The most remarkable aspect comes from the more powerful fire-based moves in the game. Short of that, everything here is pretty average. There’s also a limited amount of voice-work, which is nice to hear on the DS. The audio overall, however, isn’t spectacular. Mercifully, it’s less repetitive than that of the console versions.
HTTYD campaign is a fairly decent length, though more variety in the gameplay could have added a bit more to the game. Customizing your dragons armour and fighting random encounters is where you’ll spend most of your time, but overall the minigames are fun enough to keep coming back to.
If you’re looking for the best version of the game to buy for the little Dragon fan in your life, the DS should be your first choice. The light RPG elements will challenge younger gamers, but never oversteps into frustrating territory. It’s a bit too simple for fans who’ve played other RPG’s, but as an introduction to the genre, this is a surprisingly solid title.
+ Minigames that are fun, AND functional
+ Time-meter combat it smart and satisfying
- Doesn’t wow in the visual or audio department.
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Release Date : 2010/03/23
System : Nintendo DS
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Griptonite Games
Category : Adventure
ESRB : E
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