Well, after a prolonged period of apathy, I finally gave up on and deleted Pet Shop Story, which I had given a generally poor review to, but when one goes out, I at least try to bring a new one in. I had considered Mini Dinos from MiniClip, but instead, selected Dragon Skies, also from MiniClip/Breaktime Studios because, at least in theory, it’s got most of what I want in a game, but it’s also got new elements to play with.
I’ll be honest, these games do get a bit monotonous and I was looking for something that would change up my expectations a bit. From what I was seeing, Dragon Skies offered a more active leveling system, colosseum combat, etc. In most games, you grow endless food to feed to your dragons, thus leveling them up so they can breed more dragons that you have to continually feed. Here, however, there is no food. In order to level up your dragons, they have to take to the sky and you have to fly them through a variety of obstacles, collecting stars and XP, and how many of these you collect determines how fast they level. It’s an interesting mechanic, one that isn’t difficult to perform but it’s extremely hard to master. At low levels, taking a dragon through one or two flights is enough to level them but as you go on, it takes more and more flights and higher and higher performance to get them up to the next bar. So far, I’ve got a couple dragons at level 10, I have no idea how high that goes or if level has any effect on breeding. It doesn’t in most games, except that your critters have to be above level 4 to breed at all, but we’ll see what happens as time goes on. After your dragon has a flight, it has to sleep, the duration of which varies based on dragon type and level. The higher the level, the longer they have to rest and while asleep, they can perform no actions at all, including breeding.
The flights, easily the most interesting part of the game, are very simple. You tap your finger to make your dragon fly. If you stop, it starts to drop. It’s really a physics puzzle, trying to gauge when to stop flapping so that it falls in the right direction. There are other maneuvers too, so far the only one I have seen is a loop, which is performed by keeping your finger on the screen. This allows you not only to gather a lot of stars in close proximity, but to reposition your dragon to move from the top to the bottom of the screen. There are dangers on screen as well, there are deadly thunder clouds that you have to avoid. If you hit one, you lose points from your accumulated stars for this flight, depending on how close you get. Grazing a cloud might lose you a single star, running right into one might lose you 5 or 6. This is especially problematic when there are multiple clouds in close succession and you can plow through them all, losing tons of points. Luckily, there are green invulnerability icons that make you impervious to damage for a few seconds, allowing you to plow through clouds with impunity, often necessary to collect large numbers of stars or XP on the other side. The maps are standard, once you figure out what you have to do to get to the other side of the maze, all of your dragons will fly the same map when they reach that level. You just have to remember what to do, which is not always as easy as it sounds.
Money is pretty easy to come by, unlike some games, but since the game is stuffed full of expensive trees, bushes and rocks to clear. And yes, I literally mean stuffed full, the landscape is choked with literally hundreds of trees, at 1000 coins each, that you’ll need to clear, plus large 10k trees, 50k rocks, etc. Nothing is really that cheap in this game and clearing is a long, slow, tiring process. They’re also pretty stingy with the habitats at the beginning. You can’t just breed like mad like you do in most games, you have to wait until you can buy a new habitat or upgrade one that you have. Small habitats only hold 2 dragons and you can only have 3-4 habitats in the first few levels of the game, making you consider what you’re doing. I’m hoping that as time goes on, the situation improves and I can start to breed more freely.
There is a huge variety of dragons in this game and, like in Tiny Monsters, every critter comes in two forms, regular and legendary. I haven’t figured out if there’s any real difference between the two, but eventually, for those of us who want to catch them all, it will require a ridiculously huge number of habitats to house two of every dragon style. Like I said, there are nearly 200 dragons that I’ve found reference to so far, including both regular and legendary forms, that’s 50 large habitats at 4 dragons each. The dragon models are, of course, saccharine cute, which I’ve never been a fan of, but it’s part of the genre and as such, I have no choice. Still, I’d prefer dragons or monsters or whatever that looked a bit more bad ass, but that’s just me.
It’s an entertaining game, at least so far. I’ve really only just started and, due to problems that I explain below, I really have no idea what to expect and I can easily see a huge wall of frustration developing, but I’m hoping that the game is in a transitional stage and will improve to the point where, like every other game I’m playing, information is easily accessible online. I’m keeping my fingers crossed at least.
Fun:I need to explain this. For most of these games, there is a wide range of dragons that you can get and there are websites and wikis set up, both official and unofficial, which tell you what’s available, what the best breeding combinations are, etc. for every dragon in the game. This game is not like that. I don’t know if it’s coming or what, but so far, there are nearly 200 possible dragons, but there is no official list, the wiki is woefully empty, you have little idea what to breed together, it’s kind of a mess. I know that’s not the game’s fault per se, but it does effect the gameplay because you’re really stuck just throwing together random dragons and hoping you get something you don’t have. There needs to be a serious effort, both on the part of the wiki owners and on MiniClip/Breaktime, to get some accurate information out there for players!
Frustration:I’ll be honest, the flight dynamic is frustrating until you get the hang of it, and for some dragons, it never stops being frustrating. I found that, for my Blizzard dragon, there’s only one specific spot in the middle of the dragon that can catch a star, the rest of the dragon will go right through it, so you end up with very few stars and very slow leveling for that particular dragon. Also, some dragons don’t fall the same as others so you have to totally change your timing, depending on what dragon you’re flying. Some might consider that challenging, I think it’s frustrating because some fall like rocks while others float like butterflies and once you have dozens and dozens of dragons, you’ll never remember the flight characteristics of them all.
Reliability:So far, so good, no major problems observed, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it crash from time to time. In fact, I had it crash repeatedly at one particular part in the game, causing me to have to build the same habitat about 6 times in a row. It could have been a glitch, it hasn’t returned, but it could still be a concern.
Wallet-Drainer:So far, I haven’t seen anything that has required me to spend real money to play, in fact, unlike some games, I could even refuse to spend free “gems” during the introductory phases. That said though, there are a couple of quests that want you to spend “gems” that I haven’t and probably will never do, just to conserve.
Written by MiniClip
Cost: Free/Premium content available.
Requires Internet connection to play.