How to Train Your Dragon was always a series with a pretty unique concept of being able to train some dragons as allies. I don’t know a whole lot about the series beyond that but it must be doing something right to have had 3 films as well as a TV show and multiple video games. This game is actually more fun than I thought it would be. Not saying it’s suddenly an 8 star game or anything but the combat is really on point and so are the various mechanics when navigating the hub world.
The basic plot of the game is that you grow up on an island where people raise their Dragons to fight in tournaments like Pokemon. The first tournament is filled with 1 on 1 battles, the next 2 on 2, etc. Tournament 5 is the ultimate championships but it caps off at 4 on 4 battles so you don’t need to worry about getting a 5th one. The game follows a pretty steady formula where you complete one tournament, then do a few side quests. Complete another tournament, more side quests, etc. It’s a fairly short title as I completed it in under 4 hours. There is actually a solid amount of replay value to consider though.
After beating the game you can still work on clearing all of the side quests, maxing out your four main dragons, and getting the Platinum trophy. I don’t think any of this will take you very long to achieve but it does give you more to strive for. The core gameplay is solid so that helps with making you want to play it a little longer. It’s a well crafted game even if it’s on a fairly low budget.
So the gameplay is that of a 2D brawler. You control the dragon and have to knock out the opponent’s health. Pretty simple enough eh? The game has some good depth there though as you have your standard attack, power moves, projectile blasts, dodging, blocking, and jumping. You have a lot of attack options throughout and it helps to make the fights more interesting. There are things you can do before the fights to help get your dragon ready too. Feeding them allows for their health bars to be a little bigger and you can complete tutorials in the cave to muster up some new combos. The combos can be quite handy for sure like one 8 hit combo that leaves the other dragon stunned so you can follow up. These tutorials give your dragon EXP and there are also minigames you can play for exp as well. The minigames is the fastest way to do this.
When you’re not battling you are walking across the village and either helping the villagers by giving them ingredients or finding things for the chief. These little intermissions are fun enough although they’re very short. I was pretty cool with the tasks because even if they don’t really add anything to the game, at least they are short enough where they don’t really hurt it either. The last thing you want to do is add this free roam part but at the expense of making the game less fun to play after all.
There is virtually no story in the game though. You get a few quick cutscenes here and there but if we’re being honest it’s never anything important. Just the characters talking about the next tournament or planning ways to cheat in it. You can tell that the developers were focusing completely on the gameplay. You almost could have just made this a pure arcade mode type game and I should note that there is an arcade mode here. Now the game does have one real weakness though which becomes a bit apparent by the very end of the game. So it’s not something that ended up hurting but if this game were longer then it may have become a real concern.
It can be a bit repetitive. The gameplay is fun like I said but the more dragons they force you to compete against, the more nonstop fights you are looking at. Take the final tournament for example. You have to defeat 5 opponents, who each have 4 dragons. That’s 20 back to back to back battles. Each match is like a normal Street Fighter round so that’s effectively clearing 3 arcade modes in one tournament. Then you have 5 tournaments to consider. The first ones are shorter of course but be that as it may, it’s still a whole lot of battles that you have to go up against. I think the game didn’t need to make you go through so many battles at once.
The game is rather short as it is though so maybe the developers were worried about it being under 3 hours otherwise. So that’s my only real complaint here. The graphics are solid. They may not be Sonic 2006 level or anything like that but the graphics during combat were good so I’m satisfied. The soundtrack is quite generic though. I definitely wouldn’t say that it was anything particularly impressive. More like elevator music where you hear it while you’re on the ride but forget it immediately afterwards.
Overall, How to Train Your Dragon is a good game. It’s a very short one to be sure but the developers did make sure that the experience you had was fun. It’s the little things sometimes like being able to just run around the village at top speeds or being able to train conveniently. Everything in the game feels quick and easy. The gameplay is also quite strong as I mentioned earlier. When you put all of that into perspective then this is a tie-in game I can recommend. Particularly if you are able to get this game for under $10. At that point the short length won’t bother you so much. So if you enjoyed the movie or just like the idea of a Pokemon style game where you have dragons face off against each other in real time then this will definitely be up your alley.