How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review


After playing the first game in the Dragon series I was expecting pretty big things here. Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. The sequel really ended up fumbling the ball here. The main issue is that the gameplay has been completely changed so now you’re riding a dragon in a very limited environment over and over again with no story. So this feels like more of a free to play minigame than an actual title. If they had only kept the cool action combat from the first game then this could have had potential.

So the game starts off with showing you how to fly. You fly around the world in 3D. You can go up, left, right, and down. You can fire off fireballs as well and during the races you can use items to boost or throw things at people. That’s the extent of the gameplay. So what’s the goal of the game? Presumably it’s to play all of the tournaments and events but they just keep on spawning. There are trophies for getting golds in everything though so eventually they should end. Honestly what the game could have done right off the bat to make things more interesting would have been to just have added a little story here. Maybe a cutscene where the bully is teasing us for not being able to fly so well so the main character wants to prove him wrong. At least that gives you a reason to keep on playing since you have to show them what’s up. Without that in the mix, it just doesn’t feel the same.

There are 4 main kinds of minigames. The first is the classic ring challenge. You have to fly through a bunch of rings within a certain time frame. Fly through them all to get a perfect score or at least go through most of them in order to pass the challenge. It’s a very basic game and while it’s not bad, there’s just nothing to it. So having to do this over and over again isn’t exactly thrilling when you think about it. Next up is..more rings. This time you have to get to the goal at the end of the level and you fly through rings to extend the timer. You’ll want to fly through as many rings as possible so the timer doesn’t run out too quickly. I mean…it’s a different variation at least but I wouldn’t say there is too much to it.

Next up is a minigame where you have to try and blast cardboard cutouts of villains. You have to make sure not to blast heroic ones by mistake. The idea is to blast them all very quickly before the time runs out. This one is a little tricky with how many points they want you to grab. A few mistakes will definitely be too much for you to come back from so you will want to keep that in mind. Finally we have my least favorite minigame which is one where you have to pick up Sheep and deposit them either at the finish line or in their pen. It’s really hard to land to grab the Sheep without crashing. The game is quite sensitive about the crashes so when it happens the pilot is completely thrown off of the dragon and ends up crashing somewhere after a full cutscene. It’s certainly not something that you want to see happen but it’ll probably happen quite a bit by the time you’re done with this minigame.

Aside from the challenges then you will also encounter occasional tournaments. These basically just fuse the minigames together only now you are playing against computers. The A.I. is actually pretty good in these. Mix that in with all of the luck factors in the game such as items, and sheep spawning in the wrong places and you are going to have a tough time winning. Not that winning seems to matter though. Whether you come in first or last you progress to the next challenge on the list. At least that means the game is relatively low pressure right? It also means that each level feels like it doesn’t matter though which is an issue. The tournaments also feel a little too long. They may only have 5 events but they feel like they end up dragging on quite a lot.

For the first time since Ninjabread Man also expect to hear the same voice clips repeated forever and ever. The main character just can’t stop talking while you are flying on the dragon. He’s constantly yelling and panicking. If you’re in first then he’ll be bragging the whole time. Either way the actor seemed to only want to record around 5 lines or so which means that he has to keep running them on loop the whole time. Not the best way to handle things, in that cast the developers should have turned down the voices a bit. He shouldn’t need to talk all the time unless you can record a ton of lines.

As for the graphics, they’re okay I suppose. They haven’t really changed since the first game but at the same time it’s a bit hard to judge because there isn’t a lot to animate in general. Pretty much all of the levels take place in the exact same environment to the point where I feel like they started reusing backgrounds almost immediately. The hub world is rather small as well. At least that helps if you want to find all of the collectibles although without a map or anything that sounds a bit tedious at best. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of either so the film couldn’t even try to save itself that way.

It’s hard to say how long the game is since it just keeps on going and going. I played it for a few hours and I think that’s a reasonable point to stop. Of course if you do enjoy the game I suppose there is a decent amount of replay value to be found. For starters you can try to grab all of the PS3 trophies. Earning that Platinum seems like it won’t be too tough but that it will take some decent time so prepare for that. Beyond that I guess that’s about it.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon 2 definitely just wasn’t on the same level as the first one. Gone are the fun dragon battles and all of the excitement that the first game left on the table. This title feels like the developers just didn’t know what to do with it. As a result the whole product suffered quite a bit. If they made a third game or if they ever make one, I hope it goes back to the combat gameplay of the first. If not, at least it should involve platforming and have some kind of story. Just being a minigame title without much variety with gameplay is a losing strategy.

Overall 5/10

How to Train a Dragon Stats and Records

PS3 Trophies 12/48
Play Time 3h 41m
Game Completion 57%
Money Earned 9520
Items Collected 231
Recipes 6
Animals Caught 22
Fight Record 21-0
Trainings Won 18

Mini Game High Scores

Ice Sculpting 95, 55, 35
Fire Torch 14 0 0
Quiz Challenge 7 1 0

Dragons

Night Fury Level 14
Hideous Zippleback Level 12
Cronckle Level 13
Monstrous Nightmare Level 12

How to Train Your Dragon Review


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.

Overall 7/10