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How to Train Your Dragon

Score: 71%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Griptonite Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

One surprising aspect of How to Train Your Dragon is the good voice-acting. You won't be treated to it save for a few special occasions, but it sounds authentic to the movie, and it's a good bit of acting for this rather small time game. No, it's not going to blow you away, but it's nice that this aspect of the game does shine, if only a little. Of course, the script and story are rather banal, so this is a bit like trying to shine up a pile of mud.

As for the look of the game, yes, dragons are rendered in 3D, and no, they aren't that bad looking. Since the battles are in 3D, and this is where you'll spend most of your time, you'll be glad of this. The rest of the game consists of the dialogue between characters. Although they only make slight gestures and speak, they're also rendered in 3D. The pixelization isn't as pronounced as in many other DS games, but it doesn't look so incredible as to warrant most of the game being in this format. Still, the graphics do manage to keep much of the charm from the characters in the movie.

Dragon customization is a little disappointing, however, as you only get your choice of a few bizarre changes like a tail that looks literally like a hammer, or a dozen very similar combinations of spike placements.


How to Train Your Dragon has pretty much the same premise as the Wii version of this game. Your father wants you to do well in the village's new dragon tournament, and thus sends you from one corner of the island to the other in search of various artifacts to help you on your way. Of course, most of the challenges you face along the way to fighting in the tournament, are, well, fights. There are no relationships to build with your dragon, and not much that ties the game to the movie other than likenesses of the main characters.

Battles are turn-based, and there can be a bit of fun found in creating a strategy to beat each unique opponent. All attacks and defensive moves have a time consumption linked to them. So you'll come across the choice of using lots of moves with low time consumption, or using heavy hitters with large time consumption. Status effects like burning or poison can also be applied to take damage while waiting for your time meter to come back up.

Along the way, you'll also get to make armor upgrades for your dragon, which involve a rather entertaining mini-game. You must pour molten ore into a mold, break it free of the mold, and polish it, all using the touch screen. Depending on how well you perform, your armor will provide better stat bonuses for your dragon. Other than this, you'll level your dragon's abilities by using them in battle repeatedly.

I'd like to say that there's more to the game, but that's pretty much it. Collect dragons, make armor, and fight other dragons. There aren't an abundance of dragon types to collect either, just the main types from the movie. A multiplayer aspect gives the game a miniscule amount of replay value. The multiplayer mode limits you to one-on-one fights which are pretty much identical to the ones in the main game. That's really all you get: no frills, no point system.


How to Train Your Dragon relies on armor and the level of your skills to create difficulty. If you're having trouble, it probably means you need to create a new piece of armor, or go back and train some of your abilities up. The CPU does seem to be a bit predictable, but even so, you'll need to have your dragon at a respectable level or risk being wiped out in one or two moves.

Of course, since making armor is tied to performing well in mini-games, you may be at a disadvantage if you're not a quick study. You don't get another chance if you mess up on some valuable ore. And if you mess up, you get an inferior piece of armor out of the deal. Battles, at least, are forgiving. If you lose, you still gain experience, and really don't experience much of a penalty beyond having to fight again.

Game Mechanics:

How to Train Your Dragon utilizes the touch screen for most of the gameplay in the game. Touch the map to go somewhere, touch an ability to use it in a fight, etc. But it also makes pretty good use of the touch screen during mini-games. You might have to pour molten metal into a mold, or touch a bouncing target to perform a super move. Though it might be nice to have some advance warning for some of the mini-games, they are easy enough to get the hang of after a try or two. The game throws in a bit of everything the DS can do, including a top-down shooter style game that uses the D-pad.

The menus work great with the touch screen, utilizing drag-and-drop where necessary, and just giving the overall feeling of being well integrated. How to Train Your Dragon is a simple, menu-driven game, but sometimes you tread dangerous ground if you want to make action-packed touch screen games.

How to Train Your Dragon of course could have been more creative in its main game modes, and more interesting in story. But, of course, you can see this coming with a movie licensed game. The game is at least decently put together, and can be entertaining for a while if you like that whole Pokemon "collect them all" feel to a game.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Related Links:

Nintendo Wii How to Train Your Dragon Microsoft Xbox 360 Deadly Premonition

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