The name ‘Dragon Island’ doesn’t exactly invoke mental images of lazy tropical days and drinks with little umbrellas in them. Sure enough, Dragon Island Blue is an iOS adventure/ RPG that’s crammed with battles, monster training, and guild quests. While the game is certainly inspired by Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise, the tone is very different: Whereas Pokemon is all about the bond between trainer and animal, Dragon Island Blue encourages you to kill your darlings for your own gain.
The premise of Dragon Island Blue feels familiar. You, destined for greatness, mysterious monster-breeding father who went missing years ago, etc. The important thing is that your heritage is reason enough to be trusted with a dragon hatchling, your very first monster. You can capture others via ‘cards,’ and like Pokemon, the monsters become easier to catch if you wear them down first. Unsurprisingly, Dragon Island Blue allows you the option to instantly catch any monster with premium cards you can buy with the game’s hard currency (gold).
Every monster has a series of attacks, as well as elemental strengths and weaknesses. Your monsters level up as they fight, and may eventually evolve into a more powerful creature. Sound familiar?
They go together like baboons and skeletons.
But Dragon Island Blue actually succeeds quite well at doing its own thing. It has a more serious, medieval tone than Pokemon, and while the monster designs are drawn well, they’re a lot more straightforward than the whimsical wildlife of Nintendo’s games. Aside from your dragon, you also have the opportunity to train wolves, penguins, and killer hornets (named, uh, ‘Wolf,’ ‘Penguin,’ and ‘Killer Hornet’). Later monsters look a little more complex and demonic, but won’t mess with your head like Pokemon’s infamous trio of anthromorphic ice cream cones.
Truthfully, you’ll probably kill off your excess monsters before you have a chance to get to know them. You can literally pull the souls out of monsters to create ‘Soul Stones,’ important gems that bolster the stats of your favorite beasties. In some cases, you can even feed unwanted monsters to your front lines. Let’s not tell Professor Oak about all this. His heart might not be able to take it.
Dragon Island Blue has a surprising amount of depth for an iOS monster-fighting game. Your earliest quests and adventures proceed at a glacial pace, but once you get warmed up you really start to enjoy yourself and are driven to Catch ‘˜em All. You even start to get curious about each monster’s potential as a soul stone (because you are a monster yourself).
If you’re going to the black market, remember to get milk.
Needless to say, you can end up in trouble if you walk too far down the road and a Dragon Overlord welcomes you to the neighborhood with a fiery gust. Thankfully, Dragon Island Blue doesn’t penalize you too badly for your rashness. You simply retreat back to the last town you visited, monsters fully restored.
Dragon Island Blue has some issues worth mentioning, like the lack of a female avatar, and the bizarre inability to change your monster battling order outside of a town. The team at ZigZaGames has already acknowledged these problems, and promise that a fix is coming soon. Additional touch-ups would be nice, like more battle animations. The monsters look good, but are pretty lifeless.
When taken as a whole package, though, Dragon Island Blue is an ambitious adventure game that will capture your heart on a card once you warm up to it. Just don’t pull the Soul Stone out of that catch. The result would not be pretty.