If you lived in a world where colorful dragons flew through the sky, happy, harmless and beautiful, why would you want to wreck that? Sure, freedom sounds nice, but think about it. Wouldn’t you rather have them hanging around Earth? Or would you help them escape this existence and go somewhere else? Maybe somewhere a bit more dragony?
That is exactly what you are asked to do in Dragon Portals, a new Match-3 title from MythPeople. You play as Mila, a girl who must free hundreds of Chinese dragons from dark magic that chains them to our world. This is done by creating chains of three or more similarly colored dragon orbs that line the dragon’s sides.
Having a luck dragon with you is the only way to go on a quest.
The orbs and backgrounds are visually appealing, but nothing compares to the dragons themselves. In keeping with the mystical Chinese setting, these dragons are not the fire-breathing, green monsters of Europe, but rather the brightly colored, serpentine creatures known in Chinese legend. The music also does a good job keeping to the Chinese theme, with gongs and high flutes weaving interesting melodies that somehow avoid becoming repetitive.
The simple gameplay is the same in each level. The game board is made up of 4-5 dragons, flying side by side. Instead of scales, each dragon has a row of dragon orbs going down its side. You tap an orb to drop it down to the row beneath and make a string of three or more similarly colored orbs. Those orbs then disappear and new orbs slide down from the dragon’s tail.
Dragon Portals has two modes: Adventure and Survival. In Adventure mode, you must destroy orbs to fill the progress meter at the bottom of the screen. Once full, portals open for the dragons who can now escape our world. You must fill the meter quickly, as the dragons’ height off the ground is determined by your ability to make matches and combos. If you do well, the dragons fly up. If you perform fairly, or poorly, the dragons begin to fall, and will eventually crash into the ground.
Purple people eater?
Survival mode is easily unlocked by beating the first few levels of Adventure mode. In it, you select the power-ups you want, which are made available to you during the main game, and then begin matching up orbs, trying to keep the dragons in the air as long as possible.
Adventure mode also has a very simple minigame you can play every five levels. In it you are given a camera by the head of a naturalist organization that studies dragons. You must use this camera to take snapshots of certain dragons in the area. Though it is incredibly easy, this minigame does provide some much needed variety.
Unlike other Match-3 titles, in Dragon Portals you can only move the orbs in one direction: down. There is no movement horizontally or upwards, which makes it much harder than the average match three game. Later on, the dragons tend to fall quickly, and can be very difficult to keep in the air. It can get incredibly frustrating.
So many levels, so little variety.
There are 74 levels, each of which is almost exactly the same. If you really like the graphics and gameplay style, that could be a good thing. If not, then the game can be a real chore.
Dragon Portals is an interesting take on the classic Match-3 genre. It is very challenging, and at times can be a bit frustrating to play. The visuals are very good though, and the controls are both simple and spot on. We like dragons, and want to see more, not less, or them in daily life, so we can’t endorse the ultimate goal of this game. But if you’re looking for a Match-3 title that will really push you, Dragon Portals may be just the one.