How to Train Your Dragon: Flight of the Night Fury


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Reviews

How to Train Your Dragon: Flight of the Night Fury Review

If you’re into mythical creatures and can’t wait for the upcoming film How to Train Your Dragon, then fly on over to the App Store and grab up the iPhone game tie-in. Developed by Glu, this is basically a re-skin Glyder and Glyder 2, which, if the reviews of those are any indication, is not a bad thing. But before you click “buy,” be warned that How to Train Your Dragon dispenses with certain videogame conventions like diversity of gameplay and any sense of challenge at all.

But wait! That’s meant as a cautionary note, not a critical smackdown. We actually enjoyed the game.

The island in the sky.

The goal is to complete a series of fetch quests across three completely open island levels. You pilot a flying dragon that has total freedom of movement, and you’ll ride him all over the place in search of whatever your Viking friend asks you to collect.

Though the gameworld is made up of only three levels, they’re fairly expansive and well designed for the freedom of movement your dragon allows. Platforms, columns, mountains, and secret caves make the terrain fun to navigate, and collectible objects like butterflies and insects are scattered generously throughout. Up close, the textures lack detail, but the draw distance is impressive. That’s important, because when you’re trying to track down the last few collectible bugs, you’ll want to be able to spot them from far away.

Also notable is that once you’re in the game you’ll never be interrupted with loading screens, even between levels. Instead, once you achieve the tasks required to send you on, up pops a series of checkpoint hoops that lead you seamlessly to the next island. This is a cool trick, but getting from one island to the next takes a good deal of time, and the between-level flights aren’t very exciting.

Proof of global warming: this used to be Antarctica.

But really, nothing about the game is overtly exciting, and that seems to be the point. The music is a mellow new age track, and the missions are all about collecting things. There’s no time limit or enemies. The only danger you face is crashing, and after spending a few minutes with the excellent controls, you’ll soar like a pro.

But, interestingly, we didn’t get bored. Flying around the levels is a relaxing experience, more akin to playing Zen Bound than Avatar. After playing it for a while, you might feel less stressed.

How to Train Your Dragon is an unusual game, to be sure. Since it’s based on a children’s movie, you might expect it to be an action-packed animated romp, but in fact it’s the opposite. It’s a meditative experience that will let you zone out and find your happy place. For some players, this will be a dragon-sized breath of fresh air. For others, they’ll be wondering why they don’t get to eviscerate any Vikings. So will you enjoy this game? That all depends on what you’re looking for.

Previews

How To Train Your Dragon Hands-On Preview and Video

Glu’s got a good grip on flying games. Their last two, Glyder and Glyder 2, were both considered Must Haves by our reviewers, and the original even won our very first Game of the Month almost a year ago. Now they’re lending Dreamworks their flying game developer chops with a tie-in to the upcoming movie, How To Train Your Dragon.

The movie and game feature a young Viking lad named Hiccup, who invents a catapult to knock down the dragons that are plaguing his village. When he knocks one of them into the nearby woods, he tracks it down and discovers that it’s a little helpless, and he trains it to be nice to humans and fly around at his command.

This is where the game picks up. Serving as a “side story” to the CG movie, this game plays like a simplified version of Glyder. Your dragon has his own propulsion system, so you don’t need to catch hot air vents to gain altitude. You simply tilt skyward and the dragon will do the flapping for you.

Otherwise, this game has a lot of the same features as the Glyder series. You’ll coast to cozy perches, find hidden and elusive “bugs” you can collect, and gain achievements for feats like flying for five minutes straight.

There are also 11 story missions, which the game’s producer tells us will take about an hour to complete, plus eight bonus challenges to pad things out even more. Some of the story missions will result in improvements to your dragon, like a quest to collect five boars and turn them into a saddle, which will help your dragon respond better to your turns.

The game’s three environments are from the world of the movie, and these include the Viking island of Berk, the Dark Deep, and Shivering Shores, which we understand can get a bit chilly.

How To Train Your Dragon’s easy accessibility suggests that this game will be a way to introduce new or younger players to the more complex Glyder mechanics. Since it’s a movie tie-in and doesn’t contain endless hours of content, we only hope it’s not too pricey. How To Train Your Dragon hits the App Store on March 11.