How to Train your Dragon Review - -

Gameplay 7.0
Graphics 8.0
Sound 8.0
Value 6.5
Distributor: Activision
Michael Marsh


How to Train Your Dragon

Movie games are a dangerous territory in video games and although there have been some winners, there have been plenty of stinkers since the advent of gaming. So where does How to Train Your Dragon sit in all this? Somewhere straight in the middle but considering that this game was developed for younger gamers, it does deserve a couple of extra points. And thankfully it tries something new as it doesn't try to copy the movie blatantly but rather create a compendium to compliment the movie, more specifically as a follow-up to the film itself. Just ignore the issue with Astrid if you've seen the movie!

For those who have seen the movie, younger gamers can play as either Hiccup or Astrid, two young Viking characters from the original motion picture plus you get to fight some very interesting looking dragons. Storywise, you need to become the best dragon trainer in your village and it seems like everyone and their dog is into this.

Gameplay wise, the title features arcade, adventure and fighting areas. There are two main modes of play that include arcade and adventure with the later has you hunting for objects in this Viking world. Most of the time, you'll be hunting for objects or following the orders from an NPC as you explore a variety of Nordic inspired scenarios. With that in mind, most experienced gamers should have no trouble in finishing this game in around 7 - 8 hours.

Add in some dragon training and some various mini-games (e.g. time attack in the sky) and the developers have attempted to break up the monotony of the main gameplay. Unfortunately, the main crux of the game is a tad boring and at times a little un-inspirational. If they had spiced up the gameplay some more, this game would have come across better than it did.

In terms of starting, once you have chosen who you wish to play in How to Train Your Dragon, you need to begin training and caring for your dragons. This part of the game is almost like a Sim as you build your dragon up, watching their trust, food and mood meters. It's more a of bonding exercise. During these moments, I wanted a little more action and thankfully I was given this during the dragon tournaments where you pit your dragons against others.

However once you have finished the battles, you need to return to this Sim Pet atmosphere to care for your dragon. As you progress, there is an RPG-light system employed to make your dragons more powerful and helps give you the motivation needed to continue. The best part of this Sim Pet experience was the ability to tweak your dragons appearance and I created some really cool looking creatures (well for me anyway) from colours to horn size.

The control system of the game works well on Wii with its wireless controls and innovative use of this console. The highlight is the game is the combat which has been mapped well with melee and magic (e.g. fire) attacks. In terms of fighting, your dragon has two modes of attacks plus their fire attack. There are some tactics involved as you move your controls up in the air to attack or breath fire and initially it works but I was craving for something a little more challenging.

Thankfully I had a gamer under 15 to help me who thought the game was good in this department, although a little limited to what your dragons can actually do. Obviously the target audience thought it worked! There are also some combo attacks but with the limited button structure, these are quite easy to do and perfect for the younger gamer.

The game does support a multiplayer experience where you can fight your friends with your dragons and yes, I was drawn into this experience because it's more difficult than the solo-game and does allow for some royal battles as you swing your controls all over the place to win. Another fun aspect of the game was flying through this Viking World but I would of preferred a little more freedom.

Graphically, the game visually presents the characters and atmosphere of the movie quite well. The characters are a little on the basic side but so was the movie but thankfully there is some good animation involved in the game and the backgrounds look like the film as well. The soundtrack is reminiscent of the movie as are the voices, although a few of the characters sound a little off but it's nothing to whinge about. Add in a variety of sound effects from the ambience of the world that you are playing to the bigger than life battles of the dragons and the game comes together rather well.

In conclusion, I would of preferred to see more interaction between your character and the dragons while you explore the world (ala Drakan) which would not give the game a Pokémon feel to it.  The game does attempt to merge a variety of different gaming genres together which some work and some don't. More particularly, some of the mini-games which were a little lacklustre. The combat, albeit simplistic works and overall, if you're a younger gamer, there are far worse titles around than this. Just remember that this game is not made for adults and you'll be fine, 6 for adults and 7 for kids!


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