Review: Dragon Eggs

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With so many iOS games vying for a gamer’s attention, it can be hard to come out with a title that distinguishes itself from being just another knock-off of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja.  That being said, touch control games are a tricky proposition.  Add too many ways to control the game and you can wind up with a cluttered screen, or worse, a screen covered by your own fingers, causing gameplay to be obscured.

Games with minimal controls and a simple concept tend to work best regardless of the platform that a game is released on.  iOS games are no exception.  RGH Games has released Dragon Eggs as a family friendly physics based maze game, and it takes this minimalistic approach and flies with it.  You control a mother dragon that needs to fly her unhatched baby egg through various caverns to a nest made of gold.  Tapping on the left side of the screen makes the dragon fly right and tapping the right makes the dragon fly left.  Tap both sides at the same time and she will ascend, with gravity being the force to bring mother and egg back down.

Fifteen levels in each of three distinct areas — garden, ice and fire — make up the environmental beauty and hazards throughout the game.  Rich colors explode in the foreground, while dual layers of texture and setting add depth to the background visual field.  Waterfalls slow the dragon movement, timed gusts of wind force the dragon up or block a path momentarily, in addition to explosive plants, shards of ice, or pockets of magma that add to an ever increasing level of difficulty.

The difficulty is not just environmental, however, as controlling the dragon can pose a challenge as well.   Eggs are round and as such, tend to roll even when placed on the back of a dragon.  Tap the screen too much on one side (or for too long) and suddenly you’ll be faced with a dragon that has careened off the intended course while the egg has rolled and bounced away.  If the egg loses contact with the mother dragon for an extended period, the level resets.  If the egg touches the above mentioned hazards and is destroyed, the level resets.  Fortunately, restarting a level takes no time at all. But unfortunately, restarting a level quickly becomes a necessity (or a second nature reflex) as the quest for a best time is ruined by a poorly executed flight or inadvertent bump into a hazard.

Flying and control isn’t the hard part, it’s keeping the egg on the back of the dragon which can make for a maddening experience.  Like so many attempts at getting three stars on any given Angry Birds level, Dragon Eggs entices players with goals to aspire to via times to beat as well as red gems to collect through each level.  Each level has a time to beat broken down by mere seconds shaved off the next goal, teasing with that “just one more turn” mentality.  Unfortunately, egg control becomes a real detriment to the overall experience when going for top completion times.

Replaying levels gives you a ghost egg to follow which can help tempt players to best their previous attempts and win a red scale for the level.  Collecting the red gems throughout each level unlocks a bonus level for each section, and once all red gems are collected the egg hatches and you are given the option to fly as the faster baby dragon, which can help considerably to trounce previous timed runs for any given level.

While I have enjoyed my time with the game, there are a few things that could (hopefully) be patched in future updates to really make the game a better experience.  First off, there are no sound controls.  Sure, I can always flip the mute switch on my phone, but I don’t have that luxury on an iPod.  Plus, I like being able to control my game volume in a menu option via a slide control (or at least an option to toggle sound on or off) and keep my phone un-muted.  My second complaint is a lack of knowing where the heck I’m supposed to be flying.  Sure, at this point I’ve gone through each level so I can follow my ghost egg to the nest, but after playing through 45 levels I can assure you that I don’t remember the best (or sometimes only) path to take to reach the nest.  Some type of radar or arrow indicator could help provide clearer direction. Finally, my last issue with the game is a lack of online leaderboards (or at least a leaderboard to compare my best times with friends who also have an iPhone.) Again, each of these are minor complaints that could theoretically be patched via an update at some point down the road.

Dragon Eggs is a great new game for iOS devices. Visually, the environments show a strong choice of colors and design, building challenges the further you progress in the game. The controls can be a bit frustrating at times (more so in keeping the egg on the back of the mother), and load times can be a bit long while the title itself is loaded. But once the levels are on screen, any restarts happen quick enough to dismiss the initial loading times.  Overall, Dragon Eggs is a fun game with a lot of replayability.

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Pros:
+ Rich graphics
+ Quick reload
+ High replayability

Cons:
– Long load times at start up
– No leaderboards
– Sensitive controls
– Later levels can be hard to tell where to go
– No volume control

Game Info:
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Publisher: RGH Games
Developer: RGH Games
Release Date: 9/16/2011
Genre: Puzzle
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.