Movie tie-in games continue to be released to mostly mediocre sales and reviews, but that has not stopped companies from pushing them out alongside the movies. The latest in this long line of movie games is ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, published by Activision. The game puts you in the shoes of vikings as they train their dragons for combat in tournaments of strength. Is this another so-so movie game, or does it provide enough good times to separate itself from its movie counterpart?
How to Train Your Dragon puts you behind the helm of Hiccup or Astrid as you train dragons for combat in tournaments, training sessions, side missions, and arcade fighting. Each starts with a different dragon, but both play the same story, so there is no difference in who you choose other than preference. You will find a story mode and arcade mode to play in the game along with extra unlockable cutscenes.
Once you have picked your hero for the story, you will be introduced to the town of the vikings and your life as a dragon trainer/fighter. You start off with your standard dragon, but over time you can unlock 3 other dragon slots, giving you an army of 4 dragons to control over time. Each dragon you have under your command has 5 bars that you must monitor and maintain. These bars stand for food, health, mood, trust, and rest. After fighting or training, you have to make sure to give your dragon enough rest and then feed it color-coded items that match one of the colored bars. Doing this will keep your dragon in top shape for any upcoming battles, and starts you off with more health.
Training your dragon is the perfect way to level up your dragons and their skills. Training consists of performing set combos or attacks in a certain amount of time to gain experience. Each level of the training has 4 difficulties, though the only difference in the higher difficulty is that you have less time to perform tasks. This never causes any problems, however, as almost all the tasks are extremely easy. As you gain levels, you will unlock points to distribute to various attribute points such as power, strength, speed, stamina, and fire. Along with these points, you will also unlock customization options to make your dragon your own. You have the ability to customize your dragons’ skin color, head, nose, wings, markings, and more. The options here are not very deep, with only 4 options of customization under each category.
Aside from your training exercises, you will spend most of your time running around your town doing quests and participating in tournaments. The quests range from getting ingredients to cure your dragon’s illness to gathering food for your towns. These quests are pretty boring and get old very fast, but luckily there are not a lot of them. On your way around town, you will also find the challenge cave, which gives you 5 different challenges to deal with. Whether it’s ice-sculpting, or a game of dragon memory, these provide a bit of fun during the game. Additionally, you can try these over and over again to try and best your time and win better medals.
Tournaments give you a chance to really test out your dragons and their skill sets. Combat puts you behind the reigns of a group of dragons as you fight your way to the top. The combat boils down to weak and strong hits, fire, dodge, and block. Its a very basic combat system which plays like a simplified version of Street Fighter. Each dragon you deploy has its own distinct fighting style and type of fire. As you get to later tournaments, you fight as a group of 4 against 4 other dragons. Once you defeat a dragon or are defeated, the next in your team heads out. The game also offers an arcade mode with 1 or 2 player combat. In the arcade, you can import dragons from your single player game to customize your team.
The game doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t look great either. The audio in the game is also among the most annoying in video game history. You will continue to hear the same 2 or 3 phrases during every battle and trip around town. After about 5 minutes you will be muting the game to listen to your radio. I have not seen the movie, so I don’t know how closely the game follows, but I guess it doesn’t matter, because there really isn’t much story in the game to follow. The game menus may also be a bit difficult for children to navigate, as there is a lot to them.
Overall, How to Train Your Dragon is a pretty poor game with very little depth and some very annoying audio. As a kids’ game, the combat is pretty easy to pick up and play, and it can provide a few hours of entertainment. It should be a fairly easy game for the trophy hunters out there, though you will have to put in at least 20 hours total to get everything. With that said, it’s hard to recommend this game, even to those with kids, as there are better kids’ games on the market. HTTYD seems to be trying to cover the market for both kids and teens, but the menus can be a bit too much for kids, and there’s not enough depth for teens.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Not much variety