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Dragon Island Blue review (iOS / Universal)

September 8, 2012

“Oh ain’t you glad that we live on an island
You can choose your own way of being killed”

10 word description: Build monster army; collect, evolve, combine, fight. Over 200 monsters.

10 word review: Large, compelling mix of collecting, levelling and turn-based fighting.

You will like this if you enjoy: Pokémon, trading card games, turn-based combat, party-based RPGs, monster collecting/breeding…

The good news: Entertaining and very addictive. Loads of different monsters. The fighting is easy to get to grips with and progress is straightforward at the start, with no frustrating dead-end defeats or the feeling that any of your choices have been monumentally stupid. The whole collect/combine/evolve concept is implemented very well. Although there are IAPs (for game currency) there is no “pay or wait” and I’ve not yet come across anything that made it feel like I needed to buy anything with real money. Some of the graphics are very good – monster images and the map are nicely presented.

The bad news: The cave/dungeon exploration graphics are rudimentary at best. The tutorials are not bad but could do with a bit more explanation, although I had no problem figuring out what I was supposed to be doing; there’s no obvious penalty for experimentation. The ‘wheel of chance’ method of gaining some quest rewards feels a bit cheap; hey, I completed the quest so just give me the damn reward, ok?

Arcadelife verdict: Although I never really got into Pokémon I could always appreciate the attraction of collecting different fighting creatures and pitting them against others, I was just put off by how mindlessly happy Pikachu always looked. Dragon Island Blue, although using a colour suffix in the name as a blatant nod to the naming convention of Pokémon games, employs far more identifiable and serious looking creatures. I didn’t expect to become instantly hooked by this game but I was, and I’m currently getting a lot of enjoyment from it.

One of the key features of exploring and fighting is the fact that you can only heal monsters by returning to a town. This initially sounds a bit annoying but it adds an extra level of strategy when it comes to travelling further afield or deciding whether to delve deeper into a dungeon after a tough couple of fights. Do you gamble on an easy victory to claim some treasure or leg it back to town to heal, knowing that the enemy monsters will respawn if you choose the latter?

Overall it’s not a perfect game but it has loads to do, a non-frustrating approach to combat and progression, and most of the time it has a very good graphical style. I’m not a Pokémon fan, so I can honestly say it’s not necessary to be one in order to enjoy Dragon Island Blue. If you think it sounds like something you might fancy, then I’d say take a chance as it’s highly likely you’ll have a lot of fun with it.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 85/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.2
iTunes link

Dragon Island Blue website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

 

 

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