Dragodino is a charmng platformer which features randomly generated levels. The player controls Bob, a Dragodino who is a proud parent. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, Queen, an evil entity, has stolen Bob’s Dragodino egg. It is now up Bob and his friends to jump and blast through 9 randomly generated levels to defeat Queen and recover the legendary Dragodino egg. On his journey Bob will acquire Crystals which will augment his jumps and allow him to make static platforms, as well as acquire numerous upgrades to increase his overall firepower.
Randomised Levels: One of the unique factors of DragoDino are the randomised levels. This means that every time a level is loaded, the level will be randomised in terms of platform placement, power ups and enemy placements. Whilst the overall level design and aesthetics remain the same, everything else changes. This means that every time you fail a level or replay the level you will get a different gameplay experience from the last playthrough you have done. In turn the levels never become stale or boring as everything is new and thus, replayability is increased. One major flaw is that sometimes the level generated is incompletable due to the ways the platforms are placed, resulting in the player having to quit out and reload the level to get a new level design. Whilst there are some minor problems this is a very rare occurrence.
Local Coop: Whilst the common trend in the gaming atmosphere is to resort to online play and drop local multiplayer as a feature, DragoDino incorporates a local co-op mode to play through the campaign with a friend. Often at times having a partner can be beneficial, allowing the players to split up in a “divide and conquer” approach in killing enemies and obtaining the crystals needed to progress to the next area. Each individual player can also pick up power ups to cater to their playstyle and pick different Dragodino characters to cover each other’s’ weakness. The ability to play co-op is a fun experience which makes the game slightly easier and more accessible for more players. All powerups collected for the second player is also saved when the game is turned off, so even after one gaming session, progression for the additional player is saved and will be available whenever 2 players are used again. It’s also worth to mention that co-op mode is seamlessly integrated into the game. Co-op doesn’t have its own unique mode, instead the player selects a level and is then prompted to select their character to use in the selected stage. It is at this point in which the second player can be added into the game. This allows the second player to drop-in and drop-out of the game between levels giving the primary player the option to call for back-up when required (for example on a boss level) and then removing the second player on the easier levels of the game where the additional help isn’t required.
Powerups: One of the most interesting mechanics of DragoDino is the powerup mechanic. As the player progresses through the level, killing enemies, collecting yellow crystals and destroying destructible objects may yield a powerup that the player can collect. The powerup that is dropped is random. Powerups come in 3 main forms, Active, which grants the player a new skill, Passive, which improves a basic skill and Consumable, which allows the player to use it as an item. The 3 different types of powerups allows the player to diversify their playstyle and tailor it to their needs. As a player can hold up to 3 types of powerups, they can mix and match the power ups together. For example, an offensive player could focus on passive skills which increase basic skills like attack range and attack speed, whereas a more defensive player could focus more on consumables which provide health or actives which can allow the player to gain a shield. The powerup mechanic is one of the best features of the game and further increases the replayability.
Game Length: The first major flaw in DragoDino is the length of the game. Whilst the game does offer a lot of customisation when it comes to playstyles and includes random level generation, it doesn’t fully detract from the fact that the game is only 9 levels long with a final 10th level unlocking when the campaign mode is beaten. On average the campaign can be completed in around 1 hour 30 minutes which is a downside for what the game offers.
Unpolished Nature: DragoDino is a good example of a game which hasn’t been fully tested and polished before being released. Whilst the game functions well it has numerous problems which become evident after hours of playtime. As discussed before, one major “soft lock” which can occur is the possibility of a level being generated where the player cannot complete it. Whilst it does happen rarely, it is a problem which can ruin a player’s runthrough of a level. Additionally, textures of the level randomly pop in and pop out and sometimes flicker constantly. There’s a small chance of the player character becoming invisible and soft locking the game when travelling between sectors of a level. When this occurs, the player can still control their character and move but the player cannot observe or see their player character and is unable to interact with any of the items in the level, including the level exit, which causes the player to have to restart the level. The soundtrack also exhibits the same flickering like the textures. The delete save function on the main menu is bugged and is unfunctional if the game is set to free mode. Furthermore, on the main menu, if the player places their cursor on the final story level (Level 9) and then back out to the save selection screen and selects a new save file, the cursor will be defaulted to Level 9, but as this new save file has not unlocked level 9 the cursor becomes locked into place and you cannot move it, the only solution is to go back into the save selection screen and select a completed file with all levels unlocked then place the cursor over “Level 1” before going back to the new save file. These are a few irritating examples of how unpolished DragoDino is.
End game Enemies/Traps/Mist/Floor Types: One of the unique mechanics introduced in Dragodino in the latter half of the game are traps and different types of flooring. The different types of flooring range from sticky adhesive which impairs movement or a green gel which is slippery that increases movement speed. Traps are also introduced which shoot out poison plumes, spikes or tornados that launches the player away. The drawback here is that nearly every other platform has multiple traps and as a result, creates a dichotomy in the gameplay. The player has to actively search for specific enemies to kill to obtain their crystals, but half the time instead of looking for said enemies, the player has to constantly watch where they are stepping because every other platform is booby trapped. This is further made worse when the enemies in the later levels tends to shoot projectiles in all directions and have regenerating shields which replenish when not attacked. It can be near impossible to kill some enemies whilst dodging traps, controlling your movement on the slippery surfaces and trying to time shots to take down enemies’ shields whilst also dodging their return fire. Failure to inflict enough damage on the enemy in enough time causes the player to be sent back to square one as their shield regenerates. On top of this, many of the later enemies shoot out giant tornados that knock the player across the map, normally resulting in the player to be knocked into a trap and making them lose a block of health. In the final level of the game, Level 10, mist is introduced. This mist limits the field of view that the player can see, only allowing them to see the areas near them.. This further creates frustration because instead of focusing on locating the enemies carrying crystals the player is forced to watch where they step and have to be prepared to dodge projectiles from enemies they cannot see due to their vision being limited by the mist. Whilst a difficulty curve should be expected, the overabundance of these traps/floor types contradicts the goals of the player. They should be more sparsely used instead of being littered about in high concentrations which ruins the nature of the game.
DragoDino manages to create a unique gameplay experience with the combination of randoly generated levels and a powerup mechanic that allows players to augment their playstyle. Local co-op is included is a much appreciated feature which is normally left out of newer games. Whilst DragoDino does have its positives, it does suffer from numerous bugs and glitches. The length of the game is extremely short and the latter levels are littered in traps and movement impairing surfaces which only aim to irritate the player.
DragoDino was developed and published by TealRock Studios. It was released for Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One [reviewed] on April 27th, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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