Hungry Dragon can be considered a spiritual sequel to the Hungry Shark series of titles, and takes the action to the air. Instead of schools of fishes, you have to consume flocks of birds. The birds are as varied and colourful as the fishes in the Hungry Shark series. There are various areas you can explore, as well as some hidden areas. There are a whole number of other things that you can eat, flying pigs, horses, cows, villages, knights, witches, spiders, goblins, and other dragons. Those that have their feet on the ground run away from the dragon in a manner similar to the edibles in Super Mega Worm. The controls are very simple, there is a joystick on the left, and tapping the screen on the right gives the dragon a speed boost. If you want, you can also use tilt to control the dragon, just like the original Hungry Shark.
Hungry Dragon has dragons in five sizes. Extra small, small, medium, large and extra large. You level up each dragon by eating stuff, and once you hit the max level, you can purchase a bigger dragon. You do this through gold, which you can collect by consuming gold coloured edibles, or finding pots of gold. You need about twice the amount of gold that you collect while leveling up a dragon, to buy the next level of dragon. This is a strange choice, as for at least half the game, you feel like you are not really progressing anywhere because of the grind.
Some of the edibles fight back, with arrows, clubs and spells.
Other dragons can also chomp on you or outright eat you. There are parts in the game where a massive dragon can suddenly appear out of nowhere and gobble you up, and there is nothing you can do to escape it. There is a meter on the bottom that fills up as you consume edibles. When it hits the max level, the dragon starts breathing fire and eliminating everything it could otherwise consume in its path. This is known as the “Fire Rush” mode. There is also a “Super Fire Rush” mode that triggers once every 8 fire rushes, that lets you burn up prey that is beyond your normal capacity. There is only way to find out what your dragon can or cannot chomp – attempt to eat it.
Each level of dragon allows a number of quests to accompany it. The extra small dragon has one pet, the small dragon two, the medium dragon three and so on. The pets do stuff like reduce the arrow damage, break open cages, or increase the duration of the fire rush mode. The pets are cute, and require to be hatched from eggs you collect in the map. Every time you start the game, there is exactly one egg somewhere on the map.
Another way of customising the dragon is applying skins. The skins are specific to each dragon, and range from a pirate costume, a mesoamerican coat of paint, or victorian clothing. The skins or costumes are not purely cosmetic though, unlocking them provides additional buffs, such as larger fire size, increased boost speed, or improved health.
The environments are colourful and varied, with a theme for each one. There are caves, a cemetery, a castle, and a goblin village. The Troll Forest or the Frog Falls just have a large troll or a frog statue. You can go up into outer space as well, which is called “The Beyond”. There are some overlapping elements though. A map on the top right corner gives you easy access to all the areas, though they are not mentioned by name. In every run, you can discover all these unique areas. Some areas are locked away behind barriers that can be broken only by dragons of a particular size. Essentially, some places in the map are locked away unless your dragon is of a particular size. There are some nice pop culture references, as well as references to other titles peppered around the map. You may run into a TARDIS, or find a Robot Unicorn companion. Despite how well designed and pleasing the environment is, the appeal does start fading after a few repeated runs.
Bear in mind that dragons really like gold. One of the first things to do is to save up all the gold you can. Unless a costume helps you find more gold, it really makes no sense to buy one with the gold. You will need all the gold you can get your hands on to buy the next biggest dragon. The fastest way to get gold is to complete missions, which are little quests that you can complete while eating your way through the magical kingdom. If the mission feels to difficult for your level of dragon (get blasted by 20 small mines in the same run), then you can skip the mission and get another one. Also watch out for special events and collaborative quests to unlock more stuff. Also make sure that you are incubating an egg at all times. Once an egg hatches, you have to begin incubating to unlock another egg. If there is no empty egg slot available, then any egg that you do come across in a map cannot be picked up.
Hungry Dragon – Verdict
Hungry Dragon itself is a high quality title. The animations and gameplay are both top notch. One of the biggest problems with the title is replayability. There is absolutely no incentive to go back and play with smaller dragons once you have unlocked the larger dragons. Over a period of time, the areas on the map lose their charm. Finding eggs and unlocking quests are just not enough incentive to keep playing the game over and over again. Additionally, the experience is heavily marred by the microtransactions. This is “wagon of smurfberries” level of microtransactions we are talking about here. It is ridiculously expensive to buy everything in the game. Even if you do blow up the money, you can still not get rid of the sad advertisements that the game delivers. The ads really tend to kill the experience. We think these are not exactly appropriate for children of all ages, but here have a look and decide for yourself.
Hungry Dragon could have easily been a great title to recommend, even if there was a flat fee around the range of Rs 500. We hope future updates allow you to unlock everything in the game, or at least get rid of the ads. In its current state, it is a very hard title to give a good score to.
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