I was very anxious to play Dragon Portals when I realized it came from the same makers of the superb Azkend, hopeful that it would capture some of that same magic. It wants to be as good, and in some ways it at least tries to come close, but ultimately there are a number of things that keep it from reaching that same level.
There’s a backstory to Dragon Portals, something about your character having the power to direct dragons through portals and rescue them or some such. It makes little sense and is really just a means to introduce the gameplay mechanics – on the main playscreen you’ll see five dragons flying from left to right, and it’s your job to keep them aloft by matching at least 3 circles of the same color together. You can only move the circles down, and only to create a match, which severely limits the choices you have.
If you manage to get a double match, meaning by dropping one circle, a match was formed on both lines – both dragons will clear and reset with new circles. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as good as it sounds, because you may have had other matches you could have made from those rows, and the new circles don’t line up the same (it of course can work the other way as well, clearing both rows may give you new options you didn’t’ have before).
If you manage to cascade your matches, meaning 3 matches or more in a row without you moving another circle, a powerup will be added to the screen in place of a circle for you to use as you see fit. But even these powerups are at times of only dubious help. One powerup will realign all the circles in each row so that all the same color are together – but those ones don’t clear, you still have to drag a circle from the line above – which may be even harder now that the colors have been sorted. Another powerup gives you the ability to save four of your dragons, should they reach 0 altitude before you reach the portal at the end of the level – you’ll lose one dragon (and the ability to have more match choices) but the remaining dragons will gain some altitude and give you a chance to keep going.
But the issue here is that these dragons drop like they’re made of concrete bricks. You can’t even begin playing for the first couple of seconds in each level – meanwhile, you’re watching these dragons falling from the moment the level begins. For every match you’re supposed to gain some altitude – but it isn’t enough. The dragon will move up barely perceptively, and then begin its rapid descent again. Every match is also earning you some of the dragon meter at the bottom of the screen – and when that’s full the dragons will enter the portal and escape – and you’ll go to the map screen where you can move along to the next level. Every few levels you’ll earn the choice of a powerup from the dragons – but the choices are random and if you choose poorly, it could be quite some time before you’re given the other choice again.
And ultimately, that’s my biggest problem with Dragon Portals, it’s way too random. It’s a very polished looking game, but too many things in the game mechanics keep it from being as fun as it could be. I feel like the gameplay is limited by what moves you can make, the difficulty is too high because of how rapidly the dragons descend, and the powerups aren’t particularly useful. There are trophies to earn, and an endless mode you can play and try to keep the matching going for as long as possible, but honestly I have no interest in trying to accomplish those things. It’s not that it’s a bad game, but there are better puzzle games available in the app store, and as such I can only give Dragon Portals a tap it rating.
|Title:||Dragon Portals (v1.0)||Developer:||MythPeople|
|Price:||$4.99 (sale $0.99!)||App Size:||8.1 MB|