148Apps Network Post
Developer: ZigZaGame
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There’s most definitely a market for monster-collection and training, and ZigZaGame knows this. Hence their release of Dragon Island. It was admittedly tough for me to enjoy it at first as things ramp up incredibly slowly, but once a boss or two are felled and monsters start evolving it becomes downright habit-forming.

In Dragon Island, players take control of a fledgling monster trainer who’s looking to make a name for himself. There’s something of an over-arching story that involves messages from a deceased father (among other things), but the bulk of the content involves guild missions. These can range from defeating special boss characters to capturing specific creatures, and can typically be completed in fairly short order. New monsters can be captured in battle using special cards – a task typically made easier once the target has been sufficiently weakened – and these recruits can either be kept or turned into stones to enhance other favorites. And, of course, every creature has an assigned element and different elements have strengths and weaknesses against others.

A good deal of it won’t be seen until significant progress is made, but Dragon Island sports some pretty cool creature designs. Some are rather standard fantasy archetypes but many of the higher-end evolutions look downright awesome. And really intimidating. Customizing an elite team of monsters is as addictive as it always has been, but being able to repurpose unwanted individuals in order to enhance more desirable creatures feels like a massive improvement to the formula. I also have to admit that, as “easy” as it might make things, not getting a Game Over screen upon losing an encounter is fantastic. Sure I get sent back to the last town I’ve visited, but all my monsters are healed and the only progress I’ve lost is experience earned from that one battle.

The biggest problem with Dragon Island is, unfortunately, pretty darn big: The beginning is excruciatingly slow. More than once I had to convince myself to press on as it can take quite a while to finally reach a new area. This isn’t helped by the rather underwhelming UI and images that are, for the most part, just a bit too small to enjoy. Some of the interface and menu options are also a bit unintuitive, requiring random experimentation at times to figure out what everything does. It took me forever to understand gems.

I want to encourage anyone who might be interested in Dragon Island to give it a try. It might feel like something of a waste for a little while, but stick with it. Once that slow start is finished it gets a lot more fun.


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