Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.3
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Iron Dragon follows a young martial artist as he attempts to save his kidnapped sister from an evil ninja clan. Sure it’s not the most original plot, but this throwback to retro side-scrolling fighters of the 90s has a few surprises up its sleeve to spice things up.

imageInitially, players will only have one attack button, one jump button, and a joystick available to them. As the game progresses however, they will unlock 4 special attacks – which is something that gives Iron Dragon a cool twist over other side-scrollers. Unfortunately these attacks can’t save the standard gameplay, because although repetition is typically rife within the genre this game takes it to a whole new level. There are 6 stages, but it feels like 3 since each environment is repeated. When combined with the endless waves of the same enemy over and over again, it feels soul-destroying.

None of the enemy ninjas have any abilities that differentiate them from each other (besides color and health maybe), so there’s no need for strategy here. It’s simply a case of punch and move, punch and move, with maybe a running or jumping kick thrown in for good measure. The special attacks are the only thing that keep the game interesting, so I found myself waiting impatiently for them to recharge and inject a little excitement into gameplay. Iron Dragon is also far too difficult considering the unskilled gameplay involved, especially when only giving players only one life to begin with.

imageUnlike a certain side-scrolling fighting game that Iron Dragon almost shares its name with, there is no multiplayer mode available. It’s a shame too, because playing with friends was always one of the main incentives for playing this type of game when I was growing up. Game Center multiplayer support, or even a Bluetooth mode (god forbid), would add a lot more longevity to a game that becomes tiresome after a while.

It’s a shame too, because Iron Dragon has the potential to be an enjoyable little side-scroller. It looks great, controls are responsive, it has a cool retro style, and the special attacks are something that make it stand out from the crowd. It just needs some more variety in terms of enemies, level design, and general gameplay to make it as fun as it could be.

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