Following the success of Tiny Wings on iOS (and its conspicuous absence from the Android Market) it didn’t take long for the clone wars to kick off. All manner of ‘tiny’ things showed up. A tiny Santa. A tiny bee. Even more ‘Tiny Wings’.
Dragon, Fly! is among these unashamed doppelgangers. It recreates almost everything from Andreas Illiger’s game while adding a few sly extras, such as some irritating micro-transaction elements.
On the swoosh
For those unfamiliar with the burgeoning sub-genre, Dragon, Fly! is a one-touch game that puts you in control of a baby dragon who is sadly still unable to fly. By using hills you can slide along the slopes of a mediaeval landscape and launch yourself from trough to trough.
All the while the mother dragon is breathing down your neck in an attempt to return you to the nest, replacing Tiny Wings’ game-ending sunset with an animation of your scaly mum flying into your path.
You also have the ability to ‘swoosh’ by following the arc of a slope particularly well. Do this three times in a row and you enter ‘fire’ mode, increasing your score. Ultimately, it’s a survival game that sees you trying to keep up the pace and get as high a score as possible.
One button too many
Your final score is determined both by how far you go and how many collectibles you pick up along the way. There's also a series of appointed tasks that earn you an upgraded dragon if you manage to complete them all over time.
For example, collecting a certain number of diamonds in one turn and reaching later levels may earn you a permanent bonus to your head-start on the mama dragon.
In terms of both concept and controls (one touch is all you need) it really couldn’t be a simpler game, which raises the question why it was really optimised for the Xperia Play at all. Playing with the gamepad out and using the X button seems entirely obsolete when it’s much easier and more satisfying to slide away the controls and use the touchscreen instead.
Diamonds are not forever
There’s also the irksome upgrade system to think about. Once you buy the full price game (at the admittedly reasonable price of 99p) the ability to buy potions that upgrade your dragon is severely restricted by the high cost of in-game currency.
It costs 3,000 diamonds or more for any potion, which you can only use three times, meaning it’ll take you a lot of time to grind up the diamonds. It’s either that or spend £2 on 5,000 diamonds on the market. These relatively expensive microtransactions could be expected in a free version, but they're annoying in a paid-for app. Thankfully, the game doesn't pester you to buy things outside the tutorial.
Despite these complaints, Dragon, Fly! is more or less Tiny Wings with a few annoying habits. Given that there’s no way of playing that particular game on Android at the time of writing, this is bound to convince some market-trawlers. But if you're one of them you'd do well to remember that there's a slew of other free or lite games on the Market doing exactly the same thing.