Game Reviews

Dragon Coins

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| Dragon Coins
Dragon Coins
| Dragon Coins

As I download it from the App Store and browse the screenshots provided there, it's obvious that Dragon Coins is one of those coin pusher games.

Coin pushers are the one form of - what is essentially - gambling that I quite enjoy. Pac-Man Ball is my favourite, because it encompasses everything that's great about coin pushers: it's bright, it's loud, and you're fooled into thinking there's skill involved.

Dragon Coins is from Sega, and it knows a thing or two about what makes an arcade game fun, so I'm keen to see what's been accomplished. Join with me as I play the game over the next seven days, periodically reporting back my findings, to see if it's worth your time.

First impressions

I predicted that Dragon Coins would have coin pushing, and I was right, and I hoped it would be high volume and cheery and colourful, and it is.

The base gameplay is simple: you're given a coin pusher, and you tap above it to drop coins onto a horizontally moving platform. This platform fills with coins which then spill onto the level below. Then the process is repeated, but from the lower level the coins either tumble away to the sides and are lost, or below onto character portraits.

These portraits depict the monsters in your team, and should enough coins fall past them they'll attack the enemy creatures at the top of the screen. Silver coins in play are used for attacks, gold coins are collected and used for upgrades, and green coins replenish the health of your monsters.

The aim of the game is to defeat every monster before they defeat you. Each opponent will only attack after you've dropped a certain number of coins into the field, the counter for which is displayed next to its picture.

You can also tap them to see if your monsters are strong or weak against them, which is largely based on each monster's elemental affinity - water beats fire, and so on.

What I didn't expect when I began playing was the Rage of Bahamut-like collection element. You gather Gems through play and open them at the end of each mission to see what monster's inside. Each new monster collected can either be added to your team or sacrificed to make another monster stronger.

Working through the missions, you collect all sorts of different creatures, and seeing each new design is certainly awakening that compulsive "collect 'em all" part of my personality.

So far, then, I'm tentatively quite impressed with Dragon Coins.

Day 3: Battling on

The card-battler elements are increasing the more that I play.

I'm editing my team so that it can strike enemies harder in battles, but since each monster you field has a number of points associated with its use I have to be mindful of keeping within my points allocation, and not having one ultra-strong creature backed up by an otherwise weak team.

As I continue to complete quests, I find I'm heading back to previous missions to grind for more experience, and to collect every monster available in each stage. This isn't much of an issue, as the randomness of the coin-pushing keeps things interesting, and besides which it's given me the chance to add more pals to my friends list.

Dragon Coins encourages you to be sociable, but doesn't give you a lot of options when you do reach out to others.

Having friends and then sending them messages gives you access to free currency, and in turn more powerful monsters. I haven't found a way of joining a clan, or indeed doing anything more complicated than simply sending words of encouragement, but the incentive is welcome and makes the game feel a little less lonely.

Otherwise it's so far been quite the solitary experience. You continue through the single-player content, levelling up your creatures and completing missions.

I'm still having a pleasant enough experience, but I'm also hoping there's a little more over the next few days that allows me to interact with others and show off my increasingly awesome collection of creatures.

Day 7: A higher state of grind

As my week with the game wraps up, I'm left feeling very much in the same way as I feel about most card-battlers: I'm having fun but I'm slowly losing interest as the game becomes more about grind, and the awesome new monsters become less frequent.

As missions become more difficult I find myself losing more often, and therefore needing to return to previous levels multiple times to grind for monsters, in order to then sacrifice them to build up other members of my party.

It's also not possible for me to get involved with many of the special time sensitive missions, as even the easy ones are tough.

I was bemoaning a lack of online gameplay in my last update, and I still think it's an issue. I still don't feel like part of a group, and my desire to continue is dwindling as a consequence. I can't show off my collection to anyone, so I don't really know why I'm bothering to collect it in the first place.

There are some battles where you fight collectively with friends to defeat a very tough monster, using up your Courage meter along the way, but it's rare, asynchronous, and insufficient.

Curiously, I discovered that it's not possible to play without an internet connection, which is baffling considering the lack of interaction.

Dragon Coins is a slick-looking, technically sound digital representation of a penny-pusher, with some very light RPG elements thrown in, but its lack of interaction with others ensures that its simple gameplay tires all the more quickly.

While creating a collection of monsters and dabbling with their special skills will appeal to the card-battling crowd, it's difficult to see anyone else getting particularly enthused.

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Dragon Coins

A coin-pusher with a card-battling twist, Dragon Coins is an attractive grind, but grind nonetheless
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.