Game review by Jeremy
Game – How To Train Your Dragon 2
Platform – Wii U / 3DS
Rating – E for Everyone
Obtained – Review Code courtesy of D3 Publisher
There’s a sorry track record out there of movie-licensed video games that rate much lower than their beloved source material. However, a good one shines through from time to time (Rango anyone?) Unfortunately, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is not one of the good ones, not by a long shot.
Players take control of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless as they fly around the island of Berk competing in mini-games and tournaments, all in an effort to pass the time. Really, that’s the extent of the story. Since the events of the first movie took place, the dragons and Vikings have learned to get along with each other and now there is not much else to do. Naturally, competition is a seemingly fun way to pass the time. This core concept of mini-games is where HTTYD2 suffers greatly through repetition. Most of these games require you to fly through a number of rings in a certain amount of time. The same rule also applies to races. Fly through the rings, get in first place. What makes these bland games even worse is the amount of time they go on for. I was competing in a tournament and doing a race through rings event, and it took nearly 7 minutes for a single race to complete. This isn’t such an issue when the race is fun, but when it’s one lap after another with little to no action (you can shoot fireballs at each other), you just want it to be over. The few other games that deviate from this formula, while a welcome distraction, are just as boring and lack any ounce of entertainment. Thankfully you are free to fly around and explore the island at your own pace and this is where How To Train Your Dragon 2 shows some strength.
Flying around Berk, you’ll notice the island has several areas to explore. There are caves, outlying islands, and towering mountaintops. The caves and mountaintops are well worth visiting. I found flying down from the mountaintops at what seemed to be exhilirating speeds, the most fun I had while playing the game. Scattered across the island are hidden medals (50 per dragon), passageways, and achievements to unlock as you fly around. Even the navigation is quite impressive as you are treated to a top down 3d map of Berk complete with cloud coverage around the mountains. The water look quite nice as you fly around and you can see the water splashing by your wings if you’re low enough. It’s clear that the developers put some time into the island and visuals themselves, but it’s a shame the same can’t be said the for the gameplay. The music is nothing of note, but the audio is a nice treat as the characters are voiced by their movie counterparts.
It’s fairly simple to control your dragon, but movement felt stiff and while competing in events you’ll have to make use of sharp turns which don’t feel natural. Combine the controls with the extremely sensitive hit detection and you’ve got a bit of a mess on your hands. There were so many times while flying around that I barely bumped a wall or an object and my rider was sent tumbling off below, yet my dragon just kept on flying. The hit detection and controls both could use some polishing up.
*The 3DS version is exactly the same so my review stands except for the audio/visuals, which are compressed and suffer for it greatly.*
Unsurprisingly, I was quite disappointed with How To Train Your Dragon 2. My biggest complaint being the games you compete in, which lacked any depth or entertainment. Sure, it’s nice flying around the island and doing some exploring, but that won’t last long. I definitely think that this game is for younger kids and fans of the movie. So if you fall into this category, go ahead and give it a shot. As for me and my friends, we’ll just take the next dragon instead.
Final Score: 2 out of 10
+ Free flying around island
+ Two-player challenges
- Repetitive gameplay