Come On! Dragons Review
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Come On! Dragons arrives on DSiWare with the promise of delivering a combination of tower defence and arrow firing action, much like its predecessor Come On! Heroes. Like the original title it succeeds to some degree, but its positives are weighed down by some disappointing flaws, meaning that it's not as hot as the title may suggest.
While there is a basic story — dragons are invading, you must save the world — it's not particularly significant to the game at hand. There are changes in environment that suggest you're defending a kingdom, all perfectly serviceable, but the plot is an irrelevance. We wouldn't complain if this campaign wasn't called "Story Mode", and it seems that this fantasy setting would have been well served by a tale of fantasy.
This lack of depth carries across to the main gameplay, unfortunately. Before battle you've got to use collected gold to upgrade key areas such as the strength of the wall you protect and the power of your arrows. There are four categories to level up, while you collect a range of vital skills and experience points to strengthen your archer, who's off-screen during the action. It's relatively primitive, and the main levels provide plenty of coins and XP to boost your abilities, which you get to keep even if you fail a level. That's a nice bonus, but a vital one in order to make progress.
This is due to some balancing issues, in that it's fiendishly difficult to beat a stage at the first time of asking. With the title's pretensions to offering a levelling up system, it's a shame that success appears to be down to good old-fashioned grinding rather than skill. Failures are promptly followed by unlocked skills and purchased upgrades which suddenly make victory possible the second time around. While it's a legitimate way to progress, it can feel like initial failure is practically a guarantee, which can be a frustrating sensation.
Similar feelings continue across to battle. It all takes place from a top-down perspective, with multiple waves of assorted monsters, blobs and dark knights marching from the top of the screen towards your gate at the bottom. You're tasked with setting traps — more unlock with progress — that can prevent their advance as you blast them with arrows. An important tip is not to use up your trap points too early, as after the initial items have disappeared you rarely have an opportunity to replace them between waves of enemies. The game will still pause and invite you to do so, but very often you'll see that you don't have enough points to add more, leaving you vulnerable to the next wave of beasts.
It's rare that you can even block the width of the battlefield, so much of the work is down to you and your arrows: limited ammo special weapons are accessed with the D-Pad. You can either indulge in frenzied tapping and destroy your touch screen, or opt to hold the stylus down and drag your aim. Either way you still need to poke to collect coins and ammo dropped by defeated enemies, and occasionally the control response can feel sluggish, prompting frustrated prods as you try to grab an important arrow boost while worrying about advancing enemies elsewhere. It has the feel of a vertical Plants vs. Zombies when you're tapping for items, and in short bursts it can be equally fun, if less refined.
The presentation values, overall, match the gameplay in that they're a mix of good and bad. Graphically this title is fairly decent by DSiWare standards, with some nice design across the board. The music continues the trend from its predecessor, however, with some music being tolerable — for relatively short periods — and other tracks being a little irritating. It's not so bad that sound needs to go off completely, and is reminiscent of a lot of other DSiWare releases, but fails to be memorable. We should also note that the game crashed once when working on this review, with no enemies appearing on the battle screen and the next wave failing to trigger, leading to a never-ending loop prompting us to quit and restart.
Come On! Dragons is a thoroughly competent DSiWare release, offering some entertainment at a budget price-point. It does suffer from an identity crisis, however; its RPG elements lack any complexity and it fails to provide a story to give some context and motivation to fight off the on-rushing hordes. The tower defence play is fun in short bursts, but is lacking balance, with a sense of inevitability that beating a level first time is unlikely. Ultimately it tries to mould action defence play with RPG levelling but optimises neither, leaving a passable but uninspiring end result.