Games that Don’t Suck: DragonVale

Today’s game that doesn’t suck is DragonValeicon (free/universal) , a Freemium title from BackFlip Studios. Before I go into why it doesn’t suck, let me just point out that this game actually came DANGEROUSLY close to getting a “Suck” rating, solely for the one fatal flaw that I will go into later in this review. However the awesomeness was ultimately able to beat out the suckage, so If you’re into Sim-like time wasters to help you escape the tedium that Is your real life, there is much to like in DragonVale.


Watch the above video if you don’t feel like reading anymore. It should give you a decent idea of the gameplay.

Long story short, DragonVale is a Sim-like game where you are put in charge of creating a (hopefully) successful Dragon Zoo. In order to bring in visitors to your park (or more importantly, your visitor’s MONEY into the park) you will need Dragons, and the bigger the better. There’s a quick tutorial that does an excellent job walking you through the basics of the game, and gets you set up with your first dragon, dragon habitat, and goes over the basics of how to feed and breed your dragons.

The breeding Cave is where you can corss breed species to create new ones.

Two of the biggest things DragonVale has going for it is that unlike other similar games, like God Finger, there is no real downside to not playing DragonVale for a couple of days. Your gold does not “spoil” or anything if you neglect your park, you simply don’t make any more money than each exhibit can generate until you collect that money. But second, and more central to what makes DragonVale so fun to play, is the ability to cross breed your dragons and create entirely new races of dragons. For example, you might decide to cross a Fire Dragon with an Earth Dragon and create a Lava type dragon, or a Plant and Fire Dragon to create a Poison type Dragon. For some reason there’s a very Pokemon feel to the game in that each of your dragons starts out so adorably cute that you might not want to evolve them, but bigger dragons bring in bigger paydays, so feed them you will until they turn into very cool-looking adults.


All the dragons are adorable – At least as babies

Another big plus is the level design and art work. DragonVale is extremely colorful, and the animations are fluid and oddly fun to watch given how repetitive they ultimately are. There is much more to the game than I am going into here, but you probably will need to invest a good 6 or so hours playing in order to unlock some of the cooler achievements. Similar to other freemium games like Tiny Tower, you can speed things along by using the game’s “real money” currency of gems. However, you do not need to spend any money at all if you’re patient, and you can actually earn gems by having Game Center friends gift them to you (incidentally, my Game Center ID is “Dr Macenstein” (no period) and my iPad is “MacensteiniPad” if you have extra gems lying around…).

As you advance, you can purchase additional worlds to expand your park into

Kind of sucky though

Earlier I mentioned there was something about DragonVale that was so lame it almost cost it the coveted “Games that Don’t Suck” rating, and that thing is that for some reason I cannot fathom, it requires an internet connection to play. There is nothing about this game that is any different from Tiny Tower which plays fine on an iPod touch on a plane or long car ride, yet for some reason the game tells you it cannot launch without internet. The fact that DragonVale feels it needs to constantly talk to its server has me a little wary of what it’s doing and what it’s doing to my iPhone’s battery life/data usage when away from WiFi, but more importantly it alienates a HUGE potential part of the game audience – kids. If you’re an iPhone user, odds are the internet connection thing won’t be a problem, but since I got my kids addicted to the game as well, they have expressed their displeasure about this via the only way they know how – whining. And I have to listen to it.

So if BackFlip can just switch the way the game handles internet requirements (and again, I suggest the Tiny Tower method of check-in when you can, but play fine when away from internet as well) this game will be the perfect colorful timewaster.

Comments
203 Responses to “Games that Don’t Suck: DragonVale”
  1. Rdog says:

    Luv the game I have almost all the dragons and almost no gems I promise to send back… ryan.s.packers is the name.

  2. Dave says:

    I am hosedraggerz and playing Dragonvale. Just started, lvl 10. Need help to get gems and other offered help. Can us all friends I can get :)

  3. Anne says:

    While agree with you on the internet thing; this game is the first I downloaded on my new Iphone and am on it….well, constantly. Did load Angry Birds…well. I LOVE this game simply because I do not have to accomplish anything in a certain amount of time, accuracy and finger control is zilch and I can lose myself in a world that beats my reality at times. I hope this game goes on forever. I do not think I could tire of it. (ask me in a couple years, maybe.) I just wish there was a way to get my friends-maybe they have more sense than I?-involved. I would love to see how other people set up their worlds. The random visit is the same three worlds that NEVER change. So much for that. Whoever the someone or someones who created this….GENIUS!

    • don wright says:

      first off mc I’m not sure if I’m acutely sending gems, I have a gem tree how do i make sure that I’m sharing gems anyone please.

      knuck357 if u would like to see my Dragonvail place and if u would like to trade gems.

      • My dragonvale started over on me I need help does anyone still comment on this site? I lost all my dragons and the 34 gems I was saving up for three months to get the gem tree.I am sooooooo pissed.please help me get the game progress back up.anyone.

        • micaela says:

          I thought I lost my new game but my kid said just close it and then start again with the login to facebook. Did so and everything showed. Hope you get it all back!

          –Micaela

  4. anidgreen says:

    add me please anidgreen@gmail.com

  5. arlene says:

    I hope the next update will allow me to play Dragonvale offline. For the meantime, add me: smartyph

  6. Jason says:

    Email me and I will give you 1000 Gems in 4 days!
    email: dragonvale44@hotmail.com

  7. FlameFist` says:

    I know exactly why Backflip Studios forces an Internet connection for DragonVale: time checking. A common hack/exploit in a freemium time-based game is adjusting the time on your iPod forward to when the crop/building/whatever is completed and then getting it in the app. This convinces your iPod that the necessary time has passed when about 30 seconds have passed in the real world. (I would know these things, I do them myself sometimes.)

    Many games do time-checking passively; they’ll check the servers match your iPod when you’re online, and disconnect you if you don’t match, but they will allow you to play the game offline, and you can “time-travel” to your heart’s content. The only way to make the “time-travel” impossible is continuous checking of your time versus the server’s, which is why Backflip Studios decided to force an Internet connection. There’s nothing you can do about it.

    It’s really only a minor inconvenience. The game is way too awesome for that to be a problem. The loading screen is EVIL, however, due to consistent slowness upon loading.

  8. dcoz999 says:

    have everything for the game…. literally. i also have more than 2 billion gold and more than 10,000 gems…

  9. Delta Blitz says:

    tag is Delta Blitz, almost have enough gems for a tree and play daily hit me up

  10. Blitz Back says:

    Blitz Back, addd me for gem for gems!!!

  11. Kash says:

    Sup guys I play daily need some gems to get a tree will do gem for gems if someone helps get me 100 for tree my tag is xkash13x

  12. Jl says:

    Gem for gem. Jeanluc ABT.

  13. Isaiah7! says:

    Check out my island will trade gem for gem.

  14. Calvin says:

    The reason why they require internet is probably because they need to sync the time with the server.

    If you can play this offline, you can easily change the time setting in your phone to speed up breeding time! This is true for any other game that tries to earn money from impatient users willing to pay anything to speed things along :)

  15. JR says:

    I think that the reason for Internet is so that one cannot change the system clock to get different dragons. So, Dragonvale connects to the internet and finds out what dragons are available or not.

    • Brandon says:

      I have to start from level 1 again and I was at level18 please help this happened to me before and I fixed it and I tried doing it again the same way that I did before someone please help and we can be friends together after I figure this out PLEASE SOMEONE OUT THERE PLEASE GUYS HELP PEOPLE

  16. Jamie says:

    Internet connectivity never bothered me that much, only if I have to travel. All of the other awesome things about the game beat that imperfection by a lot..

  17. Lisa says:

    It is very frustrating when you are trying to give friends gems
    And you cant because in the social area backflip seems to block
    How often you can give friends gems after the 24 hours. All you see
    Is how many gems you have left to give friends in the box. I know
    You can give gems every 24 hours. Why the restiction ?

  18. Emma says:

    The reason for having wifi a necessity is because people can time travel forward to get things faster, just like in Sims, and they don’t want people to be able to do that. What I don’t understand, though, is why they even care that people are getting in-game stuff faster. I mean, they still get the same amount of app downloads, but they get worse reviews for the game. If people want to enjoy the game their way, then I think Backflip Studios should let them!

  19. Gottapkrfc says:

    Hey Doc. Do you have a review of the newest update? Wonder how you feel about the new breeding changes, I feel they have gone all Mr Potter on us. Almost ready to quit, how about you?

  20. jennpess says:

    Has anyone had a problem with the new update? I updated but none of the snowflake dragons are there..I also do not see the new gem bush to allow even more gems..there is no find the wizard option…….anyone else?

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