Winter is coming, and so is summer and spring
Wouldn’t it be great to soar through the sky as a powerful dragon, feeling the wind whipping at your scales, and spitting out fireballs whenever something tries to get in the way of your peaceful voyage? Well now you’ll actually get to see what that’s like in Dragon Season, a quirky and colorful take on the endless running genre, where the skies are your friend, and the seasons are always in full bloom. But while the idea for the game is certainly cute, it won’t be long before your dragon starts to lose a little bit of the steam that’s powering up all of those fireballs. Boy, are my wings tired!
At its core, Dragon Season is a 2D sidescrolling endless flier, as players guide a cutesy red dragon through a medieval landscape, collecting coins and breathing fire along the way. The flying mechanics might take a little getting used to at first, as your dragon moves upward in a curvy arc when ascending, and this can feel a little choppy for players who are just starting out on their dragon careers. You’ll eventually fall into a groove though of tapping and holding on the screen when you want to gain altitude, and then quickly releasing your hold to drop back down and remain somewhere in the middle of the area.
You can even run along the ground at times, so long as you find a clear stretch of land to do it on, and this proves to be another unique twist to the “don’t touch the ground” formula in traditional endless flier experiences. Another button on the lower left-hand side of the screen allows you to shoot a fireball from your mouth, which comes in handy for blasting away the large chunks of castle walls that serve as obstacles throughout your adventure. All of these things are brought to life through a colorful art scheme, which incorporates just the right amount of blockiness and cartoony character designs to give Dragon Season a rich and lighthearted personality.
Like the game’s name would suggest, the environments you fly through will change according to the four yearly seasons of nature, taking you through a winter wonderland that’s shimmering with snowflakes, to a blossoming springtime valley with flower petals in the air. Unfortunately, while the changing of seasons is certainly a nice touch and a great way to keep things from feeling too monotonous over time, there are really no gameplay differences between the four of them. Most notably, there are never any obstacles throughout the course of Dragon Season other than the floating sections of castle wall, and the complete lack of any sort of enemies for your dragon to blast, seasonal or not, feels like a really big missed opportunity with the game.
As with any good variation of the endless runner these days, Dragon Season features a number of optional missions to complete in order to help your dragon level-up faster. The best part about these missions are the ways in which they are acquired and presented, by picking up various quest givers that are floating around throughout your flight. When you pick up one of these quest givers, who range from princesses to yeti-like creatures, they proceed to catch a ride on your back and bark out a mission via a speech bubble containing simple numbers or illustrations, like “Blast 2 (image of castle wall).”
The game moves incredibly fast after a while, and so this simplified means of doling out missions is extremely effective in the overall design. You can only ever take on one mission at a time, but they’re usually never all that difficult to complete within seconds of acquiring them: ranging from blasting or collecting X amount of items, to running a certain distance on the ground. Completing missions and scooping up coins that regularly litter your path will add points to an experience bar at the end of each flight. When you reach certain level milestones, you’ll gain a new ranking title, an extra burst of bonus coins, and the option to purchase a brand new ability upgrade.
The upgrades in Dragon Season are typically what you would expect to find in other similar endless running experiences, like having your fireballs collect every coin on the screen that they hit, or unleashing a Big Bang explosion that decimates everything in the near vicinity of your dragon. Sadly, the prices to unlock each one are extremely high in relation to the meager amount of coins that you’ll earn in each flight, and the game just doesn’t have enough staying power or variety to keep you playing and entertained for the amount of time needed to rack up that dragon bank account.
The game’s pricing tiers are even worse for the optional costumes you can buy to put on your dragon. Given the regularly high price of the upgrades in the store, the cost of the different costumes are downright absurd, often soaring higher than the 50,000 mark (I earned roughly 300-400 coins per flight in my time with the game), and so you’ll either need to play for a few long months at a time or shell out a hefty sum of real-world cash if you really want your dragon to wear that Poncho or Sombrero in time for fall.
So while Dragon Season is certainly a beautiful endless flier with a refreshing seasonal angle and slick allocation of in-game missions, the lack of different obstacles and slow-pacing of adding upgrades to your arsenal can leave the overall experience feeling a little heavy in the wings before long. It’s fun to take to the skies and blast some castle walls to smithereens for a little while; however, the extremely lofty prices for upgrades and costumes could have you seeing the seasons change right outside your window by the time you scrounge up enough coins to purchase them all.