I’m going to admit I have no clue what DragoDino is trying to be. It could be a platformer, or maybe a vertical scrolling shooter with platforming elements. There’s certainly some shooting to be done, though where the dinosaur/dragon hybrid shoots from is a question best left unanswered, I feel. There’s also plenty of jumping, either by tapping the jump button or by holding down a very different button for a super burst from the ground, lending extra height to a jump. Among all of this, there are crystals to collect, power-ups to purchase and collect and enemies who do very little. If anything, the different bad guys just sit there or dash back and forth being slaughtered for little reason other than they aren’t a dinosaur/dragon being.
They do hurt you for a point of energy if you touch them, but they’re easily avoided as they don’t pose any threat. At all. So, I’m left wondering what type of game it is because there’s no challenge, no excitement and no real appeal to actually playing. DragoDino looks the part with wonderful cartoon based visuals and it sounds nice, too. But there’s no soul here, it’s a game that doesn’t feel like a game. There’s no engaging story, the concept has no life and once I’d played for a couple of hours I wondered why I was playing. I wasn’t striving for a purpose, I didn’t find any difficult sections that caused me to shift closer to the edge of my seat.
The fact that the gameplay is made from just jumping through platforms collecting items that don’t lend any substance to the overall theme or concept. Why am I collecting crystals? What’s the point of coins that allow me to buy upgrades when so many of them drop throughout the game? Sure, I can bump up the difficulty where I’m given only one life, but there’s no sense of danger, so why would I bother? If this was a straight shooter with swarms of enemies, it would be interesting because the movement would require quick thinking and while juggling placement and firing projectiles. If it was a platformer with precise movement and featured a pace to keep moving, it would work. But DragoDino is neither of these things, it’s an awkward mixture that doesn’t quite work and only really appeals because it looks lovely.
And it really is very cute. The characters available in different colour palettes are appealing and I’m sure add a lot if playing with another person, but this brings me to the biggest issue that plagues DragoDino; the loading times. In between two levels, I was left waiting for three minutes staring at a black screen, the swirling logo in the bottom corner the only thing letting me know it hadn’t actually crashed. This is unacceptable for a digital download title and my friend and I just weren’t going to wait around for the game to finally load the next level. When they did load, the levels themselves offered little to no joy, at all, despite the cute protagonists, DragoDino is shallow and sadly cannot live up to the visual style.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by TealRocks Studio