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Dragon Fire: Una's Quest (iPhone) Review

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Dragon Fire: Una's Quest is a solid top-down shooter that provides hours of entertainment, as long as you can put up with dying a lot in the process. If you can put up with the difficulty though, the main game is both lengthy and satisfying for the asking price. There are seven environments each with two stages, all of which take upwards of five minutes and a boss at the end. In the second stage of each environment, you face up against a dragon with one more head than the last one defeated. At the end of the last stage, I was left with the odd feeling that I had finally conquered some overwhelming evil and saved the world. That was at least before realizing that there is no actual story to speak of other than a single screen of text at the beginning of the game. It is to Dragon Fire's credit then, that it gives the feeling of an epic storyline without actually featuring one. If the campaign were not enough, you also have access to three simple but fun mini-games that are unlocked from collecting items in the main game.

The only real complaint I have about Dragon Fire is concerning its control setup. Your character, a red dragon, fires automatically and the only control comes from moving him (her?) around the screen. The problem is the way the game attempts to let you do this. With four separate buttons used for moving in the four cardinal directions all placed next to each other, I was left feeling the movement was awkward and felt that most of the time I died, it was because I could not manipulate my fingers fast enough to move in the direction needed to avoid death. Perhaps a tilt-based movement system would have been a better option, but the controls are at least passable if not optimal for what the game is trying to accomplish.

Other than that, the game plays like most top-down shooters. There are enemies that try to intercept you on your way to the boss, all of which fire projectiles that must be either avoided or shot down. When an enemy is destroyed, it drops either a star used to unlock mini-games or a power up in the form of a phoenix that flies around you firing at enemies, giving you health or something to give your dragon more heads and therefore, more firepower. Unfortunately, none of these power ups are permanent, nor do they stack. As a fan of the genre to which Dragon Fire belongs, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that I couldn't get up to some top-down shooter style ridiculousness like a 30-headed dragon.

Dragon Fire's graphics are a mixed bag. The dragon you control, the environments and the bosses all look great and animate well. The minions you encounter on the way to the boss though, lack the detail seen in the rest of the game. I couldn't shake the feeling while playing it that those enemies lacking the detail of the rest of the world, didn't quite fit into the same universe as their surroundings. While the environments are detailed and convincing, most of them look very similar to each other and are somewhat interchangeable. Given a screenshot not containing a boss and featuring anything other than the last level, I would not be able to tell you what part of the game I was currently looking at.

The sound design in this game is fantastic. While the sound effects are good since things make a fairly high quality sound when and where you might expect them to, the real value here is in the music. Each area in Dragon Fire features its own orchestral piece of music that evokes the feeling of an epic adventure and is appropriate to the environmental demands. This more than anything else, contributed to my feeling at the end of the game of having participated in something significant. With Dragon Fire, you're in for a long, challenging experience even if a significant amount of that challenge comes from the way you control the game. Even with its flaws, this is a solid shooter that can provide hours of entertainment. If you are looking for this style of game, you can certainly do worse on the app store.

Graphics
7.0

Audio
9.0

Gameplay
7.0

Replay
9.0

Platform
iPhone

Final
8.0


 

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