Knights are sissies, so are archers and bloody wizards. I am sick of valiant fair-haired heroes getting all the credits when the interesting characters are usually the evil villains. Finally you can be that evil villain instead, and you get to smash all that is good. In Earth Dragon you are the dragon, and you are on a mission to punish the feeble humans for infesting your part of the world.
The Earth Dragon is a cute little green dragon with a couple of great attacks to maim, decapitate and grill humans. The controls are what really sets Earth Dragon apart from all other games found in the App Store today. With thousands of games in the App Store it feels really refreshing to see a game with a control setup never seen before. You flap your iPhone to flap the wings of the Earth Dragon to go up. To move left or right you simply tilt your iPhone. The harder the tilt the faster the Earth Dragon moves downwards as well. To spew fire simply touch where you want the Earth Dragon to aim. You can also make a tower-smashing move much like the ass smash move made famous by Yoshi. Touch the Earth Dragon and flick it downwards to smash anything beneath you. Smashing nearby towers is done by simply tapping them. At times this makes you cover too much of the game with your finger making it hard to avoid enemy blasts.
There are fifteen levels in Earth Dragon ranging from survival battles where you have to smash castles, archers and mages to levels where you have to pick up coins. Smashing towers can be really intense as arrows and magic blasts fills the sky aiming at you. Then you get the strange side-scrolling collect coins levels that feel like fillers to add a bit of content to the game. The final level is a boss battle against a big ass red dragon, and it is hard as nails to beat.
The graphics in Earth Dragon is really cool mixing retro with a modern cartoony look. The game runs really smoothly, and it is easy to see incoming enemy fire to be able to avoid it. The audio is also really high quality stuff with a mix of modern electronics/pop/rock music mashup and retro blippety bloppety sound effects. The presentation is really great as Earth Dragon manages to both appeal to retro nuts, and merges this with a modern vibe.
The lack of content really hurts Earth Dragon as you can complete the first 14 levels within fifteen minutes. The first five levels are more or less tutorial levels, and this paired with three coin levels makes the content really poor. The last level might take forever to complete, and it feels strange to make the final level so much harder than the rest of the game. You get rated for each level, and if you do really well you can get the princess bonus. To improve your rating you can replay any level from the level select screen.
Earth Dragon is a game that should be experienced by every gamer out there as it really adds a means of control that is new and fresh. Sadly the experience is quite short until you get to feel the frustration dying time after time on the final level. This short gamelife makes the game hard to recommend fully. There are no achievements or unlockables in the game. There are only local high scores for each level.
I hope that the developer updates the game with more levels or even better a random level generator paired with online scoring. All iPhone game developers should buy this game right away to get some inspiration to avoid creating another tap to shoot game, tower defense game or ball roller. You can create cool stuff using more of the capabilities of the iPhone/iPod Touch.
If you want to experience a game that feels creative and unique I really recommend you to give Earth Dragon a go. The lack of content, and incoherence found between levels drag the rating down significantly. At $0.99 it would have been much easier to just say go for it, but at $2.99 more content is expected. The developers promise more levels if more people buy the game. This feels a bit like catch 22, and I hope that the developers update Earth Dragon once first to show that they are committed to really bring more levels.