Dragon Academy
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2013-11-07 Android Puzzle RP (Rating Pending) Team Chaos

One of the three Android games I've been playing lately, Dragon Academy has kept me distracted for the first 4 weeks of my surgery recovery. With its simple match-three puzzle mechanics and some added features, this cute and cartoony game actually offers some really good challenges.

Dragon Academy has a board game map progression, where each stop represents a puzzle in a given area. By clearing each puzzle you move on to access the following one, and eventually reaching new areas. Usually to unlock a new area the game requires you to achieve a certain number of stars, which are obtained by clearing puzzles. A progress bar at the bottom shows you how close you are to reach one, two or three stars in the puzzle you are playing.

The puzzles are your standard match-three fare, much like in Bejeweled or Cradle of Rome, but the stages offer plenty of twists to keep things interesting. Mostly, you have to clear the goals by using a limited number of moves. At first this isn't so complicated, but later on, every move counts.

The goals vary from reaching a certain score to clearing all the goo or wooden squares. Some puzzles require you to do this in a time limit. Other puzzles not only require you to reach a minimum score, but also clear potions and scrolls by making them reach the bottom of the puzzle field.

Add to that wooden and stone blocks that require a few nearby combos to clear, multiplying vines or static obstacles such as walls or clouds, and you might be left scratching your head as to how exactly are you supposed to clear a certain stage.

Fortunately, matching four or more of the same color grants you a special egg of the respective color of the gem. These eggs have different properties according to their patterns. Vertical striped eggs mean that egg will clear a column when used in a combo. Horizontal striped eggs will clear a row when used in a combo. Swirly patterned eggs will clear an area around them. Rainbow eggs will clear all gems of whatever color they are swapped with.

You can swap patterned eggs in pairs, without having to make any combo. These cause crazy chain reactions that I don't quite understand yet, but then again, it took me a while to realize that the egg patterns had something to do with their special effect.

Dragon Academy lets you use a dragon of your choosing as you play. The dragons each have a different special ability, which you can use once you have matched enough gems in the same color as the dragon. So far I have used Melty, which is the dragon I chose to begin as, and his special power now clears 3 columns starting on a random purple gem, and Emma, my poison spitting green dragon. As you progress, you unlock more dragons, or you can purchase them through micro-transactions. Your dragons levels up as you complete puzzles, becoming more powerful and even changing appearance.

I quite like Dragon Academy, as it's a fun and challenging puzzle game, but I am slightly disappointed in a couple of things. The first is the Facebook connect option. I've tried and tried, but all I manage is to crash the game whenever I attempt this. There have been plenty of opportunities to let me connect, such as to unlock a new area or earn some bonus items to use in the puzzle field, but I'm still unable to do it.

The second annoyance is the automated system that takes over the game once you have reached all goals and still have moves left. I'd rather this be optional, since sometimes it feels like I could have done better in planning combos than the A.I.

Still, those two things aside, I'd recommend Dragon Academy to puzzle enthusiasts. For a free game, there is still plenty to do and tons of challenges to complete without the need for purchasing items. If you like Bejeweled and Cradle of Rome type of games, then you will certainly enjoy it.