If you’re hoping that the video game version of How to Train your Dragon 2 is as great as the movie, then you’ll be disappointed to find out that the game isn’t. While the movie itself is a good time, Torus Games’ flying/racing game is a boring mess that really doesn’t offer the thrills that it should.
How to Train your Dragon 2
Developed by Torus Games / Published by Little Orbit
Available on the 3DS, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U. Reviewed on the Wii U.
*Review code provided by Little Orbit
How to Train Your Dragon 2 follows the adventures of dragon rider Hiccup and his dragon Toothless, as he and his Viking friends face an old threat and gain new allies along the way. While the movie is rich in action and adventure, the video game doesn’t follow the film’s plot, opting instead to have players do a laundry list of repetitive unentertaining activities that features some of the cast of the film but very little else.
It all could have been good fun, but instead the whole thing is a monotonous clutter. Players hop on to the backs of one of five dragons using their signature riders, and travel through the Viking island known as Berk as they hop from mindless activity to activity in order to win the Dragon Games.
Taking control of these colorful mythical beasts should be a great time, but it ultimately isn’t. Maneuvering through the skies in a straight path is simple enough, but once you start to dive or ascend things quickly spiral out of control as controls become inverted or unresponsive, or your dragon is pointing at the wrong direction. Turning isn’t that good either, and passing through rings in the sky is more difficult and aggravating than it should be. It also doesn’t help that when dragons bump into surfaces the rider is flung through the air in an awkward ragdoll animation, forcing you to wait until the rider is respawned so you can continue on your merry way. Considering that this is a kids game and that most children will bump into things most often than not, you’ll be seeing riders off their dragons very often.
The Dragon Games come in different forms and feature different objectives, though none of them are any fun. There’s a competition where players must collect sheep and deposit them in matching color baskets to get points before time runs out, though the game doesn’t do a good job at telling you where exactly they are or where you have to drop them, and spotting them in the field is like finding a needle in a haystack because they’re so small. Then there’s racing, which is like a poor man’s Mario Kart, because it features powerups. However, most of the powerups are useless and successfully aiming them at other racers is nigh impossible, and A.I opponents are super accurate and fast beyond belief making catching up after being slammed by nigh-unavoidable attacks an impossibility. Race checkpoints are also so awkwardly placed that you’ll often be smacking into walls, which then leads to losing your rider, and waiting for the slow respawn that’ll knock you back from first to last in no time. Finally, there’s a minigame where you can use the Wii U’s touch pad to shoot at targets by tapping the screen, which is overly simplistic and not really rewarding, and mostly a waste of time.
In an attempt to keep things interesting, strewn about the island of Berk are floating tokens that can only be collected by specific dragons. Collecting all of them unlocks new skills for each dragon, but that’ll require players to be interested enough to do so. There’s also a couple of challenges, like flying under rock formations, diving, etc., and golden dragons you must chase and collect, though they get boring quickly.
Torus Games’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 could have been an excellent game due to the rich source material, but instead it’s a blatant cash-in that isn’t really worth your time. Sure, a kid might get into it despite the ridiculously uneven difficulty and general blandness of it all, but there are better games out there that are infinitely better than this.