Dragalia Lost is the least innovative title among Nintendo’s mobile game offerings, and this is coming from the folks who did Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes. It’s basically White Cat Project but with a new skin and that Nintendo touch.
For those not in tune with the mobile gaming scene, White Cat Project is a 2014 action RPG for iOS and Android that took Japan by storm because of its simple controls, its colourful cast of characters including a boxing sentient corn and a rice demigoddess, and Kingdom Heart-ish art style and look. Since then, many companies like Bandai Namco tried to replicate the template using their own anime licenses and original IPs.
Nintendo may be late in the game, but whatever they copy usually turns to gold because of the company’s pride in making games fun no matter the platform they’re on.
When I think about it more, following an established mobile game template isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world if the game ends up being fun. Nintendo and its dev partner Cygames did a bang-up job apeing the mobile action game and making it their own.
Tale Of Yore
Just like its inspiration, you and your party members team up and fight action RPG in instances and quick dungeons. You slide your fingers on the touchscreen to move, you tap to attack, and you press the appropriate buttons to launch special moves. The controls are easy enough and smooth to execute, so no complaints there.
Narrative-wise, Dragalia Lost pits you as a prince who has to talk to a bunch of dragons on a quest to rid evil, alongside your loyal knights and adventurers. Dragalia Lost at least makes an effort in focusing your attention on its aesthetics, its pop-like soundtrack when you’re on the main menu, and the story bits. The actual narrative is stock and clichéd, but it’s entertaining stock and clichéd.
It’s not every day in a mobile RPG game you find out that your devoted knights has a fondness for stuffed animals and faeries do take a literal piss. All done in PG-crafted tasteful dialogue, of course.
It makes you want to find out more about the adventurers you gacha and acquire from the typical F2P gacha menu. They’re walking anime stereotypes, but they’re the kind I want to find out about. Adventurers like Ranzal, Cleo, Ezelith, and Jeanne d’Arc have their own quirks and sidestories that are cute to watch. It’s no Final Fantasy VI, but you can tell the level of effort and panache Nintendo and Cygames have put into the localization.
Hack & Slash
The other gameplay hook here is that your party members can transform into dragons as an OP attack that last for a bit. Think of it as a special powerup mid-game once you have your super meter ready so that you can get out of a life-threatening jam.
Everything in the game can be upgraded, just like in White Cat Project. Your characters, your weapons, your dragons, your castle which is your home base: all of it takes experience and time. You can even earn special stones called Wyrmite to gacha for heroes and other loot.
And…that’s all I got so far. The quests are fun but basic, the events help with the grind and leveling up but still adhere to the gacha and F2P methodologies of a mobile game, and the saccharine levels of the aesthetics are an all-time high, complete with J-Pop croonings when you’re on the main menu. If you’re not a fan of anime games and anything resembling anime, best steer clear of this one.
Dragalia Lost is not a mind-blowing mobile gaming experience, but it is a fun one that knows what it is.
Until Nintendo and Cygames start adding in more events and end-game content, this is one dragon you should start adopting and taming for the long haul. Clearly, both companies are sparing no expense in this new IP; we’ll revisit the game a year later since that’s how I judge long-term mobile games with ongoing content.
Right now, you can do worse than this game. Its production values are worth the trouble and downloading, and the gameplay is simple yet frenetic. Just don’t expect a Monument Value or a Tomb Raider GO here.