Take a so-so broadcast anime series, make it into a game, and hurry like crazy to ship for the holidays, and you know what you get? A big fat sack of disappointment by the name of Dragon Booster for the Nintendo DS. Due to its poor control mechanism, sloppy graphics and overall poor gameplay, this is one game everyone should avoid.
Dragon Booster is nothing more than a a racing game where you ride dragons. Dragons, much like cars apparently, can be souped up by buying new gear to trick them out, and likewise their driver/rider can also be tricked out. Instead of going to your garage for upgrades, you take ye’ old dragon to the Gear Shop, where a pretty standard variety of upgrades can be purchased and applied to said dragon in the stable.
Once you’re on the track, Dragon Booster simply falls apart. Attempting to use the touch screen to play the game is an exercise in sheer frustration, as the screen never registers contact unless you tap it a few times. Rather than gracefully gliding around the tracks (which themselves are unimpressive knock-offs of of stuff we’ve seen in the WipeOut series), your dragon will be a victim to the tap tap tap of you trying desparately to respond. Since you also need to use the D-pad to navigate the screen, everything turns into a giant mess, with frustration being the order of the day.
Dragons have, according to myth, been creatures of beauty, but in DRagon Booster, they are creatures of geometry, with each dragon model being composed of seemingly 10 polygons. Blocky is not beautiful, nor are the pseudo-3D tracks, which will not impress or appeal to anyone who’s played Mario Kart DS.
In an attempt to make this game feel less hollow than it really is, Konami slapped in a minigame mode (on top of the City Racing and Free Roaming modes) that fails to inspire more than a yawn. While we didn’t test the multiplayer mode, we can only imagine it would be likewise as frustrating as the rest of the game due to the sloppy controls.
Dragon Booster is one of those games that feels like it was jammed out the door to meet the holiday deadline. While it may carry the cool cachet of an anime license, it’s control issues and generic production values will have gamers avoiding it like the plague.
- Gameplay: 3
- Could be a good racer, if the controls worked
- Graphics: 4
- The DS can do far better than this
- Sound: 6
- A passable soundtrack compensates for weak in-game sound effects
- Replay: 3
- A challenge mode attempts to beef up the game’s replay
- Overall: 3.5
- Avoid this game like a stylus poke to the eye