It’s a rare sight to see a game based on an animated movie to be better or as good as its silver screen counterpart. Some even try to either expand on the movies’ story or make up its own plot which more often than not makes it irrelevant. Then there are the flops, which is common ground in the video game industry which developers rush to release the game either on or before the release date of the movie. The result is never a good one with the games far too often becoming nothing but a bargain bucket consisting of movie ripped cut scenes, poor gameplay and god awful graphics. Which brings me to How To Train Your Dragon 2 out now for WiiU and 3DS published by Little Orbit. Developers Torus Games have taken the excellent movie and turned it into a mediocre flight sim but surely on Nintendo’s powerful WiiU (version reviewed) it can’t fall into the bargain bucket category......can it?
How To Train Your Dragon 2 has no story mode or campaign considering the strong story presence in the movie. You are required to fly around the Viking island of Berk looking for perches to sit your dragon pet onto which initiates a minigame to compete in; in fact you’ll be doing this throughout the entire game. Minigames on offer include races, slaloms which require you to fly through a set of hoops within a time limit which feels like a huge reminiscence of the infamous Superman 64, target practice which you shoot fire or plasma balls at flip-up cardboard targets via the WiiU Gamepad touch screen and checkpoint races amongst others. The overall premise of How To Train Your Dragon 2 is disappointing to say the least as there is nothing to indicate that this is a game based on How To Train Your Dragon 2 other than the characters and their voices.
You have 5 characters and their dragons to choose from with 2 more being unlockable and yes Hiccup and Toothless are accessible from the start. You control your dragon with the left thumbstick and the camera with the right, ZR launches fireballs or plasma balls and the face buttons allow you to accelerate, slow down, use a dodge manoeuvre and a special attack. The learning curve is extremely shallow which makes it great for children to pick up and play. The onscreen action is displayed on the gamepad screen too so you’re able to just play on the gamepad if necessary. Outside of events, you are free to fly around the island at your leisure with the help of a nicely designed map to assist you, the only benefit of free roaming is finding the collectable coins hidden all over which allow you to upgrade your dragons abilities. There is not enough variety here to elongate playing How To Train Your Dragon 2 unfortunately as the event minigames become tedious quickly and exploring the island isn’t as fun as it sounds. What’s more disturbing is not being able to dismount and explore on foot which limits the gameplay to flying only and you can’t stop moving, hitting the wall doesn’t incur any penalties though thankfully.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 looks awful on the WiiU, drab textures, rough presentation and limited animation make this an unfaithful port and playing on the gamepad does make these things less noticeable but only a little less. Character design is the biggest thing shining in this games sky though as each character and their dragons look just as they do in the movie. Flying around the island, i noticed a lot of texture popping and sometimes my dragon developed invisibility which happened way too often for my liking. Multiplayer is the only thing worth coming back for, you and a pal chooses a character and compete in races, you can use the screen with the Pro Controller and your pal can use the gamepads little screen which breathes a little bit of replayability in what’s otherwise a poor forgettable game.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 falls into the pit consisting of many other bad movie tie in video games. Awful visuals, rough presentation, limited gameplay and little variety are just a few of the many bad points in this game. The multiplayer isn’t too bad though. This game is great for kids with a limited attention span but for adults or even fans of the film, it’s not recommended.
Story - 1/5
Graphics - 2/5
Gameplay - 2/5
Overall - 2/5
Version reviewed - WiiU