There’s generally two things you can expect whenever you play a game by developer Nostatic Software1; some very charming pixel work, and that nagging feeling that you may not be having all that much fun playing that game. Whether that’s a fair assessment or not, Fat Dragons ($1.00) is exactly this. To be clear, this time it’s a Joust-like arcade title rather than a puzzler where you make educated guesses on what you should be doing next, but let’s just get this out of the way now: Fat Dragons is the Nintendo classic Balloon Fight, nothing more, and probably a little less.
Like those games, Fat Dragons has you not-so-lithely (the price of being an overweight dragon, I guess) coasting through the air, stripping the wings of your fellow peers and knocking them off the board once they’ve been grounded. Having the high ground is key, as that is the only way to effectively attack and avoid being de-winged yourself. Enemies spawn in wave format, and you’re given three hits / lives to hold out as long as you can. Points are naturally awarded for knockouts, and for completing the wave quickly.
There’s four stages to choose from in total, some of which include some slight interactivity, like an active volcano (the lava balls that shoot out of it can hurt you), or a storm where you’re under constant threat from lightning strikes. Every three waves you survive, the platforms within the stage shift around, creating a semi-fresh battlefield. To its credit, the game controls eerily-similar2 to how I remember Balloon Fight, so much so that I felt that particular wave of nostalgia washing over me as I played. Unfortunately, the simple arcade gameplay hasn’t aged as well in comparison.
For one, Fat Dragons is single-player only, cutting out a huge chunk of the reason that games like Balloon Fight and Joust continue to entertain even decades after their original release— the ‘friendly’ competition that comes from screwing over your friends or working together. The AI in the game is somewhat capable, but you won’t really meet any challenge unless you’re being pursued by three or more dragons at once. Even then, it all feels very same-y. Without some additional ‘hook’ or mode of play, repetition sets in.
That’s not to say there isn’t some fun involved, it’s just… dated. There’s no real payoff, either. The next level in line is unlocked after surviving a set number of waves in the previous stage, but with no further incentive to continue play after that, you can witness everything Fat Dragons has to offer within a half-hour at most. Worth a look if you’ve somehow missed out on the old classics to this point, but otherwise, there’s nothing new here.3
- Known primarily for the ‘Quiet’ series, cute but busywork puzzle games. More info on the catalog here. ↩
- Right down to the ‘weighty’ feel of lift-off and acceleration, and the bulky sense of not being able to stop or turn as easily. Kudos to the developer for nailing that. ↩
- This review is also featured at Indiepitome. ↩