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Review: ‘Dragon’ Up for iPhone is disgustingly good

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Most mobile games have a bit of a cutesy, kiddy twist to them. Even if they have ageless appeal and adult gamers tapping away at them, they probably still look like a Saturday morning cartoon. Dragon Up is no different in that sense – in fact, it’s art is created by some of the animators who had their hands on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Atomic Betty – but it manages to take the childishness that adults can’t help but enjoy to a new level. This is a game with dragons that vomit coins and fart rainbows. Mature adults need not read further.

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East Side Games breaks the mold that most games starring dragons tend to fall victim. Instead of casting these scaly, oversized lizards as the villains of the game, the developers have crafted a unique title that puts you in control of collecting dragon puke. Don’t worry, dragons puke coins, like some sort of magical winged ATM. If that sounds weird, can you think of a reason dragons wouldn’t throw up coins? Of course, you can’t. Just like you can’t think of a reason they wouldn’t fart rainbows, which they also do in Dragon Up. We just don’t know a lot about dragon biology – a fact that East Side uses to its advantage.

It’s hard to get away from bodily functions when discussing this game because that’s literally one of the key elements of it, but we’ll try to explain the object of the game without calling upon some potty humor. Dragon Up plays a little like a medieval version of Tiny Tower. You build platforms upward to restore a legendary dragon roost.

The roost sits right by a waterfall, which provides a perfect stream for coins coming down and visitors going up. Because these dragons are revered by the townsfolk, they are often visited by people offering tribute. Sometime this comes in the form of a gift, which can be taken to the dragons with slow-moving elevator system. These benefit your dragon and gives it the possibility to level up and “produce” more coins. Other times, it comes as an advertisement that you can watch in exchange for some coins.

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Aside from puke-based money, your dragon may also provide you with a treasure. These offer special abilities to your dragons and can be combined with a fusing function that will make them even more powerful. The better the treasures and the higher the level of each of your creatures, the longer the trip they can take; dragons are frequent fliers. These trips are taken to collect the coins that they promptly puke up upon their return. If resting your dragons or waiting for them to cough up the coins takes too long, you can speed up the process by buying gems with your real life cash. Paying actual cash will cut back the meter times, which technically makes it like digital ipecac.

Outside of the game element, there’s a real collector’s appeal to Dragon Up. You’ll use your coins to purchase new dragons and add them to your arsenal. While only a handful will be working at any given time, there are hundreds of multi-hued hyrdas to unlock. They all vary in look, rarity, and ability, and do a fantastic job of showing off the beautiful artwork contained within the game.

While the walkthrough covers everything, there’s definitely a lot going on in this game that will take some getting used to. Dragon Up is just as addicting as it is overwhelming. You’ll have to manage regular visitors to keep your dragons satisfied, send them on trips and keep them well-rested, and try to get as many treasures as you can. You never know when the next gift is on its way or when you’ll be able to get another dragon, but you definitely will want to stick around in game to find out.