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I had gotten burned out by these free apps. You know the kind - the bait and switch ones that let you play for a few hours. Then it demands real money before the player can do anything else. In fact I had gotten cynical about all free apps. On the final flight back from Los Angeles (E3 2012) this year I met a wonderful young man. We had a lively conversation on the flight. He mentioned Dragonvale. When I found out it was free I was dismissive. I promised I would check it out, and get a review in a future issue of the magazine.

I actually had another app planned for this issue, but Dragonvale has become a craze here at Family Friendly Gaming. Every single iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad has Dragonvale running on it. Everyone has their own islands, and have gone crazy growing dragons. I knew Dragonvale had to be addressed immediately.

The best thing about Dragonvale is it can be played without spending any real world money. Crystals are used to speed up things like building a habitat for a dragon, breeding, egg incubating and more. If you are patient you can breed all of the dragons without spending any real world money. That means Dragonvale is actually free. If you want a dragon without breeding it then you can spend crystals to get it. Which can cost real world money. Or you can get crystals through in game activities. Again this will take time, but not nearly as bad as other “free” apps.

Many of the dragons are cute in Dragonvale. Especially as babies. The adults are not always so cute. The diversity of the dragons is inspiring. There is no violence in Dragonvale. We can build the dragon park of our dreams in this game.

The music has a medieval flare to it in Dragonvale. I really like the music and appreciate the high quality Backflip Studios has put into this game. Many of us have made in app purchases to support this studio. This review is another way I am showing them support, and a little love.

I love how Dragonvale encourages patience. You can buy your way to a good park, but will miss many of the nuances of the game. I like how my game has a level, and each dragon has a level. This adds some strategy to what is done, and when. Do I grow small amounts of food quickly, or more of it for a longer period of time. Breeding can be frustrating when we are trying to get certain rare dragons. Perseverance eventually does pay off though.
- Paul

{UPDATE 04/16/2013} Updated to latest version of the game.

{UPDATE 02/20/2015} Updated due to length of time, random nature, bugs, and numerous complaints from families.


Graphics: 80%
Sound: 85%
Replay/Extras: 80%
Gameplay: 50%
Family Friendly Factor: 55%

System: iPod Touch/iPad
Publisher: Backflip Studios

Rating: ‘4+’ for 4+

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