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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Fighting

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Étranges Libellules

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

March 23, 2010

 

 

- A bulls-eye for the pre-teen crowd
- Big, bright, and clearly explained

- Two-player

 

 

- That's some brutal sheep-gutting

 

 

Review: LittleBigPlanet (PSP)

Review: Bee Movie (360)

Review: Shrek the Third (Wii)

 

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How to Train Your Dragon

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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My 10-year old son doesn't care that developer Étranges Libellules has a proven track record of producing some really solid movie tie-ins. They add to that CV with How to Train Your Dragon, based on the movie of the same name (which in turn was based on the books). It's a bulls-eye for How to Train Your Dragon in terms of hitting the target demographic. After the first hour, basically the tutorial missions,

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from what I could tell, my son became almost entirely oblivious to the world around him.

"I'm going to smash the TV with a hammer and you're going to bed without dinner if you don't turn this game off right now."

No response.

"Son, your mom and I have decided that

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military school would be best," I said. "It's in Tuktoyaktuk."

"Okay, dad," and keeps on playing.

Snapping him out of the trance is easy though. The batteries in the controller have to die sometime.

I asked him what he liked most and here's a summation of what he had to say:

I always know what to do and how to do it. I like that you can paint and mod your dragon, like a car, even if I never had to really feed a "car" before. The fighting with your dragon is awesome and the moves are all pretty easy to learn because they put the icons right on the screen so you always know what button to push. And the game gives you plenty of practice for these fights. It's funny, too. And it makes me want to learn more about Vikings. Leveling-up my dragon kinda felt like Pokemon, but maybe not as fun.

We haven't seen the film, so he couldn't speak to how faithful the game is to the source material.

 

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As a parent, I was impressed with how well the game teaches the player how to play without really talking down to the player. Having experience with fighting games helped a lot at the times when my son would hand the control off to me so I could my hand at it. The fighting is not particularly complex, which is good news for me. And it's a pretty G-rated experience. I actually had more trouble with the sheep-gutting that goes on. Between fights you run around as Hiccup or Astrid (that would be the kid) and he can (among other things) tackle sheep. It results in a churning dust cloud (accompanied by some presumably horrific sheep noises) then out pops lamb chops for your dragon.

That's probably the most brutal part of the game.

Viewing this title from an adult perspective is wrong. After watching my son play for a number of hours, I can tell I'd be bored to tears with repetitiveness of the whole thing -- fighting, leveling-up, feeding the dragon, fighting, and repeat. But as proven by at least one player, this could very well appeal to the pre-teen gamer in your house.

- Aaron Simmer

(May 14, 2010)

 

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