Nob Studio’s label may be pronounced “noob” to the Singaporean ear, yet these veteran Flash developers are anything but. They’ve already brought six titles to the App Store and their seventh, Dragon Evolution, looks prepared to overshadow their previous work. As an auto-scroller played over a fair amount of time and with a heavy strategic element, it’s also poised to freshen up the genre.
Dragon Evolution casts you as a big shadow-puppet dragon out to rescue its eggs from little shadow-puppet warriors. It’s hardly an easy task seeing as the little peeps have constructed giant forts and siege engines, and love to toss darts at your dragon en masse. There’s no visible user interface here; the auto-scrolling takes care of movement while right-hand taps and left-hand taps make your dragon attack. A right-handed tap generally triggers a bite or an elemental breath weapon suited for taking out infantry while a left-handed tap makes your dragon pull off an edifice-destroying head butt. If it looks like your dragon is biting off more than it can chew with the current obstacle, simply hold both sides of the touchscreen to make it gain temporary flight. Avoidance does place a cost on your dragon’s energy meter though!
The game has a fascinating way of combining the auto-scroller’s automatically evolving environments with the level-based runner. Your journey is divided into nine time-limited years, and at the end of the current year you’re taken to an upgrade screen whether you’ve made it to the end of a level or not. Between years you’re tasked with selecting the dragon’s upgrade path; it’s important to balance different elements so you have a way of tackling infantry who are invulnerable to fire, ice or acid breath.