Dragon & Shoemaker for Android – play the legend of the Wawel Dragon
Once upon a time, during the reign of King Krakus, a fire-breathing dragon lived in a cave near the Vistula River in Krakow (capital of modern day Poland). The Wawel Dragon was an evil creature, every day it was ravaging the countryside killing its inhabitants, destroying their houses and eating their livestock. The only way for locals to stop it was to leave a young girl in front of its cave once a month, which would’ve been devoured. That kept the dragon quiet but after a while all the maidens in the town were sacrificed except one, the King’s daughter called Wanda.
The King was desperate and wanted to put an end to this before his daughter would be killed, so he offered as a reward for killing the dragon his daughter’s hand and half of the kingdom. Many knights tried to defeat the dragon but ended up being killed. One day a poor shoemaker by the name of Skuba showed in front of the King and accepted the challenge of killing the dragon. The King was reluctant but given his desperation he agreed to let him try. Skuba wasn’t very powerful but he was smart so he knew that, in order to kill the dragon, he would have to find a way to outsmart it. Thus he decided to poison the dragon and stuffed a sheep with tar and sulphur. He placed the sheep in front of the cave and the dragon devoured it. Soon enough he became incredibly thirsty and felt his stomach was on fire. Thus he started drinking the water from the Vistula River and kept drinking it until he blew up and died. The smart shoemaker married the beautiful girl and ruled over Krakow when the King died.
This is the legend of the Wawel Dragon and the shoemaker, one of the most popular legends in Poland which is celebrated yearly and it is a main tourist attraction. Even if it is a legend, recent events showed that the largest predator in Central Europe from the Triassic period lived in Poland and was as long as 6 meters. Paleontologist called it… the Wawel Dragon.
The good news for us is that we can play the role of Skuba the shoemaker and try to defeat the dragon in ‘Dragon & Shoemaker’, a challenging 3D platform game for Android recently released by 4toon Studio.
Design & Gameplay
The game was initially supposed to be a short animation film that presented the legend of the dragon, however due to lack of funds that project was cancelled only to be revived later in a form of a 3D game for Android. Its initial purpose explains the design of the game, as its artwork gives you the feeling of playing in a fairytale with impressive surroundings and cartoon-like characters accompanied by folk music. The game takes you through various places, including recreations of important buildings in Cracow such as the Royal Castle of Wawel, Cloth Hall, Vistula River, Market Square and Dragon’s cave. The game is played on a level-by-level basis thus you will advance through 5 different locations each with its own 10 levels:
- Meadow. The first and easiest level, this is where you learn the gameplay and discover new obstacles and enemies that you have to hit with your weapon (a bat usually). Jump over bridges, collect sheep, fight wolves, bears, scarecrows and try to stay alive.
- Village. You advance to the next location if you finish the first one and have enough sheep and coins to advance (because you will have to pay to advance). This time you play through the village and get to see locals as well as the breathing fire dragon. You discover new enemies while avoiding obstacles such as cows and jump over rivers, all in a village-like environment with houses in the background.
- City. This is where the difficulty increases, now you play in the city and you’ll have to jump from roof to roof collecting sheep, trying to avoid catching fire and you’re introduced to a new ‘roll’ action.
- Castle. The Royal Castle of Wawel, beautifully drawn in the background, is where you also have a close encounter with the dragon while you prepare for the final battle.
- Dragon Cave. The final level and the most difficult one, where you also have to fight against gigantic spiders, over large boulders and roll to avoid getting hurt from dangers above. True to the legend, in the final stage of this level you get to carry a sheep that will help you defeat the evil dragon.
When the game starts you will see its dashboard with all the available options. Obviously the most prominent section is the one presenting the 5 different worlds/levels enumerated above. Tap on one and you’ll start the game. However there are other things that you can change, for instance you can modify the difficulty of the game, switch the controls if you’re a left hand player or even reset the game to its initial status (losing all your progress). ‘Dragon & Shoemaker’ has an in-app market where you can exchange your coins for better gear: shoes, weapons, hats or potions. I present this in the quick video review below (though you’ll have to excuse my ignorance regarding the music type, it’s not ‘Irish’ it’s folk):
The shoes you can purchase are the most important as there are ones that let you jump higher or destroy the enemies you land on. Weapons consist mainly of baseball-type of bats and the more expensive one is, the higher its melee damage. Hats aren’t of lesser importance as you’ll find useful for instance the one that lights the way when you are fighting in the cave. Lastly, the potions, help you get back to previous checkpoints when you die within a level. As you play a level you pass by several checkpoints, so if you have time-travel potions you’ll be able to return to the last checkpoint when you die. If you don’t, well, you have to restart that level.
Here are some of the features in ‘Dragon & Shoemaker’:
- Captivating storyline. I loved legends as a kid and that didn’t change even when I grew up. That’s probably why I find the game storyline captivating and I also remember seeing a movie on this theme – didn’t know back then that this was based on Poland’s most popular legend, thanks to this game now I know. The shoemaker who becomes a hero and marries a beautiful princess after defeating an evil dragon. Best of all, with ‘Dragon & Shoemaker’ you get to play the legend.
- Over 50 playable levels. 5 different locations each with 10 playable levels count up to many hours of fun. Even if the first levels can be completed fast, the higher ones will take longer to finish and you always get the chance to replay a previous level if you want to get more coins or sheep for instance.
- In-app marketplace. Throughout the game you find coins, especially when you smack enemies with your bat or when you open treasure chests. Those coins can be used to purchase better items for your player, powerful shoes, bats with more damage or protective hats. The time-travel potions work wonders on difficult levels as you can use them to go back to the previous checkpoint when dying. The game will also let you purchase in-app coins using real money if you want to get the best items faster.
- Great artwork & soundtrack. The 3D surroundings, cartoon-like characters and impressive artwork create a good feeling when playing ‘Dragon & Shoemaker’. Combine that with a folk soundtrack and you’ve got your own medieval legend game.
- Easy controls. It’s very easy to control your character if you have good reflexes. In total there are 3 action buttons, the most important one, ‘Jump’ will be located on the right-side of your tablet while the other 2 ones on the left-side (‘Hit’ and ‘Roll’). The game offers the option to switch the location of controls if you’re a left-handed player. The game is side-scrolling thus your character runs all the time, all you have to do is jump (or double-jump) over obstacles or hit enemies to kill them.
- Difficulty levels. I mentioned 50 levels earlier, now you have to take into consideration the fact that the game will also offer different difficulty levels. If you play it on easy and finish the game, you can try increasing the difficulty to ‘hard’ and see how much can you advance with more enemies and more obstacles to jump over.
‘Dragon & Shoemaker’ is an exciting action game for all ages, children and adults alike. The high number of levels contributes to hours of fun which only cost a mere $0.99 thus instead of paying 10/20 times more for a 2-hour movie why not play one?