The Dragon’s Cradle
There is no shortage of dungeon crawlers on Nintendo Switch. Games like Tallowmere, Enter the Gungeon, and Yodanji all have a home on Nintendo’s system, but they all share one common attribute: a pixel art aesthetic. DragonFangZ is a rogue-like dungeon crawler from Japanese developer Toydea, and while it shares many of the same gameplay mechanics as other titles in the genre on Nintendo Switch, DragonFangZ features a beautiful visual style that fuses anime character designs with 3D environments.
DragonFangZ has you controlling a dragon-girl named Rose as she ventures deeper and deeper into a dungeon; naturally, each floor of the dungeon is randomly-generated and gets progressively more difficult, through bigger floors to explore and a myriad of enemies. Aside from its appeasing visual style, DragonFangZ sets itself apart by introducing the “Dragon Time” mechanic: players only have 500 turns on each run, and a low amount of Dragon Time will regenerate on each floor. A turn is any single action the player takes — moving, attacking, equipping an item, and healing all count as one turn each.
You’ll usually start off without any equipment or skills when you dive into the dungeon. Weapons, whether they be swords or clubs, can be found at random while exploring the dungeon. This is also true for healing items and magic wands, the latter of which have unknown effects that can either help or hurt you in your run. It’s entirely possible to go several floors without finding any weapons and avoiding enemies as best you can; however, your longest runs come when you find weapons early on and are able to grind early EXP and keep Rose’s level equal to the floor’s number.
Unfortunately, all of your equipment and level progress is lost if you fall in battle. This is one of the more annoying aspects to DragonFangZ since there are so many swords and shields that look neat and deal significant damage. The level reset is more maddening, though, because it negates any sort of progression in the game and makes DragonFangZ feel unfair at times. Enemies move turn by turn just like you do, so there is a bit of strategy in lining enemies up and funneling them through passages to get one-on-one battles, but there are too many times when several powerful enemies are on screen and they manage to surround you in a couple turns. The ability to shoot arrows — if you find any — certainly helps, but DragonFangZ is no walk in the park.
There is a way of saving some of your equipment, at least. While dungeon crawling you may come across boxes that have a multitude of uses, including revealing the abilities of magic wands, transforming an item into something else at random, and sending items back to your warehouse. Unfortunately, you can’t use a warehouse box to send a warehouse box back to your warehouse, so the majority of your runs will result in the loss of all your equipment. I really only sent back extra items or powerful weapons right before I was about to die, and then ended up losing them on the next run anyway because I didn’t come across another warehouse box.
Enemies will occasionally drop “fangs” that you can equip to gain access to passive and active skills. Up to three fangs can be equipped at a time, and their usefulness varies depending on the enemy that dropped it. Passive skills may increase your overall health or attack stat, while active skills provide more powerful benefits like healing or doing massive damage to enemies. Active skills have to be charged by attacking other enemies, though, so those are generally saved for more dire situations.
I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention the charming translation in DragonFangZ. Overall, the game has some pretty whimsical and silly interactions between characters — the game doesn’t take itself seriously at all — and it’s made even better with the poor grammar and odd choice of words that make up most dialogue boxes.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for DragonFangZ was provided by Toydea.