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For: Mobile   Also on: DS, GameBoy

Dragon behind

Product: Eragon | Developer: Kaolink | Publisher: Vivendi Games Mobile | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 352KB | Reviewed on: 6680 other handsets | Version: Europe
Eragon Mobile, thumbnail 1
All the movie studios are looking for the next Lord of the Rings. If it's not stuffed lions leading whiny kids to victory over evil queens, it's stuffed dragons leading whiny kids to victory over evil kings. Honestly, it makes us nostalgic for the whiny hobbits that started it all.

Received with dull ambivalence by the critics, Eragon the movie was uninspired, to say the least. So it's with a fitting appropriateness that Eragon the mobile phone game is equally unspectacular.

You play as Eragon, the floppy-haired yoof who discovers that he's a member of a long-lost society of dragon riders. As part of his heritage he adopts a baby dragon that soon grows into the fearsome fire-belching monstrosity so beloved of fantasy stories.

The game starts with Eragon setting out to rescue his lady friend, and thus ensues a series of sideways-scrolling slash-'em-up levels. The objective and controls you'll employ to reach it are simple, involving you striding purposely from left to right while swinging your sword.

Spoiling your walk in the picturesque countryside are dozens of enemy henchmen who need to be dispatched, and in short order too. By pressing '5' on your handset's keypad you'll slash and lunge as appropriate and, at least for the first couple of levels, this is enough to get by.

But as you progress, you learn new combos and magic attacks, helping you defeat the tougher soldiers that you encounter in the later levels. It adds a little extra involvement but not enough. Before long each level falls into the same, repetitive format.

You walk along, hack and slash at the baddies, pick up a few power-ups to replenish your health and magic power, and that's about it.

Apart from the small matter of your dragon, anyway. The beast plays a significant role in Eragon the book and movie, but here it's relegated to a mildly diverting sideline.

You can call on the dragon during each level, whereupon it pokes its head into the screen from the left and gives anything evil on screen a light toasting. It appears again in so-called bonus levels, where you ride it over an enemy encampment and scorch the inhabitants of the guard towers. Again, you see little more than just a head protruding from the left of the screen, so it's hard to suspend your belief and really immerse yourself in the action.

It's a problem that pervades Eragon; there's just not enough of a hook to grab your attention and keep it. The option to enhance your defence or attack skills at the end of each level, at the expense of boosting your health and magic power, is a weak attempt at introducing character development, and the limited options available when choosing your route through the game (as illustrated by a map) makes no great difference, either.

These limitations let down what is a decent-looking game. The visuals are close enough a likeness of those in the film and, if you remember Golden Axe from the glory days of the Sega Mega Drive, there's undeniable nostalgia value.

But it's not enough to make Eragon worth buying, even if you are a fan of the book or movie. Or the Lord of the Rings, for that matter.
Reviewer photo
Mike Abolins | 18 January 2007
An uninvolving experience that fails to build on its potential or its decent looks
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