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Game based on book is a bit like an animal sim with dragons.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game fosters an appreciation for the natural world (even if some of its inhabitants -- namely, dragons -- are fictional) by having children examine evidence they discover in the wild. The player’s character treats the dragons they encounter with respect, and even tries to befriend and train them.

Positive role models

Our character is an apprentice of a master dragonologist. S/he learns about and cares for dragons from the professor, who is a kind, old dragon lover.

Ease of play

The touch screen controls are simple and intuitive. A couple of activities could use a bit more instruction (including a cage locking game that takes place early on and involves a spinning dial, the mechanics of which aren’t entirely clear), but kids should experience few problems working things out on their own.

Violence & scariness

The player’s character is occasionally knocked to the ground by the dragons and wild animals they encounter.

Not applicable

This game is an offshoot of the popular Dragonology children’s books.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dragonology is a fantasy game based on the children’s books of the same name. Players travel around the world to find and learn more about exotic dragons. Other than wild, roaring dragons and animals that occasionally knock the player’s character down, there is no scariness or violence in the game. Plus, its wholesome message is similar to that of an animal simulator, as the player’s goal is to study, understand, and even care for dragons. Note that the game will hold particular appeal to children acquainted with the Dragonology books.

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What's it about?

Based on Dugald Steer’s series of series of children’s books about dragons, DRAGONOLOGY puts players in the shoes of a boy or girl (the player can choose) studying as an apprentice to a professor who is an expert on dragons. Under his guidance, your character is sent all over the world in search of dragons. Each exotic location is filled with evidence to be found and analyzed, as well as plants and animals that must be avoided. Once players find a dragon, they need to engage in a mini-game to capture it, snap a picture of it, or perhaps retrieve an item it has made off with. Back at the professor’s castle, you can admire the artifacts you’ve found, the images you’ve captured, and play mini-games with a dragon by feeding it or trying to find it when it hides behind rocks.

Is it any good?


Kids who love dragons (and especially the Dragonology books) will likely love this fun little game, which actually feels a bit like an animal simulation or zoo game, thanks to its focus on collecting information, taking pictures, and caring for dragons. The evidence analysis games -- which include activities such as brushing away leaves to get a better look at scales and teeth, analyzing animal droppings by engaging in a rhythm challenge, and inspecting bones and tree stumps with a magnifying glass for animal marks -- are quick and varied enough so as not to become tedious. Plus, the various items players can buy to help them in their quest to find dragons -- such as an armoured top hat and a dragon horn that mimics a mating call -- help keep the hunt interesting. It’s by no means revolutionary, but it’s good clean fun for dragon-loving kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difference between a game that involves finding, studying, training, and caring for real animals as opposed to fantasy creatures, such as monsters or dragons. Clearly, the latter is less educational, but are there still important messages to be imparted and lessons to be learned?

  • Families can also discuss our historical fascination with dragons, which cuts across ancient cultures. Obviously, dragons have never existed. What do you think made people first imagine them, and how did different cultures come up with similar ideas for these fantasy creatures? Could dinosaur bones have led ancient peoples who lived in different places to conjure up dragons?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Available online?Not available online
Release date:November 16, 2009
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence

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