Sometimes a game can be made sincerely, with heart, and still feel "off". Maybe it's due to novice coding leading to shaky gameplay, maybe it's due to questionable level design, maybe something just doesn't gel. In this game's case, it's sort of all three.

Dragon (or, as it's rendered on the title screen/webpage, dʒrægɛn) is, naturally, a game about a dragon. This dragon is in a relationship, but his significant other is carted off and locked in a tower for the capital crime of being hot for a dragon. (Not making that up. It is explicitly portrayed as a "we don't want half-dragon babies, that's weird" thing.) Said dragon goes on a quest to rescue her, even though she probably doesn't need rescuing for several reasons, and you have a game.

Everything is rendered in a crayon-and-pencil way like a kid's illustrated story for school, but, well. I already touched on the human-on-dragon implications, and clearing a level leads the player character pulling a pipe out of hammer space and lighting up. One of the late-game powerups is "magic breath" that "makes enemies peaceful". Yeah, this is one of those games. That's what's so jarring through a lot of it; it's a very kid-friendly game, except for the parts where schtoinking is hinted at or where everything is about blazing it. (Ironically, Blazing Dragons was the franchise with less pot in it.)

Controls are pretty average for a platformer of its type; you've got a jump button that can be double-tapped to glide-hover Tails style, a button to breathe out fire/lightning/ice/acid/pot smokemagic, and a button for a melee attack that's got a deceptively big (but never big enough) range. In fact, the controls are probably the one thing that didn't make me head-tilt, since they're pretty snappy and responsive. Stages are presented sort of like the 16-bit Tiny Toon Adventures games, where you select individual (relatively small) maps on a world map that kind of loops around on itself, as opposed to the more Metroidvania style of a single full-game map.

But there's problems, even past the "adultness". Hitboxes are wonky as hell, especially for collision damage. After the first few levels, you'll be taking way too much damage for messing up, too, which can make some bosses kind of frustrating. Enemies often camp on ledges you can't safely land on without eating a hit, and unless you've been grinding out upgrades you're gonna need to take several hits to kill most things. Speaking of upgrades, while most of them are easily found with a little scrounging, the way to actually get them is rarely intuitive, including one that I found out later was skippable but also mandatory to defeat the final boss. I had to get a youtube video's help (hard enough on its own since nobody seems to have any interest in the game) to finally figure out that the way past an otherwise impassable barrier to said powerup was to freeze it, and then burn it.

On the plus, the interactions felt great when they actually worked. A random non-aggressive NPC starts taking photos of you? Smack the phone out of their damn hands. Charging the king's castle for a final confrontation? Well, you can wade through his forces on the high road, or you can shrug, go the scenic route, and enjoy a nice, peaceful, uninterrupted walk through a suburb. Both get you there just as well. There was plenty of attention to detail in the spritework, the game just could have used a little more attention on the level design.

I dunno. It was cute, for what it was, though I dunno if I could recommend it to people. If you don't mind the mix of aesthetic and tone, then go ahead and give it a try; its flaws are pretty minor but the game is ultimately rather short (4 hours for 100% completion, with only very minimal outside help) and relatively uninspiring. 8.8/10, too much pot.