With DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer, Berk Goes Where You Go!

PowerPoint PresentationWe’ve all taken rides in cars, but honestly, haven’t we all found ourselves wishing we could be soaring on the wings of dragons instead?

That’s now a possibility, thanks to DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer, a new mobile game from Microsoft and DreamWorks Animation, and inspired by the animated film, How to Train Your Dragon 2. It uses Here Maps to pull in GPS info, turning the real world into the user’s very own fictional Isle of Berk.

During a recent demo, we took the game on a tour of midtown Manhattan. In Train mode, many of the city’s mighty edifices appeared in the game as huge stones, landmarks such as Grand Central Station became a wagon repair shop, and Chelsea Market was besieged by Vikings (They correspond to check-ins for the popular app Foursquare). Meanwhile, players engage in missions as part of their dragon training, such as picking up and dropping off sheep at home base–the device, represented in the game map by a cart.

DreamWorksDragons.PhilIn Explore mode, players can go on dragon rescue missions in 16 cities around the world, including Berlin, Nairobi, and Washington, D.C. Depending on the region of the city chosen, the topography can vary (more grasslands in North America, more of a desert in Africa), while real-time weather information, courtesy of the Weather Channel, can also impact the game visually. There’s snow on snowy days, clear blue skies when it’s sunny, and a dark skyline during nighttime play. Luckily, this doesn’t impact the player’s ability to fly.

Fans of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise should enjoy the option of playing as characters Hiccup or Astrid, with the choice of six different dragons to fly, and more unlockable dragons throughout the game. Each has its own strengths, and while Toothless was probably my favorite, all the ones I test-flew were easy to fly, which likely had a lot to do with the responsiveness of the controls.

Having tried out the game on both a smartphone and mobile tablet, I can say that either way is intuitive and easy to play, while the visual experience didn’t suffer with the transition to a smaller screen. The bottom line: DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer is a fun time, but it’s the Here Maps and real-time weather features that make it especially unique. I’m looking forward to taking it on a long distance or cross-country trip sometime, just to break it out whenever time starts dragging (or is that dragon?).

DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer is available on a range of Windows tablets and phones, including Microsoft Surface and the Lumia 2520 tablet, and a range of Lumia phones.