As a gaming platform, the iPad is incredibly well-suited for table-top/board games. As such, it’s great to see more and more developers taking advantage of the device’s strengths by delivering solid table-top experiences. Take Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire, for example. At $0.99, it’s not a game that’ll knock your socks off. But this is a budget game that will provide far more than a dollar’s worth of entertainment.
Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire allows between one and four players to spin the giant roulette wheel and delve into a virtual dungeon to eventually “kill the dragon and save the princess.” Along the way, you’ll encounter enemies of increasing strength, ranging from pesky rats and venomous spiders to a crazed cyclops and a powerful wizard; all leading up to the final showdown with the fire-breathing dragon.
Staying true to the genre, the game features landing spaces that will help you along the way. Some add hit points, some will add mana (which is your attack currency in the game), while other spaces lead you to vendors from whom you can buy items.
The main element of the game is the aforementioned roulette wheel. This is not only how your moves are determined, but also determines the course of battle. When you land on an enemy space, you spin the wheel to find out if you’ll use mana, gain defense points, use magic, or attack. Each enemy has a countdown timer letting you know how many spins you get before you’re attacked. It’s a clever way of handling enemy encounters and keeps things exciting, even if it takes decisions out of player’s hands.
This brings me to a problem I had with Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire. Most fantasy board games allow for some sort of strategy or provide role-playing elements so the player can customize their experience. True, the game does give players the opportunity to increase the mana used in order to increase the effectiveness of their attacks, and the player’s stats can be increased during a battle or by landing on the appropriate space. But most of the decisions are made by simply spinning the wheel and hoping for the best. As I mentioned, the randomness of it all can make for an exciting experience, but there were times when I wished I had more control over the action.
From a presentation standpoint, Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire is a mixed bag. The theme of the board fits well with the medieval/fantasy setting, and the layout is vibrant and dynamic with an almost pinball table look. My one complaint is that the game is split into three different screens, as you can see in the screenshot above. The problem with this is that every turn requires spinning the wheel, which means if you’re character is on the bottom screen, ready to face the dragon, you’ll have to switch back to the middle screen for every turn in order to use the wheel. It would have been nice if the developers could have arranged the screen so the wheel popped up every time its use was required and disappeared when it wasn’t.
These minor complaints aside, Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fate is a wonderful deal at under a dollar; especially for those looking for a quick board game fix. And while the game is certainly playable as a single-player experience, your enjoyment will increase exponentially with each player you add.
Bottom Line: Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire is a basic fantasy table-top experience that provides plenty of entertainment for under a dollar.
Journey of Fortune: Dragon’s Fire is compatible with iPad and requires iOS 3.2 or later.