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Nintendo's New Mobile RPG Is A Slick Version Of The Same Old Thing

Illustration for article titled Nintendos New Mobile RPG Is A Slick Version Of The Same Old Thingem/em
Kotaku Game DiaryKotaku Game DiaryThe latest thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.

Nintendo and Cygames’ Dragalia Lost is a very pretty mobile game. The characters are lovely, the music is gorgeous, and its overall presentation is quite charming. One could almost forget it’s just another generic character collecting mobile action RPG under all of that polish. Almost.


Nintendo’s done some pretty innovative things since moving into the mobile space. Super Mario Run applied set level structure to the endless runner game model to create something slightly different. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp gave fans a new (though sometimes expensive) way to interact with beloved characters while expressing their creativity.

Collect characters! Buy orbs to get new characters! Bunny Boy! Bunny Boy? Well that changes everything.
Collect characters! Buy orbs to get new characters! Bunny Boy! Bunny Boy? Well that changes everything.

Dragalia Lost is easily the least original mobile game release we’ve seen from Nintendo. Players create teams of colorful characters obtained either through gameplay or by spending in-game currency in a randomized gacha machine-style store. These teams are used to take on a series of bite-sized action RPG levels featuring very basic game mechanics. Players swipe to move, tap to attack, and press buttons to activate skills or temporarily transform into a giant beast.

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Daily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.

When not wandering through quickie action RPG levels or reading the game’s story chapters, Dragalia Lost gives players a whole lot to manage. Character levels can be upgraded. Weapons can be upgraded. Dragon forms can be upgraded. Dragon skills can be upgraded. Weapons can be upgraded. There is so much upgrading, and in order to upgrade players need upgrade materials, so grinding levels and special event dungeons is a must. There’s a Castle section where players can erect buildings to hep generate resources. It’s pretty basic stuff.

So many tales to tell.
So many tales to tell.

What Nintendo and developer Cygames (of Granblue Fantasy fame) bring to the table with Dragalia Lost is lovely art direction and a strong focus on telling stories. There’s the game’s main narrative, which involves a prince of a mighty kingdom searching for the power to bond with dragons in order to save his people. Then each collectible character who joins the player’s entourage gets their own personal story that unfolds over multiple characters. Bonding with dragon companions in the Castle area’s Dragon Roost unlocks dragon stories. There’s a great deal of fiction to absorb between all the routine battles and upgrading.

The characters look nice. The music is a quirky mixture of traditional instrumental action and Japanese pop, which I enjoy quite a bit. Dragalia Lost is a great-looking and great-sounding video game. It’s just one I feel like I’ve played before.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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What is the actual point in these games, anyway? I will never be able to comprehend waifu gachas or the people who find them enjoyable. Most of them don’t even really *have* much gameplay to speak of, and the few that do are either not that great or not very successful. Do people really just want to play credit card slots to look at pretty pictures???????