App of the Day: Feed That Dragon

Adding weight to the scales.

Version tested iPhone

How do you feed a dragon? From as far away as possible, says publisher Miniclip. Ideally from the other side of your iPhone screen, via a catapult and some trampolines, skimming through a waterfall and past a couple of black holes.

You'll find all of these items in Feed That Dragon, a cheerful medieval iOS puzzler starring a young knight called McDuff, who has been tasked with keeping the king's pet dragon fully fed.

Levels are filled with obstructions to block or alter the trajectory of your catapulted cakes and donuts, slowly adding to the game's difficulty while at the same time happily keeping you hidden - presumably so your scaly ward can't trace the more appetising smell of your delicious human flesh.

Players are given an array of angled platforms such as planks of wood or springy trampettes to place around the level. These are designed to redirect or rebound your dragon's meal to its destination, turning each level into a personalised pinball course of manoeuvres to avoid obstacles or counteract their interference.

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Your dragon is actually a rather adorable fellow, all puppy dog eyes if your food misses.

Veer your pizza too close to a black hole and its event horizon will drag the meal in, for example, while gusts of wind can waft snacks off course. If your food flies off-screen, gets burned in a fire or meets some other untimely end, it's game over. Thankfully the arrangement of your platforms is saved for your next try and reloading is instantaneous.

"I'm pretty sure some of the bizarre solutions I lucked upon are not the official answers to each problem, but therein the fun lies."

Completing levels is fairly straightforward, although working out methods of nabbing each course's three collectible stars requires plenty of experimentation. I'm pretty sure some of the bizarre solutions I lucked upon are not the official answers to each problem, but therein the fun lies. There's little better than messing about in a toybox full of level parts, firing off the catapult and watching where your cake or hamburger flies.

Points are awarded for how long your food stays airborne, so a long and complicated course for your ricocheting rice ball will serve you better than going the easy route and gaming that gammon steak straight in the dragon's gob.

On top of all that, the game comes wrapped up in a smartly animated, clean and colourful design. Developer Miniclip is an expert at this, being the creator of iPhone hits such as Fragger and a whole host of Flash games I used to play in a minimised PC window during IT classes.

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He's one of the cuddlier dragon breeds, rather than the evil-must-be-slain backwards-flying lot.

Back in the present, Feed That Dragon is still fresh on the App Store, released this month for iPhone and iPad to little fanfare (although a previous version, Feed That Big Dragon, was apparently once available for iPad from a different developer). Regardless, the game's 90-odd levels spread over three worlds are already well worth the 69p asking price and Miniclip promises future content updates are on the way.

In-app purchases exist to unlock the latter two game worlds from the off, if you fancy stumping up a hefty 2.49 apiece, while cheeky Solutions Packs can be bought to peek at answers for the trickier stages.

But it is unlikely you'll want, or need, to spend any extra. Feed That Dragon is a game worth savouring, with levels you'll want to digest at your own pace. And unlike real-life dragon keepers, this little puzzler has a decent life expectancy.

App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments.

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