Last modified: October 19th, 2021
Dragon Cave (dragcave.net) is one of only a few remaining “clickable adoptables” websites.
Back in the mid-2000’s on internet forums, you could customize a signature, which was attached to the bottom of every post and reply you made.
This signature often included quotes, anime graphics, simple animations, and these clickable adoptables.
Clickable adoptables rely on, you guessed it, clicks or unique pageviews from outside visitors to hatch the creature’s egg and help it develop to its adult form. It’s a clever way to drive traffic to a website, especially if that website has ads that are also paying attention to clicks.
Many of these clickable adoptable websites have a variety of creatures, and part of the appear is to discover each phase of your creature as it hatches and grows. Oftentimes, the eggs are identical, and you only learn what the creature truly is when it hatches and begins to grow.
Dragon Cave features, obviously, dragon clickables, specifically pixelated dragons, and is also a little bit more of a “game” in itself than many other clickables sites. There’s a world map that you can loosely explore to collect abandoned eggs, and you can even breed your dragons to sometimes acquire rarer dragons.
Let’s take a look at what I think are some of the most visually interesting or best-designed dragons in Dragon Cave, looking at the adult form of each breed.
Red and blue is a tricky color scheme to pull off! Also, look how they’ve managed to make the wing membranes look translucent using only pixel art – it’s like carving marble to look like fabric!
An all-female breed released for Valentine’s Day, this dragon has magical cream-white flames down its spine that glow larger and brighter with strong emotion. I really like the wings for this breed, which are obviously nonfunctional by physical means, but provide a lot of visual interest and break up the shape of the creature nicely. I’m not usually a fan of organic fire on animal designs, but I do really like this pale cream-colored magical fire, and I like that it’s down the dragon’s whole back, instead of just the tip of the tail, Charmander-style.
Xenowyrms are a very interesting group of dragons specific and unique to Dragon Cave. They are legless dragons, which might make them read as snakes, except they have distinctly “dragony” heads (what does that even mean? I’ll have to analyze my own impression of what makes the head read as “dragon”…) and rough, spiky bodies. They also are highly magical creatures, which allows them to fly without any physical means. I gotta say, the idea of these huge spikey snakes coursing through the sky is REALLY cool sounding. Monochrome designs are underrated, this wyrm manages to make blue tones look super cool and varied.
I really enjoy the pose on this one. It evokes classic Chinese dragon art with the twisted and poised claws. Love the golden antlers that mimic the lightning and that curly-swirly tail. I know swirls are generally considered distracting and “decorative” in the arts, but I really like the way this swirled tail draws your eyes through the creature’s spine and body shape.
I don’t normally like tw0-headed dragons, but I so think the duality presented here is really interesting. I love the color scheme of cream and silvery-purple.
And another favorite color scheme of mine, cream and blue! I find this blue to be absolutely gorgeous, almost iridescent blue-purple. Amazing coloring work, especially with pixel art.
This majestic beast is definitely inspired by the extinct pterosaur Quetzalcoatalus, which is an excellent launching point for a dragon. The brown-gold with bright blue highlights is gorgeous, and just look at all those little flecks of gold and blue fire surrounding this creature.
Elux Lucis Dragon
Inspired by the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis. 3 sets of wings, forelimbs but no legs, suggest this dragon spends the majority of its time in the air. I really like that the tail and cheek fur evoke clouds, but I’m not a fan of the bright gold horns mixed with the black back spikes. If we’re going for a night sky look, I think they both be black, or perhaps even silver.
An all-male breed released for Christmas, the lights down this wyrm’s back can change color, allowing them to serve as living lighted trees. The overall body shapes gives this breed the cool impression of something that effortlessly glides in the upper atmosphere, like a cooler version of Rayquaza.
A Halloween special breed, I love that it’s white! The lower body has a pattern of black and orange grinning ghoulish ghost faces.
If you’re gonna make an over-the-top badass fire dragon, you might as well fully commit. I love that there’s a traditional blood-red fire version and a blue-green spooky fire version.
An aquatic dragon that honestly resembles a ball python or more venomous viper of some kind. I see this design and immediately see this as a dark cave-dweller with viciously deadly poison in its fangs.
A very cool and threatening limbless dragon that really reminds me of Ocarina of Time’s Volvagia, but I love the gray-and-orange color scheme that almost reads as rusted metal.
A handsome fire-themed dragon that reads as very regal and noble.
Simple and straightforward but is exactly what I would hope for out of something called a “Magma Dragon”.
These are so busy and dense that it’s a little bit hard to parse where this thing’s body begins and ends, but even if you can’t identify the blue-and-purple flame-wreathed skull head, it’s very interesting and overall evokes “cool and badass”.
I’m not sure why, but many of the Xenowyrm dragons seem like they should be Pokémon to me. Almost too bright to see, the Pharos is a stunning, shimmering jewel of a creature, and evokes crystals and gemstones and gold.
A true classical heraldic/medieval wyvern – with forelimbs and wings, instead of like a bird! But also, what an amazing use of a largely monochromatic color scheme. I love how well feathers are communicated with such simple pixel art!
I’m always really attracted to gray color schemes, and I find this design very sleek and pleasing. Makes me think of condors and other large predatory birds.
Love the wild bearded vulture appearance of this wyvern! This breed really reads as a hunter, a predator, and almost evokes a Monster Hunter enemy.
An overall very straightfoward dragon design, but I really love the overall aesthetic of the soft pastel colors and the gentle features.
This dragon screams “swamp”, with a long crocodylian (probably gharial) snout and greenish-brown coloring. It really feels like an old medieval European dragon (maybe a knucker!)
An upper-atmosphere dragon whose color scheme changes depending on the time of day. I like how the wings aren’t really functional for flying – this creature is already so “at home” in the air that it only needs those little flippers to guide its trajectory. I think that my higher self, Arkus, would be a Stratos Dragon in this universe.
Look at these absolutely stunning colors! I’m not sure if the dragon itself is meant to be purple and gold, or iridescent, or simply illuminated by a bright sunrise, but it’s handled phenomenally using simple pixel art.