Last modified: October 21st, 2021
Dragon City is a popular mobile phone game that features most of the classic tropes: resource collecting, daily login bonuses, cooldown times, crafting times, and of course, tons of micro-transactions to speed all of those things up. It has a dragon breeding element, which reminds me of old Final Fantasy Chocobo breeding – combine the right dragons in the right way, and you might just get a super rare dragon as a result. The art is 2.5D and somewhat roughly animated, but it’s overall cute and pleasant to look at. Some of the art is wildly inconsistent, with no real cohesion between obviously different artists, which is fun for variety but not usually what will help your game appear well-put-together.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite dragons from this game. There are… a LOT. Most are “meh”, some are visually exciting, some are good ideas with poor execution, some are REALLY BAD, and some are really good. These are the really good ones, in my opinion.
There’s something wonderful and hilarious about putting old-timey bathysphere diving equipment on a plesiosaur. It doesn’t make sense and yet it’s so aesthetically cohesive and fun to look that that I can’t help but like it. I just wish it was more obviously a dragon – show me some spikes, some extra fins, something to distinguish the creature from an extinct Earth animal.
Oh my god? I don’t know why I adore the Box Dragon as much as I do. The style and artwork is fantastically graphical and goofy. At a glance, it does look like a fairly normal dragon inside of a cardboard box, but if you notice, the front of the box is MUCH too flat to house a real dragon’s face, meaning… it is the box. That is this dragon’s face. It takes it from goofy cat antics to bizarre warehouse mimic and I love that.
Dark Jaws Dragon
Someone’s been playing Dark Souls. Clearly resembling the Gaping Dragon, this mean-looking purple-and-orange dude has an awesome split-open ribcage-mouth that runs the entire length of its body. The colors look great together and it’s honestly pretty freaky. My only disappointment is that the real mouth is fairly normal!
Dark Pearl Dragon
Now this one really stretches the definition of “dragon”. I love this concept, this dragon is like a hermit crab living inside a shipwreck but also somewhat fused with the ship, since the anchor and chain serves as its’ tail! I do wish that the sails resembled wings, even just a vague tattering shape or a few crooked masts to give a wing-like shape, so it was more like a ship mimic. The actual dragon’s face is uninspired but I like the high-contrast orange against the deep underwater blue.
Demon Viper Dragon
Something something Jafar as a snake from Disney’s Aladdin? I really like the idea of merging dragon wings and a cobra’s hood, and for an added badassery bonus, the webbing is made of fire. I like how thick and fleshy the horns look, almost as if they’re tentacles or eye-stalks, and that malicious grin is particularly delightful when set under empty solid yellow eyes. But what’s up with the pro wrestling belt?
One of the most stylistically distinct dragons, this guy has such a lovely color scheme! I’m not sure if it’s supposed to have a ponytail or a weird set of neck-wings but it’s a bit flat in the head and horns zone. The face is also pretty lackluster, almost like a sock puppet. I would love to see a smooth transition from furry mane on the orange front half down to the spikes on the purple lower half, to give it more of a sense of duality and transition between two states.
I’ll admit this guy is mostly here for the cool name, but also that sweet purple-pink color scheme. I always like weird-colored fire, and I think this dragon’s spotty arcane-looking pale pink fire design looks fantastic against the rich purple body. They could have really easily gone with a stereotypical red/black “devil” sort of theme given the inspiration from Faust. I also love those bright glowing blue eyes against the dark violet face, the big clunky hoof-like talons (perhaps a reference to goat hooves to match the curled ram-like horns?), and the bony skeletal fingers of the wings.
Another very wild and out-there interpretation of a dragon! A dense, squat body with a single massive eye on the chest, with three apparently-eyeless phantom snake necks and heads. The right is clearly fiery, but the other two are a bit more ambiguous – the far-left head appears to be lava-like or rocky and earthen, and the center head is perhaps arcane, with purple smoke-fire? The entire neck-to-body area is very vague and indistinguishable and hard to understand, but I kind of think that’s part of this weird spooky dragon’s appeal.
My personal favorite, predictably. This dragon is rather different in style than many of the others, looking much more serious and more finely lined and detailed than the other chunky cartoon dragons. There’s so much I love here and I don’t honestly think any of it is necessarily because of objective design strengths, but rather purely out of my own personal tastes. I love the massive purple-pink fire mane and wing-membranes; I’m glad they took vague inspiration from Disney’s Hades without assuming he was the one “correct” depiction. I love the fire beard, I love the mean little face with the alligator teeth, I love the joined wing-arms, I love the necklace of skulls, I love the dark blue underbelly against the mottled purple-grey body.
Oh man, look at those colors! Steely blue-black-silver fading down to bright lava-orange, complete with speckled “cooling” texture closer to the body. I’m a sucker for underbites on dragons, and I think they did a really good job matching the other facial features to that big chunky jaw. My only complaint: I don’t like tiny useless wings very much. And also the tail should fade to lava too!
A big nasty werewolf dragon! Stylistically similar to the Hades Dragon, and thus totally different from the usual cartoony dragons, this weirdly shape beast reminds me of Bloodborne. The spine is too short, almost deformed and crushed together, giving it a haggard appearance. I love the silver mane/beard of fur and the leering expression. I just wish the wings were a bit cooler, with more proper anatomy, or deeper rips into the membrane.
This dragon would make my list on name alone, but the design is also fantastic. Named for the main villain of the first Oddworld game, this dragon is thankfully not an exact copy or translation of the namesake character, but a cool weird alien. It’s kind of like a Xenomorph, kind of like the alien villain from Crash Team Racing, and a dash of Cthulhu. A really cool complex design that barely meets my definition of “dragon” which is always a good thing.
You, sir, are a bat. A beautiful, softly-colored gradient bat with a spikey tail. Noivern is more of a “dragon” than this in my opinion. This dude is here because I love the artwork – those soft, translucent wings, almost like insect wings, and those beautiful buttery-smooth gradients on the fur. Otherwise, though, a disappointing take on a “night dragon” that is literally just a spiky unicorn-bat.
Mummy! Dragon! Kind of. Armored mummy dragon? Armored mummy sand-burrowing worm dragon. There we go. Love that nasty little blind face, almost like a horse skull. I realize now that it isn’t very mummy-like at all, because what I initially took for bandages might just be metal bands. Oh well.
Probably the most standard-issue dragon on this list. It’s a bit odd to name a dragon species after a real person – does Nikola Tesla exist in the world of Dragon City? Did he discover this breed, or is just named after him because it can conduct electricity similar to a Tesla coil? Okay, well, all that aside, I like this dragon’s colors a lot, and I like the bony armor plates coming from its shoulders and flanks.
I guess this raises similar questions – does Venice exist in this world? Let’s not worry about it. This dragon really reads as a demon me, a masquerading, mischievous imp that walks among normal dragons only to maliciously prank or terrify them. I love the serrated skull-beak face, especially juxtaposted against the super-cute mask it wears. Also, check out those funky wings, they’re just long, scraggly feathers with no base structure! The dark wine-purple-red is gorgeous against the green and white body.
Hey, this is kind of what I pictured for the Night Dragon! Supremely cool and alien. I really like creature designs without hind legs, just big ol’ arms. I do wish we could see the shapes of this creature a bit better, because I want to really appreciate those big, tendony clawed hands. Also, what a cool head! It’s so unlike anything else I’ve seen, except maybe some deep sea creatures. An excellent design and aesthetic.
What a grumpy DWEEB. This is one of the more cartoony dragon designs, but I really like it! I like that grouchy cow/horse type face with those huge underbite fangs and beard, and I really like those big gorilla fists. Also, check out that subtle marbled pattern on the fur, I honestly think that’s really pretty. The tiny wings don’t bother me here, because it looks intentional, and they have some actual anatomy to them. Overall, it looks like it belongs in forlorn snowy mountains, which is exactly right. Good job!
I can’t even tell you how long I spent on the Dragon City Wiki digging through pages upon pages of dragon designs.
Go check them off, see if there’s a really cool one that I missed!