Little Dragons Cafe is one for all the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons lovers out there. At times, it even gave off the Animal Crossing vibes when it came to shaking trees to make fruit fall or even when fishing. Except you aren’t trying to collect bells to upgrade your house or town thanks to a greedy Tom Nook. Instead, you use these findings to add ingredients to your cafe to keep the customers happy and help your dragon grow.
Title: Little Dragons Cafe
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: TOYBOX Inc.
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Game Provided By Aksys Games for the Purpose of This Review
As the game begins, you are given the option to play as either a boy or girl character. Whichever you don’t end up playing as, the other sticks around in the cafe as your sibling. After minor introductions that teach you the controls, you find out that your mother has fallen ill. This is terrible news, as she was in charge of the entire cafe! It’s now up to you and your sibling to ensure the cafe does not fail and stays open. You are introduced to a little old man who prefers to go by the name Pappy, who informs you that your mother was part human and part dragon. Quite the bombshell being dropped there! Pappy gives you a dragon egg, telling you that if you take care of the dragon and help it grow, it will be able to save your mom. The best part? You’re able to name this dragon! We really liked this aspect as we felt it helped to build a better bond between the game and the player.
Once you begin exploring the area, you are given a tutorial on how to look around and what to keep an eye out for when harvesting items for the cafe. Yellow butterflies flying around objects will signify that it is ready to be harvested and used. It makes it easy to remember so you aren’t wasting time checking everything. Especially since Little Dragons Cafe is a very time sensitive game, as you’ll want to get as much done possible in a single day.
While exploring more areas, you will see an Egg Bird or two walking around. It’s a good idea to remember where you see them, as after a few days pass in-game, the Egg Birds you have on your land will leave, and you’ll have to go out and replace them. We did enjoy that there were little tasks like that as it helped from keeping the game feeling too simplistic or from getting boring.
As the story progresses, you will start to unlock new characters to help out around the cafe. This is especially great as you continue to unlock new areas. Your dragon will also leave a fertilizer on his bed that you are able to collect. It helps if you are low on a certain food source and need it to be ready to harvest sooner. Making sure to go to bed every night to save and collect the fertilizer will ensure that you never run out of key ingredients to keep your cafe running smooth.
Every night at midnight, an End of the Day report will be shown, indicating how everything went at the cafe. Speaking of keeping tabs on how the cafe is being ran, sometimes while you’re out exploring, if your staff is slacking off, you’ll get a notification. At that point you’ll have to decide if you want to go back to the cafe to stop them from slacking or ignore the message and continue gathering materials.
One thing we wish Little Dragons Cafe offered was the ability for fast travel between certain locations, as this is a very tedious task before the dragon is able to fly you around. The only point you can fast travel back to from anywhere in the world is the cafe. This makes unlocking new areas and getting back to them, especially if your staff is slacking off, a big pain to deal with. Seeing as this is such a time sensitive game where every second counts, having fast travel between certain key locations in the early hours of the game would have helped.
While not out gathering materials, you are expected to stay at the cafe and help out. Talking to the customers will allow you to figure out what types of food they enjoy so you can better plan the menu at the cafe accordingly. For example, if someone likes spicy yet cold food, you’ll want to make sure you pick a cold food and add an ingredient that is labeled under spicy, and then make it! As you make the food, it is like playing a rhythm game, but using the directional controls. You’ll want to make sure you try and get as good of a score as you can, as that will decide the quality of the food being made. If you check the menu, sometimes you can see reviews for the more popular dishes. This way, you can see if there is something that needs to be adjusted or fixed to make it better, or, leave things alone if everything seems okay. It’s actually quite an in-depth cafe management simulator that we were not expecting when initially jumping into Little Dragons Cafe, but were pleasantly surprised with how fun it ended up being.
On top of taking care of the clientele, you’ll want to make sure you are also keeping up on your pet dragon. As its stamina bar is always on the screen, it makes it easy to see if they are getting low and need food or not. Another way to build up their stamina is to pet them and this simple interaction will slowly fill it back up. As the dragon grows even more, you’ll be able to unlock new interactions with it that will help out in harvesting and exploration, which will eventually include being able to fly around! Just keep in mind that as the dragon is able to do more, things will begin to cost more stamina, so you’ll want to make sure you make plenty of food to have on hand in case it’s needed.
During a few parts of our exploration, we felt like Little Dragons Cafe would start to slow down and suffer from framerate drops. Nothing significant, but it was noticeable enough that it needs to be mentioned. Also, the cafe is a fairly tight area to move around in, so we often found ourselves getting stuck or trapped by patrons or other staff members, and we’d simply have to wait around for them to move, or hope the game would allow us to glitch our way past them, which did happen from time to time. We also felt like we were alone a lot throughout the experience. You end up being so busy trying to gather materials and run the cafe, and we wished we had a bit more time to build connections with the local townsfolk and get more interactions between you and your friends. Even something as minimal as being able to interact with them, ask them to join you on the material gathering, or give them gifts like in Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, or Stardew Valley would have made the tedious daily tasks a bit more enjoyable.
Overall, Little Dragons Cafe is truly the perfect Nintendo Switch title. If you’re traveling, watching TV, picking this up during a lunch break, or even playing on the big screen during an extended gaming session, this is such an easy game to follow and enjoy. For anyone who has ever fallen in love with the games we kept mentioning throughout this review, or for anyone looking for a cute and new type of experience that ends up being a solid cafe simulator, look no further. You’ll definitely enjoy this one.
8.0 / 10