Last month, Aksys Games unveiled Little Dragons Café, an adorable game that combines restaurant management, raising a dragon, and cooking. It’s a concept that interested us immediately, and today, we were able to get our first hands-on time with it on Nintendo Switch.
Aksys teamed up with Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada to bring Little Dragons Café to life. The story follows twins Ren and Rin, whose mother mysteriously falls into a deep sleep and is unable to wake up. You can play as either twin and name them whatever you wish. The sibling you choose not to play appears as your brother or sister in the café. After meeting a plump, wizard-like old man named Pappy, the twins discover that the only way to save their mother is to raise a dragon and feed it delicious food. At first, the two are overwhelmed at the idea of running a café without their mother, but once they learn the ropes, everything becomes smoother.
Running the business requires you to venture out into the wilds on your island. This island was instantly engaging to me, filled with animals that have colorful, food-like appearances, such as one beast having what looks like a chicken leg bone for a tail. Hunting these creatures gives you ingredients, but if they attack you, they may eat up ingredients you’ve already collected. Luckily, when your dragon grows older, it can help you take them down.
You can also fish at certain spots by the water. The fishing minigame is easy to play, requiring you to press A to cast, and then A again to reel. If you reel in when a fish is biting, which is indicated by two exclamation points, you can catch a fish and bring it back to the café.
As you gather ingredients, you also look for recipe fragments. When you collect four of one type, you learn a new recipe to cook for patrons at the café. I enjoyed searching around for recipe fragments and even instructing my dragon to crawl into hard-to-reach spaces, like a small cave, that I couldn’t enter myself.
Your customers come from all over the world, and they may offer you quests and recipes of their own if you satisfy them with a good meal. These patrons come with unique problems, and your food can help bring them peace. Cooking comes in the form of a rhythm minigame, where you press arrows at the correct time. The only recipe I made in the demo was sunny-side up fried eggs. The rhythm segment was very simple, only taking about five seconds to complete, though this was part of a tutorial segment early on in the game. Difficulty ramps up later when you acquire tougher recipes.
What I enjoyed most about Little Dragons Café was the concept of raising my dragon, as well as exploration. How far you can venture out depends on what stage of life your dragon is at. For example, when you hit stage three, your dragon can fly and you can ride on its back to reach areas that were inaccessible beforehand (though I didn’t get to fly the dragon in my demo). Wada said the open world is “pretty big,” and has distinct areas, including a large volcano. Your dragon’s name and color are customizable, too. The latter depends on what you feed it; providing many dishes that have a blue indicator will eventually turn your dragon blue.
Little Dragons Café has a delightful world and concept, and it was just as charming as I had hoped. While I still have many questions, I’m excited to raise a dragon and hunt for new recipes when this title releases for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in the summer.