GREE continues its bid for North American domination with Dino Life

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By Pete Davison Comment

Dino Life is a new Android-exclusive game published by GREE and developed by App Ant Studios. The game follows Alien Family and Zombie Jombie, the company’s first two efforts to crack the North American market on the iOS platform, and is the first Android app from GREE’s recently-opened San Francisco studio.

Note: This game was tested on a Motorola Xoom running Android 3.2. No compatibility issues were encountered, though loading times were a bit slow.

Dino Life sees players helping out a caveman called Gronk who is aiming to understand what happened to all the dinosaurs his people used to coexist with. Leaving scientific inaccuracies aside, the game unfolds as a combination of the citybuilding and pet care genres, with players following a series of quests in order to progress the game’s story, rebuild the cavepeople’s settlement and breed a wide range of friendly dinosaurs.

Unlike many similar titles, Dino Life does not make use of an energy system to limit play. Rather, most actions cost a small amount of the game’s soft currency “tokens” to perform. Others may require wood or stone resources, which may be collected by clearing up “junk” material in the play area. All actions require a certain amount of real time to perform, but may be hurried along by spending the game’s hard currency “dino bucks,” which may either be purchased directly or earned very slowly on each level up.

The main focus of the game is on collecting, growing and breeding dinosaurs. Basic dinosaur eggs may be purchased from the in-game store and hatched in the nursery over time. Once an egg has hatched, it may be placed on the map, and will subsequently regularly produce soft currency and experience point income. Feeding a dinosaur with food produced in “food store” buildings will allow it to grow and level up. Once dinosaurs reach certain level boundaries, they are able to breed with their own kind and, later, with other species. There are over 60 different species to collect altogether, which will keep players busy for some time but is a little way off GREE’s assertion that the game features “virtually endless opportunities for users to create something completely their own.”

Dino Life is off to a good start. While many of its mechanics are quite conventional, the combination of citybuilding and pet care gameplay works well, and the experience is wrapped in a polished audio-visual aesthetic with excellent animations and catchy (if repetitive) background music. The game features strong social features, including the ability to find friends through OpenFeint and Facebook. Players are also able to visit random community members’ villages, provide them with “love” in exchange for money and resources, and add them to their friends list. It’ll be one to watch over the coming months to determine how well GREE is able to crack the U.S.-based Android market — an increasingly-important move, given the company’s recent woes in Japan.

Dino Life is available for free now via Google Play. Google reports the game has been downloaded over 10,000 times to date since its launch at the start of the month.