if you're anything like me (read: obsessed to death with "creature collectors" and exposed to the wonders and horrors of an ipod as a preteen) you're probably aware of a game called dragonvale. it's a pretty generic city builder focused on collecting dragons and breeding them to create hybrids. it falls into most of the pitfalls you'd probably expect from that description: microtransaction-heavy, arbitrary wait times and random chance, premium currency, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. i probably couldn't get into it today but this was basically the only game on my old phone that stuck around for more than a week. despite being pretty mediocre in quality it's always stuck around in the back of my head because it had a couple surprisingly standout designs for its 700+ dragon species - some of which fill niches i rarely see even today. these are a few of my favorites.

adult poison dragon baby poison dragon


this is one of the only dragons i encountered with exceedingly high-res renders of its sprites, but given the quality of some of the other images you'll see here i'm not complaining. the poison dragon is particularly nostalgic to me for being my absolute favorite as a kid - mostly because its ingame description made note of its "deadly neurotoxin," which i interpretted at the time as a reference to portal before i found out neurotoxin is an extremely real thing. it's not the most unique wyvern design, but i like its snaggleteeth and three stinger tails. the red spots also add a really nice pop of color, and bring to mind something like poison swamp flora. fitting!

adult mud dragon baby mud dragon


this is probably the one i'd consider my "favorite" today. he's like a big warty toad, and i love him so much. i think the choice to give the mud dragon six legs is really interesting and does a lot to make it more memorable of a design. a good handful of dragonvale's dragons have half-lidded eyes like this but i think they work especially well here - i can 100% see this thing peering out of a swamp like a crocodile at the surface of the water! i like it a lot.

adult glacier dragon baby glacier dragon


the glacier dragon is pretty similar in build to the mud dragon above, but a LOT bigger. i remember this one towering over basically every other dragon around it (which, admittedly, may or may not be an exaggeration considering my memory) and i liked looking at him. i do realize that is a very "nothing" thing to say but i have very simple desires sometimes i think

adult ash dragon baby ash dragon


this thing is so scuffed it's not even funny. he doesn't look haunted, but he DOES look very, very on edge all the time. he looks like the aftermath of a parrot that got so scared it burst into flame. i like that the baby's eyes aren't nearly as skeeved out as the adult's; did something horrible happen between then and now? or do all ash dragons become perpetually frightened as they mature? i like that their tail and horns are made to look like charred branches.

(shortly after typing this i checked the wiki again and turns out they all look like that because a magic gun went off near one that was so loud it affected all future generations. that checks out actually)

adult ooze dragon baby ooze dragon


oh my god you have no idea how elated i was the first time i saw this one ingame as a kid. this was probably the furthest id seen the definition of a "dragon" stretched in media at the time, and i was so fascinated with how little it actually resembled any traditional interpretation. i still like it quite a lot now, and to be honest it still stands out to me as one of the more unusual dragons i've seen since. i enjoy how much it both looks like a weird slug and doesn't really resemble anything recognizably "earthly" at all.

adult firefly dragon baby firefly dragon


this one is, without contest, my favorite baby out of all of the dragons shown here, or maybe ever. it looks like if you gave a jellybean a soul. i think he would enjoy a cup of pudding. i like that this dragon looks chitinous, even if it doesn't lean super heavily into the arthropod angle otherwise.

adult mirror dragon baby mirror dragon


this one is really cute! i love the false head on the tail - its something i feel is pretty rarely used in dragon designs despite its prevalence in real-life species like the yellow-lipped sea krait and red-tailed pipe snake! the colors here are really nice too, the coppery orange and cyan helping to evoke a little more of its metal typing that might otherwise be completely lost.