A Lawsuit Claims Dragon Train is Too Much Like Dragon Link. Is It?

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Dragon Train denomination screen

Every year I go to G2E, there’s some sort of trend or pattern. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Aristocrat must feel mighty flattered. 

It seems like concepts they develop proliferate throughout the industry. In the past number of years cash on reels, hold and spin, wild wild and three pot mechanics have all started as an Aristocrat concept and worked their way, albeit with new wrinkles or concepts, into machines by other manufacturers.

However, Aristocrat decided one game, Dragon Train, was just a little too close for comfort, as was a previous game, Jewel of the Dragon. Their lawsuit highlights the similar names as well as the possibility that former Aristocrat team members now at Light & Wonder may have had a hand in the game. As a result, they sued Light & Wonder for copyright infringement.

Two of my local casinos recently got the game series, so I got to spend some time on them. Here’s my thoughts on how they’re similar and how they’re different. This is one player’s perspective, not a legal one, but it’s interesting how they’re similar and different.

Different Art…

First of all, graphically, they go in pretty different directions. Aristocrat’s games have always had a bit of a retro look to them, amplified by the fact that the games that many of their link titles are based off start back a decade to the launch of Lightning Link, with newer games keeping graphics in that same feel. 

Some of the latest games either have titles and art that are purposefully playing off previous games, or outright leverage the same art altogether in the case of Dollar Storm Mega Grand Link.

By comparison, Light & Wonder’s studios have a reputation for pretty gloriously detailed art, and Dragon Train is no exception. The cash on reels symbols are gloriously vibrant and detailed gold ore chunks, for instance, and the way things move on and off screen is silky smooth.

Even the typography feels different. Dragon Train’s feels modern, whereas the Aristocrat link games often feel a bit behind the times, again with choices made 10 years ago still anchoring the games today.

…But Similar Implementations

Dragon Train medium sized win

There’s some aspects to Dragon Train which feels very off for a Light & Wonder game… because it takes from Ainsworth in new directions. The 50 line/100 line option seems to be carried right off some of the recent Aristocrat link games, for instance.

When you win 10x or more on the base game, a bar appears above the reels counting up the money. Light & Wonder never has done this, but Aristocrat has as a staple of its games for a long time.

The game also does a bit of a musical pause at the 10x mark, something again that was an Aristocrat staple but is unusual for a Light & Wonder game here.

Stacks of wilds appear on both series, and Dragon Train has a surprisingly similar way of merging the stacked wilds together into a longer symbol. They certainly were trying to evoke a similar format here.

I’m not sure why Light & Wonder decided to be so deliberate here, but they could’ve made a choice or two that wasn’t so on the nose.

Different Game Features…

Dragon Train hold and spin feature

The free spins mechanics are different. This tends to be how these types of games differentiate themselves, but it certainly makes for a different experience when you get the bonus.

For the hold and spin, there’s a fifth progressive, the Fortune 8, that is won if you fill all eight spots on a special Dragon Train feature that can come out when said symbol appears in the bonus. 

This is clearly a differentiator here, just like how other hold and spin games have implemented a wide variety of tweaks and adjustments to make the games stand out.

But Also Same Game Features

The free games bonus features six free games with three added for a retrigger. That sounds quite familiar specifically to Dragon Link, as opposed to any other link format. 

The version I played most retriggered slightly differently, given the middle three reels can be replaced with mirrored symbols, but the spin count was identical.

The hold and spin has one space that seems to be difficult to land. That’s very specifically something you see on Aristocrat’s variation of this, and not necessarily replicated elsewhere. That was something very distinctive that jumped out to this player, having written about this structure before on the Aristocrat link games.

Again, this is a super specific detail that didn’t have to be followed to the letter, but they chose to do so.

Despite the Similarities, They Feel Different

The reality is I don’t think most players will be fooled into thinking this is a new entrant in Aristocrat’s link series. They have such a distinctive and specific feel that these new machines simply aren’t able to replicate, even with all the similarities.

It’s clear from their PR that Light & Wonder are happy with the roll out. Still, both casinos I found them in had a bank of 4 to 6, with entire sections of their floors devoted to many, many banks of various link games, particularly Dragon Link.

The game is fine, but ultimately it’s more of the same, yet another hold and spin game on a floor full of them – and I’m not sure that will pull me into the game vs. the original. But if players want something different yet… not different, this’ll do the job, I suppose, until we can see other sorts of innovations from it.


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2 Replies to “A Lawsuit Claims Dragon Train is Too Much Like Dragon Link. Is It?”

  • Joy Raney says:

    They just got this at my local. I thought it was kind of boring and the line hits were very small. I didn’t play it very long or put much money into so I never got a bonus of any kind, so it may be better on a longer run but I don’t think I’ll play it again.

    • FlipTheSwitch.com says:

      It’s definitely something we noticed, Joy – it can be a longer wait to get into the bonus. For those who like more steady action this is probably not the right choice!

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