Wednesday 24 October 2012

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime Review (DS)

Whatever is a hero to do? Rocket the Slime was quietly gooing about his business when the evil Plob turned up and kidnapped all the residents of Boingburg. Now it's up to Rocket to return everyone and rebuild the town. Yes, this can mean only one thing... it is going to be a very silly game.

Rocket Slime is an adventure game set in the Dragon Quest world, but is not a classic Dragon Quest-style RPG. Apart from the name and the creatures present, there is hardly anything here recognisable from the franchise with not a turn-based battle or random encounter in sight. Rocket Slime is an adventure more in the Zelda mould, but even that comparison is somewhat misleading. Indeed, what we have here is something very rare: a collection of original ideas.

The game is split into three main parts. First, there is the town, which will gradually be rebuilt as Rocket rescues Slimes. Here you can talk to people and save the game along with the usual town-based activities of buying items and upgrading equipment. Then there is the actual adventuring part; after picking a location, you will go off to bounce around and see what you can find. Any Slimes or items found must be put on rafts or carts that run through each level and take things back to the town.

Last but not least are the tank battles. After a level or so, Rocket will find a huge slime-shaped tank which he will need in order to fight Plob's machines of destruction. The items you send back to the town invariably end up as some form of ammunition for the tank battle which occurs in real time. Here, Rocket and his crew of three (who can be given different orders) must run around the tank picking up the ammunition that comes out of various chutes, then throw it into one of two cannons.There are lots of different types of ammo, all of which behave differently, and you can even jump into the cannon yourself to try to get inside the opposition tank in order to sabotage it. Once the enemy's tank has lost its hit points, you have to run over and try and smash through the machine's metal heart to destroy it. It is a unique battle system and one that works very well.

Rocket himself has little need to carry around items or weapons and most things he picks up are only useful as ammo for the tank. The only real exception is the slime knight who sits on Rocket's head and can be used to slash at enemies. Without one of these, Rocket must stretch himself out and then spring back like an elastic band to attack monsters. Pretty much anything can be picked up and stuck on a raft or cart; even the monsters themselves can be sent back to town where you can then go and talk to them as they run around. Once enough of one type of monster is caught, a statue of them will be built in the library.

The game is not particularly long, or difficult. Realistically, it will probably take no more than about ten hours to finish the main story and the few side quests that are available (which normally involve finding a certain amount of a particular object). Furthermore, Gamestyle did not actually die until the last level itself, and that was in a tank battle (though admittedly there where a few close calls along the way). This aside, the adventure itself is very enjoyable and each level has something unique and distinctive about it that makes them all fun to play.

What we have here is arguably the first real adventure game on the DS, and a very good one it is as well. You would expect Zelda to have a little more to it when it arrives, but everything Rocket Slime does, it does very well and is one of the most enjoyable titles to arrive for a fair few years. It comes highly recommended and everyone who wants an adventure title with some new ideas should not think twice about picking up a copy. We can only hope that later entries into the series will be as fun and original and also that the tank battle system makes its way into a full fledged Dragon Quest game at the next available opportunity.


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