At E3, RPGamer had a chance to sit down with Richard Honeywood, Localization Director, and Yoshiko Watabe, Producer for the Dragon Quest series. RPGamer had just tried out Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and wanted to know more about this unique title.
RPGamer: Can you give a more detailed version of the story of Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime?
Square Enix: A bunch of things, we call them "plobs," have come into the town of 100 slimes and kidnaps them all. Your quest is to go out and save the 100 slimes that have been kidnapped and bring them back to safety and save the town. That's the main storyline.
Each part of the game is eight stages, and during those stages you have these monster tank battles. You hop in your slime tank and fight with different shape tanks and win these battles.
RPGamer: How many ways can you customize your slime tank?
Square Enix: First of all, when you save the 100 slimes and collect the monsters, you get to access them to fight in your tank as a crew. There is also an alchemy system where you get to create different weapons that you can add to your arsenal to use as ammo. Also, in multi-player mode, you can set a handicap by setting the HP of your tank. There's different ways to optimize your tank.
RPGamer: Could you describe some of the gameplay aspects, like how to defend or heal your tank?
Square Enix: First of all, one-player mode is more like a platform action type game. When it comes to multi-player mode, there are healing items like medicinal herbs. Outside the battles, in town, you can go to the garage and equip your tank and increase your HP and enhance its strengths.
RPGamer: In the adventure mode, do you attack and play the same way, i.e. pop the weapons in the air and catch them?
Square Enix: The basic gameplay for the both the tank battles and adventures is the same actions. You stretch yourself, fire yourself, knock into things and catch them. You can send the items back to town, throw them and enemies, or put them into cannons and shoot them. Basically it is the same actions, but with different results.
RPGamer: How long is the single-player side to Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime?
Square Enix: It's about ten hours. When you clear the game, you can go back and play all the tank battles. There are some mini-games and other things that open up when you clear the game.
RPGamer: Is the multi-player only two players?
Square Enix: It's up to four players. What happens is there are two people riding each tank. Since everyone has their own screen, one person can man the cannons while the other one tries to sneak into the other tank. There are lots of different strategies to try. You have to have good teamwork to win.
RPGamer: How does Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime use the unique features of the DS?
Square Enix: We made it in a way that uses the dual screen. If you look at most of the games out on the floor for the DS, they basically use the second screen as a menu or map screen, while this one actually uses it for gameplay on both screens at the same time. It's optimized to get the timing right so that when you shoot things out of the cannons it appears at the top just right. You don't have to look at both screens at the same time. You know when to look at which screen. We think this is one of the best games that uses dual screens, because not many games use it properly.
RPGamer: Does it use the touchscreen feature at all?
Square Enix: Not in the main section, but there are mini-games that use the touchscreen. When the DS was announced, they pushed both factors of dual screen and touch screen. When we look into what would make the game the most fun, they tried both of course. We realized that we had to focus on just one or the other to make a fun game; otherwise you could confuse the user. Most of the other companies at that stage were focusing on the touch screen, so we decided to focus on the dual screen instead.
RPGamer: Could you mention specific monsters or characters from the Dragon Quest series that appear in Rocket Slime?
Square Enix: All the monsters and items come from the main DQ series. It's the same basic world of DQ. The difference is that this is the world of slime, so there's no humans appearing in the game. It's like a parallel universe of the main DQ universe.
RPGamer: Not even Terry?
Square Enix: *everyone laughs*
Did you like Terry?
RPGamer: The [Dragon Quest] Monsters series was one of my favorites.
Square Enix: Oh, well, we'll look into making a Monsters game then. *laughs* Just for you--because you're very demanding. *more laughter*
Some of the things that also appear in the game, directly from [Dragon Quest] VIII: Trode makes a sort of appearance, in a bit of a strange way, so look out for him. He does appear in some way, but not in the way you expect. There's also a slime version of Morrie as well, with his same scarf blowing in the wind all the time and speaking Italian.
Even if you haven't played another DQ game, it's fun in its own unique way. At the same time, those that have played the series get all those fan factors that are thrown in there, and they get to laugh at that as well, but in a different way then those that haven't seen it before.
RPGamer: Wait a second, if Morrie is in the game, is there a Monster Arena as well?
Square Enix: *laughs* You'll just have to play it to find out.
RPGamer: What was the inspiration behind the development of Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime?
Square Enix: This is actually the second game in the series. At first we sat down and talked about what type of games we could do for children, and we thought about the use of the slime, the mascot character. At first we tried having him hold a sword and shield, and actually made a test version of it. When they looked at, and sat down and actually played it, they said, "This isn't really a slime game, this is like a blue Link." *everyone laughs*
We threw out all that and went back to the basics and said, "What can a slime do that nobody else can do?" That's where the idea of stretching and flinging himself, something only a slime can do. In the first game, that was basically all about stretching and shooting himself, but then when it came to the DS game, we thought, "What could we do to maximize the two screens?" That's where the idea of the tank battle came from. You can see the inside view and the outside view at the same time.
RPGamer: What was one of your favorite items or weapons in the game?
Square Enix: There's different items you can use, like most of them are ammunitions that you can throw into the cannons and shoot, but there's also the camouflage cloak, that you can put on turn yourself invisible, then infiltrate the enemy's tank. I love that you can sneak into the enemy's tank and destroy it internally without them realizing it.
Other items besides ammunition can be used to win, so I love there's other ways. I love to tease people, so I love to sneak in and destroy it.
You can also jump into the cannon and shoot yourself. You can shoot your friends out of the cannons. There's even a nun you can shoot out of the tank. If you get shot out of the cannon, then you're losing that precious time flying and watching them attack you. Makes you want to pull your hair out.
RPGamer: Do the 100 slimes have different personalities?
Square Enix: One of the differences between any other teams: the DQ team has to okay every name and everything I do. So I have to explain to them some of these stupid jokes. Like you remember in Dragon Quest VIII, there was Slime Shady and stuff like that. How do you explain that to the Japanese? It's just like, "Believe me, it's funny." He was crossing out the jokes he didn't get, and it really tough because they were some of the better jokes. We still have his trust, I hope. *laugh*
RPGamer: You have 100 slimes, but you can't have 100 slimes in your tank.
Square Enix: You get to choose a crew of three to help you. Each of them has artificial intelligence that's different. You can command them to do different things, so there is a lot of customization. There are also monsters you can take back to town and use them as well. For instance, you could catch Golem and send him back to town. Then you can select him, and hop in it like a Gundam-type robot. Then you go over and start beating on the other person's tank. That's another strategy that other people don't usually use. The problem is that if you get kicked out, the enemy can hop in it too.
In multi-player mode, going against kids, they come up with the wildest strategies. It's funny to watch what they come up with next. I think it's a really good action romp, but multi-player makes it a really fun game for everyone.
RPGamer would like to thank Mr. Honeywood and Mr. Watabe for taking time during the show to answer all our questions about Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. Everyone will be able to enjoy it this September.