| 12-17 Hours
What is a day in the
life of a slime? Such is a question that perhaps few have considered,
but is answered to the fullest extent in Dragon Quest Heroes:
Rocket Slime. Since the first Dragon Quest,
hundreds of millions of slimes have been slaughtered mercilessly at the
hands of heroes looking to save the world. But are slimes really the
enemy? What if all along, these slimes were merely on quests of their
own to save their own worlds? According to Rocket Slime,
this could very well be the case. In the distant island nation of
Slimenia, a young slime named Rocket falls into a grand adventure of
rescue, tanks, and heroism. And he has a load of fun doing it.
The story begins on
an ill-fated, yet otherwise normal, day in the slime nation of
Slimenia. The capital city, Boingburg, is having a usual, peaceful day. But this all changes suddenly when a group of
menacing monsters, called the Plob, attack Boingburg seemingly
unprovoked. Not only is havoc wreaked across the city, but every last
one of the city's 100 citizens is kidnapped--that is every last one,
except Rocket. And so the future of Boingburg and its inhabitants comes to rest on the shoulders of the most unlikely hero of
all. The premise of Rocket Slime is very simple:
rescue the 100 slimes that have been kidnapped from Slimenia and
destroy the Plob.
Rocket is able to do
this a number of ways. His main way of interacting with the world is
with his patented elastoblast. This technique is exactly how it sounds.
Rocket stretches himself out and slingshots himself forward.
This is how Rocket attacks enemies, opens chests, picks up
items, and destroys objects. Although it's a simple technique, it's not
without its flaws. Because the elastoblast requires the player to
stretch Rocket out for a period of time before use, though at the
minimum it's a very short period, the gameplay can be a bit cumbersome.
In the heat of battle, for example, a player's reflexes will be faster
than Rocket can perform an elastoblast, resulting in an occasional
misfire. There is a trade off, however. The elastoblast sacrifices
accuracy for brute strength; though hitting a specific target may not
be the technique's forte, it will have no problem barreling through a
whole group of enemies and knocking them all out of commission. Only
when Rocket collects a Slime Knight is battle much more fluid thanks to
the added ability to swipe a sword at will. Sadly, those times are few
and far between.
"Gotta clean up
When an elastoblast
is used on an enemy or object, it is thrown straight up into the
air for Rocket to catch. He can hold up to three items/enemies/rescued
slimes at a time. He
then sends them back to Slimenia by tossing them onto moving carts
that carry them back to safety. Often times, if Rocket blasts into
multiple enemies or items at once, he'll find himself collecting the
wrong ones and having to sort through to pick up the ones he wants. A
minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless, especially since
other enemies and NPCs in the game can pick up objects by simply
walking up and picking them up hassle-free.
Of course, if that
were all there was to Rocket Slime, the game would
have received a far lower score. Indeed, an interesting mechanic called
the Tank Battle not only saves this game from a walk of shame, but also
catapults it to the forerunner for most fun and original DS RPG ever. No, seriously.
As one might guess, a Tank Battle is a battle between two giant tanks:
one belonging to Rocket, the other to a member of the dastardly Plob.
Rocket fires at his foe by loading different types of ammunition,
collected throughout the game, with varying degrees of strength and
effect into one of two cannons. The object is to have the launched item
hit the enemy's tank and take away its HP, but if two items from
opposing tanks hit each other, they will cancel each other out, adding
a high degree of strategy to the mix. Once an enemy tank's HP reaches
zero, Rocket must infiltrate and destroy its core to seal the victory.
Rocket can also recruit up to three additional team members selected
from rescued slimes and captured monsters, each with unique AI settings
set by the player. Team members can do anything from helping launch
ammunition to healing the tank, or infiltrating the enemy tank. Timing,
strategy, speed, and luck all play huge roles in the outcome of these
battles. Describing Tank Battles using only black and white text
doesn't do justice to the amount of fun to be had; they can be quite
intense. Indeed, there's nothing else quite like them.
Slime makes great use of
the DS's two screens. All of the action takes place on the
bottom screen, with a map of the area appearing on the top. In tank
battles, the top screen is used to present a scaled-back view of the
fight, showing the ammunition as it flies across the field, allowing
players to strategize and plan their battles more actively. All of the
action, such as loading the ammo and infiltrating the enemy tank, is
done on the bottom screen. The
organization of the menu that appear on the top screen when accessed is
very intuitive with easy
shoulder-button access to information such as slimes saved, items
collected, and monsters captured. There is, however, very limited use
of the touch screen.
It's no secret that
the game's developers focused much more on gameplay and mechanics than
they did story. Though the storyline is practically nonexistent, the
game moves along very fluidly. The slimes that Rocket rescues all have
unusual personalities that add an enjoyable sense of humor to the game
through a phenomenal localization treatment.
The Plob can also be funny as they try to present themselves as a force
to be feared, only to fail. It's refreshing to play a game that can
provide a unique new RPG experience without taking itself too
seriously. The game knows what it is and it doesn't try to be anything
more or less.
Crazy, exciting tank
Another fun factor
that veterans of Dragon Quest will appreciate is
the references to other games in the series. In one instance, there is
an allusion to Dragon Quest Swords, a game to be
released next year for the Nintendo Wii. It's never too early to start
advertising. Also prevalent throughout Rocket Slime
are all the little quirks that any Dragon Quest fan
should be familiar with. From the opening fanfare music to the save
game theme and the sleeping theme, most of them are in there. They are
subtle, but any veteran of the series will know they are playing a Dragon
Slime does not disappoint. The game sports colorful 2D
graphics with a bright, cute, and very appropriate color palette. Every
one of the many enemy tanks has its own unique design and title logo.
The sprite animations are fluid and clean, and the Tank Battle effects
are nice and flashy. The only visual problem encountered was the
occasional flickering of Rocket's tank upon the defeat of his
opponent's tank. Also, much credit is due to Mr. Toriyama for finding a
way to design 100 slimes and making them all look unique in their own
way. A daunting task, to be sure, and it was done quite well.
Though the audio
department doesn't quite stack up as well as the visual department, it
is not without merit. It does earn a lot of points from
nostalgia. Many themes and sound effects are taken straight
from the other DQ
games, and it's still very cool to hear. Aside from that, though, the
have much variety. There are too few original tunes used too often.
Though the tunes aren't bad, in fact they can be quite catchy, it
would have been nice to have a little more variety.
One area that may
put off the hardcore gamer is the difficulty level. Rocket
Slime is fairly easy up until the final few tank battles,
which do up the ante quite a bit. The game is also relatively short,
with the average gamer able to complete it in around 12 hours. However,
bonus content such as a Tank Battle arena, where players can test their
mettle in a series of increasingly difficult Tank Battles, adds
considerably to the difficulty and length of the game. If that still
won't cut it, there's always the option of taking on a friend or three
in the multiplayer mode.
Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
is a game unlike any other. Though
some individual aspects of the title can be considered a bit mediocre,
the entire package as a whole is nothing short of superb, with
addictive original gameplay receiving the bulk of the merit. Gamers
have a hard time having more fun with their DS this year. DQ
veterans and newcomers alike will find a lot to enjoy in this little
gem. To put it bluntly, it's just so much fun. With great visuals,
engrossing and unique gameplay mechanics, and good old-fashioned Dragon Quest
fun, Rocket Slime is easily a winner, and it comes
highly recommended. At the very
least, players will come away with a new RPG experience that won't
soon be forgotten.