IGN Review of Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
When Square Enix decides to bring an epic world full of adventure and excitement to a console or handheld, the company goes all out. And when it comes to DS, there's one title that everyone's been waiting for. Final Fantasy III. While this may in fact be the role-playing epic we've been anticipating for over a year now, there's still a few months left to go before we see the release of FFIII here in America. But fear not RPG fans, Square Enix has you covered. Instead of sitting around and whining about your FFIII-less DS Lite (hey, we've all done it), we'll suggest to you another alternative during you wait; get up off your butt, and go get Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime.
So what in the heck is Rocket Slime anyway? Well, it's a bit of an odd one to explain. Take one part Zelda, one part Pokemon, and one part gigantic mechanized swag-shooting mobile fortress, and you'd have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this amazingly peculiar and outrageously oddball adventure. After an unexpected attack by the dreaded Plob monsters, Rocket must traverse the lands in search for his kidnapped neighbors, as well as restore peace and harmony within the village walls of his homeland. In a world torn apart, Rocket Slime must ride (or hop
) to the rescue. How exactly will he do it? Simple - Explore the lands, find friends, and chuck them back to town. The gameplay itself is a healthy mix of a ton of different games, as the main control for Rocket is done with the D-pad and a single button. Seeing as we've already done nearly 4,000 stories about the general gameplay of Rocket Slime, we'll spend less time going through the details about the gameplay, and far more time talking about why it works. It's really very simple. You're the blue slime from the Dragon Quest series, and you're on an adventure.
But enough about the story, which in all honesty doesn't hold a candle to the hilarious gameplay. Rocket Slime is about one thing, and one thing only. Kicking the crap out of stuff. Unlike Zelda's Link or Final Fantasy's Cloud, Rocket is just a humble chunk of goo. He can't wield the master sword or perform limit breaks (though we have to admit, that'd be a pretty kick-ass game if he could), so instead, players can attack using the only method Rocket has. By holding down the main action button in combination with the d-pad, players can stretch the little slimer in any direction, and slingshot him at foes. If held for a brief moment before launching, Rocket will actually begin blinking, and can perform a huge "elasto-blast" at his enemies, sending the little goo-guy bouncing around the map at high speeds.
And when it all boils down, that's really the main premise of the game. Whether its friend or foe, Rocket can launch himself at characters, sending them airborne. If they land on the slime's head, he can carry them around or chuck them at foes. In fact, the entire game is based on only one button and absolutely no touch screen, so it's amazingly basic, but still downright fun. The simplicity of the gameplay is the obvious reason why Rocket Slime is getting a bum wrap as being a tame children's title, but it won't take more than just a few minutes with the game to convince even the most hardcore Square fans that Rocket Slime is for real. The gameplay is fast and entertaining, the character animations are pretty hilarious, and above all else the game is just fun to play, moving and feeling very similar to a more mainstream version of Zelda or Sword of Mana. To top things off, Rocket Slime makes a ton of odd little mentions to the Square universe, including a ton of objects from various Dragon Quest games, as well as funny spin-off names to enemies, areas, and objects (such as the mobile fortress from the forest level called the "Chrono-Twigger"). It really is the adventure equivalent to what LEGO Star Wars has done on consoles, and any Square fan dismissing this one as "too kiddy" is seriously going to be missing out.
It can be a little odd when thinking about the game's control, as Rocket Slime can literally be played with just one button. At the same time, the game still has a ton of depth, found in the collection aspects of the game, as well as the amazingly addictive tank battles. Early on in the game, Rocket finds a magical warriors flute which can be used to summon a huge mobile fortress to do battle with. Since it's a bit of a task to man this powerful machine on his own, players will want to find as many of Rocket's townsmen to help pilot the tank. Each rescued slime can perform various AI actions during battle, such as manning the cannons, healing friendly units, or sneaking into the opposing fortress for a little merciless destruction, and it will be up to you to decide which slimes are going to be part of our four man team, and with over 100 different slimes to track down, the gameplay gets deep fast. Throw in a similar collection aspect for any items found in the world (as random items and Dragon Quest swag is used as ammo to fire out of your cannons during tank battles), and you've got a game that is deceptively deep despite it's simplistic general gameplay.
On the multiplayer front, Rocket Slime delivers some very entertaining action as well. Using the tank battles from the single player game, usually reserved for bosses and key fights, up to four players can link up locally and bring their own inventory of collected items and characters to the battlefield in 1v1, 1v2, or 2v2 battles. Depending on how many players are in the game, the computer will fill your remaining slots with support characters from your saved file, giving the "tank leader" the ability to assign their AI how he sees fit. The multiplayer mode really feels like a whole separate game to the main adventure, as players can chose from a ton of different tanks, any amount of HP for each team (ranging from 100 to 9999, which could take minutes or hours respectively), and a huge variety of levels and support characters.
Unfortunately, multiplayer is limited to multi-cart, and offers no online support with the Nintendo WiFi Connection (as the game has been out in Japan for nearly a year now). It's a bit much to ask that each character have their own cart to play, and a lack of WiFi is a bit of a letdown, but for the amount of character customization that happens for the bouts (literally all of your single player adventure will factor into your multiplayer), it would have been tough to keep the game balanced. We would have loved to see generic tanks with pre-set ammo lists and support characters to make it possible, but it simply wasn't in the cards. For anyone looking for a quick taste of the Rocket Slime world, there's the ability to download a few basic mini-games to friends without their own game cart, but they are pretty basic and don't suppor the amazingly designed multiplayer battles. Even still, anyone that can find a few friends with Rocket Slime will have a blast in the multiplayer sessions, which really adds a near-endless amount of replay to the game, similar to the addictive power of Pokemon.
And despite the game's simplistic control and light-hearted feel, it's still a very visually satisfying game, offering over-exaggerated animations, lots of characters on-screen at once, and a strong overall look to the characters, levels, and interface. In addition, the audio composition is pretty solid, though there's no real need for recorded dialogue or anything above the general orchestral score. The music is congruent with the mood of the game though, and the sound effects are still very satisfying, especially when blasting into characters or chucking them around the level. In addition, the two-screen display works great for the multiplayer modes, showing incoming/outgoing attacks which are crucial for strategy, while the general gameplay continues on the bottom screen. During the one player adventure, players can use the top screen for menu and map navigation, and while we've seen this done for nearly every adventure game on DS, it still works quite well, and keeps the gameplay quick and seamless.
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