Dragon Quest VIII was the best received game in the series since Nintendo Power gave away copies of the first under its original North American title, Dragon Warrior. While most Americans enjoyed the game’s turn-based combat and interesting monster designs, the game didn’t become the behemoth it did in Japan. The series spawned a gargantuan amount of spin offs, and the latest to see release stateside is Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. Based on Akira Toriyama’s most unique design, the only character he’s designed that doesn’t look like Goku: the Slime, Rocket Slime is more Zelda-style adventure than pure RPG. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is one thing if nothing else: enjoyable, if simple, fun.
Everything about Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is obviously crafted to appeal to a younger audience, from its simple yet vibrant graphics to its complete lack of difficulty for anyone over the age of nine. The graphics aren’t incredibly detailed, but the colors, as well as the style of the characters, keep the game interesting. The simple design of many of the characters doesn’t hurt the overall look of the game, as the tanks are all unique in design. The environments are rather rote, with the forest level, the mountain level, and the desert level all seen in the course of the game. On the aural side of the coin, the audio is quite good; sound effects are spot on, and the music features some rather catchy tunes. It’s nothing people would want to purchase in an outside OST (which is good, because none has been printed), but it’s certainly got a couple of songs that will leave you humming.
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime’s plot is no more complex than its graphics, but still manages to be interesting. The game’s kingdom of Slimenia has been attacked by the Plob, a massive crime empire led by the most dastardly creatures known to man – Platypodes (That’s the plural of Platypus, for those of you who aren’t consistent monotreme researchers). These plobs have kidnapped everyone in the town of Boingberg – but left the young Rocket, who had swallowed the Warrior Flute and looked much more like a baseball bat than a slime. The Warrior Flute, the exact treasure the Plob were looking for, let the slime summon a great tank to fight for the empire of Slimenia and rescue the inhabitants of Boingberg. The game’s dialogue is inundated with puns, and it’s so pervasive that it’s sometimes annoying, but many times they’re simply gut-busting. There’s not a whole lot of substance to the story, but it’s enough to carry players through enough to have a pimped-out tank for battles with other players.
Rocket Slime’s gameplay is split into two separate portions: an adventure portion reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda and tank battles that rely entirely on materials collected in the former’s gameplay. The adventure gameplay focuses around Rocket’s one major ability: the Elasto Blast, where he stretches himself and launches off in a direction. With this, Rocket breaks objects or sends them flying up into the air. Slimes, being the elastic creatures they are, can carry up to three items, enemies, or allies on their head at once. Rocket discovers the Grand Slimenian Railway on his journey, and is able to send back all three things he can carry back to town via the train, or by its river ferries. Every item that Rocket collects can be fired out of the cannon in his tank. As Rocket rescues more denizens of Boingberg, he becomes able to play tank battles wirelessly with friends, improve the hit points of his tank, change the crew, and redistribute the type of ammo that is available in battle.
The tank battles use the same control scheme as the adventure portion of the game, with Rocket hitting things with his Elasto Blast and carrying them around. Instead of sending them back to town and continuing to explore, though, he throws anything available to him – enemies, allies, or items – into the cannons of his own metal goliath and sends them flying toward the enemy tank. All the time, the enemy is doing the same, however, and most objects that collide in midair will nullify each other. All the projectiles flying between the two armored titans can easily be seen on the top screen during battle, so a crafty slime could time weaker, but faster, items to take down an enemy’s powerful ammunition. Once a tank’s hit points have been reduced to zero, it can be infiltrated by enemies, and the killing blow can be dealt to an enemy tank’s heart. The heart’s not just out in the open, however, and different tanks have different types of mazes or defenses protecting the heart. Some have multiple pathways to trick the intruder, others simply require a bit of Elasto Blasting to take down.
Both the adventure and tank battle portions of the title are great fun on their own, but there’s little replayability there, until you take the wireless multiplayer into consideration. While there’s no WiFi Connection support in Rocket Slime, playing against someone else’s ammunition setup and tank can be an insane amount of fun. Supporting up to two players in each tank, multiplayer is an experience that mirrors the single player’s tank battles; but with an actual intelligence behind your opponent’s maneuvers, the strategy required becomes immense. Should you infiltrate the opponent’s tanks and wreak havoc there, or continue to feed ammo into your own cannons? With a full four players, the gameplay becomes incredibly fun; though, unfortunately, all four players must own a copy of the game.
All in all, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is far from the most complex Action RPG out there, and the RPG elements themselves are much lighter than in other ARPGs or spinoffs. While players won’t be choosing skill points in trees or devoting time to selecting whether +5 intellect or +3 wisdom is better, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is simply some good, clean fun for all ages. If you consider yourself a Dragon Quest fan at all and own a DS, consider it your duty to the people of Boingberg to go snag yourself a copy of this game.