Putting the goo in good.
You know when you’re angry, and there’s always that one jerk who tells you let it go and cheer up? And you want to choke him to death, but you know it’s because you’re a bad person? I’ve got a feeling that Square-Enix employs one of these happy folk, and I have a feeling they’re probably responsible for the delightful Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
. But instead of wanting to strangle his or her game, we embrace it, probably because we can turn it on and off whenever we want.
Blending unequal parts puzzle-solving, adventuring, role-playing, and action, Square-Enix and developer Tose somehow tie Rocket Slime
together into a surprisingly deep and entertaining blob of Dragon Quest
dynamite. You start off in the slime-town of Boingburg, where a gang called the Plob (made up of familiar Dragon Quest
baddies), shows up looking for a magical flute, and decides to kidnap everyone instead. Naturally, you (a slime named “Rocket”) escape capture in hilarious fashion and set out to free your family and friends. The plot is light - you’ve got a flute, it summons a tank - but it’s full of personality and just plain good writing.
And right from the start it’s apparent that Rocket Slime is unlike anything you’ve ever played. First and foremost, you can play the entire game with just two buttons. The stylus is never used (other than during a painting mini-game), and the game is surprisingly all the better for it. Your only ‘move’ is the Elasto-blast, where by holding a button, you stick your slimy appendage to the ground, then slingshot yourself in whatever direction you’re pressing on the D-pad. It's like flicking a booger, but you're the booger.
For the most part, Rocket Slime plays out as a top-down adventure game. Even though the control scheme is extremely simple, the campaign is full of clever puzzles that will challenge any preconceived notions of what slimes can or cannot do. Trust us, attacking and running away are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, when you hit an object or enemy, it bounces around for you to catch and stack on your little booger head. Why? So you can send it back to town to later be fired from your giant tank. Of course.
Every item and enemy in the game can somehow be used in the wildly fun tank battles, which happen across both screens. The top screen shows the opposing tanks in all their themed glory (they called the tree tank Chrono Twigger
) and all the ammo flying between. You don’t actually control these tanks, though. You and a crew of three slimes can either toss various items and equipment into a set of two massive cannons to be fired at the enemy tanks, or launch yourselves
to sabotage their crafts from the inside. When a tank runs out of hit points, the opposing team can make a run at its core, finishing the match. With so many options, the battles never get boring, and even if a fight is not going well, a last minute change in tactics can save the day.
This is especially true in multiplayer, where up to four players can form two-man teams for some of the most intense fun I’ve seen a DS produce. Although it’s limited to the tank battles and a few simple downloadable mini-games, those battles alone are a blast. You choose from a bunch of fun tanks, configure your crew, and set each tank’s hit points, making the matches good for five minute skirmishes, or hour-long scraps. The only bummer is the lack of Wi-Fi support and the fact that everyone needs to have their own copy to play the tank battles. Then again, this is definitely a DS game your friends should own, too.
That’s because Rocket Slime is full of great content, but reasonably priced at thirty-five dollars. For example, the alchemy system from Dragon Quest VIII is included, allowing you to create everything from giant swords to medical herbs with the random items you collect. Each slime you rescue will send you an item or a recipe, and some items even have multiple recipes, making it easy to collect the required ingredients.
You can also use any of the slimes you’ve rescued on your tank crew, and each has its own unique attributes and abilities. If you’ve already rescued all one hundred slimes, you can collect enemies, which you can also invite to your crew, and who are generally much more useful than your slimy little friends. You can then go online and pit your gang against your friends’. There’s simply a lot more content than you’d expect from a game starring a slime.
Woe to the poor bastard who’s too cool for school and thinks this game is ‘too childish’ at a glance. Sure, everything is bright and colorful, and the animations are exaggerated to an adorable degree, but I found myself saving often just to watch the choir of slimes sing my praises and fill me with whimsy. The sound follows suit, the giggly effects pervading the brain and crushing angst with pure, condensed happiness. And to think some people kill these adorable creatures.
So, if you’re tired of dystopian futures, orcs and robots and need something to lift your spirits, check out Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. It’s a refreshing, original take on a series that values its source material but never takes itself too seriously. With a solid single player game, good collectibles and great multiplayer, we recommend inviting Rocket Slime to any DS adventuring party.