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Dillon's Rolling Western (3DS eShop) Review

Review for Dillon

Dillon’s Rolling Western is a downloadable eShop title for the Nintendo 3DS featuring an armadillo named Dillon set against the backdrop of the Old West, if the Old West was inhabited by cutesy animals fighting off nightly invasions by monstrous rock creatures, that is. Its gameplay is more akin to games that fall in the Tower Defence genre, but it’s hard to make a direct comparison to any one title.

The inability to really compare it to any other game certainly does Dillon’s Rolling Western a favour, as its unique qualities really help propel the game past other titles that fall into the same genre. While there’s still an emphasis on building and outfitting various towers to mow down enemies that advance towards an end goal on fairly simple maps, Dillon will actually go toe-to-toe against most foes, opting to engage them in combat instead of letting the towers do all the dirty work.

Each stage of Dillon’s Rolling Western starts off against the scene of a sleepy western town under invasion by rock monsters called Grocks, which only come out at night. Grocks are after one thing -- the livestock that makes up the livelihood of each town, the cuddly sheep-like creatures called Scrogs. Every town comes equipped with a certain number of Scrogs at their disposal, and the Game Over screen appears if the entire town’s Scrog population gets wiped out.

Players can build upon the base number of Scrogs in each town by venturing out beyond the town gates, which is where the majority of the game’s mechanics kick in. Outside of town, Dillon can explore the area in a third-person view through a 3D-enhanced world on the 3DS. In reality, the 3D function here does little to add anything compelling to the gameplay, but it is still fun to have on and doesn’t suffer from any significant ghosting effects or other issues.

Screenshot for Dillon's Rolling Western on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

While out in the field, Dillon can hunt down white fluffy plants and bring them back to town to increase the number of Scrogs present. He can also enter into mines, marked on the map by shining beacons of light so as to make them visible from far away. Within a mine, Dillon can use his unique roll attack to strip away ore from two or three mounds and then bring that ore back to town to build up gates, sell for cash, or fulfil quest requirements that are currently active.

Along with stripping the land of resources, Dillon can also build up and outfit a number of towers present on each map. Each tower can be upgraded a variety of ways, sometimes building it up to make it stronger against Grock attacks, or Dillon can opt to add weapons to a tower, like a shotgun or mini-gun. Outfitting towers becomes absolutely necessary as the game advances -- Dillon’s Rolling Western has a pretty sharp difficulty curve and knowing when and what towers to equip will definitely make a difference.

Dillon has until sundown to accomplish all these tasks. When the sun sets, the Grocks start to emerge from their lairs, which are spread out across the map. The lower screen of the 3DS displays a lot of information, including Dillon’s present location, the Grocks that are advancing towards the town gates, where towers are located, and if the towers or town are currently under attack. As a helpful aid, on-screen notifications pop up to show if a tower or town gate is being attacked as well, and it’s in Dillon’s best interest to defend both whenever possible.

Screenshot for Dillon's Rolling Western on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The real meat of the combat comes into play when Dillon engages an invading Grock in battle. This is done by simply rolling into them on the map, which switches the screen to an arena-like setting, where Dillon squares off against a number of Grock creatures. Dillon can charge up his roll attack, done by swiping the stylus down on the bottom screen and holding it in place to charge, but as the game progresses Dillon’s repertoire of moves begins to increase. Dillon will also gain access to new gear, also enhancing his move set, and while the combat might feel pretty basic and slow going at first, sticking with it reveals there’s a lot more available to play around with.

As a whole, Dillon’s Rolling Western feels pretty unique even though it clearly fits in the Tower Defence genre. Its third-person combat can be a lot of fun, but does seem tedious at the on-set when stuck with just a basic roll attack. As the game progresses, it certainly improves a lot, but it has a hard time capturing your attention in the beginning, and as such might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Also, its controls, while being fairly simple, can be a little imprecise. The rolling function that Dillon is equipped with is perfect for traversing each map quickly, but when jumping into the arena battles against Grocks it’s a little bit of a chore to aim at the correct enemy. The action of swiping down with the stylus, holding it against the screen, and then attempting to rotate the aim with the stylus while not losing Dillon’s charge tends to be problematic, and a little frustrating to say the least.

Screenshot for Dillon's Rolling Western on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

However, where Dillon’s Rolling Western might not succeed with its controls, it certainly manages to do right by its visuals, music, and overall Old West presentation. The characters are all cute and cuddly animals, but appropriately styled for the theme of the world, and the banter is smart and snappy. It’s child friendly without feeling inaccessible to adults, which is always a nice touch. The music definitely does its best to ape classic Western movies, and for the most part does an excellent job. There are some real catchy tunes when rolling around outside of the city gates and the audio matches the desolate Western environment extremely well.

Even if you find yourself a bit bored with the idea of playing another Tower Defence title on any platform, Dillon’s Rolling Western still deserves to be checked out. It is unique enough to not be comparable to much else on the market, and certainly not on the 3DS. Its mechanics might not have all the polish of a bigger budget title, but the controls are serviceable enough to make the concept work. The challenge can be a little off-putting to a more casual player, but sticking with the game reveals there’s a lot of fun to uncover with it.

Screenshot for Dillon's Rolling Western on 3DS eShop- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Dillon’s Rolling Western’s unique approach to Tower Defence certainly helps to make it stand out from other titles, but some small targeting issues when in combat keep things from being as fun as they should be. Traversing the open maps of each stage and exploring is easy enough, but the ability to lock-on to an enemy is sorely missed here.


The Old West style used here is done to great effect, from the creature and character designs to the open maps Dillon rolls around on. The open world areas might look a little sparse, but that just adds to the overall effect. The 3D function does little to add anything significant to the game, but certainly doesn’t act as a detriment to it either.


Like the graphics, the sound really hits home in conjunction with the overall theme. It’s no Ennio Morricone soundtrack, sure, but players will find a couple hummable themes present in the music that really stand out.


Dillon’s Rolling Western isn’t the easiest game ever, and its challenge will keep gamers coming back to the same level again and again. Even finishing a level leaves room for improvement, and a star ranking system for each stage ensures some replay value as well. For the price of this downloadable title, there is definitely enough for the money paid.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Dillon and company provide a pretty interesting experience on the 3DS in a genre that’s currently rife with copycats and bland design choices. While Dillon’s Rolling Western might not be the most polished experience when it comes to controls, everything else about the game really stands out as being something great, and the overall experience is worth checking out. Its sizeable challenge will keep players coming back for more punishment, but its unique mechanics will help to keep from ever feeling too bored. Definitely download this title at the earliest convenience as it is certainly one of the best eShop titles currently available on the 3DS format.

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Pushmo and this game are two that I want to download soon.

DJ Koopa (guest) 08.07.2012 23:12#2

For one, in battle mode, you're not supposed to swipe down, you're supposed to swipe away from the direction you want to go. If you're aiming in the bottom left corner, you swipe from the middle to the top-right, not the bottom and then roll it around.

Also, you DO automatically lock onto enemy targets when you're charging your roll, assuming you're pointed in their general direction and close enough to actually hit them. So you might need to review your Gameplay review.

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