Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (Nintendo DS) Review

By Phil Beveridge 08.11.2006 5

Review for Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS

Square-Enix have been making the ever-successful Dragon Quest series of games since 1986, and is their second biggest franchise after Final Fantasy, selling over 40 million copies worldwide over it's 20 year lifespan. Europe has been missing out on the action - one of the first DQ games over here in Blighty is Dragon Quest VIII, released earlier this year for the PlayStation 2. So what should we, the gamers, expect from a handheld game in the series?

To be honest, probably the opposite of what you were expecting. Rather than Dragon Quest Heroes being part of the main Dragon Quest series of role-playing games, this happens to be a spin-off series focusing on one of the series' most important characters - the slime. Yes, the basic random encounter character that we've all come to loathe. But seeing as the little blue squishy guy has been in every DQ game since the start, he deserves his own games. This particular spin-off started in 2003, with a Japanese-only Gameboy Advance title called 'Slime MoriMori', which went down well, and therefore spawning this sequel.

You play as Rocket, a slime living in Boingburg, the world of Slimenia. Then, every member in the town gets kidnapped by a gang called the Plob, and it's up to Rocket as the lone survivor to rescue them all. Yes, it does sound like something pulled out of a toddler's storybook, but it sets the scene surprisingly well, and goes with the cutesy graphics of the game. The visuals are cartoon-like and vibrant, but with enough still in the artwork to still look like a game that appeals to all players of all ages.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS

Rocket himself has several special moves and techniques to help him through the game. As you would expect from a blue blob of slime, Rocket is quite stretchy, and can be stretched and fired to knock out enemies or break through objects. He can also float in mid-air for a second or two by stretching himself out like a parachute, enabling a double-jump style move. Once enemies or objects have been hit by the stretch attack, they are flipped up in the air, where they can be carried by Rocket. He can carry up to three items at a time, and this is used to solve several different puzzles throughout the story.

The main aim of the game is to roam around the areas on the map, finding your kidnapped friends (100 in all), and returning them to the town from whence they came. As luck would have it, every single level has several large railroad tracks with moving carts going straight back to town, so once you manage to retrieve one of your friends, it's a simple matter of flipping him on your back, and throwing him onto one of the carts. In fact, absolutely anything can be sent back to town, including enemies and items. Enemies that are sent back go into the museum once you send enough back, but the items such as rocks or empty chests serve a more useful purpose...

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS

At several points throughout the game, you will engage into the tank sub game, which is so fantastic that it deserves its own standalone game. All items sent back to town go into your ammunition inventory, which can be customised by talking to one of the characters in the town's workshop. The tank that you control can also be upgraded to give it more health, as well as choosing members of your team to help you in battle.

So what is this tank battle thing all about? You're in control of a tank, and so is the enemy. There are two cannons, allowing your ammo to travel in two different arcs towards the enemy vehicle. The ammo itself is dispersed through chutes around your tank, and your job is to retrieve the ammo, and throw it in the cannons. The sub game plays much like the main adventuring, but adds an added strategy element into the fray. If your ammo collides with the enemy's ammo, then they both cancel each other out. You need to think tactically if you want to actually hit the opponent's tank successfully, as well as making a good job of commanding your team of rescued slimes. Again, you need to think strategically with the choice of ammo, with a very wide variety of objects to fire out your cannons, all having different effects. Oh, and once the enemy tank does run out of health, there's the fact you have to storm the enemy's tank to destroy it from the core...

The tank game is pure genius. And it doesn't just end with the story mode tanking goodness. Later on in the game, you unlock a tournament mode, allowing you to battle for special heavy-hitting ammunition. And it doesn't end there - you can even use multi-cart wireless play for tank battling with friends.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS

However, all software has bad points to it, and this is no exception. My main gripe with this game is the control system. You play the game as a stretchy and bouncy slime, so why not use the touch-screen functionality of the hardware? We think that it would be the perfect way to control Rocket, and without it, the game really seems like a fully produced GBA game that's been changed to the Nintendo DS system at the last minute by the developers in order to reel in more sales. There is a small painting mini-game which uses the touch-screen, but it really just feels tacked-on. Bad show, Square-Enix.

Another thing that's bugging me with the game is the lack of variety. It's true, you have both the main quest and the uber-fantastic tank game, but whatever part of the main quest you're in, be it the mountains or the forest; it all feels like you're doing exactly the same things over and over again. You may get addicted to the fantastic adventuring gameplay at first, but around the half-way point you may be tempted to put the game down and never play it again.

But if you manage to keep playing, you'll discover that this is a very solid and aesthetically-pleasing adventure game. Yet another good attempt from Square-Enix, who seem to be Nintendo's handheld buddies at the moment with many other games in the works, which we should be seeing in the future. In the meantime, expect this one to be hitting the shelves in the UK sometime early next year.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A nice action adventure, with colourful cartoon graphics and a fantastic minigame which even surpasses the main quest. But at least it's a better cartoon game than most movie tie-ins, and Square-Enix have made a decent effort. Let's hope a third game in the series makes better use of the hardware available to it!

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

I thought it was pretty good overall... The main part did get boring in Children of Mana sort of way, but something about it kept me going; it has its charms cropping up throughout the game. Combination of the tank game and main overworld worked well for me, nice shift of game play from one to the other. Any one of them alone wouldn't have done it for me.

But, I think 7 is about right. In this case, to me, it got 7 because it didn't get 8, rather than because the game is only worth 7. One good thing though - it can be played & enjoyed by anyone, meaning it sits well with the touch-generation category in bringing games into people's lives.

Nice review, have to say it sounds decent enough. Is that Tank Battle mulitiplayer?

For me it'd get a 7.5-7.7, but I know what you mean PW - with our scoring system it suits a 7 rather than being rounded to 8.

Such a cool game with brilliant music! Good review Phil :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Value 6? Huh! They'd be dreaming if this sold well...

tiamat1990, I think 6 is a little too disproportionately harsh for its value. So that wouldn't mean it won't sell well. I think perceived value is a difficult one to judge anyway, it's so subjective.

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