Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 25.05.2018

Review for Dillon

When it comes to gaming on the go, there are some genres that just work. Tower Defence is a tricky beast that does require a fair bit of effort to rally in the troops. However, the genre also lends itself well to breaking it down to smaller chunks: gathering resources, a dose of strategy, and action stages. Enter, Dillon. The heroic armadillo cowboy is rolling back onto the scene with a fresh and futuristic tale of Western shenanigans - but can he sustain the burst of intense speed, or will the alien rocks finally have their day?

It's his third outing in Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers, a surprise return to the Wild West after a five year hiatus. This latest tale throws you deep into the action from the get go; introducing a fresh new mechanic: Deadly action races. A poor truck driver (portrayed by an animal version of your Mii) is being hounded by disturbed rock creatures. Dillon and his adorable hamster partner Russ leap back into action, chasing down these familiar foes with ease.

After this exhilarating opening scene, it may appear to be a completely different outing for the duo, but its back to solid Tower Defence / strategy. The Dillon series is known for its intriguing blending of genres: There's an element of strategy, but also a hearty helping of claw swiping direct action. It all began in Dillon's Rolling Western, an intriguing experiment for Nintendo 3DS back in 2012. Here we were introduced to the Dillon lore. It all takes place, naturally, in the Wild West. All appears to be fairly peaceful and tranquil, but appearances are certainly deceptive. The town is under invasion by these aforementioned rock folk, dubbed "Grocks". Tough, but they only really plodded about - not enough to pose a real threat to the silent protagonist. It's Dillon's job to step in and protect the town, and its livestock, from danger.

Screenshot for Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers on Nintendo 3DS

In Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers, things have escalated a fair bit since the previous outing, The Last Ranger. The Grocks have upped their game. Rather than just wandering about, wreaking havoc on food, the Grocks have now decided to upgrade their tech. What better way to improve their speed and threat by sporting wheels?

Stripping it back to basics - The game's core structure relies on battles against the Grocks in multiple phases, much like the past Dillon titles. After going through the tutorial elements, it's down to plotting a little strategy - create watchtowers on the map to act as lookout points. Those rock warriors may appear a little dim, but are known to be a little sneaky and are certainly ruthless in getting what they want: sheep. That's right, they're just a little peckish for the town's livestock - known as Scrogs. Within this post-apocalyptic world, it's a truly valued resource - so shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.

Whilst the Grocks are snoozing, it's time to rally in the troops - each gunner can be positioned to these various bases on the map - complete with their own futuristic weapon. This furry army doesn't quite have the same rolling ability as Dillon, so rely on good old fashioned glowing weapons. However, it goes beyond just arbitrarily assigning these new recruits till the counter runs dry. Each carry their own combat style, and should be carefully considered. Some are more melee driven, whilst others can offer that tactical strength from afar. It presents a tough learning curve from the outset; and does need a fair bit of investment to avoid being crushed by the enemy!

Screenshot for Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers on Nintendo 3DS

As Dillon, there are two types of battle to engage. The first is more familiar to those who have conquered the previous titles: brawling, enclosed battles. A series of Grock pop up on the screen and it's down to Dillon to summon all his courage to claw his way to the finish. This mechanic is perhaps the better and more accessible of the two - it's instantly familiar to those who have played wave-driven defence games. The enemies plod along in waves and it's all-out attack. Dillon's combo-driven moves and ruthless rolling are delight - there's something oddly satisfying about being able to chip away at monstrous rocks.

Once the current wave's numbers are… on the rocks, then the game switches things up into the Race mode. It's a high speed chase to the finish - can Dillon stop these new wheeled foes? By charging up his roll technique, Dillon draws closer for a finishing attack - sometimes against a tricky boss, or regular grunts. It feels much like a boss feature; a fresh way of wrapping each stage up and adding something new to the mix. It may not be as compelling as the regular battles; but does well in closing each chapter in style. Tower Defence games always seem to run the risk of becoming stale, fast, but by shifting things up a gear, Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers keeps things fresh for that bit longer - a feat within a decaying, post-apocalyptic world!

Screenshot for Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers on Nintendo 3DS

Beyond battle and strategizing, there's a more relaxed segment of the game that complements the main action well. The City allows players to wander about - forge new weapons, interact with potential new furry recruits and even pet those adorable Scrogs. Something more free-roaming and less action-driven may sound like an odd fit given all the intense battling/strategizing, but works well in keeping things varied.

The cast are a peculiar bunch, and the downtime sequences really bring out their character - it's a bizarre place to live; but also helps develop the Dillon story. Rather than wreckless fights without purpose, we begin to establish why these furry friends are teaming up to save their home. There's also a handful of mini-games to kickback and enjoy - quick high-speed rolling races, a shooting gallery and even a Dillon take on pinball.

Visually the game presents the post-apocalyptic scene well; building on the previous games in design but maintaining that distinct Western feel. It's fairly rare to talk about the Nintendo 3DS USP these days, but the stereoscopic functionality does work well when used - without the ghosting/blurring often seen in other Nintendo 3DS titles.

Screenshot for Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Dillon and his adorable little hamster friend Russ roll back into the Tower Defence scene with fresh and futuristic tale of Western adventure. Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers builds on the previous games, heightening the action with intense races and expands the universe with an intriguing cast of characters/recruits. There is a steep learning curve and a lot of investment needed into the main tower defence gameplay, but it is worth rolling into in order to save those adorable Scrog critters.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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