Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
is the type of game which pervades a demographic whose prime directive in gaming appears to be cuteness, adorable artwork, and unfathomably simple gameplay. In these respects, Rocket Slime does not fail. However, by some stroke of luck, it has managed to include not only streamlined game design, but also a uniquely clever translation. If you are a fan of puns (and I can say without any hesitation that I certainly am) then you are a fan of Rocket Slime.
Branching off the hugely successful Dragon Quest VIII
, Rocket Slime includes story elements reminiscent of the traditional RPG and places them in a Zelda-style adventure which features our hero Rocket the slime as he bounces around his native land saving his fellow slimes from the evil Plob gang, which has devastated his hometown. But while these evil Platypoda may not be the most insidious of villains, they can certainly be one of the more humorous.
For Rocket Slime is laden with the wordplay and ridiculous coincidences which provide for a rather silly experience. From the Plob defector "Ducktor Cid" to the mastermind "Don Clawleone" (anyone catch the reference--anyone?) and exciting locales ranging from Tootinschleiman's Tomb to Mt. Krakatroda, the gamer with an off-beat sense of humor will not be disappointed.
As Rocket's home has been decimated and his fellow citizens trapped in chests by the Plob, Rocket must travel the lands and release each one individually--though not necessarily without a fight. Early in the game, Rocket acquires use of the "Schleiman Tank", a colossal slime castle on wheels packing dual cannons for maximum destruction. From that point on, as if each little creature had suddenly acquired his own death tank, every encounter must be resolved by pitting your tank and crew against his. Honestly, I felt like I was playing Pokémon
In a tank battle, each tank begins with a set amount of HP, which is reduced as its opponent lobs objects at it from one of its two cannons. Items which collide in the air nullify one another with few exceptions, and most items collected on the field can be shipped back to town for use as ammunition. Your crew members can also assist by healing your tank or helping to fire ammunition at your opponent. Either way, when one tank reaches zero HP, its ground-level doors burst open, and the opposing team must destroy its heart-shaped engine for a win. All of this makes for some rather interesting battles until you realize that all you really have to do is let your own HP fall to zero and hold your enemies at bay until your allies can fire off enough to reduce your enemy tank's
HP to zero (with no opposition, as Rocket is inside the enemy tank preventing any such nonsense). At this point, both enemy and ally tanks are at the same states, save that Rocket has already infiltrated the enemy's vehicle and is ready to pounce on its engines. You will never lose. This works on the final boss.
Let fly the weights of war.
Which is not to say that regular boss battles are any easier; they are not. In fact, the entire game rests on a level of difficulty that can be equated with juggling a baseball with a large net: sure, the thing might slip off, but only if you're looking in the other direction and a large toddler body slams the net repeatedly. Which is not to say I have anything against toddlers. The on-field puzzles are of a slightly more difficult nature, though the required actions should become quickly apparent to anyone over the age of ten.
One way or the other, Rocket's slime brethren are freed and return to town, unlocking newer features and giving Rocket small presents as they go. This enables the player to receive small rewards with every play; a very successful game design feature which dates all the way back to Soul Blazer
. Features unlocked by residents include anything from tank enhancement to alchemy to a museum of monsters you have "collected". With its short length and frequent rewards, Rocket Slime is great to pick up and play--a perfect match for the Nintendo DS.
Graphically, the game is a charmer, with well drawn sprite artwork and overall a very appealing look. This is very important with humor, because it allows for the best possible characterization and expression from characters whose notable qualities are primarily physical in nature. Musically, it is rather mediocre, with few and far between catchy tracks.
I'm happy to see you too, Blubba.
Overall, Rocket Slime is not for the gamer of a serious nature looking for incredible depth or challenging gameplay, but great for one who is searching for a humorous and quick experience on the go or in need of a quick distraction. It is simple, straightforward, and never takes itself too seriously. Coming from Square Enix, that is something that is quite fresh and original to see, whether or not its execution could still use some work.