LOS ANGELES--It's hard to find a more endearing creature than the original Dragon Quest slime. The teardrop shape, the pleasant blue color, the patient smile--slimes have earned themselves a special place in the heart of Japanese RPG fans, and now they've earned their own game. If you are allergic or otherwise intolerant of the utterly adorable, avert your eyes now, because Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime might just be cuter than you can handle. Even aside from the visual and emotional appeal, though, this action-adventure works with intuitive controls to create a cool little experience in the Dragon Quest world.
We picked up the localized version of the game at the Square-Enix booth, and there were two gameplay choices available: Tanks for the Memories, which pits players in a giant slime-shaped tank against a similar enemy for mechanized battles; and The Wood, the Bad, and the Ugly, which was an adventure portion that had you roaming the countryside in search of fellow slimes to rescue and bumping up against some enemies, as well.
The tank-battle portion of the game shows your tank on the top screen, along with your opponent on the right-hand side. This is usually another tank, though the initial tutorial portion puts you up against a cliff that you have to blast out of your way. The bottom screen is where all the action happens, as it cuts to an internal view of the tank where Rocket (our blue hero) has free roam. Much of what you do in a tank seems to revolve around firing at your enemy or the obstacle in front of you, and to do that, you'll need to fill your cannons with ammunition. Ammunition drops out of chutes in a number of the tank's chambers and could be anything from rocks to large metal bullets. Once they're out of the chute, they accumulate on the floor of the tank, and you'll have to round them up and load them into the tank's many cannons. When you launch cannon fire, you'll see it emerge on the top DS screen and sail slowly through the air toward your target. Your tank and your target each have a meter of hit points, and projectiles will take off a certain amount of HP. You'll be able to load the weapons through some easy-to-learn slime controls.
The slime has a variety of actions, such as hopping, floating, stretching, and charging into things. You can charge around by pressing and holding the B button down to flatten out and then choosing a direction with the D pad, which will cause Rocket to stretch in that direction. Once you release the B button, he'll go flying in the direction he was stretched, which accomplishes a variety of things. You can charge into enemies to cause damage, charge into chests to release their contents, and charge into objects on the ground to knock them into the air. Once you've got them airborne, you just maneuver Rocket underneath the objects, and he'll catch them on his squishy noggin to carry them where they need to go. You can even carry multiple things at a time, which comes in handy when you need to ferry cannon fodder during heated tank battles. You can throw objects from Rocket's head one at a time, like ammunition into a cannon, projectiles at an enemy, or even enemies at other enemies! Slimes are versatile.
The adventure portion takes place in a bright and bucolic countryside, filled with trees, flowers, fruits, railroads, and other monsters. Your kidnapped friends have all been tightly locked up in chests, which are in the process of being borne away by members of the Plob. In this case, those members are candy cats, striped felines that talk like old Chicago gangsters as they whisk away Rocket's loved ones. As you wander around the environment, you can charge into treasure chests to gather up coins, or you can charge into the jail chests to free your friends. In one such instance, a duo of cats were wheeling a cart full of imprisoned monsters and dropped one, leaving it behind. We charged into it and freed a rocky slime that then asked to be put on the railroad back into town. There was a nearby track with a car on it, so we were able to charge again, pick up our friend on our head, and toss him onto the train car so he could happily rattle away.
While probably not a game to challenge your sharp reflexes, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime still makes an appealing package. Look for the game on store shelves later this year, and keep watching this gamespace for more slime time.