Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime Hands-On
We check out Square Enix's shocking look at the secret life of slimes.
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If you're a fan of role-playing games, odds are you have some feelings about slimes. The happy blobs with the slightly unsettling look in their eyes have long been a staple in Enix and now Square Enix's Dragon Quest series. But, despite their appearance in RPGs, no one has stopped to wonder what makes these gooey critters tick. No one has asked about what their life is like outside the Dragon Quest series…until now. Square Enix's upcoming DS game, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, offers a look at the life, loves, losses, and drama experienced by the common slime. We had the chance to check out the upcoming game, which was released late last year for the DS in Japan, to find out what slimes do in their spare time.
Rocket Slime follows the adventures of Rocket, a mischievous but upstanding dude, as slimes go. Young Rocket's carefree life is rocked when his village of Boingburg is attacked by a foul-tempered gang of platypuses called The Plob. Besides the expected vandalism, the nefarious platypuses kidnap all the slimes in town, including a number of Rocket's friends and family. Rocket is spared abduction, because at the time of the mass seizing he was looking very un-slimelike after hiding a rather large flute in his mouth. What's a slime to do when faced with such a tragedy? If you're Rocket that means you set out to rescue your friends and defeat the villainous platypuses who nabbed them. This is, of course, the perfect setup for a light-action RPG that will send you looking for 100 of your friends throughout the kingdom of Slimenia.
Rocket Slime's gameplay breaks down into two basic types, adventuring and tank combat. The adventuring section finds you guiding Rocket through various areas in Slimenia, rescuing your friends, collecting items, and solving puzzles. Boingburg will serve as your base of operations that you can return to when you want to save your game and interact with the residents. At the start of the game, the town is pretty messed up in the wake of The Plob attack, so it's nothing too special. However, once you start rescuing your friends, the town starts to fill up. The returning locals slowly start cleaning up Boingburg, which opens up new functionality in town and the nearby castle. You'll eventually find a shop, ninja dojo, library, battle arena, a place to practice alchemy, minigames, and a tank shop. There's a strong emphasis on collecting, which keeps things interesting. Besides your 100 slime homies that need rescuing, you'll be able to collect items and enemies (who'll be organized in a museum setting).
While all of the above sounds pretty straightforward, the tank shop likely requires some explanation, not only because it seems out of place, but also because many of you are probably wondering how the limbless slimes can make tanks go. The tank sequences make up the second major gameplay type in Rocket Slime that will find you pitting your slime-shaped tank against The Plobs' own war machines. A lone slime against a well-armed army of platypuses hardly seems like a fair fight, but Rocket has a few tricks up his sleeve. Besides the fact that you can customize your tank in town, you'll be able to tap various helpers from the recently rescued masses to lend a hand during the fights. As far as how the slimes use all of their gear without limbs, let it be one of life's big mysteries to ponder in your free time.
Control in the game relies almost exclusively on the D pad, face, and shoulder buttons. Rocket has a modest array of unique moves that will come in handy on his adventure. Your elasto blast lets you stretch out and launch yourself in any direction, which is good for moving quickly or taking out enemies and objects. You'll also be able to carry items and hover, which becomes key to dealing with puzzles and obstacles. A nice touch is the ability to carry a slime knight item you can use to attack. Touch-screen support is cursory. You'll use the screen to navigate menus in the beginning and in a drawing minigame.
The visuals in Rocket Slime are pretty much what you'd expect. The action will play out on the lower screen, though you'll be directed to look at the top screen when accessing your inventory or checking out your map. Rocket and company feature cartoony character designs that fit the game's tone. The gameworld follows the same aesthetic and features environments that are big on vibrant colors with copious amounts of cute. The DS hardware isn't taxed by any means, but the graphics have a low-key charm that's appealing.
The audio is solid by DS standards, mixing a modest array of sound effects and voice samples with catchy tunes. Rocket and the rest of the cast are a fairly silent bunch, though you'll hear a few exclamatory sound effects when needed for drama. The effects are your obligatory collection of explosions and the like used to highlight the action. The music is a bouncy assortment of tunes that serve as a fine complement to the lighthearted game. We haven't heard any standout tunes, but what's here works well.
Based on what we played, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is shaping up to be a fun, breezy little game that skews pretty young. The gameplay is solid and accessible, but simple. Veteran players may not be blown away by the challenge, though they'll likely appreciate the various puns based on classic Square games. The game is looking entertaining, and should especially appeal to younger players. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is slated to ship next month for the DS. Look for our full review then.
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