There was a little gem shown at E3 last June that slipped under the radar for a lot of people, but for those who noticed it, it instantly brought about intrigue. That title was tentatively titled “The Rolling Western” – since then, the title hasn’t changed much, only having the addition of the title characters name added, to make it Dillon’s Rolling Western (and the removal of the word “The”, if it really matters to you). No release date was given, except for “Spring 2012”. Well, MCV magazine ran an article last week saying that the game would be released on 23rd February – however, it wasn’t released then. During yesterdary’s Nintendo Direct though, the sudden announcement was made that the game would be made available worldwide after the presentation, which it was. Now, a lot of people look at the £9 price-tag and think “Wait, what?!” – after all, the game is the second most expensive on the eShop (behind Shantae: Risky’s Revenge which is £10.80 – why must all eShop prices be a multiple of 9?). So, I downloaded the game yesterday and I’ve played it for between 3 and 4 hours, so I’m here to give my first thoughts on the game, including the big question – is it worth £9?
There is one thing I want to make note of first – the protagonist’s name is Dillon. In early screenshots of the game, he was referred to as Jiro, but his name is Dillon (hence the title). His assistant, the little chipmunk(?)-guy who insists he isn’t a mouse is called Russ. Personally, I think Dillon fits the Western theme more, as Jiro is a more Asian-orientated name.
A lot of comparisons have also been drawn between Dillon and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog (because they both roll as their main form of attack and their lack of wearing underwear despite wearing shoes, I guess). However, some people have noticed that the armadillo’s voice is similar to Link’s from The Legend of Zelda (I cannot confirm if they do indeed share the same voice actor or not). The two are also notable in that aside from the usual grunt while performing an attack, they are silent protagonists (in fact, Russ often comments on how silent Dillon is). There is also another similarity to The Legend of Zelda – hearts. Dillon’s health is reflected with hearts and while this isn’t a Zelda-only thing, there is also the “Pieces of Heart” that can be found in chests in Ancient Ruins. A not-so-subtle nod to one of Nintendo’s classics? Probably. I have yet to find out how many Pieces of Heart are needed to gain another heart of health, but we’ll see.
Nintendo promised that Dillon’s Rolling Western would shake up the tower defence genre. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to that particular genre, but I’d imagine that the way Nintendo have done that is by having Dillon on the “battlefield” (so to speak). Yes, there are guard towers which you can fix up with giant oversized shotguns, Gatling guns or cannons to defeat the Grock enemies, but most of your victories during the Grock invasions will probably be a result of Dillon’s actions.
Gameplay is relatively simple. Each stage is a town that must be protected from Grocks, who aim to eat the village’s supply of Scrogs (their livestock; they look a bit like the Pokémon Munna, just white). However, the Grocks will only attack at night (when the sky turns red). During the day, it is Dillon’s job to go out across the desert outside the town, finding “Scruffles” (plants that somehow results in the town receiving more Scrogs) and using your money to build Gun Towers and equip them with well, guns (yes, you use your own money. Can’t the town at least give you expenses?!). During the day phases, you can also go into mines to smash rocks to get gems which can be exchanged in return for increasing the town’s gates or money. When night falls, it becomes your job to protect the town from the Grooks. When you come into contact with one, you will be taken to a small area where several small Grooks are running around – it is your job to defeat them.
The controls are simple – the circle pad is used to move, the L button is used to enter places and to brake and the start button is used to pause; everything else is done on the touch screen – in fact, this is how Kid Icarus: Uprising is controlled. Slide the stylus from back on the touch screen to curl up into a ball and start spinning; flicking the stylus up or down also helps you increase or decrease your speed. When you attack an enemy, if you get your timing right you can tap on the touch screen to slash as well. The controls are simple and incredibly easy to get used to. The touch screen is also used for confirming options in the menus as well. The only downside I can name in terms of controls is the lack of an ability to rotate the camera without physically turning Dillon around. That’s only a slight niggle though, as the map on the touch screen will show when an enemy is getting near.
Now, one thing that irks me about this game is how the only 3DS feature it really uses is the 3D (Admittedly, the 3D is used really well). Cheaper eShop titles like Pullblox and Freakyforms: Your Creations Alive both used StreetPass and QR Codes – Dillon’s Rolling Western does not. Admittedly, I can’t see how either of those could have been implemented, but SpotPass could have been used to distribute new challenges, I guess.
While you cannot explore the towns (entering them only brings up the menu of what you can do), the area outside of the town is rather vast. Although the map makes it seem bigger than it is, considering that this is a downloadable title and there are multiple levels, it really is nothing to scoff at – particularly in regards to the detail. While I find that the two terrains I have been on so far do look a lot alike (probably to save space), they do each have different layouts that means that protecting them is an entirely new ball game.
Nintendo of America stated during their Nintendo Direct segment that the game will take a good 20 hours to complete and having only played through the first 2 stages (each stage being broken up into 3 days and 3 nights, with each consecutive night getting harder) and a play time of just under 4 hours, I can really believe this – particularly as at the end of each stage, you are given a rating out of five stars, so if you want to get all five stars it will probably take you longer. Considering the size of the game, Nintendo could probably have gotten away with releasing this as a full retail game, however, they instead decided to release it through the eShop. I would feel like there was too little content if I had spent £40 on this game, but for an eShop title, I feel like I am being overloaded with content. So to answer the original question – yes, this game is worth £9.
Now, if I was to give this game a score out of 10, I would probably give it an 8/10. I wouldn’t say it’s as much of a must-have as Pullblox, but it definitely is a fun game and could be an interesting start to one of Nintendo’s new properties.