Dillon’s Rolling Western is a unique game. When you begin to play it, chances are you’ve never played anything like it. That can be a good thing in some ways, but it can also be bad. Because of how different it is, Dillon’s Rolling Western is a mixed bag in terms of whether or not it’s a game for you.
Dillon’s Rolling Western
Platform: 3DS (eShop)
Genre: Action, Strategy
Release Date: February 22, 2012
Dillon’s Rolling Western takes place in a traditional Western setting. You assume the role of Dillon, an armadillo ranger who is given the task of saving villages, along with his squirrel buddy Russ. The problem for the villages is that a bunch of rock monsters, known as grocks, have began to attack them at night in order to eat their livestock, which are called scrogs. So it’s Dillon’s job to defend the villages from the grocks and to prevent them from eating anymore scrogs.
Controls for the game are done with the circle pad and touch screen. The circle pad provides basic movement for Dillon. The touch screen is used to get Dillon rolling. Tap the screen to roll him into a ball and slide down on the screen to get him rolling. Then lift the stylus and Dillon will begin rolling forward at a fast speed. You repeat this tap and slide motion to keep Dillon moving. This rolling set up is also used to attack enemies by colliding into them. There are also other attack moves like tapping the screen after an attack to perform combos or holding the stylus in place to do a grind attack, with other attack variations being introduced later in the game.
Defending a village is divided into three cycles. The first cycle is the daytime. During this period of time you move around the land gathering scruffles, which is the food source for the scrogs. By donating scrogs to the village, you increase the scrog count. This is helpful because your scrog count determines how much money you earn in the end, and reaching zero scrogs means a game over. Other things to look out for in the daytime are mines, which house gems and ore that you can sell for extra cash or use to fortify the village doors. You will also use this time to build up towers and to equip weapons on them.
Once the sun sets, that begins the night cycle. This is where the grocks show up and begin their attack on the village. Any grocks who make their way to the village will decrease your scrog count. Fortified walls and weapon towers help prevent the grocks from reaching the scrogs. The other form of defense you have is with Dillon, who can attack grocks directly. Destroying all the grocks will end the day.
At the end of each day, you’ll take a break in a saloon. From here, you can take on side quests, which are various tasks you can attempt to do when you’re out on the field and earn money for doing so. You can also eat food to replenish health or buy better equipment for use in future battles. There is also a practice room for you to practice basic attacks or new ones. You’ll also be given the chance to save your game.
After that, it’s the end of the day and you’ll move on to the next day. For each village you’re saving, you’ll be doing this routine over the span of three days. Each day will bring in more enemies, and introducing stronger ones. Surviving all three days will complete the village and you’ll get ranked on how well you did. Doing everything in less time and completing all side quests all contribute to earning a higher rank.
The mix of tower gameplay and action isn’t something entirely new, but the controls and the huge 3D environments that you explore make it feel fresh. Unlike traditional tower games, you don’t exactly know how much prepare time you have before the enemy attacks. There’s no real way to tell when how close to sun down you are. You’ll get a small warning, where you’ll have a small window of time left to do any last-minute preparations, and then it’s off to battle. This part was a little frustrating to deal with. It does build up tension, but you can easily end up in some bad situations due to not knowing exactly how much time you got left to prepare.
Combining touch controls with the circle pad can also be a problem for people, especially for left handers. There’s no left hand option, so left handers will need to play the game with the stylus in their right hand. As a left hander myself, it was pretty difficult for me to hold up the 3DS in my left hand while trying to do the sliding motions with the stylus in my right hand. I did get a little better at it over time, but the controls alone can easily push people away from trying the game out.
Those who do get into the game though will have plenty to play through. There are 10 villages to save in the game. And you can also replay previous villages in order to better your ranking, which is actually something you may have to do. Since villages require a certain amount of stars in order to open up, you may find yourself blocked from the next village and will need to replay an earlier village to up your ranking. While it helps beef up the overall play time, it felt like a chore to have to replay an earlier level over. Mostly due to the fact that your doing the same routine for every village, so doing it again in the same environment will feel very repetitive and dull.
Dillon’s Rolling Western is a good game, and can provide plenty of fun for the price paid. The look and setting of the game is very charming and the action is intense. However, it’s a game that may not be for everyone. The controls take some getting use to and the concept may feel too repetitive and cause feelings of boredom. I felt a bit bored with the game after playing it for a couple hours, but was able to pick it back up after some time off with it. It’s a unique title, like Nintendo’s Pushmo and Sakura Samurai releases. Unfortunately, the things that help make Dillon’s Rolling Western stand out are also things that may draw people away from it.