Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

The merger of Square and Enix at first glance seemed to be a godsend for fans of the latter company’s Dragon Quest series, since Square’s titles enjoyed greater popularity outside Japan than Enix’s. However, in recent time, Square-Enix seemed to give Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama’s franchise the shaft outside the Land of the Rising Sun, particularly with the remake of the seventh installment and the MMORPG tenth chapter, although Nintendo came to the rescue of a few of the series’ titles such as Dragon Quest IX.

Unfortunately, given the eventual lack of any recognizable localization announcements from Nintendo in recent years, it seems that they too have given the franchise the shaft, with neither Square-Enix USA nor Nintendo in most instances giving the franchise much-needed publicity whose absence has accounted for abysmal sales in the West. Among the titles Square-Enix America localized before their eventual lack of interest in the Dragon Quest series was Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, which actually proves to be an experience to the main installments.

Players control the blue slime Rocket, who bounces around the game’s various fields, the player also able to stretch and launch him for slightly faster travel, and have him leapt in the air and expand to float slowly to the ground, good for getting across obstacles such as water currents. Trademark Dragon Quest enemies appear on fields and in dungeons as well, with the player able to launch Rocket into them to damage and eventually kill them. Defeating enemies causes them to release coins serving as money and occasional healing herbs, with Rocket’s life increasable through the procurement of life seeds that increase his number of hearts serving as his energy.

Besides killing enemies, Rocket can pick them up (and can hold up to three objects/monsters at a time) and throw them on rolling carts to send them back to his hometown, where one of each of the captured monsters wanders alongside Boingburg’s inhabitants, and collecting thirty of one monster earns the town a statue of that monster at the museum. Rocket can further lift objects such as empty treasure chests and throw them on carts back to town to serve as ammunition for his giant tank, with one-on-one tank battles often being necessary to advance the game and rescue more slimes.

Rocket receives his tank early on in the game, which has its own HP that the player can increase back in Boingburg with money and frequently, several raw materials. Rescued slimes can also serve as crewmembers, with up to three permitted and performing duties such as occasionally recovering the tank’s HP, loading ammo into one of two cannons, one of which sends ammo at a diagonal and the other which sends ammo straightforward to the enemy tank, the antagonist tanks having their own HP that the player must deplete.

Winning tank battles is largely a matter of loading as much ammo as possible into both of Rocket’s tank’s cannons, since his and the enemy’s ammunition can clash and fall harmlessly to the ground. If either Rocket’s tank or the enemy’s reaches zero HP, it’s not yet game over, although complete depletion of hit points results in Rocket having access to the enemy’s heart-shaped core and vice versa, in which case the player must strike at the heart of the opponent’s tank to win the battle, the enemy able to do the same by attacking the core of Rocket’s tank.

Although Rocket Slime is admittedly an easy title, it’s fairly enjoyable, as most easy games tend to be as opposed to much more difficult games that sometimes border on unplayable, common among difficult titles. The game mechanics contain enough variety to prevent players from becoming bored, and multiple players that own the title able to pit their tanks against one another in wireless play. Pretty much the only real flaw in the battle system is that, especially during tank battles, it’s easy to receive unintended results when the player stretches and attacks objects and enemies and accidentally lifts them overhead or fails to catch them, which can result in occasional situations where, for instance, the player unintentionally loads a crewmember into one of the Schleiman Tank’s cannons (although luckily, if crewmembers are killed by the enemy, they resurrect after some time).

The spinoff’s control scheme is mostly solid, with control of Rocket generally being easy, along with unintrusive menus, surprising given the typical interface problems of most of the Dragon Quest series’ main installments, not to mention in-game maps showing where exactly Rocket is in whatever area he’s currently in, and unexplored areas being grayed out initially. Granted, Rocket’s travel may try the patience of a few players, and finding all hundred slimes necessary to see the ending credits can be a bit difficult at times, especially if the player has visited every section of a dungeon, but otherwise, interaction is well above average.

Always difficult it is to judge the merit of upbeat, comical storylines such as Rocket Slime’s, although thanks to a well-polished localization rife with a hurricane of slime puns, it serves the game well and is hardly a deterrent, focusing on a syndicate of platypi known as the Plob that kidnaps all but one of a slime-populated town’s inhabitants, with the survivor, Rocket, having to rescue them and fight the platypus mobsters. Pretty much the only peculiarity with the translation was calling the slimes’ deity the Goddess like in the main Dragon Quests as opposed to say, the “Gooddess,” which would have been in sync with the rest of the script, but otherwise, the script and story are excellent.

Rocket Slime’s soundtrack by Dragon Quest series composer Koichi Sugiyama is largely of a different style, mostly comical and upbeat, which serves the game’s atmosphere well, and what the tracks lack in quantity (understandable given the game’s meager length), they easily compensate for in quality. There are also occasional voice clips for the slimes and Plobsters, and the spinoff is ultimately a nice-sounding game.

The visuals also serve the game well, with Akira Toriyama’s diverse slime designs being most apparent, alongside colorful scenery and a nice variety of monsters that all surprisingly have platypus tails, signifying their membership in the Plob. The only real shortcoming is that while Rocket can face diagonally, no other slime or enemy can.

Finally, finding all hundred slimes and beating the game takes a little under ten hours, with plentiful lasting appeal in the form of multiplayer tank battles not to mention the collection of monsters to erect statues in Boingburg’s museum.

In conclusion, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is a solid spinoff title that hits many of the right notes and doesn’t leave too much room for improvement, even proving to be a superior experience to the main numbered games of the series. Its regular battles and tank battles are enjoyable, if somewhat simple, the control scheme is more than adequate, the story is charming, the music is nice, and the visuals are eye candy, with the only real flaw being perhaps the difficulty at times of finding all one hundred of Boingburg’s residents, although a guide is hardly necessary to finish the game. Sadly, it would be the only one of the Dragon Quest slime spinoff titles to see the light of day outside Japan, depriving Anglophone players of potentially solid iterations of the franchise.

The Good:
+Solid game mechanics and control with plenty variety.
+Great story and localization.
+Nice music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Finding all slimes can be difficult at times.

The Bottom Line:
Actually better than the main Dragon Quest games.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo DS
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 10/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Easy
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours

Overall: 9.5/10

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