From time to time, I enjoy drinking aloe juice. It’s a drink that can be bitter or sweet, depending on the variety, but is notable for the aloe pulp in it. It offers an experience similar to bubble tea, since you’ll feel the clumps as you drink them. Thanks to Ambition of the Slimes, Circle Entertainment’s recent tactical release for the Nintendo 3DS, I can no longer enjoy these refreshments. The game has ruined them for me, because this is one of the most pleasantly horrifying properties on the Nintendo eShop.
Ambition of the Slimes is set in a world where you control a group of underdogs attempting to take back their lands from invaders. The twist is, the invaders are humans. You’re the generic slimes that appear in all RPGs as an entry-level minion. However, these slimes have an edge. By positioning a slime unit adjacent to a human, it’s possible to claim their body and control it. What follows is a typical strategic affair, with a rock-paper-scissors system tied to water-fire-plant elements. Every slime and human has an element, which means you want to try and get slimes into humans that match their elements, then send the possessed people against enemies that are both weak against them and hopefully on a lower elevation. The goal is to eliminate every human from the map, either by slipping into their skin or defeating them.
The slimes in Ambition of the Slimes enter their human vessels via the mouth.
Once you are adjacent to an enemy and claim them, an animation shows their mouth opening. The slime jumps inside. You see their face slither down the human’s throat. Once successful, the person’s soul and will faces and their eyes burn red. If the slime and its human vessel’s elements are compatible, a red aura will flare around them. This happens with adorable sprites and whimsical, colorful slimes. It’s something to celebrate, because it means your army’s influence has expanded!
Except then you see the humans’ reactions. The first few Ambition of the Slimes maps confirm that this ability is new to them. The initial humans think it’s some sort of bad urban legend, then watch in horror when it’s a confirmed reality. They’re terrified, but continue onward. They know these slimes are too dangerous to live. They have to be defeated. It’s a terrifying prospect and drives home the gravity of the situation.
Especially since some skills can make things even more unsettling. There are different sorts of slimes in Ambition of the Slimes, each with their own abilities. A Sticky Slime, for example, has the ability to paralyze an enemy. Why does this matter? Because the humans try to adapt to the horrific situation and defend against it. Armored knights will wear helmets that protect their faces, guarding their mouths. Paralyzing them makes it easier to slide down their throats and take control
The visuals present an interesting contrast that make it easier to appreciate something that relies on such a terrifying concept. Ambition of the Slimes has sprite-based artwork. The slimes’ detailed, battle sprites show off all of their unappealing details, but the characters on the map are tiny, adorable, and even endearing. Rather than terrifying, the sight of one slipping down a human’s throat is almost comical. It’s exaggerated and over-the-top. Combine that with a very loose story that paints the slimes as the “heroes,” and it makes such behaviors excusable.
It’s interesting to see how tactfully the situation is addressed, even when more horrific concepts are introduced. Consider Melty, another slime. It allows you to melt off a human’s equipment. This makes it easier to claim them. But think about it from the human’s side. This is a slime so strong, its ooze can dissolve your equipment, perhaps even your clothing if it’s a strong enough variation. That’s ghastly. But, within the scope of Ambition of the Slimes, its silly.
The subject matter in Ambition of the Slimes has some dark overtones to it. The thought of a slime taking control of your body and sense of self, destroying everything that you are in the process is horrifying. Especially since they’re taking over human enemies by opening their mouths and sliding down their throats. Yet, the art direction and overall tone combine to soften these scary situations, making them silly instead. It’s difficult to root for a game that does such things, but Ambition of the Slimes manages it.
Ambition of the Slimes is immediately available for the Nintendo 3DS.