Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is the latest entry in the Dillon’s series that combines tower-defense with active battles. Quite a bit changes in this entry. It has a post-apocalyptic theme, rather than going with a Western. There are more minigames, as players have an avatar engaging in something of a town life. But one of the biggest additions is the inclusion of Amiimals to aid Dillon in his quest to protect towns and their scrog livestock from various Grocks. By adding these new characters, it gives another option for direct and indirect control in fights.
Amiimals are introduced in Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers by having people turn their Mii into one. You will have four possible animal species options for your avatar, depending on the items you used to create your Mii. It does not explain what each person is capable of, which is a bit frustrating, but really it comes down which species you think looks cooler since you will be looking at them all the time. When they are in the field, they are not limited to a single tower, like other Amiimals. It is on the move like Dillon. When you are in town, you are looking at them as they go through the various minigames to earn moolah for fights and to speak with townsfolk.
Amiimals show up in two ways during a fight. The one that acts as your avatar is actually Dillon’s assistant during the multiphase defense segments. You can send this character to a specific location to protect it or handle enemies you know are going to be in that area. This allows a sense of security, so you can focus on Dillon taking care of foes with his unique grinding, punching and rolling move set. But if you would prefer, you can directly control this unit. The gameplay is different, since none of these characters are armadillos, but allows you to just rely on guns to assault the Grocks. I felt like it could be helpful, when my thumbs were getting tired of constantly having Dillon roll around, and they were a pleasant option.
The stock Amiimals are your gunners. They come into play with the tower defense portion. Before Dillon and your avatar have to spend time defending against Grocks, you play minigames in town as your avatar to earn money. This money can then be spent to hire and assign people to different important places in the field. (The exception is in Otis’ mine levels, where you only pay money and do not temporarily recruit gunners.) Each animal will have a different kind of weapon, with its own specialty and range, and the more expensive ones are of course better at their jobs. In early levels, you can be sparing with your support, as Dillon and your avatar can usually handle these lower level Grocks alone. But the further you get, the more essential it becomes to play these minigames and arm these towers with people who Russ may suggest. You really need to look at the maps between assignments and see which weaponry would work best to ensure proper coverage.
The only complaint I have with Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is that one animal was very rough on my hands: Dillon. To be specific, it can be very strenuous during segments. At the end of each battle, when when there about five Grocks left, everyone takes to the road. Dillon has to run them down, constantly boosting down a road to keep up and attack. Perhaps I have just gotten old and my hands have gotten bad, but I feel like I preferred the touchscreen controls in the earlier Dillon games. The repetitive nature of the game, coupled with the segments where I found myself constantly dashing and ramming at the same time, got exhausting. While initially thrilling, I felt like these segments dragged on a little too long.
The inclusion of Amiimals gives people more options when the time comes for Dillon to defend townsfolk in Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers. Having the ability to have our own avatar, who we can send to look after a certain area on the map or even switch to, is handy. The array of possible gunners to hire and act as defenders in towers is a comfort. Playing as Dillon can get a bit repetitive and stressful on the thumbs, but the diversity is pleasant.
Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is available for the Nintendo 3DS.