I missed out on the original Dillon’s Rolling Western. It was a matter of eShop oversaturation. Too many good games were released at once, and I never got around to it. I did, however, get around to Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger. I have to say, I’m impressed. Yes, this game seriously kicked my butt, but it also introduced me to a fantastic cast of characters and a rather novel take on the tower defense genre.
Dillon helped save the west in Dillon’s Rolling Western, saving the range from invading rock monsters called Grock. He and his sidekick Russ made a lot of money and rode off into the sunset. Except, true heroes can never retire. They’re not only too accustomed to the action-packed lifestyle, but there will always be new enemies to face.
Which leads us to Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger. Grocks have started attacking remote, Western towns again and Dillon is the only one able to handle the situation. These isolated towns need his assistance. Not only that, but the trains delivering supplies across the frontier are threatened by the Grock activity. Dillon is the only one who can save the day.
As always, the characters in Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger are a major highlight of the game. I love these guys. Dillon, the armadillo ranger, is awesome and his character design looks beyond cool. The same can be said for all of his allies, from the goofy looking Russ, the tough Boone, the slick Gallo and naturally Nomad. The same can be said for the townsfolk, though I don’t believe they shine as brightly as Dillon and his allies. All in all, though, the designs for all of the game’s characters are quite well done and perfectly fit the ambiance.
It’s a good thing the characters are cool and the concept so novel, because Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger drops the player right into the action. There is no leeway—and not really any tutorials. I’m guessing it expects thatt people have played the original game. It does direct you to grab scruffles, food for the scrogs, mine for materials, run up to towers to go in and upgrade them, and gets into the general basics. That said, for the most part, the game goes right into what must be done and the waves of enemies are strong right from the start. There’s no learning curve, so brace yourself for that.
Fortunately, controls are easy to learn. You move the stylus on the 3DS touch screen to move Dillon. It’s best to have Dillon roll everywhere, which means holding the stylus on the touch screen, dragging it back for a moment, then releasing. It’s fairly easy to control his direction, though I would have liked to have had a standard control scheme option for if I’m playing on public transportation.
Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger is divided into two parts. The first is preparation and this happens both before and after a Grock attack. Before a Grock attack, Dillon can roll around outside of town. The goal is to collect resources (scruffles, quest items and minerals for gate fortification) and tend the towers. To build, repair and upgrade both the gun towers and watch towers, Dillon actually has to roll up to them and provide the necessary funds to make sure they’re prepared for the next wave of enemy attacks. I recommend keeping notes and tabs on which towers you’re using and having a route worked out so you can speedily visit known scruffle locations and towers in one loop, leaving enough time to visit town and donate found scruffles to make the herd larger and to fortify the town’s gates.
When night falls, the Grocks attack. You never know which gates will spawn them and which route they’ll take towards town and the train, both of which must be defended. Since there are multiple entrances to town, they’ve got a lot of options. Watch towers let you see Grock locations on the map, while gun towers will attack Grocks within range. The downside to gun towers is, the Grocks will try and take them out. This means means the most efficient way to survive is to try and have Dillon fight as many of the Grocks as possible. If he touches a Grock, the view will shift to an enclosed battle area. Dillon then must roll into the enemies to harm them. Holding the stylus on the screen once he hits an opponent allows him to grind for additional damage. So long as Dillon was facing an opponent, I found he’d auto-lock onto opponents, which was nice.
Finally, there’s a second preparation period after a Grock invasion. After the Grock attack, Dillon will be in the town’s inn. He can consult with Russ to see how the last wave went, take or report on side-quests, purchase new equipment to replace worn out spurs, save, and talk with townsfolk.
Dillon can also hire allies to help him protect the towns from Grocks. The three available are Gallo, a lizard, Boone, a bear, and Nomad, a squid. You can pay to recruit them, and these allies will then help Dillon gather materials during preparation periods and will take part in attacks at night. All of them wield guns, but also have some physical attacks. Nomad, for example, also tosses knives and bombs. Dillon can rely on them to attack on their own, or if you’re nearby a player can team up with them in a battle. Once an area is completed, they can be fought in a duel to permanently add them to the troop.
Having allies really helped, because I always felt rushed when playing Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger. You get a limited amount of time to prepare, but don’t have a timer. Which means you just have to dash around screen and hope you get every scruffle and mineral, not to mention reach towers to upgrade them, before night falls. When an attack is on, the Grocks don’t pause when Dillon is in a fight with a group, they keep marching forward. You don’t know how long a wave will last. Every second has to count. Even then, allies and towers only help so much, as both can easily be destroyed if Dillon isn’t there to help with support.
Time isn’t the only issue. Money is as well. Everything is very expensive, and I was usually only able to build/repair and arm one tower at a time. There are sidequests that can be taken every night and completed within a certain amount of time, but if I wasn’t quick about completing them, I’d be penalized and lose money. You also have to pay to recruit allies and to replace Dillon’s equipment as it wears out. It is like difficulty overload. At the very least, I wished the game wouldn’t take money away from players if they couldn’t complete a sidequest in time. Or perhaps it could have removed the durability aspect of equipment instead. Give people an edge, because I really felt like I needed one.
Ultimately, Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger is easily the most difficult tower defense game I’ve ever played. I enjoy it and love the characters and setting, but I wish it were a bit more lenient. I appreciate a challenge, but the game started to feel like work. I never had the opportunity to relax and enjoy myself, because there was always some invisible deadline I had to meet so I wouldn’t fail. I would still recommend it to anyone with a 3DS, but people should know what they’re getting into. Dillon’s position as a ranger is tough, unforgiving work, and you have to make sure you’re smart and strong enough to succeed.
Food for Thought
1. I wish there had been more thought put into StreetPass. As is, you can compare strategies with people you pass to see how they handled situations. I would have preferred some means to earn extra money or get extra equipment instead.
2. If you fail a level, you can restart with a little more money than you had the first time around. (Which makes me wonder why Russ couldn’t just give me the extra 1,000 to start!)
3. Nomad is the coolest new character. Who wouldn’t love a squid assassin wielding multiple guns? However, I do wonder how he manages to survive in the desert.