Dillon’s Rolling Western Review (3DS eShop): A Quirky, But Solid Adventure

I remember first hearing about Dillon’s Rolling Western at the Nintendo Direct conference earlier on in the year. Initially I had little interest in the game, but as I watched the gameplay videos, I became more intrigued; a new character from a new game that’s downloadable for a cool $9.99 on the eShop. It received the honor of being fully advertized during a public Nintendo conference, so it has to be worth the price of admission, right?

Dillon’s Rolling Western plays it safe and stylish with its story, throwing you into a western themed world full of anthropomorphic animals who are dealing with a pest control problem. The primary plot is given to you very early on (it was also given to you in its launch trailer), providing insight on how some humble towns in the west are losing their Scrogs livestock to some mean-looking monsters known as Grocks. The game centers around Dillon, an armored armadillo, who along with his little furry friend Russ, have offered to go out and help the towns (assuming the price is right). The story and atmosphere is very much child safe but can still be enjoyed by adults as well. Cutscenes are brief and the dialogue is sparse. Each character has a unique personality, though I’m sorry to say that there is no voice acting to help flesh out the characters any further.

This is one of the the few games I can name that truly takes advantage of the 3DS’ touch screen and 3D capabilities. All of Dillon’s primary controls other than walking (which is mapped to the Circle Pad) is handled by your stylus and the touch screen. Your primary method of getting around is by charging up Dillon by dragging the stylus downward and then releasing to allow Dillon to roll across the dusty western landscape. I’ve heard people compare this gameplay to Sonic the Hedgehog, but this is really a lot more like Goron Link from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Dillon’s turning is not particularly sharp when rolling, but navigating the map overall works pretty well.

It’s worth noting that the game is a new take on Tower Defense. The Grocks walk along a set path and make their way toward the town from their nests in order to eat Scrogs (which lowers your overall reward or can lead to failure). There are towers you can set up, but I’ve found it’s challenging to save enough money to adequately build towers and set up their weapons to properly aid you in fending off the beasts. That’s where Dillon’s combat mode comes in. You cannot rely solely on your tower guns, so you will have to engage Grocks on your own. When you run into a Grock on the map, you will enter a small battlefield where you can then roll into and punch Grocks into pieces. The Grocks still on the map will continue to move and your guns will still attack them if they are still in range. To make matters worse, your guns cannot change the direction they are facing (which depends on the gun you choose). This leads to towers getting attacked and destroyed frequently, and also allows Grocks to sometimes pass by them completely unscathed. It’s not something that cannot be worked with; in fact the game keeps you on your toes in this regard. However, more customization with the tower guns would have been much appreciated. Thankfully, you can temporarily upgrade Dillon’s gear as well as your town’s defenses.

The game looks pretty good for a downloadable game. The warm colors make it really feel like a game set in the west and the cel-shaded graphics make the game look quite cartoony, very much like its official artwork. The 3D works well when moving around the map, aiding seeing the depth between objects like towers and Grocks and not harming the game’s lower though steady framerate. While there isn’t a whole lot of action going at once until the later stages, it’s interesting to note how large the maps are. It takes at least a full minute or so to get from one end of the map to the other, and this is just from rolling. Models and textures are simple but the game overall looks appealing, if only a little bare.

The soundtrack is well composed with a spaghetti western type feel, though the song selection is fairly limited. The same music cues are played with little variety. The Grocks produce menacing groans and growls and Dillon’s grunt noises are fitting and fun to listen to. They’re fun tracks to say the least, but expect to hear them a lot when you play.

This was the first digitally downloaded game I purchased that was not a Virtual Console title. Despite some flaws, I found it to be very interesting and fun. Sure, it’s tower defense, but it takes the formula and tries something very unique. If you’re looking for a cheap game on your 3DS and don’t mind tower defense gameplay, this isn’t a bad selection to check out.

Verdict: BUY IT!