Even the biggest Nintendo hater has to admit the 3DS eShop is on a roll, with quality titles like VVVVVV, Mighty Switch Force! and Pushmo. It appeared Dillon’s Rolling Western would join this highly regarded group, but sadly, this latest experiment is all over the place, unfair and mind-numbingly repetitive.
Viewed from a third-person perspective, the game puts you in control of Dillon, an armadillo that goes from town to town protecting livestock called Scruffle Hogs (Scrogs for short) from giant rock monsters called Grocks, intimidating creatures that only appear at night and have a nasty habit of swallowing prey whole.
That said, each of the ten levels has three stages. The first, daytime, gives players the chance to collect Scruffles (Scrogs’ favorite food), explore mines for precious materials and use cash acquired from completing missions to build and then arm guard towers with a shotgun, cannon or Gatling gun.
Afternoon, meanwhile, serves as a warning to get those defenses in place. Finally, the evening is when the action kicks into high gear, as Dillon squares off against those aforementioned Grocks.
Whenever he comes into contact with one, things temporarily freeze and then a battle screen appears, where gamers fight an untold number of mini rock monsters, gathering the ore they leave behind.
How does Dillon get around and fight? Rolling, of course, and players achieve this by dragging the stylus down and then releasing it, flicking up to build speed. They can also drag down and hold the stylus in place for a more powerful attack that damages multiple enemies at once.
With that, here’s the problem. While the controls work well enough, Dillon’s Rolling Western is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s both an action and tower defense game. The developers even pepper side quests throughout the experience that more often than not involve resource gathering, AKA lots of mining until you pass out from boredom.
Meanwhile, you’ll hear the sound of Scrogs being eaten during those action sequences, yet there are no Grocks anywhere near the town, which makes no sense whatsoever.
As for the towers, these worthless piles of wood do almost nothing to stop the Grocks from advancing, at least early on. This effectively kills the appeal of the whole tower defense component, since you’ll spend more time rolling all the way across a map to fix something that was ineffective to begin with.
Our biggest complaint, though, involves time, as in we need more of it. Nintendo doesn’t give us enough minutes on the clock to do all these things, and managing money can get in the way of the fun, what there is of it. Yes, you need to build towers, but reinforcing the town doors is also a smart idea, and if you do that, will it prevent you from completing side quests, since you’ll exchange ore and other materials for cash?
It’s a bit much, especially when Grocks continue to move while you’re in combat, which means there’s almost no time to savor these confrontations or learn new strategies, but who are we kidding? There is no strategy, other than continuously rolling into things.
All of this makes Dillon’s Rolling Western one of the most disappointing 3DS games we’ve played. It’s just a mess of ideas with no real focus, and we’re a bit surprised Nintendo even released this title at $9.99. Sorry, but we’d rather spend our money elsewhere.