Review by DomZ Ninja

"No spine, just guts. Well, and some flaws."

I just love those cute blue piles of goo. They're so cute and they were always the object of my affection in the Dragon Quest series. I remember hearing about Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime a while back, not knowing that it was actually a sequel of a game only released in Japan. It looked like a charming platformer game with a lot of things to collect and dungeons to crawl through. Rocket Slime is often compared to the old Zelda games, and I can see where those comparisons come from. Despite sharing similarities to one of the greatest video game series of all time, Rocket Slime is more like "Zelda for Dummies", if you ask me.

Story
The story takes place in Boingburg, where a total of 101 slimes can blissfully carry on with their lives. The main character, a young slime named Rocket, is first seen with a couple of buddies. They "borrow" a magical flute found in the town castle and mess around with it. Rocket wins a game to determine who plays the flute. After testing out the ol' thing, Rocket's father storms on the scene. In a panic, Rocket hides the flute in his stomach, stretching his body out. To make a short story even shorter, an evil organization known as the Plob invaded Generic Town- *ahem*, Boingburg.

For reasons unknown, the evil platypuses (or whatever the plural form of "platypus" is) capture all 100 slimes. They mistake Rocket for a worm (since the flute stretched out his insides) and dispose of him in a nearby forest. First off, lets state the good things. The story is somewhat funny, what with Rocket being mistaken for an invertebrate and all. Second, having the evil group consisting of platypuses is unique. I mean, platypuses rock. Then again, this is one of the most generic stories ever used. Uh oh, it's time to rescue your loved ones who have been kidnapped by bad guys! And it's pretty stupid that it never states WHY the Plob decided to randomly destroy a town and kidnap all of its inhabitants. Well, at least you don't find out why until the end of the game. Overall, the story is too generic for its own good. Boresville.

Graphics
Ah, here we go. A nice, high point of Rocket Slime. The graphics are for lack of a better word, cute. The graphics seem a bit childish, but they are very bubbly and colorful. The animation is real smooth and I always smile when I see Rocket bopping about. The enemies have such cute reactions and animations as well. It's real funny to see a monster get surprise and try to run away while its tiny feet flail around. In a way, the graphics make Rocket Slime look like a modern-day cartoon. I'm not complaining, because I have enough dignity to be seen while playing this game.

Some of the bigger sprites look really awesome. A couple of the bosses are pretty large in size and they look top-notch. Also, the graphics in the tank battles are real nice. The gigantic tanks look very polished and detailed. I'd say that the graphics are used a bit better in the tank battles than in the regular game, but overall the visuals in Rocket Slime are impressive.

Controls
There really isn't anything to complain about with the controls. Rocket's main technique, the Elasto Blast, is used by holding A and moving in a direction with the D-Pad. Let go of A and Rocket will be shot in said direction. You can also press A to jump in the air. When airborne, hold A to float for a short period of time. If you have an object or person on your back, you can press B to throw them. Try throwing something right after using an Elasto Blast; they'll go flying!

The controls are all the same for tank battles. When fighting an enemy tank, the only skills you'll be using is the Elasto Blast and throwing. Tank battles can be very hectic at times, so the simplicity of the controls helps you keep your cool when in a sticky situation. The controls are all easy to use, but my only minor complaint is that not all of the buttons are used at all times. For example, you only use the X button when you are using a particular item.

Sound
I can't really complain about the sound, but it's not perfect. Heck, most of the time the sound in Rocket Slime isn't even recognizable. It's hard to notice the music in this game, whether or not it's bad or just dull; I can't figure it out. Most of the music is quirky and cute, but that is to be expected with the game's nature. The boss music is probably the better tracks in the game, but unfortunately there are very few bosses in Rocket Slime.

The sound effects in the game are also charming and humorous. Rocket makes the cutest sounds effects, it's adorable and embarrassing at the same time. I love the little "hup" sound that he makes when he jumps in the air. Slimes have an infant-like cry when they get hit by an enemy. The characters also have a strange mumbling sound when you talk to them; similar to games like Banjo Kazooie, and they nicely fit their characteristics. For example, the main antagonist, Don Clawleone, sounds like an obnoxious mafia leader. On the other hand, the enemies in the game have quite possibly the most annoying voice in the game. Whenever they hit, they emit an ear-piercing squeal that is so unpleasant to the ears, it's just disturbing. It's sad that I avoid hurting enemies just so I don't have to hear their cry of death. For the most part, the sound and music is great, but there are some difficulties with it.

Gameplay
First off, I wasn't sure else where to add this, but I need to get the humor out of the way. Overall, DQH: Rocket Slime is a really funny game. If you're a fan of the Mario & Luigi games, then you may notice the same type of humor in this one. Either way, you're sure to bust a gut at some of the puns.

Unfortunately, most of the puns are so overused that the humor becomes forced. Many of the puns revolve around slimes in general. For example, you're most likely going to hear this line or something similar through the game: "I gotta get GOOing!". It's funny the first time, but it's just plain dumb after the eighth time over. Some of the puns are referring to pop-culture, such as movies or games. One of the tanks that you fight is a giant tree; conveniently named "Chrono Twigger". There are three slimes in the game that creepily resemble the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with their appearance and traits. Many of the jokes and references are a nice add-in, but many of the puns are forced into the dialogue, making them that much more irritating.

Like I stated earlier, DQH: Rocket Slime is often compared to the old 2D Zelda games in term of gameplay. For the most part, Rocket is sliming his way through dungeon by dungeon, collecting items and saving slimes. In the beginning of the game, that's all you do: save slimes. Not long after saving oh, around five slimes, you will uncover the massive tank known as the Schleiman Tank. After that, you will find yourself battling massive enemy tanks in order to save your comrades or access new areas.

Needless to say, tank battles are something you'll never see in a Zelda game. The objective is actually quite simple: destroy the opposing tank before it destroys yours. With an arsenal of 30 various weapons, this may sound simple, but it always isn't. Many of the tanks require you to use a bit of strategy in your assault. Most of the ammo you acquire is through collecting items across the areas you explore. A lot of your ammunition are regular weapons that will deal damage to the opponent when it makes contact, but some are special weapons that open up all new strategies.

In the tank interior, there are two cannons used for firing your ammo. The top cannon fires any ammo placed in it in an arc. It will slowly travel towards the enemy tank, which is situated on the opposite side of the arena. The bottom tank fires straight ahead, and is more speedy than the former. Ammo is found in chutes located all around the tank, so you will find yourself frantically running back and forth to find all the ammo and firing it.

Enemy tanks fire in the same fashion. When two weapons collide in midair, they will destroy each other and negate the attack. Many of the ammo is destroyed in one hit, but there are a couple powerful weapons that need to be hit several times to be destroyed. In order to win the battle, you will have to focus on using both cannons in order to get your attacks through.

Both tanks have an HP bar, and it will deplete with each hit of a weapon. The interesting part is that the battle isn't over when a tank reaches zero HP. When a tank runs out of HP, the vehicle will break down and the engine will become exposed. Your new task is to run inside the enemy tank, enter the engine room, and destroy the engine with an Elasto Blast. You will find yourself without any HP is some tank battles, and all you can do is to take a stand and defend your tank from enemy intruders. One more small note: you can increase your tank's HP so you aren't always at a disadvantage.

It sounds easy, but some tank battles are pretty tough. Luckily, you will get some help later in the game in the form of crew members. There are over 30 crew members in the game, and they are either slimes or monsters you have captured (more on the monster catching later). Crew members have specific commands they can perform, some more useful than others. Some have two commands, and you can toggle which one they can perform when the game is paused. These crew members really opens up a variety of things you can do to win a battle. Some commands are to gather ammo, fire the cannons, infiltrate the enemy tank, or defend your own tank from intruders. Having a well-structured team really makes tank battles fun. There are so many ways to take on an enemy. You can do it the old fashioned way by loading the cannons yourself. Or, you can infiltrate the opponent's tank and destroy the inside. If not, you can destroy the inside of the enemy vehicle and steal their ammo to be used against them. The possibilities are virtually endless.

That's the basics of the tank battles, which are the high point of the game. On the other hand, there's the adventure. The normal "run through dungeons collecting stuff" sounds good on paper, but it isn't up to par in Rocket Slime. Rocket must use his Elasto Blast in order to do well...pretty much everything. Your Elasto Blast technique is used to damage and defeat enemies, pick up objects, and open chests. In short, you have to use your Elasto Blast for virtually everything you do in the game. You can upgrade the technique later in the game, but it proves to be less useful than expected; only destroying an obstacle seen rarely through the game.

At the end of most dungeons, you will face a boss. Instead of fighting them in a tank battle, you'll have to dispose of them on your own two feet. Erm, well you know what I mean. Unfortunately, all of the bosses are ridiculously easy and require little to no strategy in order to defeat them. The game is most likely aimed towards a younger audience, so there aren't many challenges aside from the tank battles. Speaking of tank battles, they're pretty common. You will find large podiums scattered around dungeons. Step on one and play the Warrior's Flute (that flute you stole/ate in the beginning of the game) to start the battle.

Other than defeating bosses and engaging in tank battles, all that's left to do is collect stuff. The real purpose of the game is to rescue the slimes, but there's other junk to collect that's essential to completing the game. Slimes are usually found in random, unguarded areas. Open the chest with an Elasto Blast and stick 'em on your back. Well, what now? I'm sure you have noticed the train carts rolling through the dungeons. The trains aren't exactly scarce, and you can probably find a set of tracks every couple screens. This train system goes to Boingburg, so you can throw things on the cart to bring them back to town. Chuck the slime on a cart, and they'll be safe and sound in no time. A nice addition is that they send you a thank you letter with a gift inside.

Another important item to collect are various objects found in the dungeons. Pick up a random item and throw it on a cart to be shipped back to town. It will most likely be able to be used as ammo. Make sure to bring items back to town often; it's one of the only ways to get ammo for your tank. Aside from defeating those baddies scattered around the world, you can also ship them back to Boingburg as well. Once you do, they will be part of the community and live happily ever after. If you collect 30 of one monster species, they can be used as a crew member in your tank!

There are only seven levels to traverse though. Yeah, that is it. Some of the levels are quite lengthy and require several trips in order to explore it from head to toe, but c'mon. The dungeons are also pretty boring: two forests, two deserts, two mountains, and a castle. It could have been spruced up more so it didn't seem like we were revisiting the same places over and over. Rocket Slime is also fairly short; it takes less than 15 hours to beat. I was let down by the overall gameplay, but the tank battles balanced the sides out.

Replay Value
Once the short quest comes to a halt, you won't be left in the dust, which is always a good thing. There are a lot of things to collect, but needless to say, it isn't the most riveting of activities. You can create monster statues in the museum by collecting a certain number of monsters. Collect 30 for a bronze statue, 50 for a silver one, and 100 for a super shiny gold one. Of course, it's only for show and only completion freaks will get a kick out of it.

There's also a minigame called Tank Masters. It's a large tournament which pits your tank against enemies in a mini-tourney. There are four classes; each containing three battles. After completing all four classes, you can engage in the ultimate battle. Needless to say, it's the hardest battle in the game. Not only can you replay all battles, but you can also use any tank in the game. Once you beat it, you can use it. On the subject of tanks, you can always upgrade your tank more and more by adding powerful ammo and winning new weapons, so you can use them in multiplayer mode. Dueling your tanks with a friend is a real blast, but it's a too bad that there's no Wi-Fi capabilities.

Another sweet treat is that you can replay all battles. You can replay all tank battles and boss battles. There really isn't any motivation to fight earlier tank battles unless you want to totally decimate their weak machine with your all-mighty uber tank. But hey, at least it was included. I was surprised by the number of things you can do when the game ends. It's a nice breath of fresh air so you won't be too tempted to toss Rocket Slime in the corner after quickly beating the main quest. The more things to do, the merrier.

Overall (not an average): 7/10

Pros
+ The graphics are colorful, and charming
+ The sound effects are quite cute, in a good way
+ Controls are simple enough to handle
+ Tank battles are downright awesome
+ The game is funny, with hilarious references
+ Pretty good replay value

Cons
- The story is too boring and generic
- Music is easily forgettable
- Way too short
- Incredibly easy
- The main adventure is too tedious
- Too... much... collecting!

The perfect word to describe Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is "charming". There's no point denying it: the colorful graphics, the cute sound effects, the silly humor shows how delightful this game is. The graphics are crisp and the animations are smooth; the backgrounds are pretty and the sprites are gnarly. The controls are easy to the point of being almost too simplistic, but that's a good thing. What distances Rocket Slime from others is its sense of humor: it may try too hard at times, but overall it's a hilarious game. The gameplay is split in two: its boring overall, but the tank battles really make the game enjoyable. There are so many good things about DQH: Rocket Slime, but unfortunately, the cons balance out the goods which pretty much condemns it to the pit of mediocrity. Yeah, I'm convinced there is such a thing.

I would use a super-duper slimetastic pun in this review, but I'll spare you. I have morals.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/03/06, Updated 03/06/09

Game Release: Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (US, 09/19/06)


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