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Dillon’s Rolling Western

This armadillo is the last hope for frontier life. He travels from one Wild West town to the next and handles all of the dirty work. The towns have been infested by creatures known as Grocks, rock monsters who are looking to capture each community’s livestock, the pillar of their Western economy. It’s a country spun story about an enterprising ranger who rolls his way through danger all in the name of protecting people’s way of life.

Dillon spends three days in each settlement fighting off the Grocks. By day, he scavenges for supplies and sets up towers around the perimeter. There is always the pressure of time forcing the issue of urgency. It’s getting to be dusk, his hyperactive sidekick warns him, better take care of business before it’s too late. Dillon scraps for supplies, ensuring there’s food for the livestock (allowing them to multiply), setting up defenses and barriers, and undertaking fetch quests picked up in the bar before.

By night, he must fight. With a quick swipe of the stylus he curls into his hard shell and spins, while being directed by the circle pad. It’s a novel approach that requires more full interaction and is a fun control scheme in the context of this game. By drawing in and swiping out, Dillon dashes towards enemies and dives into them, potentially followed by a series of vicious clawing attacks. The key is in upgrading his abilities, as even with a good series of towers set up, it’s still necessary to confront the invaders directly and so it’s better to throw money at those skills.

What’s frustrating about Dillon’s Rolling Western is when it stops. One moment, he’s rolling freely through the settlement and the next, it’s a loading screen. And this is the problem with the light dusting of tower defense. It feels separate from the main action as just checking on a tower requires loading. Or going into a mine. Or back to the village. Or encountering a Grock. Or anything that isn’t rolling aimlessly and collecting coin from passing shrubs.

The thing is that all of the parts are potentially good but they are spliced together oddly. The combat feels involving. The resource gathering and exploration is interesting and different. It captures the character-focused identity of the typical Nintendo game. But all these good ideas clash against one another in practice and all that’s left are good intentions and a nice try at a new IP.

For all of its faults, it’s easy to excuse Dillon’s Rolling Western for trying to differentiate itself. It’s not a tower defense game with action shoehorned in as some gimmick, so it is already better than most. In fact it is the opposite. It’s a Nintendo character action game that just happens to have tower defense parts. Despite developer Vanpool’s best efforts to do something stylish and new, they’re unable to deliver fully on their vision in a cohesive way and Dillon’s Rolling Western falls just short of being that standout defining game on the eShop.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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