By Phil Schipper / May 24th, 2013
|Title: Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger
Release Date: April 11, 2013
Genre: Action/Tower Defense
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS eShop
Age Rating: E10+
In Dillon’s Rolling Western, 3DS owners were challenged to test their strategic and action prowess on the battlefield against the fearsome Grocks. A year later, Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger promises to bring even more to the table. But in a series that already overfills the player’s plate with things to do, will the new features over complicate things?
Like the original, The Last Ranger pits you against hordes of angry Grocks, rock creatures who are out to destroy villages and their supplies of scrogs. Dillon has to gather supplies and set up fortifications by day, and use them to help him fight the Grocks by night. These range from simple gates constructed at the village entrances to a variety of automatic turrets.
They can’t get all the enemies by themselves, though. Dillon has to go fight enemies himself – and be quick about it, too. His rolling, clawing, grinding and digging is all touch-controlled, and – solving a common complaint about the original game – The Last Ranger also has lefty controls (although no Circle Pad Pro support, sadly). Like the original, only a small number of the enemies pose any challenge on their own, but because the other enemies continue moving you’ll rush to finish every battle.
That’s not to say everything’s the same. By going on side missions, you’ll get the chance to hire Rangers. These partners in crime will help get a specific resource of your choosing by day, and pick off Grock units by night. You can radio them on the field to send them toward key points, but generally they’ll behave the way the AI wants–and it can be a rather frustrating AI, too. They’ll stay for the remainder of the side stage, but if you want to use them in later stages you’ll have to fight them in one-on-one combat.
Dueling other rangers is what really puts the “Western” in Dillon’s Rolling Western. Once they get it in their heads to fight you, the rangers will stand outside the saloon, guns at the ready to fire. You and your opponent stare each other down for a long minute, until–at a split-second cue–your chance arrives to enter a quick command. Early on it’ll be a roll that takes you straight into your opponent to knock him down and win the fight, but later duels feature a whole choreography of dodges and dashes that becomes a real challenge. Being too slow or acting at the wrong time will get you shot instantly.
Back in the main story, Dillon and his partner Russ are accompanying a train that brings vital supplies to the frontier. On the final Grock wave of each stage, a train will come out and chug slowly toward the village. Dillon, his Ranger partner, and his turret-firing allies will have to defend not only the villages, but the train as well. Grocks will target it, and there are several specialized Grocks that try to blow it up or even break parts of the track. You’ll have to spend some resources to repair the tracks or the train will derail automatically. Ouch! And when the train arrives in the village, that won’t save you either, because the Grocks will start approaching the village twice as fast.
There are six of these train missions, plus seven without. Add in the duels and two seemingly bottomless mines (treasure-hunting mazes that can get you a little cash boost), and The Last Ranger becomes a big content boost from the original–which was pretty sizable already. The side missions make up for their lack of trains by adding other major obstacles like rock walls, mud and water, forcing you to make full use of the ramps, launchers, walls, and other features of the landscape to get around. These can feel gimmicky at first, but they serve as more fleshed-out versions of ideas from the first game. Plus, as with the original, you can certainly expect a few surprises to come up around the game’s end.
Surprisingly, though, these new features don’t make the frantic pace of battle tougher to keep track of. Although you’ll probably be more worried about your strategy than your fighting skill – at least, compared to the original game – you can definitely get away with a few more mistakes. This is partly due to the Rangers, but even without them, you’re offered more money and more resources in The Last Ranger than ever before. That means you can buy more upgrades and better towers. Heck, you can even buy temporary stars to get into the other levels if your track record isn’t so great.
Still, even if you don’t get as many game overs, there’s no getting rid of that flood of adrenaline when you have one scrog left and the Grocks are right at your village gates. There’s still nothing like that sigh of relief when you’ve gotten the job done just in time and everything’s resolved. You’ll earn your way back into that saloon, now a full walk-around area where you can talk to different characters and get reports–there’s even an option to go outside and explore in the peace of night, admiring the stars. And like Dillon, you’ll finish each area just a little exhausted, so the breather you get here is more than welcome.
The Last Ranger is a more accessible, more complete take on the Dillon’s Rolling Western franchise. Like the original, it’s like a whole season full of sports: get ready, play to win, give your best effort, and, if you’re good enough, go home a champion.
Review copy supplied by the author.
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