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Dillon's Rolling Western review

Once upon a time in the west for anthropomorphic tower defence

For a fistful of dollars (or more accurately, a debit card), you can mosey on down to the eShop for Vanpool's ham-fisted offering. Tower defence with a literal spin, you play a Stetson-wearing armadillo with the Sonic-esque talent of curling into a ball and rolling along the defensive lines in efforts to protect a frontier populated by earnest animals in human clothes.

The Last Ranger plays just like its 2012 predecessor. The mute Dillon and his talkative gopher partner, Russ, travel from town to town saving citizens' livestock, called Scrogs, from rocky monster scourges, the Grocks.

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Each town acts as a level and each level lasts three days. In this time you'll traverse generously sized dust bowls to upgrade and maintain your various defences. Movement is handled on the touchscreen, where you'll rev up Dillon's shell using a downward flick and keep it in motion by continually swiping at it like a potter's wheel.

Naturally, being played in third-person, rather than from the genre's usual, eye-in-the-sky perspective, travelling between stations is long and sometimes arduous, but diversions litter the way. Smashing rocks gives you gold coins with which to repair and customise the pre-set towers (upgrades come in wood, iron and steel varieties and each can be kitted with shotguns, cannons or Gatling guns).

Mineral mines, meanwhile, contain valuable gems and ore you can pawn off for more gold. Pace is slow, however: NPCs creep through their dialogue, trading plods thanks to a lack of a 'sell all' button, and the act of rolling to each tower is laborious.

Cowboy Beflop

When the sky darkens on the third day, it's fighting time. During encounters with Grocks, Dillon enters a specialised fighting stage reminiscent of wild JRPG encounters. Here, players use simple slashing motions on the bottom screen to launch the armoured mammal at the blundering boulders. While somewhat appealing with the 3D cranked up, it's entirely brainless and feels arbitrary, considering your towers are the primary defence.

The real kicker with tower management here is the lack of any rewind button. Mistakes made during the first day can snowball and return to haunt you when the Grocks finally invade on the third, leaving you with no other option but to begin the whole scenario again. This can destroy half an hour or more's progress.

At least the general vibe goes some way to remedying frustrations. It's pretty hard to stay cross with a game that features a poncho-donning squid who challenges you to a quick-time duel, a snakey weapons merchant called Sal who adds extra 'ssss's to words, or a mountain lion distinctly modelled on Annie Oakley.

While most of these critters stay safe behind the town gates - which you can enter to buy medicine, trade in items found in mines, train skills and increase the Scrog population by feeding them marshmallow-like Scruffles you've collected - some accompany you in the field. Keep your reptilian ranger pal Gallo healthy with medicine and he'll pick off stragglers with a limb-flailing, cloud-puffing fight animation.

Sadly, despite an endearing cast of critters and a neat central premise - tower defence rarely gives the player this kind of agency - it's too slow, shallow and cumbersome to recommend.

Comments

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  1. Hero_Of_Moga Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 09:29

    wouldn't it be more fair to have the same person who reviewed the original to review this as well as if I remember correctly the original got a much better score than 66%
    fyi if you have not played the original but have played the second game I hardly see how this review is fair

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    thomas east gave the original a whopping 87% the sequel will be exactly the same but with more features than the original you even say at the start that is pretty much the same as the original so I fail to see how it got a lower score as the original was brilliant

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    why are you compaining that the fight mechanics are repetitive any game that has fight mechanics will be repetitive pokemon's battle mechanics are repetitive but I don't hear anyone complaining about them and no the towers are not your primary defence the game is designed so that the towers weaken the grocks so you can finish them off I hardly bother with towers that much as they usually get destroyed

  2. ThePsychicExtrem Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 09:45

    "The Last Ranger plays just like its 2012 predecessor. "

    If it plays just like the original why should it get a worse score? I mean, sure, maybe not the great score like it got last time but i'm really surprised to see it got 66%, i really enjoy this game

  3. Hero_Of_Moga Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 09:46

    "The Last Ranger plays just like its 2012 predecessor. "

    If it plays just like the original why should it get a worse score? I mean, sure, maybe not the great score like it got last time but i'm really surprised to see it got 66%, i really enjoy this game


    I'm glad someone else thinks the same as me

  4. Binba442 Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 09:53

    I agree, this review nitpicks far too much. The game is better than the 87% scoring original, so surely a better mark is in order?

  5. Hero_Of_Moga Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 10:00

    "its too shallow and cumbersome to recommend"
    the original was never shallow and the game is meant to be ever so slightly cumbersome

  6. Time-Bomb Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 10:53

    Yeah this review doesn't make much sense. It's a good game with a few minor niggles. I'd give it at least in the 70's, if not 80.

    I do like the Cowboy Bebop reference though!

  7. Fox_McCloud Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 16:04

    "The Last Ranger plays just like its 2012 predecessor. "

    If it plays just like the original why should it get a worse score? I mean, sure, maybe not the great score like it got last time but i'm really surprised to see it got 66%, i really enjoy this game

    Because time has passed and a game should improve on it's predecessor. If you gave it the same score as the previous one you get rapid inflation of what is a review score which is why you see so many games get mid 90s for just being decent.

  8. hunter metroid Saturday 3rd Aug 2013 at 19:56

    this is a great game sure it not as good as the original but it still deserves a score in the 70s or 80s

  9. ThePsychicExtrem Sunday 4th Aug 2013 at 12:50

    "The Last Ranger plays just like its 2012 predecessor. "

    If it plays just like the original why should it get a worse score? I mean, sure, maybe not the great score like it got last time but i'm really surprised to see it got 66%, i really enjoy this game

    Because time has passed and a game should improve on it's predecessor. If you gave it the same score as the previous one you get rapid inflation of what is a review score which is why you see so many games get mid 90s for just being decent.

    yes, but just because it's similar it shouldn't get a whole 21% knocked off, de blob 2 only got 5% knocked off for example. I still think the review score is far too low for this game

  10. jaco_p Sunday 4th Aug 2013 at 13:51

    Yes the original got a good review, but maybe shouldn't have got such a good score if you read about the failings in the game which were listed in the article for the original. Now the latest game may have improved on the original in some ways, but those seem largely superficial when the core elements of gameplay, ie. becoming quickly repetitive and tedious, are still there then the review score must go down, as it has not improved in a meaningful way.
    For me the reviews on this site are too high a lot of the time and this is great to see someone being honest about what they see!
    I might still try a game if it gets 60 or 70% if i like some of the elements of the game. Not every game worth your time should be 90+

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