Game Review

Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Spinning in place

It's been just over a year since the release of Dillon's Rolling Western, an interesting spin — pardon the pun — on the tower defense formula, starring a steely armadillo prone to communicating through loaded silence. As you can see from our review at the time we liked it, though not without reservations.

Now we have a sequel, Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger, and it's almost identical to the first game. That's both a good and a bad thing, and whether it's more the former or the latter is up to you to decide.

It's worth reading our review of the first game, because everything we say there applies here as well. As Dillon you travel from town to town with your diminutive — and much more talkative — sidekick Russ. The towns are periodically under attack by rock monsters, which you must intercept and prevent from eating the sheep-like Scrogs.

You do this in three phases. First you spend the day collecting resources and treasures on the outskirts of town, using whatever you find to shore up the walls of the town, build and repair towers, and generate new Scrogs. Then your little friend lets you know the day is over, and it's time to fight rock monsters. To do this you simply roll into them, which opens up a battle screen that sees you taking down smaller monsters and bosses one by one. When all of the rock monsters are gone you enter the town's saloon where you can take on side-quests, review the results of the day, and save your game.

If that sounds exactly like the first game there's a reason for that: it is exactly like the first game.

The graphics look the same, the controls are the same, and even some of the jokes from the original game are replayed here without alteration. It's little more than a game-length map pack for its predecessor, which is disappointing, as not only does the formula not get shaken up in any way, but this effective doubling of the original game's length just makes it feel even more tedious.

We understand that similar accusations are leveled at the New Super Mario Bros. games, or the Mega Man classic series. The formula doesn't necessarily change substantially between titles... only the levels do. But there's a reason each of the installments in those series manages to stand out, in a way that Dillon's sequel does not: those games are all about obstacles and enemy placement. Mixing them up in new ways every time really does provide a feeling of freshness and unpredictability. Here, however, obstacles don't factor into the game at all. Each of the areas is a barren and boring expanse with little to do apart from mine repetitively until the enemies show up. When they do you roll into them, kill them, and move on.

This is gameplay that positively screams out for a wrinkle somewhere to shake things up, and that wrinkle never comes; you just move on to an ostensibly different but functionally identical new town and start the whole process over again. The game gradually ramps up the difficulty, but it does so in the least creative and unrewarding way possible: by simply sending more and more enemies after you.

Even the controls, which we found to be a hindrance to enjoyment the first time around, remain almost entirely unchanged and are made no more responsive. Nearly everything you do is handled through the stylus, for instance dragging down and releasing to roll, and tapping in order to perform an attack. You can brake, talk or enter structures with L, but beyond that you're stuck with some pretty unforgiving timing if you want to use more than one attack. There is an option to practice your attacks outside of battle, which is nice, but the learning curve is steep and needlessly frustrating.

There is one concession made to left-handed gamers this time around, which allows you to use the face buttons instead of the circle pad and the R button instead of L, which is nice, but it just makes it even more bothersome that they didn't bother to make the controls any tighter — or at least offer an alternate, button-focused scheme — while they were at it.

There's no attempt to advance the gameplay formula of the first game at all, apart from a few token stabs that don't make the game feel or play any differently. For instance you can draft other characters to fight alongside you, but doing so doesn't feel any different from using your money to activate gun towers that do the same thing, albeit in a stationary sense. You'll also have to defend a train as it travels westward in some of the battles. However this doesn't feel any different from defending the town. It's a half-hearted attempt at livening up the formula, but all it does is remind you of how static it is.

Of course we did like many aspects of the original game, and since this is basically the same game that carries over here. The humor is fun, the visuals are nice, and the 3D might be totally unnecessary but it does a good job of making the canyons feel vast and desolate. The music is good, but largely forgettable, and the optional side quests do their part to spice things up, even though their goal is nearly always a matter of simple collection or defeating a number of enemies, which you'll be doing anyway.

It's difficult to say much more about Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger, since the game doesn't give us much new to work with. If you passed on the first game, then you may want to download this one. However, if you decided to download the first instead, you obviously wouldn't be missing out on much here. And if you are already a fan of the first game, then it's just a matter of determining whether or not you want another helping of exactly the same experience.

We like the idea of a more active approach to tower defense. We like the Western setting and the fun the game has with its essential cliches. We like the silliness of a hard-hearted armadillo who travels from town to town defending the helpless. We think there's a lot of promise in all of these things, and it would just take the right hero to make it all turn out right. Dillon, unfortunately, isn't quite up to the task, but at least we can have some fun along the way.


When the first Dillon's Rolling Western game debuted, the appearance of such an ambitious game in the young eShop was a breath of fresh air. Now, however, with a large number of great games available — and often with a much smaller price tag attached — it makes it that much more difficult to recommend. That's not to say that The Last Ranger is without its charms, but the series seems determined not to evolve, or even refine its approach; that's a problem. What we have here is essentially game-length DLC, with almost none of the original faults addressed, and that leaves us feeling relatively disappointed.

From the web

User Comments (84)



EpicBlaze said:

Noooooo, this was supposed to be 10/10. I LOVED the first one, what happened now!?



WingedSnagret said:

Certainly seems like this should have just been a big DLC pack for the first game instead of a stand alone title. A shame really.



Dpullam said:

I honestly am pretty disappointed that this game didn't score better than the first game. I haven't played the first game so I believe that the issues mentioned in the above review wouldn't concern me. I really like the way the game looks and plays and will be picking it up in the future. I have also talked to others that own the game and the control issues seem to be non-existent. It also helps that the game looks great and runs a silky smooth frame rate even with 3D turned on. I guess this will be one of the few reviews that I will have to disagree with but that remains to be seen in the future.



Dark-Luigi said:

Yikes. I thought this would be better than the original. Guess I thought wrong, and I was really looking forward to this one. Sorry, a pass for me.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

That's a shame. I was hoping for at least a 7/10 or 8/10 for it. I'll probably still pick it up eventually, probably after all the FEA DLC comes out.



Faruko said:

I loved the first one, will get this for sure...

And i wanted to say something for quite sometime, Nintendo Life its (without a doubt) one of the best gaming sites out there, i love the fanboy-but-objective way of the site, i just dont like when a site (for example, and xbox one) says that everything that MS does its golden... it cant be like that, companies are bound to fail

Talking points are damn good and give us a different way to see things, and (in my opinion) games never seem to be "overscored" just because its a Nintendo game or its on a Nintendo console (although we dont have a comparative point), good job, keep going

Destructoid and NintendoLife are (most of the times) the only sites i go for reviews.



Squashie said:

I never even tried the first game, it just didn't look like my cup of tea really!



BakaKnight said:

From the review it was clear the 6 was coming, it really sounded to fit the definition "a lazy sequel, it doesn't innovate but it doesn't really do anything wrong."

Personally anyway I didn't play much the first despite being a good game, so surely not interested in buy more of the same XD But I guess this will be an awesome game for those who just need more Dillon ^_^



LunaticPandora said:

You say the series seems determined not to evolve, yet Picross E-2 is doing the exact same thing and you still gave it 8/10. Double-standards much?



ThomasBW84 said:

@LunaticPandora - It seems to me, and I speak from experience of reviewing the first game and then reading Phil's views of this sequel, that the lack of evolution is particularly problematic because of the problems of the first one. There is absolutely no reason that the controls, for example, have to be stylus based, and it sounds like it's as awkward as ever. On top of that the concept has its own flaws, and naturally Phil will score and write from his own experiences which, in this case, scores one point lower than I did. It's his opinion and the review explains the reasons behind the score.

Also, he cites the example of New Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man games not always "evolving", but the freshness is all about how the experience is shifted up courtesy of level designs etc. Picross E falls into that too, I think, as they're new puzzles to take on. Clearly the argument here is that this structure, or a lack of changes within it, lacks the freshness we see in other games.

So no, it's not double standards, and comparing this to Picross is, as I know I say annoyingly often, like comparing apples and oranges.



Spoony_Tech said:

Can't say I disagree! I'm still enjoying it but I said the same thing on the forums that it feels more like dlc for the first game. However I just barely started this game. Looks and feels the same which isn't a bad thing just not much new here really.



LunaticPandora said:

@ThomasBW84 I know its A&O, but I'm not comparing the games to each other, I'm arguing the fact that both games changed nothing between sequels(at least that's what I'm getting from this review, as I'm in EU and can't buy it yet) yet this gets a deserved average score, but E2 still scores highly, when I even argued it should have been scored lower when it was reviewed because it was the same as the first, just with new puzzles, which isn't enough to warrant 8/10 IMO. But i guess I understand clearer if D2 has problems the original had but didn't address.



Spoony_Tech said:

I think the controls work great though and never had a problem with either. If anything my only complaint other then not much new is you still don't have displayed time during the day which is frustrating since its really just a guess as to how much time you have left to do anything!



Geonjaha said:

I didn't even finish the original game - it was long enough. Not that I'm buying any of the 3DSWare sequels anyway but not fixing any of the problems just makes it worthless to me.



DarkCoolEdge said:

The first one didn't interest me, nor does this one. The high prices of both don't help. I would consider it for 5-6€.



cyrus_zuo said:

Not surprised. I found the first game terribly tedious and quit before I hit three hour mark despite forcing myself to pick up the game several times. The concept is good, but it's a good example of why touch screen controls are bad. They lack the precision and skill of a controller and it leads to sloppy frustrating play.
That's too bad b/c I love the look and feel of this game, it's just missing it where it counts.



Kirk said:

Yeah, I think it this case it probably would have made more sense if this was DLC rather than a stand-alone retail title.



TwilightV said:

I'm left-handed, and I had no problems whatsoever with the controls in the first game. : /



Knuckles said:

Might pick it up if I somehow fall in love with the first one before I finish it. On town 4 right now.



Giygas_95 said:

Ouch...I've really been enjoying this one and I'd give it an 8. The graphics on the plains seem smoother than in the first one to me actually, and I like how you can walk around the saloon and go outside at night. I also like that they made 3D character models for each mayor now, and I really enjoyed some of the cutscenes so far (A smile broke across my face on a couple of occasions). I love everything about it except that there's no reason why it has to be controlled with the stylus. None. If there were a buttons only control scheme, I'd give it a 9.

I'm not sure a game being very similar to its predecessor is always a bad thing though. It's good if you just want more of the same, but if there are problems that need to be fixed, that's another thing entirely, and I feel they should have done away with the somewhat annoying controls. It feels like a missed opportunity that they didn't change them. Aside from that though, I love it, and it's a great addition to my 3DS library.

I hope they try again and do better. I really want this series to thrive. I'd love to see a third game on Wii U (but no stylus controls). It could have an open world structure where you have to find each village that needs to be defended, and once you've defended it for three days, you would go down into the grock dens and perhaps do sort of a Zelda styled dungeon with a boss at the end. I'll bet that would be great.



SheldonRandoms said:

I enjoyed the first one, so maybe one day i'll download this one.

Also...................Dillon for SSB4!



Yosher said:

I'll still get this one. Haven't even finished the first one yet but I love the setting and whatnot.



Karakato said:

I liked the first game, but it had its glaring problems. When I saw the trailer for the 2nd game, it was basically a DLC pack from the first with some extra elements added in and your review just sealed it. I'm still irked that the team did not opt for an all button control option, surely it wouldn't be much of a hassle if they worked it in like the leftie option.

I want this series to thrive, I really do. It's fresh to see a new Ninty IP especially with attractive character art and setting. But I wouldn't count this as a great sequel if the devs just basically added flare to coat the game's flaws and not address it directly. I'm sure this is a good game, but having played the first game, I will pass this up for better options on the eshop.



Azikira said:

My biggest issues with the game were the countdown, I never got to really explore the world while I was in a mad dash for resources.



GamecubeMan said:

“If you passed on the first game, then you may want to download this one. ”
Since I fall under this category I guess I'll download it. :3



LittleIrves said:

Who actually develops this? I know Nintendo is the publisher, but is there a small studio named as actual designer/developer? Just curious.
It's nice, at least, that these add-on sequels are at least $10 downloads and not, as they were back in the day, $50 retail games.



bluecat said:

"If you passed on the first game, then you may want to download this one."

HMMMM. Perhaps. I do like the look.



KAHN said:

i bought the first one, and i just can't play it because i'm left-handed and the controls are awkward for me. i never play the first one. funny thing, i thought this one should've been a DLC before i read about you guys mentioning DLC. but this really should have been a DLC. really.



Retro_on_theGo said:

I was real excited when the first game was revealed, thought it was cool. Dillon's series has been nothing but disappointment though. Such a shame.



EaZy_T said:

I got the first one and although I like it, I didn't/can't really play it. It's all the little issues that add up to a game that is just not that fun to play.
I do wish this game success; I'm afraid it just isn't for me.



StrawHatChopper said:

I said this when the original game released, and I'll say it now: use the DS thumb stylus (the one that originally came with Metroid Prime: Hunters). I don't like playing these games all that much with a traditional stylus, but they're a really great time with that accessory (especially since I'm left-handed).



StephenYap3 said:

I'm not too bummed that it got a...less attracting score. I played the first one and I never had that much fun with it, to be honest. The ideas it had did have promises, but it soon turned into a repetitive defense fighter. That's the reason I stopped playing it after Stage 4.



RetrogamerFan said:

I really enjoyed what i played of the first one and thought the controls were excellent. Yes it took some practice, but once i got it, the stylus control allowed a great degree of accuracy and speed; I'm left handed btw.
The great difficulty i had with the first game was the overwhelming amount of stuff the game throws at you, the towers were so expensive and didn't always feel very effective, it always felt like Dillon had to do nearly everything on his own and he often needed to be in at least two places at once.
I never finished the first one, but was wondering if the partner system feels more effective at helping Dillon? Also do you still have the really tight cash limit on your first play through of a village, i found the spending cap made it really tough going.



MitchVogel said:

I must say, this is the only review I've read on NintendoLife yet that I completely disagree with. He makes some very valid points and it's still nowhere near even a 9, but a 6 is just too low.



ilovegaming said:

I'll probably get this when I finish the first one, which I like a lot. However, I hope that the price drops when it comes to Europe, since it looks like it could have been DLC for the first one.



Giygas_95 said:

@RetrogamerFan I've played one stage so far with a hired gun. During the day, you can tell him to find money, collect scruffles, or mine ore. You have to meet up with him to collect it from him. When battle time comes, you can tell him to go to one of several pre-set locations on the map. He'll fight any grocks in that area, and you can tell him to move to another location at any time. He was pretty helpful. He took out a few grock squads on his own and joined me in a few battles, and he didn't get knocked out until the end of the third day. If his health is getting low though, you can give him some tonic if you've bought any. Yes, the spending cap is still there on your first play through.



RetrogamerFan said:

@Five-seveN thanks for your response on that.
Partner system sounds like a fairly useful addition. Shame about the spend limit though, i found it a bit frustrating to have saved money you can't spend, i really felt like i needed to use it.
Might still get this if it arrives in Europe e-shop.



AyeHaley said:

I'm shocked they did this. It might ruin any future chances for the series. Such a shame they didn't do it right.



MetalKingShield said:

Nice to see such an honest review.

Although I sort of like the fact Nintendo are making 3D games for the eShop, I would love them to make some new 2D games as well. I'm sure they could be making successors to A Link to the Past or Super Metroid - like SNES games but even better. I just think they would suit the eShop really well.



Henmii said:

Hmm, I am not sure if I'll download it! Besides, I have yet to fully play the first one!



Wowfunhappy said:


If you haven't played either of the Dillon's games, and want to get one of the two, which one should you get? The review communicated that they are essentially the same game... but are there any differences that would make one or the other the superior option?



Philip_J_Reed said:

If you haven't played either of the Dillon's games, and want to get one of the two, which one should you get?

It's a dead heat, if you ask me. If the idea of managing a companion and defending a train in addition to a village appeals to you, this is the one to go with. If either of those things sounds too complicated, then you can go with the slightly simpler formula of the first game.

Personally? I'd just wait for a sale on one of them, and make your decision that way.



Marioman64 said:

sigh i hate when people dock points off a game just because it doesn't add anything new as a sequel. judge games on their own ground people, not what came before them



swordx said:

I liked the original, so I'll get this. The train sounds like it mixes things up, but as you've said, the rest is virtually the same.



Giygas_95 said:

@Marioman64 Couldn't agree more, and personally, I think this one's better than the first in a few ways.

@Azikira Actually, you can explore at night after the grock raids in this one, and there's no time limit at night.



willobee said:


I fully agree with you, but when a sequel doesn't fix the issues of the previous game, it deserves to be marked down accordingly.



XFsWorld said:

This would have been a cool game if it was an adventure game instead of tower defence.



RR529 said:

I was never interested in the first game (not a tower defence guy, and left handed), so I'll be passing on this one as well.



plainj said:

While the review has it's fair points, it definitely deserves a 7 or 8. Apart from an expectation on enhancing/changing the control scheme, I certainly wanted more Dillon after playing the first. If that delivers, including some graphic enhancements and other bits as per some of the comments, then sign me up! (EU date?)



luminalace said:

I didn't get the first mainly because of the price and the NL review and it's going to be the same reasons why I will pass on the 2nd!



gojiguy said:

I'm just sad these games are tower defense games. Would be a great setting for an action game.



Giygas_95 said:

I have to say, after playing more of this game, that I've never disagreed more strongly with an NL review. It is right about the previous game's faults carrying over. But, some of the things I disagree with are about the hired gun, the train, the graphics, and how this one is too close to the first game. Granted, it is very similar, but (and I know the review explains this) other franchises like NSMB and CoD are very slow to evolve. The review does, however, state that other franchises keep the action varied through obstacle placement, but here each plain is a boring, desolate expanse. That is more down to personal opinion. I don't find each plain to be boring at all, and I'm always happy to start exploring, figure out a strategy, and look for the three ancient ruins in each level. It doesn't exactly ramp the difficulty up in the most imaginable way, as the review states, but it does introduce a lot of new types of enemies you have to factor into your strategy, and it definitely ramps the challenge up. I realize that the core gameplay is quite repetitive, but the tower defense genre is somewhat repetitive by nature, and if you're a fan of the genre, you probably won't mind too much. The hired gun is a great addition that I think is more than just a gun tower that can move. I found him very useful as I told him to collect money during the day while I got ore and scruffles, and when combat started, he took out several grock groups on his own and saved one of my towers from being destroyed. He was also very useful for getting rid of the somewhat hard to kill gungrocks. Lastly, I liked the addition of the train, and it in no way reminded me of how static the game is. I was frantically trying to keep enemies away from it while trying to make sure they did not slip through my defenses to the town. It added welcome variety in my opinion and really shook things up a bit. The graphics in battle are mostly the same, but on the plains, there is a lot more detail to be seen in the environment and the frame rate is nice and smooth as well. The character models are animated more smoothly and in depth now too. My simple opinion is that if you liked the first game, you'll like this one. If you didn't, don't bother with this one.



Hunter-D said:

Can't wait to get thi...oh wait, I still need to finish the first. Good thing I enjoyed what I've played so far.



Philip_J_Reed said:

i hate when people dock points off a game just because it doesn't add anything new as a sequel.

Just FYI, since I've seen quite a few comments phrased this way: games don't get points "docked" or "lost" in order for us to arrive at a score. That would imply that every game starts off with a perfect 10 rating in our eyes, and then we go through and see how many points we can knock it down.

It doesn't take much thought to realize that that's clearly not how it works.

If anything, a game "earns" each point, up from the bottom. It's not the other way around. That'd be silly.



Senate_Guard said:

Ugh I knew it, nothing new. I love Dillon and the series' art-style; but the gameplay is honestly a terrible mish-mash of genres.



Dpishere said:

I purchased this game a few days ago, and after playing it quite a bit I can say that if you are either a fan of the first game or have never played the first one and have always loved tower defense games like me, then this is a must buy. The reviewer gave it a 6 because the game doesn't spice up the formula from the original game. This won't matter to people like me who have not played the first game and it in no way makes this a bad game. I am not regretting the purchase one bit and I suspect many others feel the same way as well. A review score in no way determines how much enjoyment YOU will have with the game, it only reflects their personal opinions about the game. Honestly, after trying the game out I can honestly say people shouldn't let review scores derail their idea of much enjoyment they will get out of a particular game, I am sure glad I didn't!



NintendoPro64 said:

I haven't gotten either game, but I definitely will! Once I get my own 3DS as I'll be going to college soon and I certainly don't need to be adding anymore eShop credit to the family 3DS. Both games look good enough, repetitiveness as never been a real dealbreaker for me anyway. My only gripe is that it might have been a good idea to add Circle Pad Pro support.



Drawdler said:

I really liked the first one at the start, but the difficulty of it towards the end was the biggest issue for me.., so I guess I'll pass here. I'm sure I'll pick it up later, but I haven't even bought Code of Princess yet!



zenarium said:

Well... I love this first game! The new game has enough new content for someone who loved the first game and wants to play on new maps.



FudgeNugget said:

Hmmm, can’t say I’m a huge fan of the series because I never purchased the first game of Dillon’s Rolling Western, but, I think it’s a really good game and I love the graphics—I don’t purchase games, but watch their videos and get an idea or how it is like…easy way to review so practically I can say—even if I haven’t tried it—I’m not getting it. Bye.



plainj said:

Finally released in EU! Great game, enjoying it more than the first. Still think it deserves a more favourable review. I would love to see Dillon evolve into a mario/zelda/metroid-scale series!!! ...



Bensei said:

I'm sorry but this review just feels like a big rant about how this game is similiar to the first. The new features are hardly pointed out, yet even things that were good about the first. I don't think that the game's difficulty is not only raised by more and more monsters, for example. It's more difficult because there are DIFFERENT monsters, that attack in unique ways. I think the rangers and the train made the game more dynamic and is a welcome change to a formula that worked pretty well in the first place. I never felt that a map felt just like the one before



Onion said:


I agree completely. The review hammers the game for the things it doesn't improve on, while barely even mentioning the things it does differently or improves heavily on. The first game got a 7 while this one gets a 6. I don't understand that at all, considering this game is even better than the first! Just being able to see a map that shows a trail of where the grocks have been moving is an incredible improvement because it gives you a great idea of where to build your gun towers. In the first game, you just had to build and pray and if you were wrong, you had to reset and build the towers elsewhere. Now we finally have a means of predicting their movements. We can now check so much information by talking to Russ a the Saloon, it really improves the players ability to plan their strategies out.

It's annoying how this review just casually brushes aside the improvements (such as the Rangers and the Train) while being so hard on it for the things it didn't change. It almost comes off as biased, as if the writer WANTED to review it negatively.

To be fair, 6 isn't a bad score, I just don't feel the reviewer gave the game any credit at all for the improvements and I wonder if he even played the first game to begin with. It's like with the Kens Rage 2 review where the writer bashed the game harshly for the things that were too similar yet refusing to acknowledge the changes and improvements.



Technosphile said:

Finally playing the game now that there's a lull in 3DS software. I'd never played the original, so to me The Last Ranger is pretty fresh. I have honestly never played anything quite like it. It is also very charming, with well-designed, likeable characters and some funny dialogue.

I do agree that a standard button setup might be best, as touchscreen controls can be inaccurate, and they are here. However the combat system is a blast once you understand exactly when to tap and swipe. A tutorial video for that would have been nice.

I'm thinking The Last Ranger is at least a 7, and perhaps an 8 if it adds some more interesting elements as the game progresses. I'd like to see the series continue, or see Dillon/Jiro in other Nintendo media; dare I say Smash Bros?



Hairmanban19 said:

I never played the first one, but got this one today. It's a different approach to Tower Defense games-With recources to gather, side quests to undertake, bosses to defeat, and plenty more. The graphics are very good compared to quite a few other Eshop games, and I like the art-style very much. And the combat gets really fun once you start finding new ways to defeat the Grocks, and the Grock attacks get VERY challenging, even on the 2nd attack, and me being a person that loves challenging games, gets me to come back to this game every time I get on my 3DS, with my goal to claim victory and to progress further into the game-discovering new characters and items. Overall I'd give this game a 9/10.

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