If you’ve ever played any type of RPG, especially those that see you exploring dark, dingy dungeons to kill off numerous enemies, you will almost undoubtedly have encountered your fair share of slimes. These little creatures have almost become the joke of the gaming world, the monster that gets thrown in as a tutorial because 'it’s so useless and weak', but things have changed.
In Flyhigh Works’ Ambition Of The Slimes, which was also released on 3DS in 2016, you’ll actually be controlling the titular little dudes and inflicting your almighty terror upon the humans in a wonderfully quirky twist. Battles are presented as turn-based, grid-movement affairs and, at the most basic level, it works in the same way as any other game of the genre such as the semi-recent Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. By putting slimes in the limelight, and having them as your only offensive options, though, the game has managed to create some very interesting mechanics.
Each battle revolves around the idea of ‘capturing’. Slimes are terrible fighters – we know this – so instead of charging into battle unprepared, the slimes can actually possess the bodies of your opponents. To do this, you’ll need to get your slime to a square adjacent to your intended target. The whole thing feels quite chess-like; many matches will see you almost dancing around the stage to entice your enemies towards you, going for a full on attack at just the right time.
The enemies that you choose to capture (and with which slime) are absolutely vital. An elemental triangle is in play, with the typical grass beats water, water beats fire, and fire beats grass pattern, and capturing an enemy that is the same type as your slime will give you bonuses in attack and defence. You will then be able to take this captured fighter and attempt to line yourself up against a remaining enemy that is weak to your type.
Also, each slime and enemy type have different abilities that will aid you in battle such as magic offensive skills, teleportation, and some that can affect the success of your capture attempts. You’ll need to ensure that your captured targets will be useful in battle against the rest of the opponents still on the field. As you progress through the game’s areas you’ll unlock more and more types of slimes, each adding to the impressive selection of skills from which you will be able to utilise.
Perhaps the main issue with AOTS is the almost brutal difficulty throughout. Each level can be played on ‘Easy’, ‘Normal’, and ‘Hard’ settings, in addition to a bonus challenge that unlocks for each level you complete, but things are incredibly tough across the board. The levels get fiendishly difficult very quickly and, unless you have the exact, perfect party of slimes required to complete the level, you’ll sometimes find it near impossible to win. Repeatedly failing, and then figuring out which strategies to try, will likely take up the majority of your play time.
We’re not ones to shy away from a challenge, and we welcome the ability to play a game at such a complex level, but we feel that the ‘Easy’ setting should be toned down a little at least; this way, players could get accustomed to the system before jumping into the harder difficulties. As it stands, unless you’re some kind of turn-based strategy wizard (and we’re talking Dumbledore proportions, here), you’ll likely need to do a lot of grinding to level up your characters and build a stronger party, as well as spend an awfully large amount of time doing trial and error matches.
In terms of presentation, however, the game mostly shines. Everything from the sprites to the menus will make any retro gaming fans feel instantly at home; scrolling through our slime collection screen, and even the save-file screen, had us smiling at the nostalgic accuracy of the aesthetic. While the music also plays its part in this retro vibe, the repetitive nature of the same tracks being played throughout the entire game, which doesn’t really change in style all that much anyway, does begin to grate a little.
Ambition Of The Slimes throws the classic turn-based RPG formula on its head, enabling you to use the underdog to capture human enemies and battle in an interesting, new way. The large variety of attacks, abilities, and techniques available to you make the battles truly exciting, but a very harsh level of difficulty across all game modes sadly results in a lot of frustration. If you enjoy your turn-based battle games, this one is most definitely an interesting option for you to consider – just make sure to be prepared for a very, very tough challenge.