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Portabliss: Dillon's Rolling Western (3DS)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Dillon's Rolling Western for 3DS.

As an unexpected early release for the 3DS eShop, Dillon's Rolling Western isn't too surprising in and of itself. It combines elements of exploration, action and tower defense (and talking animals) to create something of a hybrid. Enter: Dillon, a cowboy, an armadillo and a gun for hire, although he doesn't actually use a gun, preferring instead to roll directly into adversaries with his armored hide.

Gallery: Dillon's Rolling Western (E3 2011) | 13 Photos

Dillon's Rolling Western is divided into three segments. Upon entering a new village, Dillon roams the land to collect resources, find treasure and build defenses against the Grocks, a race of sentient, evil rocks. The Grocks have a taste for scruffle hogs (or scrogs), which just happen to be the arid region's primary commodity.

As Dillon rolls around the country side, he can explore mines and ruins, collecting minerals that can be either sold or used to build up a town's protective gates. Scruffles can also be collected to increase a town's scrog population and, thus, Dillon's reward for protecting them. Finally, Dillon can spend earned money on building and upgrading towers. These towers are all in fixed positions, leaving it up to the player to decide which towers are most deserving of costly gun emplacements -- from close range shotguns to mid-ranged gatling guns and long distance cannons.

Come sundown, the Grocks emerge and Dillon must fight them all off, lest they breach the gates and kill precious scrogs. Gun towers will take out a few Grocks, but Dillon will inevitably have to get his claws dirty. In order to attack, players pull the stylus away from an approaching Grock, charging up Dillon's rolling attack, then lift the stylus to release it, sending Dillon crashing into his foe. Different equipment enables follow-up attacks like additional claw swipes or a "grinding" maneuver.

Should the town survive the Grock invasion, Dillon gets to relax at the saloon, where he can grab dinner to refill his health, buy new equipment and accept additional quests from townsfolk. These quests boil down to retrieving specific items or killing a certain number of Grocks, rewarding Dillon with extra cash on completion (or penalizing him if he fails). After a few days, the town is saved and Dillon moves on to another. Each town offers up a bigger challenge, new Grock types and more equipment to buy.

Most of this is standard fare for action-oriented tower defense titles, though each element is well-executed. If I had a gripe, it would be the reliance on touchscreen controls. Obviously, it's Nintendo's prerogative to promote the unique features of the 3DS, but the combat mechanics would be much easier to handle using standard controls. The same goes for the menu system, which displays most information on the top screen and uses the touchscreen as a confirmation "button," rather than simply presenting the menu options on the touchscreen and letting you tap them.

Once you adapt to the controls, however, the combat is enjoyable, especially when you learn how to chain combos together. Tower defense fans are bound to enjoy building and upgrading towers as well, though I've yet to earn enough cash to build a truly imposing blockade. The talking animals and western motif are delightfully endearing as well. If you think Dillon's Rolling Western would roll right up your alley, it's on the 3DS eShop now for $10.

Dillon's Rolling Western is available on the 3DS eShop for $10. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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