Review: Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger for Nintendo 3DS

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Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger is an interesting game to review. I loved the original, looking forward to it when it came out last year in the Nintendo 3DS eShop, and the same holds true for this year’s release. Here is the review I wrote for it, and since you probably haven’t already, feel free to give it a look.

Now, having read that, it should be safe to tell you that pretty much everything which was said in that review holds true here. There’s more to it than that, which ultimately encapsulates The Last Ranger‘s experience: It’s by and large everything the first game was, for better and for worse, with some new things added.

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Without taking pictures or video of some very specific aspects, you’d be forgiven for not being able to tell The Last Ranger and Dillon’s Rolling Western apart. On the plus side, the developers did do a really good job with the original, and that work holds up here.

On the downside, just about any perceived flaw with the original carries over here. In particular, there’s still no good way of telling how much time you have left until sundown, only waiting for the signal from Russ that it’s time to finish up your business. If the stylus-based controls weren’t your thing, then there is still no alternative here, though there is now an option for lefties.

The game is as tough as ever, too, though if you’ve played the original Dillon’s Rolling Western, you should be able to jump into this one with little difficulty. But just like the original, falling to the invading Grocks means you’ll have to start the day over again– an irritating setback, if ever there was one.

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There are some changes throughout, however, both great and small. On the smaller side, the previously menu-based saloon portions at the end of each day are now rendered in full 3D graphics, allowing you to walk around and talk to those who occupy it. In addition to the towns, you’ll also be charged with protecting a slow-moving train delivering supplies to the folks on the frontier, as well as the tracks it runs on.

StreetPass functionality has also been added, though it’s nothing major. If you choose, you can exchange strategies and records with whoever you pass that has played the game, which can be handy if you’re having a difficult time with a particular map, but nothing amazing.

Bigger changes include the addition of optional side-towns to help along your way, as well as the new Rangers/outlaws who you’ll find there. For a price, you can hire them to help you out in your daily tasks, such as collecting scruffles for the scrogs or digging for ore in the various nearby mines.

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Come sunset, you can have them engage the Grocks head on by sending them across the map, though the routes they take can be questionable. You can even fight the Grocks alongside your hired help; Dillon works without carrying firearms, but these companions have no such compunctions, and can whittle the rock-like monsters down with their various guns and other tools.

However, there comes a time when it will take more than money to win them to your side, and you’ll need to prove your quickness in a duel.

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Arguably, the biggest problem with Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger is that it almost feels more like an expansion pack to the original game than a sequel. I was even worried at first that Nintendo wasn’t really supporting their new hero, particularly when I saw that the game’s official website hadn’t even been updated with any mention of the new game for weeks after its release; thankfully, that was recently rectified.

There isn’t much in the way of improvement, least of all where the original game could have used it most. As it is, the game feels rather iterative, and doesn’t quite have the spark of innovation some might have hoped for.

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At the same time, though, it remains a quality piece, and is perhaps the better of the two games thanks to the changes it does make. In particular, the new Rangers are a most welcome addition, adding more cool characters to the world in a way that actually impacts the gameplay. Perhaps next time, we can actually choose to play as some of these lively new personalities.

The most I can say is that if you loved the original Dillon’s Rolling Western and want more with a slight twist, this is the game for you. If you didn’t like the original, then this won’t change your mind. And if you haven’t played either one, then The Last Ranger is the one I would recommend starting with.

Finally, to echo what I said a year ago: Dillon and Russ, as well as Gallo, Boone, and Nomad, are great additions to Nintendo’s pantheon of classic characters, and I hope we see more of them in the future. With a new Super Smash Bros. just around the corner, that seems like a great opportunity for The Red Flash to test his mettle against the company’s finest, perhaps with an assist (trophy) from his new colleagues.

3DS_DRWLastRanger_title.jpgDillon’s Rolling Western: The Last Ranger was released for the Nintendo 3DS on April 11th, 2013 at a price of $10.99 in the Nintendo 3DS eShop. A review copy was provided by Nintendo of Canada.

Additional images courtesy of the Dillon’s Rolling Western Wiki.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.