You gotta go fast, and I ain’t talkin’ hedgehogs! Dillon the Armadillo is back, but this time he’ll be fightin’ those nasty Grocks in a post-apocalyptic future in Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers. Hire gunners to help you out as you smash your way through hoards of Grocks.

Is Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers a rolling success, or does it break faster than a weakling Grock? Find out in our review after the break!

Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by Vanpoo
Published by Nintendo
Released: 25th May 2018
Review copy provided by Nintendo

Before the game begins, your Mii walks on in, by in, I mean a dark void of nothingness, only to be assaulted by a barrel with transfiguration properties. Once you break out, you find you are transformed into a furry… I mean, an anthropomorphic animal called an Amiimal. What Amiimal you become is based off your facial features of the Mii, however if you prefer to be another Amiimal, you can request more barrels until you are happy.

You’re just cruisin’ down the road in your truck minding your own business when, out of nowhere, Grocks begin to attack (you could probably make a country song outta this!). Luckily, the red flash, Dillon, is nearby, along with his helpful mechanic, Russ, and saves your furry behind. You take refuge in a nearby fortified city for the night, only to discover that your own village has been taken hostage by Grocks! That’s not all, it seems hostile Grock activity has increased a lot around the nearby villages recently. It is time for you to take on the great cyberpunk-esque frontier with Dillon to save the day.

Every day, you will receive a rescue quest from a nearby village in Grock turmoil. It is your duty to stop the Grocks from breaking into their bases to steal the village’s Scrogs, they look like pigs crossed between sheep with a massive boil on their backs… okay, but maybe not that grotesque, but still. Dillon, Russ, and your Amiimal can’t tackle the Grock raids on their own however. Every night before you set out for war, you can hire a range of different gunners, who happen to be Amiimals based on the Miis saved on your system and your friend’s Miis. Some would say this is invasion of the Furries, but I wouldn’t really complain at that prospect.

When you arrive at the village in peril, the Mayor will give you some pointers on hows best to travel around the village as well as any particular Grocks which may be a bit tricky. After this, you will have a map overview of the entire village, and you’ll need to strategically assign your hired gunners to pre-determined towers. Each gunner will specialise in one type of weapon which affects the damage they deal and what range they will attack at. Using that info should help you decide where to assign them. You can then use materials you collect while rescuing villages to fortify the towers and bases, making it more difficult for Grocks to infiltrate.

After you have done the initial planning, you get to control Dillon and roam around the village a bit before Grocks rain down from their ship. You can charge up towers so gunners can use their weapons longer, mine meteorites to fortify even more towers, collect Scruffles to create more Scrogs (don’t ask how that works), or even search for precious and valuable artefacts… maybe you’ll even find a way to permanently increase your health.

After about five minutes, the raid will start, and Grocks will start raining down at random spots of the map. It is your job to dash around the village to battle each and every one of them. Similar to Dillon’s previous outings, when you approach a Grock, you’ll enter a small arena-like area where you’ll have to defeat several Grocks. Instead of using your stylus to roll Dillon about, you just hold down A to rev up, then let go to get Dillon going. You can either slash an enemy with your claws by tapping A after hitting an enemy, or grind continuously against them by holding A after hitting them. Though slashing will off the enemy more quickly, grinding will produce more rewards, such as monster materials and money.

Not only will the hired gunners help you out by defending their designated tower, your Amiimal will also lend a helping hand… or would that be paw. What’s pretty cool is that your Amiimal will also roam around the village automatically in their little jetpack and take down more Grocks. You can order the Amiimal to travel to a specific area of the map if you see a potential issue which you cannot get to quickly enough. Additionally, while battling, you can actually call on the Amiimal to join you.

When you have whittled the Grocks down to a mere handful, they will begin to transform into wheeled Grocks which will charge up a devastating attack by racing around the village. Once the timer reaches zero, it’s game over man, game over! It is up to you to race around the village and take down those last stragglers.

What’s good is that the villages do have a fairly varied structure to them. A few of them are fairly open, but some of them may be a bit tricky. One village which was pretty cool had long pathways to the base. Some of the shorter pathways are blocked off, but you have the option of blasting these open. This can be good if you want to move around more quickly, but you also have to be wary as it also opens up the pathways to the incoming Grocks.

Though the stages can be varied, I can’t help but feel that the gameplay can get very repetitive after a while. After you learn the basics, other than a few new moves that you learn later on or when new types of Grocks appear, not much really change. Not to say the gameplay isn’t fun, it just feels like something could’ve been done to stop it becoming too repetitive. It also would’ve been nice to have a slightly deeper aspect of tower defence.

Everything you need leading up to defending helpless villages can be found in The City (original name, am I right), it’s also the perfect excuse to get a bit of a break from the Grock busting action. You can spend the day roaming the streets talking to the locals, spending your hard earned cash on helpful battle items, and even partake in part-time jobs. These jobs include tending to a local market, sorting out rubbish in the Recycling Plant, and even competing for a high score in a shooter… fine, that last one isn’t really a job but it’s still cool. Every other day, you can also enter Dillon into races to get the best time at the local stadium to win some major cash!

These definitely give you a nice break from the main action, and a great way to earn money to hire the more experienced gunners. Unfortunately these still lack in enough depth to alleviate the repetitive gameplay. Once again, don’t get me wrong, these little side games are still pretty fun, the part-time shop keeper is bizarrely quite fun, they could just provide a bit more depth.

Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is definitely quite a fun title with great strategic and action based gameplay, unfortunately some of the gameplay can become fairly repetitive after a while which is a bit of a shame for an otherwise decent title, especially since this is the first time Dillon has seen a full retail release.

If you loved the previous Dillon titles, or like a combination of action and tower defence, then I would definitely consider Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers.

Final Rating – 3 out of 5

Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is out now exclusively for Nintendo 3DS Family Systems.

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!