You'd be forgiven if you took one look at the cover of Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and quickly put it back on the shelf with all the other kid-baiting DS and Game Boy cartridges. A baby blue gumdrop screams towards you with a vacant and slightly insane look of happiness on its round face while cutesy critters flail comically in the cartoon background. By all outside appearances, the game seems too drippingly adorable for anyone past diapers to enjoy.
Let this be a lesson, then, not to judge too hastily. Rocket Slime is a rare breed - an adventure so charmingly simple and so unabashedly silly that even the hardest of gamers will be forced to crack a smile. It's not groundbreaking and it's certainly not perfect, but it sure is a lot of fun.
Start with the playful premise, for example. The lowliest, most insignificant monster in the Dragon Quest universe - the gelatinous blob known merely as "slime" - is given a name (Rocket), a family, a house, a community... and a hero's purpose. You see, the kingdom of Boingburg (yes, Boingburg) has been ransacked by an army of platypuses (yes, platypuses) and its citizenry slimenapped (yes, slimenapped) to parts unknown. It's now up to our champion to stretch and sling his malleable way across dungeons, through enemies and into the 100 treasure chests imprisoning his bouncy brethren.
If it sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. The game's appeal lies entirely in its over-the-top but good-natured kookiness. You don't just enter your name at the beginning... dozens of slimes spell out each letter for you. You don't just save your game and quit... you go to church, where a choir of singing slimes bids you a harmonized goodnight. You don't just attack enemies... you toss them into the air, catch them with your head and then pack them back to town on moving platforms, where they become friendly and contributing members of slime society.