Tactile Slime Zombification
Ever since Dragon Quest, it is difficult to find any RPG without a slime in it. However, rarely do these jellies actually take the center stage by becoming the playable character. Ambition of the Slimes is unique because of its zombie-takeover gameplay mechanic, a charming Atari 2600 visual style, its pressing difficulty, and you actually get to control an army of different slimes.
This 3DS eShop $5 digital download is a tactical RPG that reminded me of the original Vandal Hearts but if you are unfamiliar with Konami’s forgotten and neglected series, think of Final Fantasy Tactics only much more simplified. The player controls different slimes, each with unique abilities and elemental bases, with the goal of defeating humans. Slimes, however, are very weak in both their offensive and defensive categories. To make up for these short comings, slimes can take over humans and control them at will, essentially turning them into controllable zombies. So instead of solely taking the environment, height, and positioning into account, the player needs to first strategize which humans would make the best potential hosts.
Peons like farmers and miners that have weak attacks and defense usually have a very high capture rate whereas armored soldiers that wear helmets have a low probability of being controlled. Why are helmets so big a deal? Well the slimes jump into the mouths of each host to control it. If the slimes have difficulty being swallowed, they can be spit out and easily attacked or killed during the next turn. To help with these situations, some slimes can slow enemies or even melt away armor, or can even buff comrades to make assimilation easier. This gameplay gimmick is unique but is also the game’s biggest downfall.
Early stages act as a tutorial but then quickly shifts into high gear. With steep difficulty spikes, there were some battles I won with one hit left and many battles I could not pass without a little grinding. But grinding isn’t as bad as you might think because the player can unlock numerous Challenge stages once each main stage is complete. Each battle also yields a slime to join your team. Thankfully, death is not permanent, like in Fire Emblem, so the player is free to experiment with different slimes and level up at will. Some of the later stage can be overly difficult though. For example, one middle level stage has the player fighting a band of humans from behind a moat. The only way to cross the moat is to use blue slimes that swim or teleporting slimes. At the time, I only had one of each so I had to grind until I was able to fill my party with appropriate slimes to give me a fighting chance. One other important gameplay tactic to note is that slimes can only take over a single human; you cannot jump out and take over a different human. Being stuck with one human the entire battle makes for some difficult situations.
Outside of the occasional frustrating difficulty, there are a few other details that could have been easier streamlined. First, the only way to adjust the camera pitch is to tap a button on the touch screen; this function is not mapped to a button even though the player can rotate the screen with the shoulder buttons. But more importantly, there is no easy way to scroll through all the enemies and even your party members. In games like Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics, players could simply tap a button, usually the left or right shoulder buttons, to quickly scroll through all the characters on the field to more easily formulate a plan of attack. The only way to do this in Ambition of the Slimes is to tediously cursor over each individual unit. Although not the end of the world, not having this feature slows the speed of play. It might only take 10-15 minutes to complete a battle but there are easily a couple dozen hours of gameplay for completionists but each battle could be faster with a scroll feature.
Visually, the pixelated 8-bit style is super charming and what Flyhigh Works is known for. While the visuals and soundtrack isn’t as endearing as Fairune or the Witch And Hero, some of my favorite Flyhigh Works/Circle 3DS eShop games, it still fits the humorous nature of the game. In fact, the slime swallowing animation/sound effect could single handedly be my favorite animation I have seen in any game all year. This gagging noise and animation never gets old even after playing for several hours. In fact, this unexpected payoff is strangely satisfying knowing you just captured your human. It is also worth mentioning that this game supports stereoscopic 3D. If I am not mistaken, it is one of their first 3DS games, if not the first, to support this feature.
Flyhigh Works and Circle Entertainment have produced some of my favorite 3DS eShop titles and I think they have some of the best content on the platform. While Ambition of the Slimes isn’t as great as some of their other games, it is entertaining and definitely worth your time especially considering how low the cost is. It is not as detailed as Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics but that doesn’t mean hardcore tactics fans should ignore this. The higher difficulty but simplified gameplay mechanics means hardcore fans can still get their tactics fix while new comers to the genre should be able to jump in with a small learning curve.
Better Than: Cube Tactics (3DS eShop)
Wait For it: Fairune 2
Also Try: Rocket Slime (DS)
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com