Dillon and his trusty assistant Russ return for another jaunt across the Wild West, as Nintendo look to build upon the foundation laid within their debut eShop outing last year.
A year has passed in terms of narrative, and the duo find themselves summoned to Beginsville to aid Governor Cappy. Whilst they have successfully silenced the threat from Grocks within the west, the wandering rock monsters are now plaguing the frontier villages to the east, and it is down to the armoured armadillo and his strategic-minded companion to save them.
What follows is a sequel that retains the successes of the original with a sprinkling of new ideas, but which suffers from the same criticisms that befell its predecessor.
As before you’ll speedily roll your way around each stage’s surrounding terrain, tasked with successfully guarding a frontier village and their Scrog livestock for three days. With Grocks only emerging at night, that gives you the daytime to best prepare yourself for their menacing advance.
Scruffles can be gathered to feed Scrogs – multiplying their numbers – whereas gems, ore and money can be accumulated to fund your defences. Whilst Dillon can charge headlong into battle himself, The Last Ranger continues to be a game of two halves: part-action, part-tower defence.
Gems can be traded for further funds, ore can be used to craft sturdy gates to protect the town, whilst money can be spent on building towers and turrets at designated points. Collecting ancient relics also unlocks access to special attacks, Dillon being able to use a tunnel attack to pounce up from below or a drift attack to bash enemies from the side. Further to this, there are mines to forage and side missions to complete from humorous characters such as Madam Croaky and Rachel the news reporter.
When Grocks attack, everything becomes a thrilling yet frustrating rush – if you haven’t secured enough support to aid your attempts, then it’ll prove a ridiculous struggle to successfully fend everything away. Dillon can enter small skirmishes with each foe, rolling to attack and grinding for more damage though the game isn’t designed in a way that you can do it all alone.
The Last Ranger’s new addition to ease such challenge is the opportunity to hire rangers – Gallo, Boone and Nomad – who can help find resources and join you in contending with an increasingly sizeable Grock presence. Players can provide simple commands for this, selecting the resource or them to scout for or positioning them to defend a certain area of the map.
It isn’t just villages that you’ll be saving either, with Dillon and Russ getting tangled in duels and also being required to keep a railroad safe to ensure supplies can be delivered across the region. If they allow the rails to be destroyed the train will derail as it passes through, so they must prevent the rampant Grocks from doing so.
Dividing your attention between each alternates the gameplay scenario nicely, although overall there just isn’t enough to differentiate The Last Ranger from its predecessor. An entirely touch-geared control scheme will aggravate those more fond of button-based alternatives, whilst the repetitive three-day cycle for each will certainly prove tiresome to most.