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Video Game / Dillon's Rolling Western

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Dillon's Rolling Western is a hybrid of Action-Adventure and Tower Defense genres, developed by Vanpool (who also made Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland) for Nintendo and released in 2012 through the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Things aren't looking good in The Wild West: weird rock monsters called Grocks recently started emerging from the ground to raid the local livestock, and the current defenses are not enough to stop them. It's up to the player character, an armadillo ranger named Dillon, to protect villages with towers and hand-to-grock fighting while gathering resources to fortify the village gates, increase the livestock population, and gather money to upgrade towers and weaponry.

The sequel, known as Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger, was released in 2013. Another sequel, titled Dillon's Dead Heat Breakers, was made available in Japan in April 2018, and was the first installment to get a physical release. It was eventually released in North America and Europe a month later, though it remained a Nintendo eShop exclusive in North America.


This game provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal:
    • Otis (A lemur who sells stars to the player if they do not have enough to access a stage) from The Last Ranger only wears a bowler hat and a blue scarf. In his reappearance in Dead-Heat Breakers, he becomes a Barefoot Cartoon Animal, instead.
  • Actually Four Mooks: All enemies look like a giant version of themselves on the map, but upon entering combat they become a crowd.
  • After the End: When selling 'treasures' to Weldon in Dead-Heat Breakers, he will occasionally mention a Great Destruction which may have involved nuclear missiles, while also mis-identifying their purpose. Such examples include a stack of blank CDs being a snack turned hard and brittle.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Failing to protect the village will kick you back to the start of the level's three-day cycle, but the amount of starting cash you're allowed will go up and give you a better chance of winning next time.
  • Advertisement:
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Occasionally after you decide to continue with the game. Though considering that one day alone can last more than half an hour, this is justified.
  • Animorphism: In Dead-Heat Breakers, this is what happens to your Mii. A barrel drops onto the Mii and traps them until the player pushes the A button multiple times. Upon successfully escaping the barrel, the Mii can transform into four of ten animals (Which animals they can be is based entirely on the Mii's face), called "Amiimals".
  • Badass Biker:
    • The Motogrocks, which are very quick on the map but nothing special in combat. In Dead-Heat Breakers, this applies to every grock when the first Death Charge goes off.
    • Dillon himself, in Dead-Heat Breakers, gives off this vibe, thanks to his leather clothing.
  • Bandit Mook: The Snaggrocks in Rolling Western, which pop out of the ground, steal some of your money, and try to make a break for it. Even in combat their main concern is to evade you and try to run away instead of attacking.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal:
    • Some of the cast, with Russ and Sal the Arms Dealer being the most notable examples.
    • Any NPC Amiimal in Dead-Heat Breakers that is not the playable character (Though there are some exceptions. See Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal below) usually wears a shirt and a pair of pants, but always goes barefoot.
  • Battle Cry: The monsters always give a collective bellow twice before starting an assault, turning the sky red in the process.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In The Last Ranger, if all three rangers' stories have been followed all the way to stage 6, on stage 7, halfway through the train section, they will show up and join the fight, pretty much armoring the train so it becomes invulnerable to Grock attacks before they reach the pyramid. Also, should the Wheelgrock reach the village, they will pull a Heroic Sacrifice by ramming the wrecked train wagon into it to let Dillon strike one last time.
  • Boring, but Practical: Vulcans. They may be the absolutely weakest weapon, but they have a great range and attack so quickly that when they start getting damage upgrades, will have little to no trouble taking out standard enemies. Expect them to make up the most of your gunners.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The livestock, called Scrogs, look very similar to pigs. The game notes that early on, however, this is a portmanteau of "scruffle hogs."
    • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Scrogs are your town's equivalent to Hit Points; justified since scrogs are a food supply for the villagers.
  • Cast from Money: There are Bot Towers on certain maps in Dead-Heat Breakers; due to the AI installed in the tower's turret, you cannot place an Amiimal on top, but the tower can be recharged and repaired by, you guessed it, feeding it money.
  • Chest Monster: The Veggrock and Red Veggrock disguise themselves as scruffles, and running into them triggers a battle.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Running out of health only makes you lose time; you don't "lose" unless the Grocks raid all the village's scrogs. Even then, you're compensated with the level's cap on starting money being raised.
  • Does Not Like Spam: If the player purchases dinner at the end of a day, Dillon sometimes leaves behind some food that appears to be onions.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Some Grocks can get past reinforced doors without breaking them down, but the Springgrocks can also jump cliffs and go straight to villages.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: When making an Amiimal out of the default Mii designs in Dead-Heat Breakers, the male's default Amiimal will always be the wolf, while the female's will always be the cat.
  • Fog of War: You have to build watchtowers or turrets to see the monsters' position on the minimap. Averted in Dead-Heat Breakers, since Russ is observing from above.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal:
    • Most of the cast, with Gallo and Nomad from The Last Ranger being the most notable examples.
  • Furry Confusion: Further into the 1st game, Dillon is able to upgrade his gear, such as his boots. The Level 2-4 boot upgrades are implied to be made out of the hide of animals. Levels 2 and 3 are respectively called "Warthog Hide Boots" and "Buffalo Hide Boots"...Which both just so happen to be the species of the very first two mayors in the game.
  • Genre Shift: The third game moves away from a Western aesthetic to a more post-apoclyptic Mad Max style setting, notably ditching the "Rolling Western" part of the title along the way.
  • Giant Mook: They also count as Flunky Bosses.
  • The Goomba: Weakgrocks, which take one hit to die and are not threatening at all.
  • Green Gators: Mayor Gates is a bluish-green alligator.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal:
    • King Ron from the first game wears a hat, a tie, and what appears to be a sleeveless coat, but wears no pants.
    • Dillon's Dead Heat Breakers has quite a few of these:
      • The player Amiimal in Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers starts off by wearing a yellow bandana and an orange jacket (And depending on the Mii chosen, a pair of glasses and/or a hat), but never wears pants throughout the whole game. Some of the NPC Amiimals (Such as Nikonote  and NPC Amiimal villagers that act as gunners if the player has not hired any in the hotel) also wear a jacket without any pants.
      • Deputy Daley, a raccoon who is the (Deputy) Mayor of Splitshare, wears a green coat and a hat, but wears no pants.
      • Oakley, a bird that begs the player to give him clay figures won by Anton Ball, wears a short-sleeved tartan shirt, a teal scarf, and a bowler hat, but no pants.
  • Hearts Are Health: Dillon's health is represented by hearts, and collecting Heart Pieces from ruins increases his health by one heart for every three pieces.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Maskgrocks and Helmgrocks. The first one can be attacked from behind, the second one needs a dig to get its helmet removed.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Dillon seems to have taken a page from Mad Max and decked himself out in full black leather for Dead Heat Breakers.
  • Heroic Mime: Lampshaded by Dillon's assistant, who says at the beginning of the game that boulders are more talkative than him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In The Last Ranger, should the Wheelgrock happen to reach the village, the other three rangers will push the wrecked train's wagon into it and die, though that enables Dillon to strike it one last time before it destroys the village. Notably, though, is the fact that defeating the Wheelgrock prior it reaching the village spares the rangers from dying, though they disappear and aren't mentioned afterwards.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Miss Eliza compared to Deputy Daley, both raccoons. While neither appear in the same game together, Miss Eliza from The Last Ranger is a lot more humanoid compared to the more raccoon-shaped Deputy Daley from Dead-Heat Breakers.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Russ is a squirrel, though he is often mistaken for a mouse.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Diggrocks, Magmagrocks and Vulcangrocks. They do massive damage to wooden towers due to their fire-based nature.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The Sheep Amiimals in Dead-Heat Breakers can invoke this depending on what Miis you have in your game. They all sport an afro-like hairstyle, which completely obscures any hairstyle the Mii it's based on has. This can result in two sheep or more Sheep Amiimals have nearly or completely identical faces.
  • Item Get!: Dillon does this whenever he finds some treasure or a heart piece/container from a treasure chest.
  • It's Raining Men: The grocks in Dead-Heat Breakers enter battle by falling like meteorites, with a mark on the minimap projecting their landing spot. The subtitles for introducing them describe them as "Meteor's Offspring".
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: In later levels weaker Grocks start wearing protective masks that make normal attacks useless and must be removed or circumvented. Another enemy called a Magmagrock is made of fresh magma and must be extinguished before it can be attacked.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Of a sort. Early game in Dead Heat Breakers, Dillon and your Amiimal will probably be doing most of the work while the towers are just there to weaken enemies so Dillon and the amiimal can finish them off, occasionally scoring a few kills. However, your towers will start taking down as many as a third of the wave once you obtain the long shot and place long-range weapons in overlapping areas to assist the ever-useful Vulcans.
  • Lost Technology: People are struggling to find adequate defense measures, but the levels are littered with ancient columns, defense walls and fast-travel catapults made by the Precursors, along with ancient ruins full of gems and Heart Pieces.
  • Mana Drain: Snaggrocks in Dead-Heat Breakers affix themselves to your turrets' generators and suck the power out of them until they're bled completely dry.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The Last Ranger features a squid and gorilla.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: The Last Ranger
  • No Hero Discount: Sure, you're protecting the village, but you still have to pay for medicines and explosives!
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Fail to beat the Ultimogrock when it reaches the city and the entire city gets swallowed!
    • Time out against the Deathgrock and it will drive into the Farsen outpost at top speed, smashing it and the Breaker you need to destroy the Command Ship.
  • Piñata Enemy: All enemies drop somewhat valuable loot, but the gold Grocks just walk around the map without even trying to attack anything, and their loot is worth a lot of money.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Dillon is the hero, and he is a yellow armadillo with a red shell and blue bandana.
  • Punny Name: Given that the series takes place in a World of Funny Animals, most of the characters' names are based around their species.
    • Dillon's name is a pun on the last 2 syllables of "armadillo". His Japanese name, Jiro, can literally be translated to "Dillo".
    • Russ' name is a pun on the Japanese word for squirrel, "risu". This is more apparent in his Japanese name, "Riisu".
    • Sal's name is literally the first syllable of "salamander".
    • In Dead-Heat Breakers, the Mii characters are referred to as "Amiimal", a portmanteau of "animal" and Mii''
  • Rock Monster: The Grocks.
  • Rolling Attack: Used as the main method of moving on the level map and the primary attack in battles, in addition to activating certain ancient devices.
  • Shell Backpack: The leather shirt Dillon wears in Dead-Heat Breakers covers only the front of his upper body, leaving the shell on his back visible.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Boss Grocks use this to attack, as well as summon flunkies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rolling around the map is very reminescent of the Goron transformation in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
    • Opening the hidden temples and the treasure chests use a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the "you solved a puzzle" and "you found an object" tunes from the same series. One of the treasures found in ancient ruins is even heart pieces.
    • Hell, Dillon grunts like Link. Listen closely after a combo and it sounds like they just lifted Link's "hyah" yell and put it in the game.
    • Then there is King Ron, who is a shout out to both Donkey Kong and King Kong.
  • Shy Shelled Animal: Discussed when Dillon first meets Mayor Malcolm, who is an armadillo like him. Malcolm mentions his dislike for the stereotype of armadillos as cowardly animals, and he and Russ both note how Dillon is an aversion of the trope, being a capable fighter known for his Rolling Attack.
  • Side Quest:
    • In every level of the first two games, you are given three optional requests from locals. Be sure to fulfill them if you accept them, or they'll demand a refund. Completing all three will also give you an extra star upon level completion.
    • In Dead-Heat Breakers, Otis shows up on occasion with mine defense work; you lose if the grocks breach the barricade at the main base, but they will not directly attack your turrets (see Mana Drain).
  • Smart Bomb: Bomb Crystalsnote /Bomb Chipsnote  have Dillon throw them on the groundnote /punch the ground with his rolling enginenote , causing a potent seismic disturbance that blows over every Grock in the arena; weaker Grocks are pulverized outright.
  • Speaking Simlish: Unlike the first two games (Where dialogue text was completely silent), Dead-Heat Breakers has the characters speak in a manner similar to the "voice"-acting in other Nintendo games such as the Animal Crossing and Splatoon series and the original Star Fox.
  • Studded Shell: Dillon can attach metal spikes to his shell that enable him to follow up his Rolling Attack with a grinding attack.
  • Taking You with Me: After you destroy the Ultimogrock, it will fly into the air and self destruct as a last ditch effort to kill Dillon. However, it fails to even scratch him.
  • The Team: Dillon is the Hero. Russ is his trusty sidekick and The Smart Guy. Gallo is a more proper Lancer. Boone is a Dumb Muscle variety Big Guy. Nomad is The Unintelligible and The Drifter, being a foreigner who doesn't speak the language.
  • Time-Limit Boss:
    • Fail to destroy a Megagrock before its timer expires and it will shoot down all your towers!
    • Each time you damage the Ultimogrock enough, it falls down for about 2 minutes. You then have that amount of time to kill its crystal inside before it gets back up again.
    • In Dead-Heat Breakers, the first Death Charge turns every grock on the field into a Motogrock variant, which starts charging energy as they roll; the time limit before they finish charging is shown, and they transform further when that time elapses. This extends to the Deathgrock as well, which smashes the Farsen outpost and the Breaker immediately for a nonstandard game over once it finishes charging in at most seven minutes.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Defied. The Grock Command Ship in Dead-Heat Breakers tries to flee once the Deathgrock is destroyed, the Breaker recharges just in time to finish it off, preventing its escape.
  • The Western: With spades of Lethal Lava Land in the second half of the game.
  • Wild West Armadillo: The setting is largely inspired by The Wild West, and protagonist Dillon is an armadillo in a cowboy hat, belt, and bandana.
  • World of Funny Animals: One of the few Nintendo IPs to feature a cast almost entirely of Funny Animals, along with Star Fox and Animal Crossing.

Alternative Title(s): Dillons Rolling Western The Last Ranger, Dillons Dead Heat Breakers