(Playing a trade copy of 3D Dot Game Heroes which does not have trophies enabled.)
There is a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That is definitely the case with 3D Dot Game Heroes as it pays its respects to the classic 2D role playing masterpieces that shaped so many gamers of my generation.
3D Dot Game Heroes is a brilliant adventure game styled after the most famous 2D adventure RPG of all time: Legend of Zelda. A tale of a reluctant hero summoned by the King to retrieve six magical orbs and defeat an evil sorcerer, the only thing missing from this story is a princess in distress. Throw in a few dashes of humour, and a 3-D environment, and you have yourself an entertaining jaunt through the vast land of Dotnia.
After a brief cinematic where the King of Dotnia pleads with you to save the kingdom, you collect the Ancient Sword and begin your journey across the vast plains, forests and deserts of Dotnia. You’ll want to start out wandering the fields close to Dotnia and its neighbouring village in search of some coin to purchase a nifty shield and some other supplies, not to mention start a couple of side quests moving along. Now you are on your way to becoming a grade A hero.
I believe I wasted a good three or four hours traveling the countryside and talking with villagers, slashing up enemies and tufts of grass for coins in order to enhance my sword. While the basic sword is fine and you don’t have to upgrade or use any other sword, I felt that beefing up my sword was best for getting through the later temples. The extra length and width allowed me to move more quickly through rooms that I had been struggling in and dying too soon for my liking. Exploring the countryside early on proved a bit of a mistake as I soon found myself far off on pathways that I was not prepared for with no means to defend myself. Nothing like getting hit with projectiles and not having a shield to defend with.
Along the way you will acquire the rest of the weapons for your arsenal. It wouldn’t be right if this game didn’t include a boomerang, trusty bombs, and special foot gear. The boomerang is perfect for hitting those just out of reach red buttons. Hidden passages and caves can be discovered with a well-placed bomb in front of cracked walls or stones. Yes, there are even fairy caverns where you can replenish your health at no cost. My favourite cave is From Cave, where there are plenty of in-jokes regarding From Software’s games, including Demon’s Souls.
Now, I was never a big fan of Zelda games. Link never seemed to question why Princess Zelda was always getting herself in trouble. The top-down view of the original games just didn’t appeal to me. I even attempted to play one of the Nintendo 64 versions hoping that I would enjoy it, but it only took a few hours to remind me that I just cannot get into the Zelda groove. This may be due to the lack of proper direction that seems to plague me. 3D Dot Heroes suffers from the same lack of direction, or extremely vague directions, at various points throughout the game. Armed with nothing more than “head west” and a flashing marker on your world map, there are times when you just have to wander around and pray you are going in the right direction.
Once I got past that minor hurdle, the game progressed much more smoothly. Within a few short hours I had made my way through three caves, solved a couple puzzles, delivered mail (a fun little side quest that netted me another Life Shard) and even located a bow for long range attacks. All I needed was to get into a rhythm and I was flying through the main storyline. All told, the main quest doesn’t take too long to complete; a little over a dozen or so hours if you run through the basics. Dungeons can be revisited and new rooms discovered with coloured keys for added bonuses. You can also replay any of the bosses if you wish.
In between temple and cave spelunking, there are oodles of side quests and some very addicting mini-games your hero can enjoy. Everyone needs to take a break once in a while, so why not do it playing a fun game and maybe pocket some free money or prizes in the process? My personal favourite is Blockout, a brick breaking game which you can find in Ortego Village on your way to the third temple. You can also put your fancy Dash Boots to use by running laps in Dash Circuit, where the goal is to complete three laps without bumping into obstacles which will slow you down. The third mini-game, very popular with Dotnians of all ages, is Block Defense and it plays exactly like you think it would. Like any tower defense game, you must build defenses along a path to stop oncoming waves of enemies from reaching and destroying your castle.
By far the best selling point of 3D Dot Game Heroes is the character creation tool. Hours can be lovingly wasted on building all sorts of people, animals, mecha and just plain random objects to become your avatar as you slay the beasts of Dotnia. Using the in-game tool or the online version, you can save your heroes to a USB stick and upload them to the Hall of Heroes. At the Hall, you can also browse through other submitted Heroes and download them to use in your own game. 3D Dot Game Heroes has a great community of creators Atlus is committed to nurturing and assisting it in any way that it can. Atlus has always been great to its fans, and this is just one more notch on their belt of awesome.
If you are looking to relive your gamer roots, give 3D Dot Game Heroes a spin in your PS3. Not only will you remember everything you loved and hated way back when, you’ll also get a good kick out of the several load screen images featuring all kinds of RPG game covers remade in 3D Dot style. Since the text is pretty limited in most cases and fairly easy to understand, you can introduce your kids to the sometimes frustratingly good, clean fun that was our childhood. And at $40 for a brand new copy, including all the things that were once DLC in Japan, 3D Dot Game Heroes won’t hurt your wallet too much.
Review product was provided by Atlus, and does not affect the outcome of this review.