Whenever I hear someone complaining about graphics, I always bring up Adventure. Adventure was an Atari 2600 game in which your character was a yellow square. Your ‘sword’ was an arrow, and yeah, the dragons looked like ducks. We didn’t care because it was all we had Back In The Day. Because of that, you’ll never see me writing something like “OMG THESE TEXTURES ARE HORRIBLE” because I am old enough to remember the days when games were even simpler than they were back in the NES days.
3D Dot Game Heroes is an overhead action game for the Playstation 3 that is a playable love letter to the NES era. It has gameplay similar to the Legend of Zelda, characters that look like they belong in Dragon Quest and music inspired by both those games and Final Fantasy. You have a sword that can be upgraded and find helpful items in dungeons like bombs and boomerangs. If that scenario sounds familiar, then you are probably part of the target audience.
3-D Graphics, 2-D Gameplay – The Kingdom of Dotnia is lovingly rendered in 3D with the extra touches that the PlayStation 3 can provide, such as lighting and water effects. While some enemies can fly and your arrows fly in an arc, you are mainly restricted to a 2D plane. The gameplay is as classic as it gets: you kill enemies to get money, spend that money on helpful items, explore dungeons to find other items, stay at inns to replenish health and all that fun stuff.
To Zelda, With Love – It is one thing for a game to have an old-school ‘vibe.’ 3D Dot Game Heroes borrows from its source material so closely, I keep expecting to read about Square Enix or Nintendo’s lawyers sending the devs a nasty letter. The music and graphics come that close. You will also discover references to many classic games as you progress through your adventure.
Build You Own Hero – 3D Dot Game Heroes provides many characters to pick from. In addition to the ‘classic’ boy or girl hero, you can play as the king, a race car, or even Santa Claus. If you still can’t find a hero that fits your style, you can build one yourself.
Minigames – Minigames can be played by talking to the right townsfolk, and some can be addicting. I spent more time playing Tower Defense than I’d like to admit.
Remember That One Time, Back in Tantegel Castle? – As you play 3D Dot Game Heroes you will see many references to other classic games. The game is also very self-aware, and occasionally pokes fun at itself.
JUST PLAIN OLD
Bad Habits are Hard to Break – 3D Dot Game Heroes is rooted in the past for better and for worse: the story is barely there, there is no voice acting, no cutscenes, no branching storyline, it has enemies that constantly respawn, and there is an annoying sound that repeats when you are about to die. If you didn’t like games like this Back in the Day, or don’t like 2D gameplay, then 3D Dot Game Heroes isn’t going to change your mind.
3D Dot Game Heroes is one of those games that players will either ‘get’ or they won’t. If you are old enough to have played The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy during the 2D days and would like to have another old-school adventure then you should enjoy 3D Dot Game Heroes. In addition to the classic gameplay and music, the in-jokes and references to classic games add to the game’s entertainment value.
A lot of the annoyances of old-school gaming came along for the ride, though, so if you were knee-high to a bullfrog during the heyday of the NES, 3D Dot Game Heroes might not be to your liking. For the rest of us, though, it’ll be a fun trip down memory lane.
- Eduardo Soliz
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