Graphics:
8.0
Gameplay:
8.9
Sound:
8.3
Control:
8.7
Replay Value:
8.6
Online Gameplay:
7.5
Overall Rating:
8.5
Publisher:
Atlus
Developer:
Silicon Studios
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Genre
Release Date:


There was a time in this industry when circles or even slightly rounded edges was a virtual impossibility. And so, we sat there, appreciating the designer’s attempt at creating realistic-looking pictures on our TV screens with nothing but hard edges, never daring to imagine that gaming could eventually become almost photorealistic. And you know; we had fun. We had lots of fun. Of course, to compare the finest accomplishments these days to the not-so-long-ago past when carefully assembled pixels and childish dialogue reigned is, needless to say, silly. So we won’t bother to do that. 3D Dot Game Heroes pays homage to the golden age of gaming while still poking a little fun at itself, all the while pulling on our nostalgic heartstrings and tugging at the corners of our mouths. We want to smile every few minutes and even the inherent frustration is old-school frustration; the irritating situations where we’re convinced it isn’t our fault. If you loved the old-fashioned Zelda s – or any of those action/adventure/RPG titles – this one is for you.

The graphics, as you might expect, are loaded with little dots and squares. Absolutely everything is faithfully represented without a rounded edge in sight; everything from the enemies to the environments and if you look real close, you’ll even spot those tiny squares in the blades of grass. The entire presentation is colorful and, like everything else in the game, is loaded down with a visual array that reminds us of an older era in just about every possible way. You’ve got the multi-room dungeons, the sprawling world map you explore section by section, and the towns and villagers that move exactly as they once did; tight, repetitive animations and all. You could argue that Silicon Studio could’ve made things a bit clearer and slightly more polished but are we really going to argue about the visuals, here? Are we really going to try to dissect a game that turns the archaic 2D graphics into a 3D presentation with giant pixels? It looks exactly as it should and we probably shouldn’t bother with any intricate analysis. Dotnia has gone 3D…what more do you need to know?

We have to treat the sound in much the same manner. When you’re going for a throwback format and you want to be true to history, you need those little electronic ditties we were all convinced we could create in our own bedrooms. You can’t have any voice acting; only dialogue via text, and some standard slashing effects for the combat and general movement and exploration. There are no “human” sounds to speak of and there shouldn’t be. I think what might be the most appealing aspect of this category is the soundtrack: even though it can still be generated on a good ol’ standard synthesizer, there’s a wide variety of music during this “updated” adventure. In fact, I think there might be much more soundtrack diversity than we ever experienced when playing those classics from yesteryear. It’s a little disconcerting to play with only the repetitive slashes of the sword and a few tinny effects from some magic spells, but again, we have to remember the goal in question. And so, like the graphics, the sound is very much as it should be.

As for the gameplay, I could really make this easy for the veteran gamers out there: if you can picture what The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past might be like in a 3D world, and you like that picture, you’ll dive into 3D Dot Game Heroes with gusto and glee. You have the option to move about with the left analog stick or the directional buttons and no, it’s not so old-fashioned that you can only walk in one direction (up, down, left, or right); you have a full range of movement in all directions. However, on the flip side, you can only attack with your sword in one direction, although you do have the option to spin it around to attack to the left and right of the original target. You also have the magic and secondary weapon options, and your health is denoted by apples while your magic is represented by green vials. You’ll get a new spell every time you collect one of the six missing orbs, and secondary weapons include things like the boomerang and bow. …sound familiar?

The world map features a castle – which sort of acts like a central hub – shrines where you can restore all your health, villages that include all sorts of shops and residential abodes, and of course, dungeons (or temples) that must be conquered. You just press the X button to attack, hold the Square button to dash forward, switch your secondary option between weapons and magic with the L2/R2 buttons, and block with your shield by pressing the R1 button. That’s really all you need to know. It’s about as straightforward as you might expect, but the developers do toss in a few slightly more modern additions. For instance, you can upgrade your weapons at blacksmiths, there are optional quests to complete (ala newer RPGs), and then there’s the “growing sword” feature. The more enemies you kill, the wider and longer your blade will become, until it maxes out and you have the most amount of range that weapon can offer. If you get smacked, your sword returns to square one and you have to rebuild.

So this adds a bit of strategy to the gameplay; it provides you with a lot of incentive to steer clear of danger. You can also buy new weapons and shields in addition to upgrading via the blacksmith, and not surprisingly, you can shop around for some valuable items like lamps, arrows, and various apples. The enemies pose various and continually changing challenges, as some are flying and you have to wait for them to land, some launch arrows in your direction, and others require special vanquishing means. Bosses are also diverse and can test your ingenuity and reflexes, which is perfect for anything that so closely resembles a 3D pixilated Zelda . You can save anywhere but sleeping at an inn sets your “Revival Point,” enemies respawn when you leave a screen and come back, there are clumps of grass that need mowing with your sword (and will sometimes yield coin), and the dialogue is both genuinely hilarious and extremely fitting.

See, the game knows it’s a spoof of sorts, even though it provides you with a full, seamless 2D-gone-3D quest. This is why you’ll sense a lot of inside jokes that those over the age of 25 will appreciate, and there are a few that any fan of Atlus will really like. For instance, there’s one dude inside the castle who says, “Hey, I’ve got this Demon’s game. You want it? It’s way too hard!” Then you’ve got your weird butterfly guide who sort of pokes fun at…well, everything. It’s just so well done. The only flaws I can really find involve the camera and the collision detection; although we’re given four different camera options, there are times when none of them seem to work exactly correctly, and you may have to switch your view a few times. I thought Option B would’ve been fine for the whole game but when fighting the first boss, he entirely disappeared when he went down to the bottom of the screen. And I swear there have been several times when I got hit and I was convinced I was way too far away from the offending foe.

These two shortcomings got a little frustrating, I admit, but beyond that, I’m not going to complain. You can build your very own character from scratch (quite literally, block by block), or you can choose from pages of pre-set characters, ranging from standard fighters to weird things like tanks. And yes, it does matter if you choose from the Hero, Royal, or Scholar classes, as these classes dictate how much Life and Magic you will start with. Your choice doesn’t really seem to affect the game in any way; for the record, I went with the Assassin, which just looks funny. The bottom line is that 3D Dot Game Heroes is a wonderful little adventure that makes you want to cry, it’s so damn nostalgic. Everything tends to work really well, it’s just as addictive and involving as those old 2D games could often be, and really…guys, this is Zelda . There’s no doubt. And because it costs $20 less than a normal $60 title, I have to recommend a purchase if you recall the golden age of gaming with a blissful smile. You will absolutely get your money’s worth.

Just don’t get all teary eyed when you start to play. If someone catches you, there’s basically no way to explain it.

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netofobia
netofobia
11 years ago

I was iffy about this title, even when my friends were telling me how much they loved it. But Ben, I think you described a game I now have no choice but to pick up.
Nostalgia and a spoof, there's no way I can miss out on that. Last game that did that properly was Retro Game Challenge on the DS.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I'm just waiting until The Colbert Report is over, then it's goin right in my PS3 and takin' me back in time ๐Ÿ™‚

mike rlz
mike rlz
11 years ago

Daily Show>Colbert Report

chedison
chedison
11 years ago

mike, /agree

fluffer nutter
fluffer nutter
11 years ago

mike rlz knows it!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I watch both ๐Ÿ™‚

mike rlz
mike rlz
11 years ago

heh. colbert report got stale for me after awhile. to me daily show is timeless though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Just got this game. May not be able to go at it tonight. But i will tomorrow.

I downloaded Link form Gamespy. Can't wait to put him to use. hahaha

Edit: never mind, just popped it in. Love it so far.


Last edited by Jawknee on 5/13/2010 10:39:27 PM

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

So you have found something to pull you away from Bad Company 2 eh?

Nlayer
Nlayer
11 years ago

I can't put this game down! It is just so amazing and brings back so many wonderful memories. It actually makes my non-PS3-owning friends envious of not owning the console.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

well they should be envious anyway!

Superman915
Superman915
11 years ago

man…atlus is 2 for 2 on PS3 exclusives, aren't they?

Kr3sn1k
Kr3sn1k
11 years ago

Yea theyve got to be my top publishers for the ps3 since demons souls is my favorite game on the ps3 and this game was just amazing

Vitron
Vitron
11 years ago

I LOLed at the trailer, t'was hilarious.

Victor321
Victor321
11 years ago

Sweet Review, especially the last part!!!

SayWord
SayWord
11 years ago

I love this game! Damn brings me back I pulled an all nighter when I got the game last night. Also has challenging trophies! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm going to try and write a guide for it so if anyone has any questions add me on psn. My name is sayword hah

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Definitely worth buying
Will get it as soon as possible

Atlus' too smart


Last edited by Scarecrow on 5/13/2010 11:53:03 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Holy sh*t I don't get how to make a character!

Vitron
Vitron
11 years ago

Then just make a swamp monster

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I wound up just making that blue knight guy in darker armor ๐Ÿ™‚

Vitron
Vitron
11 years ago

haha, takes time to be creative

Kevadu
Kevadu
11 years ago

I made a TIE Fighter…I guess that's not exactly creative, but it amused me.

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

i made taokaka ๐Ÿ™‚
looks decent too. just used the female knight as a base and did some editing.

Mamills
Mamills
11 years ago

picked up my copy yesterday.
totally awesome
the references in it are so good, its like a blast from the past

fluffer nutter
fluffer nutter
11 years ago

I'll be ordering this next week after I get my game credit from Amazon. This is going to be awesome.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Just finished my first dungeon, that game is crazy! I smiled the whole time. Do I smell DLC that lets you make your own levels/worlds/stuff?

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
11 years ago

lol if you do thats what EPIC smells like ๐Ÿ˜€

laxpro2001
laxpro2001
11 years ago

I ordered this so long ago as a birthday present for my bro from Amazon… i think he'll be getting it tomorrow which is perfect timing for the weekend

Qubex
Qubex
11 years ago

Damn, I may have to pick this one up ๐Ÿ™‚ But first it will be Read Dead Redemption… this can wait for a price drop…

Q!

"play.experience. enjoy"

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
11 years ago

$40 is a steal for this game!

___________
___________
11 years ago

im really looking forward to this.
its the ultimate love letter to fans, its about time a developer came out and made a game souly to give older gamers a nostalgia overdose!
i just hope they have some really good puzzles in there, from the videos and reviews ive seen it looks like 80% combat, 15% exploration and 5% puzzles.
i really miss the old days where puzzles were actually quite complex and required you to use your brain for a change.
none of this move box x to switch a and your done bull crap!

aaronisbla
aaronisbla
11 years ago

careful what you ask for, don't want those puzzles to be too hard, cuz then you might get frustrated, blame the devs for being lazy, and take your game back like you did with Little Big Planet…

___________
___________
11 years ago

oh shut up!
i cant say one thing without you jumping down my throat can i?

fluffer nutter
fluffer nutter
11 years ago

You need to calm down and work on understanding what others type. He did not jump down your throat. I found aaronisbla's post to be quite civil and appropriate.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

__________, if it is challenging puzzles that you thirst for, and if you have a Wii, I would recommend Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. Every level is a complex puzzle. It was an early Wii title, and didn't get much attention because of the dumb name, but it was very highly rated by the critics, and is a fun game IMO.

aaronisbla
aaronisbla
11 years ago

it seems i pushed _______ buttons. To be honest, i didn't think i jumped down your throat, i actually said it as a joke, didn't think you'd get all butthurt. My apologies *snicker*

kraygen
kraygen
11 years ago

I can't afford all these games, dang it. I'm going to be playing my ps3 in 2020 trying to catch up on all these games. It's insane! How many ps3 exclusives have come out so far this year that have been ridiculously amazing.

I can't even keep track of them all and modnation comes out in a couple of weeks. Oh the joy and agony of owning a ps3!

Vitron
Vitron
11 years ago

I know, its really sad when games are just there and you can't catch up, damn…

Lotusflow3r
Lotusflow3r
11 years ago

My personal fave game this year so far (LBP2 will steal that crown!) beating out WKC which i thought wouldn't be topped RPG wise.

Like Ben said, it's so nostalgic that i haven't felt this much emotion playing a game since MGS4.

My heart is smiling.

Says it all about the state of mainstream games today.


Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 5/14/2010 4:36:38 AM

Rinoa
Rinoa
11 years ago

ARGH! WHY IS SHIPPING TAKING SO LONG?!?!
i want to play it =(

AirplanePeanuts
AirplanePeanuts
11 years ago

This review makes me happy

tlpn99
tlpn99
11 years ago

Got this bad boy this moring but first I have to work BOO! even bigger BOO I get to go home and drop it off at my house while I then go out on the beer for a few hours BOO BOO! (already previously made arrangements to go out with a mate) lol. also got Alan Wake too. First I'll try AW check the disc works etc then load in this and play this till I see Dots before my eyes. AW can wait a bit, sorry Ben 3D comes first. Retro forever ๐Ÿ™‚

Silent_J
Silent_J
11 years ago

I been waiting for your review of this game.definitely gonna pick it up.

TEG3SH
TEG3SH
11 years ago

but I always hated Zelda style . I know I suck

will I still be able to enjoy it???

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Uhhh…I'm having trouble comprehending the first part of that post.

But I always hated the 3D Zeldas on the N64, so I'm just as crazy, I suppose. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And honestly, I don't know the answer to your question.

TEG3SH
TEG3SH
11 years ago

lol ben, I'll try it and judge by myself, TBH I never liked Nintendo's games

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Does not compute…

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Teg, for someone who likes and enjoys spirits, the Wii is great for drinking parties. Especially the balance board. Just keep everyone far away from the big tv screen, lest you have a very poor abrupt ending to the night.

TEG3SH
TEG3SH
11 years ago

@Worlds what doesn't ????

@ myworst .lol u know my weakness .lol I'll buy a wii just for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
11 years ago

nightmare it isn't just the tv they need to keep away from..

Lets just make a long story short and say keep all full drinks out of arms reach while people are swinging away.

But yeah Wii games are fantastic for parties. Plus TEG3SH even if you've never been into Nintendo games you should at least try out Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3. They could very well change your mind.

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