3D Dot Game Heroes Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

The Past Comes Alive!

A dark shadow has fallen over the land of Dotnia. See, while the land used to be a thriving metropolis where heroes came and went, constantly saving the day, the heroes have moved to a new 3D land, where new perils await them. Unfortunately, the forgotten 2D land of Dotnia has been neglected for far too long, and monsters have been pestering its poor pixel populace. In an effort to bring the heroes back, the King of Dotnia has done something drastic and made the entire land 3D! Now it’s your job to save it!

3D Dot Game Heroes screenshot

This is essentially where the plot of 3D Dot Game Heroes ends. You should know going into this title that there really isn’t much storyline here, and if you’re expecting some great epic plotline, you will be sorely disappointed. Still, the story here takes a backseat, as the centerpiece isn’t really the game, but that fuzzy feeling you get from running around an environment made out of 3D pixels and tackling puzzle-based dungeons.

The gameplay in 3D Dot Game heroes is almost identical to the original Legend of Zelda, and you could almost make a case for severe copyright infringement if you tried. Your start off with a pixel-based character, you are given a sword, a boomerang, and a talking fairy, and you go to save the land of Dotnia by slogging through a bunch of temples.

The formula is almost identical to The Legend of Zelda, which is great if you like the feel of an older game. Just don’t expect modern conventions like a moveable camera or a compass-guided navigational system. The only real modern mechanic here is that you can create your own pixel-based hero, which can lead to some interesting possibilities (if you decide to make your own little Link or Mario). However, once you have created your pixel-based character, be ready to dive headlong into a world full of retro goodness!

3D Dot Game Heroes screenshot

Although the game is relatively short for an RPG-style game, there is quite a bit to explore in the land of Dotnia. Most of your time will be spent in one of the game’s six dungeons. These dungeons have different themes and all require quite a bit of thought to conquer. The argument has been made that modern games are too easy, and older games were more of a challenge due to their careful level design and brain-wrenching puzzles. It’s obvious that the developers of 3D Dot Game Heroes agree with this position to a certain extent, because the puzzling in 3D Dot Game heroes is definitely challenging. When you enter dungeons, you’ll not only have to vanquish enemies, but you’ll also need to manipulate multiple switches, move pieces of the landscape around, and of course find hidden keys.

While the game’s six dungeons make up the majority of the gameplay, there are small side missions that you can take up to improve your standing with the residents of Dotnia (and pocket some cash as well). Most of these side missions are rather silly and only consist of finding an item for a resident. Still, these little side quests are a nice diversion and help to fill out the gameplay quite a little bit. You can also pad your gameplay time by collecting different weapons, as well as rare and key items around the game’s overworld. The game is really only as deep as you make it, and if your usual playing strategy is to just run through the main quests and see the final cinema scene, then you probably won’t get that much game time from 3D Dot Game Heroes.

3D Dot Game Heroes screenshot

The gameplay in 3D Dot Game Heroes is amazingly nostalgic, and it’s easy to become enamored with it instantly if you have fond memories of playing old 8-bit games. However, the game also takes great lengths through its dialogue to remind you of old games. There are little references to plenty of classics from gaming’s “Golden Age” including titles like The Legend of Zelda (“It’s dangerous to go alone” is one of the first lines you’ll read in the game), the early Mario games, Dragon Age, and even the original Metal Gear. These little in-jokes will be lost on players that never experienced these titles, and I can’t help but feel that younger players might be a little bit turned off by all the reference-based dialogue. Still, if you consider yourself among the “old school” set, there are plenty of funny moments in the dialogue that you’ll certainly appreciate.

3D Dot Game Heroes screenshot

Technically, this game isn’t very advanced, but its presentation really helps players get into that “retro” mindset. The visuals are all pixel-based, but since they are rendered in 3D, the game’s world comes off looking a bit like Legoland. However, the pixel-based characters and universe have an amazing amount of charm, and the “cute” factor is definitely at work here.

The music in the game follows a similar template. Though not technically impressive, the 8-bit-sounding chiptunes are incredibly catchy and instantly nostalgic. The music in the game is one of its best features, and through the score is extremely simplistic, you’ll find yourself humming along to the tunes in 3D Dot Game Heroes long after you have turned off the system.

3D Dot Game Heroes is one of those rare titles that succeeds by not adding anything new to the gaming world. When you pick this title up, you’ll definitely have some déjà-vu, and it’s hard not to feel like you’ve played this title before. Still, even though the formula is almost exactly like The Legend of Zelda, and the game doesn’t have much story or dialogue beyond reference jokes, 3D Dot Game Heroes is a lot of fun, and shouldn’t be missed by retro gaming fans. Though the adventure might not be long, at $40, this is one title that you don’t have to invest a lot of time or money into, but you’ll end up getting a lot out of it.

The 3D pixel-based world has a very unique look, and though it’s not technically dazzling, its visual style makes up for it with plenty of charm. 3.8 Control
Control scheme is very simple and only involves single-button attacks and a menu-based interface. 4.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Chiptune-like music recalls the soundtracks of classic games, and is delightful to listen to. 3.7 Play Value
The experience is quite nostalgic, and the game features plenty of side quests and special missions to extend the experience. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • A long, long time ago, the Dark King Onyx brought an age of darkness upon Dotnia Kingdom. Only by the bravery of a hero with a legendary sword was Onyx sealed in an orb, restoring peace to the world. But Fuelle, a powerful Dark Bishop, has stolen the orb, and with it, peace. Dotnia requires a hero once more! Can you live up to the legend?
  • Ultimate retro love letter: Seamlessly fusing new and old, the golden era of gaming is felt in every detail of this lovingly-crafted adventure. Eye-popping visuals capture the nostalgic charm of pixel graphics in cutting edge 3D. Simple, but deep action-adventure gameplay is a throwback to the 8-bit era. Veterans will find references and jokes that pay homage to the great games of yore.
  • Awe and adventure live again: Embark on the next generation of classic exploration and discovery in a grand story-based quest. A hero sets out to gain the power of the six sages and the six orbs that protected the kingdom of Dotnia, which now stands on the verge of destruction.
  • Customize your hero: When pixels are your building blocks, the possibilities are unlimited. Freely edit the look of your character, or design one completely from scratch, and then trade designs with friends via a compatible USB storage device. Your hero’s blade is also upgradeable, letting you add length and width to create a sword that fills the whole screen.

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