Review: 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)April 19th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
It’s surprising that it has taken this long for somebody besides Nintendo to make a Legend of Zelda-style game, much less two that are taking inspiration from the two eras of the legendary Nintendo franchise. From Software’s 3D Dot Game Heroes provides an entertaining parody of the original NES Legend of Zelda that offers a fresh experience that we haven’t seen on a console for a long time.
3D Dot Game Heroes begins with the story of the Legendary Hero, who saved the kingdom of Dotnia from the Dark King ages ago by sealing him inside the Dark Orb. The King sought to spice up the peace his kingdom enjoyed by bringing in the age of 3D, which was shattered when the bishop Fuelle stole the Dark Orb to gain the Dark King’s evil power to take over the world. You are summoned as the kingdom’s only hope as you’re tasked with traveling to the six temples to find each of their sages to gain the powers needed to defeat the Dark King once again.
While 3D Dot Game Heroes plays a lot like the Legend of Zelda, the swords are what set it apart from the Zelda games, both in that they are large and upgradeable. You can visit the one blacksmith in Dotnia to upgrade the various stats of your sword or add special abilities like a spin attack and the ability to clip through the environment freely. Another improvement to the Legend of Zelda formula that feeds into this is that your wallet has no limit on it, so you’re free to carry as much money as you can get to upgrade your sword and buy items.
While it may seem like a balance issue to allow such a large sword in 3D Dot Game Heroes, it’s only available when you’re at full health and that is harder to do as you get further into the game. Once you’re hit, your sword returns to its true form and you can no longer use any of its special abilities, so there is a good reason to be methodical with your use of the sword when at full health.
Besides the main temples that you’re tasked with visiting, a lot of the charm of 3D Dot Game Heroes’ world is the amount of side stuff to do on the way to the next temple. The towns you’ll find throughout the world offer plenty of interesting characters that will give you side quests to complete, which are generally simple enough to require talking to another person in another town as a simple process for those that tend to chat with everybody they can find anyway. You can also find special merchants, special caves with a variety of potential rewards inside them, and a suite of swords that you can collect that range from useful ones to the comical novelties.
The temples offer the bulk of your challenge in 3D Dot Game Heroes, though you might think otherwise after the first two. Later temples offer more complex mechanics, like switches that open up and block paths as you work your way through the temple, creating more of a challenge to reach the boss room. Once you beat the game, you do get additional replay options like New Game Plus and a new From Mode difficulty that should appeal to those that want a real test of their skills.
The character editor offers a lot of potential for IP-infringing fun in 3D Dot Game Heroes, as you’re not locked to using just one style of hero in your game. The default set of characters is at least a few dozen deep with a good variety of stereotypical and unorthodox characters that cover the three classes, which offer different amounts of health and magic. If you’re not good at making your own heroes, you can download others’ creations from the internet on your computer to put on a USB drive and then transfer to your PS3 since there’s no in-game hub for sharing your creations.
3D Dot Game Heroes makes use of a perfect style that represents a mix of Legos and 8 bit sprites that suits the retro sexy vibe that From Software was going for. Though the game does look great, there are a few rare moments later in the game where the framerate hiccups when a lot is happening on the screen. While the load times are not more than five seconds each without the install, you will run into a lot of loading screens when entering buildings, caves, and temples that make the meager space required for the install (1.2 GB) a necessity.
The soundtrack is just fantastic and is definitely a lot like The Legend of Zelda’s but altered just enough to be legally different. We just hope that it’ll appear on PSN for purchase like Heavy Rain so we don’t have to boot up the game to get our fix of the soundtrack.
3D Dot Game Heroes is a fantastic game that can scratch the Zelda itch for PS3 owners looking for some retro sexy action. Though we could see the main story being beaten in about 12 to 15 hours if you declined to explore the world, we explored enough that it took us 25 hours to beat the game and complete a number of side quests. There’s enough replay value here to make it easily worth the $40 that Atlus is asking for the game.