We outlined how 3D Dot Game Heroes plays before so we’re doing something different with the new and improved North American version. Atlus is releasing the game on Tuesday and here are eight points to consider about Silicon Studio’s Zelda parody/tech demo.
+ No tutorial necessary
If you remember Zelda or pretty much any other top down action RPG, you already know how to play 3D Dot Game Heroes. While a following fairy can be bothersome in the beginning, the game doesn’t force you to play a tutorial. Considering how modern games bombard players with help screens, I found this pretty refreshing. Simple controls, map markers, and a save anywhere feature on the overworld also make 3D Dot Game Heroes an easy game to get back into even after you put it down for a few days.
+ The Atlus touch
Dotnia was once a thriving 2D kingdom, fueled by a legend that a hero saved the kingdom from the Dark King Onyx. Over time the appeal of the myth faded and travelers lost interest in 2D. To restore Dotnia’s prosperity, the King changed the world to 3D. All seemed to be going well until the orbs, that sealed the Dark King went missing. Now it’s up to a hero with a gargantuan sword to save the day… again.
It’s a charming setup enhanced by video game and 80s references. 3D Dot Game Heroes weaves lines from Demon’s Souls, Ys, and of course Zelda into the story. When you get an apple, for example, “life get” flashes on the screen. 3D Dot Game Heroes has that kind of humor. Silicon Studio and From Software set the tone with the Japanese version, which also pokes fun at video games, but has different references. These little jokes will make players chuckle, if you get them. I’m not quite sure if kids weaned on the PS2 will, though.
+ Special effects showcase
Silicon Studio’s president told us 3D Dot Game Heroes was made to show off their middleware. So, you know the developers spent a lot of time refining the graphics. In addition to its unique block look, 3D Dot Game Heroes has dazzling special effects. The sparkling water stands out the most on the field. More special effects come into play when you use shader magic to shake the screen and freeze everything around you.
+ Definitive resolution
Speaking as someone who imported the Japanese version, this is the version of 3D Dot Game Heroes you want to buy. Atlus greenlighted tweaks (the Blockout mini-game comes to mind) plus stuffed more content in the North American release. 3D Dot Game Heroes has tons of selectable heroes from the beginning and bonus block defense levels, items From Software sold as paid downloadable content in Japan. Silicon Studio also made brand new loading screens based on North American boxart. Keep your eyes peeled for Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, Myst, and even Ninja Turtles references. The kicker is the North American version is actually cheaper too. At launch, 3D Dot Game Heroes is only $39.99.
+ Zelda’s second quest
You can beat the main quest in under ten hours, but like the game that inspired it, 3D Dot Game Heroes has a second quest. Hidden in the game is an ultra hard Spelunker mode with a cameo hero… who dies after one hit. Good luck trying to complete it. There may also be alternate endings to find too…
+ Create a character
3D Dot Game Heroes has a character edit system and it’s fairly easy to use. Just stack up rows of blocks and make the pixilated character of your dreams. Or, make a giant block and delete bits of it to make a body. That’s how I made this Jack Frost model. The character edit feature won’t let you change where the massive sword extends from and it has a limited palette. But, it’s simple to use and anyone can make a decent looking hero without a PhD in pixel art.
o Old school
3D Dot Game Heroes plays just like The Legend of Zelda if it were made for the PlayStation 3. The dungeons are mini-mazes and the puzzles feel like they’re from the 80s. Find a key, kill all of the enemies in the room, did you press the switches? Dungeons often contain a gimmick that revolve around a hidden weapon inside. While the hero has an arsenal of tools (boomerang, wire rod), his sword is the weapon you’ll use most often. Press a button to thrust it at a scorpion. Turn to slash and hit an adjacent skeleton. Familiar, but still fun when you seen enemies explode into a pile of blocks.
Visit a blacksmith to make your sword even larger or save your money for tools like life refilling medicine. Save those for bosses. When you get to the boss room you’re trapped with a dragon or giant bee in a one on one fight. Win and you collect an orb, a sage marks your map, and you’re off to your next destination.
That’s 3D Dot Game Heroes in a nutshell. Some people will love the simplicity and nostalgia. Others, might get sick of it after the first dungeon. Even though it’s on the PlayStation 3, 3D Dot Game Heroes isn’t a modern game. You have to go into this expecting an NES style game with pretty graphics and a sense of humor.
– Around the world
There is one downside about the old-school design, lots of backtracking, especially if you opt to complete side quests. Basically, side quests are fetch quests. If that wasn’t tedious enough, 3D Dot Game Heroes locks some side quests after temples are completed. So, if you want to do everything you have to keep checking towns otherwise you might miss something. Sure, you can warp with wings (protip: buy these), but outside of the main quest you’re really a 3D Dot Errand Hero.
Fortunately, the main quest is the highlight of 3D Dot Game Heroes. Silicon Studio’s game does what it set out to do admirably and that isn’t to break new ground. They made a Zelda homage with block art that tugs at childhood memories of blowing dust of a shiny gold cartridge.