3D Dot Game Heroes

Without wanting to shed my responsibility as a reviewer it’s hard to convey what 3D Dot Heroes is without you actually seeing it for yourself but I’ll give it a shot. Picture the 2D pixel based games of old, in particular the original Legend of Zelda. Now imagine that made 3D. No, not like that. Let’s try again. Imagine each of the actual pixels in that game made three dimensional into little solid blocks. That’s 3D Dot Heroes – a pop up version of a Legend of Zelda style game. The characters, buildings trees and enemies are all still rendered with just a few cleverly coloured blocks and  a couple of  basic movements in the characters to represent walking, talking and expressions but they are solid. Why do you care about this though? What is the point? Again it’s only really once you’re in the game that you can understand just how innovative 3D Dot Heroes is. There’s almost an epiphany when you start to play that being ‘cutting edge’ doesn’t have to mean alien and slightly scary technology being shoved down your throat. One of the things Little Big Planet showed us is that new ideas can still be quaint, warm and fuzzy. 3D Dot Game Heroes takes that much further by bringing us an entirely retro gaming experience using state of the art means.

When I say the game is like Zelda, it’s almost exactly like it. From the visuals, the plot and the gameplay, even the music is but a few notes from direct rip-off. The combination of these most familiar of gaming memories wash over you as you begin to play, like warm water from your childhood Sunday night bath with Matey bubble bath floating around just on the periphery of your mind. That cosy sensation of familiarity starts you off with a strong sense of good will towards the game and it’s rewarded quickly. You can pick from a ton of pre-made characters from noble princesses to knights and mages or you can create your own one pixel at a time in an extremely robust character creation mode which could suck up hours of time alone. Once you begin you’ll find the dialogue is altered to suit which type of character you went with and your adventure to recover the stolen orbs and restore peace to Dotnia Kingdom gets underway. Just like the games of old the world is completely open to you and you are given little instruction as to where you should head first. You’ll know you’ve gone the wrong way when you start getting a pasting from the various enemies, some of whom have projectiles or can fly.

As you explore you’ll come across delightful little towns where you can talk to other characters, pick up sidequests and restore your health and save your game at an inn. it’s here also in shops that you’ll upgrade your weapon which comes in the form of a sword. It’s not only its strength and abilities that can be increased but also it’s length and girth. So much so that eventually it can fill the whole screen, wiping enemies away in one deft swing. Beyond the fields, forests and deserts though the real game happens in dungeons where you recover the special orbs. It’s here that you will pick up your secondary weapons and gadgets that again, much like in Zelda, make up the unfolding gameplay mechanics as you learn to use your boomerang, grapplehook and so on. Unfortunately the acknowledgment of Zelda’s influence isn’t as forthright as it should be and with not much humour on show about this game’s homage it does verge on plain rip off. As time goes on you realise the game isn’t going to break away at all from the expected and the trip down memory lane may wear thin after a while.

As a new way of representing old material and a fusion of where gaming has come from and where it is headed, 3D Dot Game Heroes does an excellent job. It serves as a great reminder that we should not be so quick to forget the foundation of our love for games. As they say, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water.


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One response to “3D Dot Game Heroes”

  1. Tony avatar
    Tony

    “It’s not only its strength and abilities that can be increased but also it’s length and girth. So much so that eventually it can fill the whole screen”

    Giggety giggety goo!

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