If you grew up in the NES era, then it is not hard to see the charm found in the PS3 exclusive, 3D Dot Heroes. With obvious nods to many classic games, the developers at From Software combined old school gaming with a modern coat of paint. The result is one of the best action/adventure games to come out in quite a while.
Similar in graphical style to XBLA’s Rocket Riot, Dotnia is composed of nothing more than tiny blocks which puts a modern twist on 8-bit pixel art. The story is written in a typical classic adventure game style: you are the ancestor to a great warrior and must eliminate evil from the land. But the player is no longer limited to playing as a hero in green tights and a funny hat. Using the in-game character editor, players are free to create any hero/monster/blob/animal/mech/dragon/fruit/etc; you are really only limited to the lengths of your imagination. But if you are artistically challenged, then there are dozens of presets available. Taking it one step further, you can name your character and even assign a profession. Just boot up google or youtube to see just how creative your main character can be. Even better, the game asks you if you want to switch up your character when you load your game, giving the player the option to constantly play as a new icon.
The game takes place in Dotnia, but it is not hard to see where the overall look and design of this world came from. Fighting large bosses, blowing up weak walls to find new paths, looking for secrets, unlocking doors, exploring forests/deserts/waterways…it all will seems strangely familiar. Even some of the enemies, like the ghosts, four-legged jumping spiders, Like-Likes, goblins, or rock-spitting octopi will make an old school gamer feel right at home. Even the load screens pay respects to other classics, the King’s castle looks like it was ripped from another 8-bit RPGs, and character’s text bubbles even crack jokes that fans will definitely love, including references to Demon’s Souls, another Atlus/From Software title. The game’s inspiration is a “secret to everybody.”
Sure, if you weren’t born in the 80’s, would you understand each and every joke or hint that is thrown your way? Maybe not. But that does not mean that you will not have an enjoyable experience with 3D Dot Heroes. Thanks to quality game design, a light-hearted sense of gameplay and adventure, and a clear and unique graphical style, any gamer should find a decent amount of entertainment in this title. Perhaps the biggest complaint with the game could be the sometimes frustrating lack of direction, but this was probably done on purpose as classic games would often give the player only subtle clues, if at all, in regards to where you should go next. A bland “travel north” or a “good luck getting through that forest maze” were the only type of hints back in the day, so players might have to reference a faqs on a couple occasions to make it through to the end.
But referencing a faqs might not be a terrible idea as it might make you more aware of the extra content found in the game. The game is laced with secrets and side quests that often reward the player with new weapons or even health upgrades. Even mini games, like Breakout, a racer, and Tower-Defense clones, bring an added special bonus to the overall package, furthering the respect given to gaming classics.
If the gameplay wasn’t enough to walk you down Nostalgia Lane, then the graphics definitely will. Besides shadowing pixel design of the past, the entire mood and atmosphere of the game is reflected of the welcoming 8-bit motif. Everything from the short jingles that indicate that you found a secret or item, to the light hearted but catchy overworld theme that accompanies you everywhere you travel. The game’s wealth of secrets will make players want to explore every nook and cranny to find those hidden treasures and currency upgrades. All this is because of the game’s overall large, inviting and welcoming world.
Combat has also been giving quite the “enhancement.” Instead of being limited to a sword with a very small extension, players can acquire armaments that can take up almost the entire screen with one swipe. Defense also is taken into consideration as the shield can be used to repeat enemy attacks. Classic weapons, like the boomerang that stuns, bombs that blow up, bow and arrows that can snipe distance targets, and magic that can remove obstacles ensures that combat will remain a major focus throughout the game. While definitely entertaining, the combat is not entirely perfect as movement can be a bit restrictive with some stiff animations and collision problems also pop up from time to time, but is not enough to crush the overall game experience. But the sword swipe technique, where you throw your attack in one direction but end it in another, is a cool twist on typical one-button attacking.
Gamers of the NES era will appreciate 3D Dot Heroes the most, but that does not mean that new comers will not enjoy their time with this PS3 title. Sure many of the jokes are tailored to old school gamers, but the gameplay is lighthearted enough that anyone can play it. Never taking itself too seriously, the game does provide some good challenges along the way but finds a solid balance with the pacing of the gameplay, graphics, and atmosphere as a whole. This game offers a lot to action adventure fans especially ones that have memories of classic 8-bit titles. Besides the nod and respecting wink throw towards old games, 3D Dot Heroes retails for a mere $40. This means there is no excuse for PS3 owners not to play this game.
Better Than: Building your own retro world out of Legos
Also Check Out: Rocket Riot on XBLA
Also Try: The original Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior
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