3D Dot Game Heroes is an action adventure game for the Playstation 3. This game is basically a Zelda game for PS3. The gameplay is incredibly similar with tons of references not only to a number of other games but also plenty of direct nods to the Zelda series itself. You play as a hero that has to gather six magical orbs and stop the Dark Bishop in order to restore peace to the land. This means you’ll be going through a number of dungeons scattered across an overworld defeating bosses, solving puzzles, and gaining new items to help you continue your quest. The land is created by cubes because of a strange side plot that the land used to be 2D until the king decided to change everything into 3D. So while it is actually in 3D this game still plays more or less in a 2D fashion. There are also a number of side quests for you to complete as well as a few neat mini games to play. There are a few things that make this game a little more unique, though.
You can get tons of different swords and a variety of other goofy weapons like a baseball bat or a fish. You can typically take these weapons to the blacksmith and pay to upgrade their stats, though each weapon has a limited potential for upgrades so you’ll have to choose your customization wisely. You can make a sword longer, wider, stronger, or even give it some special attributes depending on the given blade. But be warned, these effects only affect your sword when you are at full health, generally making your sword comically huge on top of being much more powerful and useful. Once below max life your sword will revert to its standard stats, which is why sometimes it is best to use some weapons when at full health and switch to others when below. Swordplay is also a little different in this game. When you hit the attack button you will stab in front of you. You can also rotate your direction to swing your extended sword around in a slashing motion. It’s a simple change, but it can make all the difference in intense combat situations. You can also customize your character in a few ways. You can pick a character class to change up your starting attributes. Maybe you like using more magic. Maybe you prefer a more physical approach. Or maybe you want balance. You can pick the class that best fits your playstyle. You can also create what your character looks like from scratch, including the few animations your character will do in the game. This all leaves options for more customization and replayability.
I really like the vibrant and pretty visuals of the game, and some of the music themes are pretty great. It’s also no surprise that I’m a big fan of all the Zelda-type things you do in the game because I’m a big Zelda fan. I think having tons of swords adds to the replay value because you most likely won’t be getting all of them in your first run, nor will you upgrade them all either. I like the upgrade system for making your gold very valuable, rather than just leaving you with large sums of currency at a time like most Zelda games do. I also kind of like the idea of having a bunch of time-sensitive side quests in the game. You probably won’t hit all of them in one playthrough unless you’re looking up a walkthrough from the get-go. This means that the more you replay the game, the more you’ll discover over the years. Or you can talk to your friends about it that also own the game on what you did to get your different experiences. It’s a way to breed that same kind of mystery and sense of wonder as classic adventures games used to back in the day, and I can appreciate that for what it’s worth. However, I think this is a great example of something that can also be seen as a problem.
The fact that you can miss out on so much from the side quests simply because you don’t know who to talk to and when can be extremely frustrating to completionists that want to complete the game the first time through. Playing with a walkthrough by your side ruins a lot of the magic of discovering a game for the first time, but talking to every single character after every major event in the game becomes a chore real fast. If you don’t want to miss anything, you’re either stuck going the tedious route or looking everything up from the start, and that can certainly color your experience. There’s also the grinding involved in that type of mindset. Trying to get enough gold to upgrade all of your weapons to the max in some way or another will take a very long time. Even some of your mainstays can take a while to maximize. This can make for some extended playtime that isn’t exactly fun. The other big issue here is about the obvious lifting of elements from another series of games; the Zelda games. Now I personally can see how, as a rule, it’s generally bad to be lifting these ideas so heavily from another source to make your own game. However, as a gamer looking to play a fun game, I don’t necessarily care how much they rip off another game or series so long as they make a good game out of it. If you’re going to be borrowing from a series, borrow the parts that make that series good. This is the case for me in this instance, but I can definitely see people finding it too similar to the source material. The way a lot of the overworld works is similar to A Link to the Past and the dungeon designs seem straight out of the first Legend of Zelda. For people looking for an experience that’s unlike a Zelda game, this can be very disappointing. The dialogue in the game can often be goofy and entertaining, even fourth wall breaking at times. A lot of the references to other games can be lost on the wrong audience, though. I get some of the references, but many of them I don’t understand. This can be annoying because instead of creating timeless dialogue it turns into a lot of popular culture and in-jokes that are going to be nothing more than trivial footnotes years down the road.
So the game isn’t perfect, but it’s still a great game. In fact, this is my favorite PS3 game most likely due to all the similarities to Zelda games. If you have a PS3 and are big Zelda fan, definitely check out 3D Dot Game Heroes. The charm, replay value, and familiar formula will definitely make you feel right at home with a brand new adventure ahead of you and some new mechanics to master. It’s a great time and it probably won’t cost too much to pick up these days. I can’t recommend this game enough, unless you don’t like the Legend of Zelda or have no interest in similar games… in which case… well then obviously, don’t get it. Otherwise, just go check it out. It’s certainly worth the time and money. FOR DOTNIA!