Let me ask you this; are you a Legend of Zelda fan? More importantly, are you a fan of the old school, original Zelda? If the answer is yes, or even if the answer is yeah sort of, you have absolutely no reason not to be playing3D Dot Game Heroes right this very moment, other than the fact you’re reading this review. So finish up, then get your ass to the nearest Playstation and fire this one up because you are in for a treat.
Some would call this a rip-off of the original Legend of Zelda but those same people would also be silly because that is definitely not the case here. This isn’t a rip-off, it’s a clear homage. It’s not as though the developers are trying to hide that they’re making a Zelda game. I don’t think they’re sitting in their office wondering “what the fuck is this Zelda everyone keeps comparing our game to?! I don’t understand!!” No there are tons of in-game references to the fact, including a full-on representation of Link’s face that appears in the one of the mini-games. They certainly have no issue with flat out stating exactly the game they set out to make, and it makes everything all the better for it.
If you’ve played the original Zelda, then there almost isn’t that much I have to say about how this game works. Just about all facets of 3D Dot Game Heroes are taken straight from Zelda. The top down view, the scrolling screens as you maneuver around the world, the items, the controls, the layout, the dungeon progression, even the general tone of the music, all of it is lifted straight from Zelda, with much of it hardly even being tweaked at all. Of course 3D Dot Game Heroes does bring some unique additions to the table.
The first major difference is your main character. 3D Dot gives you complete customization, allowing you to create your own pixilated hero to guide through the game. I messed around with it enough to know that you can do a lot of really cool stuff with it, it’s just going to take a hell of a long time to do it. If you’re like me and you don’t have the time to commit to putting together your own character, there are tons of existing ones to choose from when you first fire up the game. They range from knights to boxers to ninjas to sharks. One of my favourites is atually a car that makes the motion like it is walking around. If the in-game selection isn’t enough, by all means hop online where you can download tons of user created characters, including several pretty damn impressive versions of Link himself.
People seem oddly divided on the general look of the game. Everything is, as expected, 3D, and given a pixilated look. It’s an interesting look that may not be mind blowing graphically (with perhaps the exception of the water, god damn the water looks fantastic), but it gives everything a unique look that hasn’t really been done in any other game. I personally was a fan as it manages to be both up to date and completely old school. Plus they even manage to work it into the plot, which sets an appropriately silly tone right from the very beginning.
The game does have a great sense of humour overall. From being able to play as a shark fin to literally dozens of inside references to other video games of both new and old (including the studio’s recent Demons’ Souls), the game never takes itself seriously for a second. My personal favourites are the ones that poke fun at conventions like fetch quests (although making fun of them but also making you do them sends a bit of a mixed message) or having the option to choose ‘No’ when answering a question, only to have the game refuse to progress until you say ‘Yes.’ I wouldn’t say any of it is drop dead hilarious, but it is pleasant as fuck.
As mentioned earlier the gameplay is about as Zelda-y as it gets. You have bombs, bows and arrows, a hookshot, you collect four Life Shards to get an extra health piece, it all works exactly as you would think. One very cool change is how your weapon works when your life is full. In Zelda you had the ability to fire beams out of your sword. In 3D Dot Game Heroes, having full energy means your sword is really fucking HUGE! If you upgrade it enough, it will eventually start taking up half of the screen.
Many people have seen this feature and concluded the game must be far too easy. Guess what people? WRONG! It’s not as difficult as Demons’ Souls, but there is definite challenge to be had here. Then again the original Zelda was no walk in the park either, so think along those same lines for this one.
There are seven primary dungeons which may seem short but there is tons of other stuff to do. There’s side quests, mini games (which are actually quite fun and have a surprising amount of depth to them) and tons of secrets to find. I spent hours between dungeons just wandering the map and seeing what I stumbled upon. There’s even a second quest to take on once you’ve finished the game. Needless to say, if you enjoy it, there is a lot to keep you coming back.
It’s really easy to determine whether or not to try out this game. If you like old school Zelda, then there is no reason not to play this. If you don’t, this will do nothing to win you over. Since I am an old school Zelda fan, I found a lot to like here. Don’t get me wrong it’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s a terrific call back to the classic era of gaming that I had a lot of fun with. Also you can play as a shark! A SHARK!