The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also lead
to kick-ass rip-offs. 3D Dot Game Heroes is an unapologetic tribute to
The Legend of Zelda, tempered with tons of NES-era nostalgia and
refreshing, simple presentation. Without the distraction of forced
innovation, From Software has successfully refined the classic formula
to pure retro –gaming –bliss.
3D Dot Game Heroes simultaneously
looks like everything and nothing you’ve ever seen. Its unique graphical
style expands classic 2D sprites into the third dimension. Every single
object in the Kingdom of Dotnia is composed of tiny 3D cubes. The
stunning shading and particle effects make the game resemble the
masterworks of a video game-obsessed LEGO architect brought to life.
Motivated adventurers can flex their own creativity in the accessible
hero editor, or choose from dozens of preassembled characters like a
shark, ninja, or funky Santa Claus. Putting the time into making a
great-looking hero heightens ownership of the brilliant adventure to
Whichever character you choose, 3D Dot Game Heroes plays
like a version of Zelda that aged as well as your fond memories of the
series. I’ll spare you the details on the story and gameplay, because
you’ve done the dungeon-crawling, puzzle-solving, boomerang-slinging
song and dance before. All you need to know is that it’s still fun.
3D Dot Game Heroes departs from the core Zelda formula is in its
challenge. Simply navigating the overworld from dungeon to dungeon can
be perilous and confusing, but that difficulty makes finding your
destination that much sweeter. Clearing dungeons requires tremendous
concentration and patience, but if you’re a true Zelda fan you’ve been
training your whole life for this. If you’re worried about wracking your
mind on a single puzzle for an hour, fret not: They’ve been expertly
crafted. Boss difficulty, however, is inconsistent. A huge dragon chewed
on me for about an hour, while a towering knight didn’t so much as
scratch me. Gamers expecting a wistful romp through a bizarro Hyrule are
in for a surprising amount of game overs, but each will only strengthen
The game controls similarly to the top-down Zeldas.
Staunch traditionalists are free to –navigate the fields and dungeons
of Dotnia with the d-pad, but I’d recommend the analog stick. Before you
recoil at my retro gaming-blasphemy, you should know that improvements
have been made to the primitive Zelda swordplay. Many of the game’s
numerous weapons allow 360 degrees of attacks, which the analog stick
Speaking of swordplay, do you remember how in
the early Zelda games your sword shot lasers when you had full health?
That mechanic returns here, but some blades nearly fill the screen. For
example, the fully-upgraded katana lacks width but can cut down baddies
from clear across the screen. Combine this with the spin attack and
you’ve got power that makes the master sword look like a pocket knife.
Your weapon’s ability at maximum vitality creates an engaging struggle
to always remain at full health. When you’re reduced to your regular
armament, the game becomes a tough, desperate romp which coaxes from you
the dormant Zelda skills –necessary to survive.
This shrine to
Miyamoto doesn’t come without its faults. Sometimes the dungeons’ fixed
camera perspective obscures a vital path, which can halt progress for
hours. Additionally, your character’s collision box doesn’t correspond
to its onscreen model, which can lead to unintuitive snags on geometry
and misjudgments regarding whether you’re the right size to squeeze
through a narrow passage.
Ultimately, 3D Dot Game Heroes combines
the original Legend of Zelda’s world with A Link to the Past-style
gameplay, which proves to be an absolute blast. What the game lacks in
originality it makes up for in nostalgic humor, polished gameplay, and
length, clocking in at around 20 hours for non-completionists. No
self-respecting Zelda fan or retro gamer should pass this one up.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.