When you talk to most gamers about the one game that really made an impact on them in their youth, one franchise stands out among the best, and that that title is the amazing Legend of Zelda. 24 years after its initial release, Silicon Studio and Atlus have teamed up to bring back this epic masterpiece with a new twist. The result of this radical update is 3D Dot Game Heroes, a game that brings 3D and Lego blocks to a whole new level. This game brings players back to the past with a very familiar gameplay style, lots of humor, and a great trip down memory lane. Read on below to see if its worth the journey and its price of admission.
I am going to try to go this whole review without mentioning Legend of Zelda, event though I already have more than once, so bear with me and please remember, this is not Legend of Zelda. Ok, so I am off to a rocky start but let’s not forget that 3D Dot Game Heroes is a game that makes a name for itself and doesn’t need to stand in the shadow of you know what. The game thrusts players into the world of Dotnia, a land that once flourished in 2D. Things have dried up in Dotnia and the King, wanting to give his people new life, turned everything in the world to 3D. The transition however was not smooth as it awakened various evils throughout the world only to be squashed by a hero. Fast forward many years down the line and this is where your story begins, with the world near chaos again. The King turns to you to pull the legendary hero sword from the stone (wasn’t that a movie?), retrieve the 6 orbs of power, and save the world. The story does not get much deeper than that, instead going for more of a lighthearted approach that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Before you can start your quest, you must create your ultimate hero. I hope you are ready for an advanced look at building Legos because this is exactly what the Creator/Editor feels like. After you open up the editor you are presented with a pretty hefty set of preset characters that you can pick. Ranging from your normal soldiers and wizards to Gundam suits and Dracula. You can of course, select one of these and change them to your liking or you can dare to be original and create your own from scratch. If you choose the more resistant path you are met with what at first looks a bit too complex, but really is not bad once you get the hang of it. Move blocks around and change their colors to create whatever you want; it’s fun and you can easily lose plenty of time making your character perfect.
Now it’s time to start your journey in the lush 3D world of Dotnia. You start on a world map with all the basics: a health bar, mana bar, mini map and your primary and secondary weapon on screen. The whole layout is almost identical to Legend of Zelda (boy is it hard not to reference Zelda) and the game will even beep at you when you get very low on health. Everything about the world of Dotnia screams charm and pure fun from the smallest of lego blocked enemy to each and every town. There is just something about this world that sucks you in and turns you into the young gamer that you once were. I know more than once I found myself reminiscing about the good ol’ days of gaming bliss, when games weren’t all about graphics, online MP, and shooting. It’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, however, as the HUD can get in your way a bit when you are near the top of the screen, making it very hard to see projectiles or enemies coming your way.
The mission that you are tasked with will set you off in your search of the 6 temples; each with their own challenges and elaborate dungeons to navigate through as you attempt to get the power orb at the end. You will find quicksand on your way to one orb and have to climb up a volcano on another, dodging the falling rocks along the way. Each Dungeon is filled with obstacles that to try impede you on your journey to your ultimate goal. As you trek through each temple they get tougher as you progress in the story, giving you huge satisfaction when you finally make it through and defeat the boss. Speaking of bosses, each one is very unique and just as the temples go, they become harder as you get farther into the game. You will find yourself fighting dragons, snakes and a killer bee who is not afraid to use his stinger. Ouch! The great part here is that after you defeat a boss, if you feel the need to show him up again or maybe just the need to kick a little ass, you can revisit his grave at anytime and revive him.
In the beginning you start with just your hero sword and a shield, but as you progress in the story your sword grows stronger and wider. Like a previous game I cannot mention by name, when at full health your sword is at its largest and most powerful. Once you do take a hit however, your sword shrinks back to its lesser form and becomes a bit less effective. You can swing your sword in all directions and use your shield to block incoming attacks. The combat is very fluid and feels just right for the game, but it is not without issues. I found myself often telling my guy to face right and swing his sword only to have him swing his sword up, annoyingly causing me to take damage.
Throughout the game you will find money and items by defeating enemies, smashing jars or doing a bit of yard work and cutting blades of grass. Money gained can be used to buy new items, weapons and upgrades for your swords. Each sword you can get through the game has a potential rating which shows you just how upgraded the sword can become. The upgrades for purchase range from giving it more power, to making it wider and longer. There are many various looking swords in the game, each with their own special abilities. For example my sword of choice is a pink star sword that when equipped and at full health, will at times give my player a star ability much like Mario where I am invincible.
If you get tired of using your sword during battle you can always turn to your bag of tricks for more ways to attack. In this bag you will find your trusty boomerang, arrows and bombs. If all of this is not enough to get you excited there is always the magic that will do the trick. Magic is obtained in the game from the orbs you collect while dungeon crawling. The magic in the game is fun to use, especially one later in the game that allows you to coat the entire screen in ice. You will also discover a bestiary book on your travels which you can use to record enemy data. At any point in the game you can pull out this book and see exactly what each recorded enemy drop, their weakness, and other useful info. If all else fails, you will always have your Zelda dash maneuver to get you out of harms way or ram the opponent, but watch out for the walls!!