Handheld Heroes

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Review: 3D Dot Game Heroes

Games today seem too easy by the standards of the 8-bit era of gaming. Yes there are difficulty levels but they provide more frustration than actual challenges. Failing because of inadequate design in the games difficulty instead of the gamer not quite figuring out a certain way to get past a section is frustrating to the ego. Finally, Atlus and From Software comes through with a near perfect ode to 8-bit gaming with 3D Dot Game Heroes. The story is pretty simple. Dotnia is in trouble and it is up to you, the descendent of the hero that defeated The Dark King to do it all over again. 3D Dot Game Heroes is so close to a Legend of Zelda clone it's scary. From the music, dungeons, right down to the enemies. Turning on the game for the first time, they warmed my childhood heart with the 8-bit style loading screen. Everything about this game screams 8-bit. Don't let that fool you into think it looks terrible, the art is wonderfully rendered with everything designed from gorgeous 3-D blocks. Objects as well as enemies explode in a way that would make all the Lego games proud.

3D Dot Game Heroes has a very robust character creator so you can make your own personalized hero. Of course if you don't want to spend 8 hours making the perfect Link, you can use the many pre-made designs the game has to offer. You can also download creations from people all over the world by going to the Hall of Heroes online and choose from hundreds of entries. You can even submit your own creations to share with the world. It might be a pain for some to download a new character to a USB thumb drive and transfer it to the PS3 but I see it as not troublesome at all.

Combat is simplistic enough. You have your sword and your shield....what more do you need? Oh, I forgot that this is a Zelda clone. Ok, you also get a boomerang, bow and arrows, bombs, and a hook shot to round out your equipment. Spells can also be acquired by recovering the each of the 6 Orbs of Light in the game. After recovering the Orb from beating the guardian protecting it, returning it to the Sage responsible for the Orb will grant you powers from it. Reflect, Freeze and Fire are some of the spells you will receive by retrieving the Orbs. Swords can be upgraded by going to a Blacksmith and paying for such upgrades as strength, width, length, spin, pierce and the ability to shoot a projectile. Different swords can have different upgrade paths as well as Max Potential, or how far you can upgrade the sword before no further upgrades can be done. It prevents the player from maxing all categories for one sword thus rendering the whole upgrade system broken.

You may be wondering why some of the upgrades are length and width. Well, we all know bigger and longer is always better, right ladies? In 3D Dot Game Heroes, when at Max Health, your sword is at its full potential and fills ¼th of the screen. The more you upgrade, the further it covers the screen. You could actually sit in the middle of the screen and spin around as you attack to kill everything fully upgraded. Unfortunately, when not at full health, you are stuck with an average sized sword. This makes staying at Max Health a good way to challenge yourself since having a sword that covers the whole screen makes boss fights easier

Speaking of easy, 3D Dot Game Heroes will fool you into thinking the game is easy. The first 3 Temples are a cakewalk. Everything past that is when the challenges start. The Temples get more complicated with more floors to explore as well as challenging puzzles to solve. Trying to shoot an arrow at a switch while getting shot at by 4 pillars is a test in dexterity. Besides the Temples, there are plenty of side quests to do in the game as well as finding all the treasure chests, secret caves, and filling your Bestiary. The Bestiary is a book you can acquire that you can enter enemies into to as you come across them. Entering the enemies is actually a pain to do. You need to equip the Bestiary and continuously smack the enemy you want in the book. Not my idea of fun but for some it might be.

From Software delivered on a near perfect 8-bit experience for all the old gamers out there but for the newcomers to this style of gameplay might have a hard time getting into 3D Dot Game Heroes. A great game for a decent price makes this game something to have in your collection right next to your NES games.