3D Dot Game Heroes for PS3 | Game review – Console news

PS3; £39.99; cert 7+; Southpeak Games

With the current fascination with the 80s, 3D Dot Game Heroes seems a timely if low-key arrival. Best seen as a homage to the 8-bit era, with gameplay firmly rooted in the NES classic Legend of Zelda, 3DDGH looks and plays like nothing else around at the moment.

The plot takes the familiar Japanese arcade adventure format, as your chunky pixellated hero tries to stop the dark king Onyx from conquering a 2D world reluctantly forced into the 3D age. Before you even start, you can select from a large range of Lego-like designs, editing them pixel by pixel if you choose. Disappointingly, despite coming in many breeds (ninja, dragon, mage etc) they all move and fight in much the same way, with swords being the weapon of choice. These are wielded by using the analogue stick to swing and range from your basic prodder to enormous, Soul-Calibur style weapons that can dominate the screen if your health is sufficient.

You can also unlock other weapons by locating orbs, spread across six themed dungeon areas, so expect to collect speed boots, bombs, bows and grappling hooks, some of which are essential to negotiating the level that follows and the Boss character waiting at the end.

The game takes the form of an overworld punctuated by dungeons; the former filled with hidden dangers but hiding gold and other bonus items. However, because this overworld is so visually featureless you soon feel punished for the developer’s shortcomings than your own, while formulaic dungeon design soon makes these stages seem repetitive. It’s also worth mentioning that the trial version we reviewed was prone to crashing at regular intervals and the graphics took a noticeable frame-rate hit in some battles. Hopefully, these glitches should be sorted in the final release.

So granted, 3DGH is great to look with a difficulty curve that rises sharply to reward mastering its controls and perspective. However, by aping Zelda’s gameplay so closely, the developers merely show how far they have to go to rival Nintendo’s design skills – even with a formula that’s more than 20 years old. At times, you long for more Sam and Max-style irreverence to a subject so well suited to it. Which is not to say 3DDGH is not amusing, but they’re more in-jokes for retro fans of a certain age than genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. 3DDGH is still worth a look but it runs out of ideas and impetus all too quickly.

Rating: 3/5




Mike Anderiesz

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