It would seem that 2D games have become something of a memory, as current generation games sport hugely realistic graphics, heavy plots, and state of the art game mechanics. However, for those who have ever found themselves missing their old school games Atlus has just the mix with their new upcoming title, 3D Dot Game Heroes. It allows players to venture forth into Dotonia, the kingdom that was once 2D but opted to be a more popular 3D world. Once, Dotonia had been threatened by the Dark King, who attempted to conquer the world, but was thwarted by a great hero. Now only the descendant of this hero may wield the legendary sword and stop the Dark Bishop. The fate of the world resides in the ability to collect the six magical orbs in this unique light-hearted adventure puzzle game.
Although the game is rendered in 3D, it maintains a 2D experience through its fixed camera style, and by featuring dungeons where each area must be cleared in order to progress to the next room. Movement controls have a modern feel to them, compared to the retro appearance, but there are limited things the 3D hero may do beyond attacking and blocking. One button attacks, another blocks, and different weapons or abilities are toggled to be equipped or activated. Adding to the retro feel the hero may only face and attack in squares, although he may move horizontally, vertically, as well as diagonally. Some players, especially ones who never enjoyed classic gaming, may be put off by this; however it will most likely only add positives to most gamers' experiences.
Unlike other Atlus games, players will find 3D Dot Game Heroes more accessible, and their enjoyment less hinged upon their level of skill. Sprites repopulate quickly, and enemy encounter rates are high once safe places are left behind. The HUD is as classic as can be, using pictographs to detail health, magic, coins and items. However, even though this title isn't as difficult as say, Demon Souls, players should not expect a cake walk. Without timing attacks and blocks, failure is eminent later on down the road. While the HUD is easy and clear to understand, be wary of ignoring it! Attention has to be paid to the health of the hero, as damage and sword size is the highest with full health. Sprites drop items that either restore health, give an attack boost, or coins that increase bank account size. There are also plenty of places to spend coins on improved items and provisions.
If being nostalgic was a feat, 3D Dot Game Heroes would take the cake in the department of reflection. From the style and feel, 3D Dot Game Heroes is very retro and reminiscent of a time when people were all too happy to receive the next 2D game. The design of characters and the environment is very unique in a cute pixelated style. Playable characters are quite unique, interesting, and often references to characters in other games, which grants much added humour and nostalgia. In addition to the multitude of character options, there are also different classes to choose from (hero, royal, scholar). The game environment is colourful, pixilated, and the sounds and music are throwbacks to the better days of Zelda, 8-bit wondrous sound bites with modern twists.
It's worth pointing out though, that 3D Dot Heroes by no means reinvents retro gaming or provides players with an exciting new genre. Instead, it's a tribute to where gaming began, and where is has gone since. Unlike many Atlus games which are incredibly difficult, 3D Dot Game Heroes is a very laid back, and pleasant experience. Those who grew up in an era of 2D gaming or had the opportunity to play the old classics will certainly feel at home. There are many cute in-game references to other titles, such as Zelda or Demon's Souls, which add to the overall light-hearted humour. The puzzles are not frustrating and the dungeons are not exasperating, making 3D Dot Heroes a game that anyone can sit down to enjoy. And it's something they'll be able to enjoy when 3D Dot Heroes is released exclusively on PlayStation 3 during May.