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3D Dot Game Heroes PS3 harks back to role playing games of old. Instead of rose-tinted memories though, my experience was marred by unforgiving game play and my personal inexperience with the genre.
Nostalgia is sometimes best left to memory. Going back to old games like Baldur's Gate, Legend of Zelda, and the early Final Fantasy series can ruin their fuzzy glow. 3D Dot Heroes offers a window into that past, taking the elements of those cherished games and giving them a 3D, Lego-like makeover.
I say elements but in reality 3D Dot Game Heroes is simple an updated verbatim copy of the original Legend of Zelda - albeit with some 2010 graphic bells and whistles. It's was a particularly interesting experienced for me as I missed the original Zelda games first time round.
That said, I grew up playing RPGs and there's more than a nod and wink to other classic games here in the same way that the Lego video games pay homage to whatever film it's parodying. It's a glorious celebration of that era and even though I can't appreciate the direct inspiration I still understand the appeal.
The top-down perspective feels like the developers took the 2D model of the first Zelda and stretched it out to 3D. The colours are vibrant and the river flows through the fields and villages looks shiny - as if you're remembering a walk from memory.
The humour is just as sharp with your hero possessing a sword that extends halfway across the screen. With the non-player characters all producing genuinely funny parodies of the original, 3D Dot Heroes is a game that fans of the original Zelda games will enjoy.
With the NPCs all producing dialogue that's genuinely funny and full of witty parodies, 3D Dot Heroes should be a game all original Zelda fans will get a lot from.
But although I appreciated the homage to the older games the charm and uniqueness of 3D Dot Game Heroes starts to wear off quickly after the first dungeon. The slightly odd controls and a few 'classic' gaming conventions begin to wear the experience down as I started to realise that this game had just as many game play issues as the original.
When you look past the humour and stylish presentation, this is a really unforgiving experience. Timing my attacks and switching to magic spells took a level of skill I wasn't expecting. And 3D Dot Game Heroes isn't afraid to constantly elevate the difficulty.
These problems will seem pathetic to those used to the very RPGs 3D Dot Heroes is emulating. No doubt many will enjoy the challenge of something approaching an old-school game but it detracts from their remembered charm.
When I look back to those retro games I remember the good - how the music sounded or art-style was distinctive. Or how, despite the limited technology, developers managed to create a tangible world in a big grey plastic console/PC system and how easy it was to escape into those worlds.
The bare brutality of ever more difficult enemies felt more bleak than challenging.
3D Dot Game Heroes recreates this sense of fondness with the visuals, but by replicated the difficulty of those games uncovers not a few flaws as well. I usually love hard games - Demon's Souls in particular is an unforgiving favourite of mine - but here the bare brutality of ever more difficult enemies felt more bleak than challenging.
3D Dot Game Heroes mixes new visuals with old school game play. This disconnect made the game feel incomplete and jarring. It has all the right homages, humour and trimmings to be the ultimate tribute, but without lightening up on the game play it felt cumbersome and frustrating. Sadly I was left cold about the games it was trying to emulate.
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