Review: 3D Dot Game Heroes

3D Dot Game Heroes


  • Developer:Silicon Studios
  • Publisher: From Software (JPN), Atlus (NA)
  • Release: 5/11/2010 (NA)
  • Genre: Action-Adventure
  • Modes: Single-Player
  • Availability: Online Stores like Amazon ($30 New)

“3D Dot Game Heroes” is made by Silicon Studios who have developed; Operation: Darkness, Bravery Default 1 and 2, FANTASICA, and other games.


Imgur The plot involves the player character being a descendant of the legendary hero that stop evil from taking over Dotinia Kingdom. Years latter the popularity of the kingdom wanes so the king decides to make the world 3D in order to make the world more appealing. Unfortunately, this strengthened evil and put the kingdom into peril again. So it's up to you to save the Kingdom.

The writing is light hearted and silly with many tributes to classic games like Dragon's Quest, Final Fantasy, and of course, Zelda. There is plenty of 4th wall breaking references that acknowledged the silly game-play and story tropes that appear in many games. It's nether obnoxious or in your face, but subtle humor.


The game is rendered as millions of tiny cubed pixels known as voxels. From the game world to the characters, it helps give it a retro NES/SNES feeling to it. Looking at the character from a flat perspective or from far away on an overhead view, they can almost be mistaken for sprites. When you play for the first time, the colors may look flat and muted. You will need to adjust the brightness and color setting, in-game, to make it look it's best. Too much color and brightness will hide the outlines of the voxels and blend some colors together. You may also have to adjust it in the volcano and wind valley sections where the HDR can make things hard to see. It's a minor issue, but it's something that can be easily fixed.


Imgur “3D Dot Game Heroes” plays as a tribute to the old 2D Legend of Zelda games where you traverse an over-world to find dungeons and complete quests. The over-world works in a grid system where screens are grouped into a grid with the map being a 5x5 grid layout. Throughout the over-world there are chests to find, hidden locations, and quests to do. These quests typically involve talking to separate npc's, but sometimes they involves finding items. The quest rewards can be, money, life-shards, magic upgrades, but sometimes they are miscellaneous items that contribute to a big reward. Your life is measured in a meter of apples that can be increased by finding life-shards hidden in the world. The magic bar works similarly except you only need to find one hour glass in order to increase your magic meter.

The game has a character editor where you can ether edit an pre-made character or build your own. Not only do you build the character, but also design the animations for movement and the attacks. You're only limited to your imagination to what you want to create. If you don't want to create a character, you have over 50 pre-made character's to chose, from Santa Claus to Tanks. Each character has a class that determines the amount of health and magic you will start with. Royal and Scholar classes give one extra health or magic at the cost of the other while the hero class has an even amount. You can change you character and it's class anytime you load your save file and the health and magic amounts will adjust.

The game has 7 main dungeons, with 4 optional mini-dungeons. Each of the main dungeons, has to be done in order as you need to get key items and spells from completing the dungeons. The dungeons are mostly linear with few to no shortcuts. This means in the longer dungeons, you might have to spend 20 minutes to regain your progress if you die. Each dungeon progressively gets longer and harder, with the introduction of new elements and individual dungeon gimmicks. In the longer dungeons, you more likely to get lost due to lots of backtracking. For those that are experienced with games, the dungeons won't be too hard. A flaw of the dungeons is that some of them only use a gimmick once and ditch it for the rest of the dungeon. Another flaw is the final dungeon is long and tedious to play through. There is lots of backtracking and getting through it can take over 2 hours.

There are 34 swords to collect and upgrade through the game. The sword vary from your standard sword, to a laser sword, and even a fish. All the swords have different visuals and some have different sound effects. These swords are ether acquired through completing quests, finding them, or by buying the with the small blocks you find or get through mini-games. The small blocks are the currency used to buy swords from King Block. All swords purchased from King Block can be carried over into a new game. You can upgrade your swords make them longer, wider, stronger, pierce through objects, spin, shoot beams, and special abilities. The upgrade costs money and these upgrades will carry over when you acquire the sword again in new game +. Unfortunately, while the swords look different, most of the function similarly stat wise. Only about 11 of them are noticeably different in abilities and stats, but most of those are acquired to late to be of use. Luckily 3 of the useful ones can be carried over to new game +.

Camera Modes:

Imgur The game has 4 camera perspectives that you can chose to play your game with. All of these camera perspectives can be used for taking screen-shots along with the free-mode camera, which is exclusive to screen-shot mode. All screen-shots are stored on your PS3's hard drive. Game-play wise, camera A is a more flat perspective with lots of depth of field that makes the distance look far away. You can only see about 25% of the screen at a time and can't really see what is below you so it's not the most optimal way to play. This is the default camera mode, oddly enough. Camera B is an isometric camera that is close to being a top down perspective. This camera closer to the old Legend of Zelda games, with camera slightly tilted more which makes things look more 3D. You can also slightly see off in the distance near the top part of the screen. This is one of the two camera perspectives I would recommend as it gives you the most optimal field of view. It does have it's problems though.

The problems with camera B, ironically, come from the dungeons and the mini games were you are stuck with that perspective. Camera B is fine in the field where the terrain doesn’t obscure whats around you, no precision targeting, and no enemies that require careful defense. In the latter three dungeons, these issues crop up occasionally. With the lack of shortcuts in a dungeon, this means having to do everything all over again which means potentially wasting 20 minutes or more. These issues wouldn't be a problem if you could use camera C. It's a minor issue with the breakout mini-game, but dash circuit is affected greatly by this among other issues when your moving at lighting speeds.

Camera C is exactly like the old Legend of Zelda games. It's a pure top down perspective that works great. This is the other camera perspective I would recommend. You can't see the distance on the edges of the screen though. The last one is Camera D which is Camera A, but extremely close to the player. It's a barely functional perspective that seam pointless to have.


Imgur The dash circuit mini-game is infamous among players. Save for one or two people, many loath this mini game due to how ridiculously hard it is. The mini-game involves press the dash button to rush around the track as your speed increases. While wining the money is a reasonable challenge, beating the track record is insanely hard if you want to get the sword. This is due to the fast speeds you need to be moving at while maneuvering through hairpin turns. The game controls don't work well for that and the perspective makes this hard to do especially with hit-boxes being larger then the models. It's completely optional and not required to beat the game, but it's worth noting the serious issues to it compared to the rest of the game.

The second mini-game is Block Defense. This game is a tower defense type game where you set up turrets to take out the enemies that march along a path to what you are protecting. In this case, you are protecting the exit from the enemies. Enemies come in a set waves that get progressively harder with different enemy types and health amounts. Killing enemies gets you money to buy new towers. You have variety of turrets that are effective for a variety of situations from land based enemies to flying enemies. At the end of certain waves, a knight with a large amount of health will appear. When you kill it, you will get a crystal to buy new types of towers or increasing reward bonuses at the end of each.

An interesting twist to Block Defense is you can participate in killing the enemies or collecting money, but by standing still, you gain experience to become much stronger. There are five regular block defense levels plus 10 bonus levels that become increasingly difficult in layouts and waves. The 10 bonus levels were free DLC that came with the North American and European versions of the game. These bonus levels have different rules and conditions for winning. The extra levels are not required for 100% completion or for getting any trophies. Each block defense level can last up 20 minutes or more.

The last mini-game is Brickout that is a clone of the old arcade game known as Breakout. You launch your ball with the shield and use what sword you have equipped or the shield, to bounce the ball around to break the blocks. There are five levels in total with a sword you can get if you don't lose any lives. The only fault being the perspective that can make it hard to judge the distance of the ball coming toward you.


Imgur One significant flaw in the game-play is the shield system. While it isn't a big deal for causally playing; going for the boss trophies and playing spelunker mode makes this noticeable. The problem revolves around the player's hit-box, which is the size limit of how big they can make their character. So this means that the hit-box is larger then the character that it surrounds. You may notice this when trying to block attacks at the corners of your character or take damage despite the enemies attack not touching the character model. Enemies don't have this issue.

Another factor in this issue is that the character's shield only protects about 75% of the character's front. Unlike the knights which can block any attack that touches the front, the player doesn't get the full benefit of this. Any attack that connects with the player or enemies hit-box first will causes them to receive damage regardless of the shield.

The last factor to the issue is the animations. Animations are slower then the hit-boxes. So while you may think you blocked a slow attack, you didn't. This is noticeable when fighting the dark knight boss. Some attacks like the Golum's laser beams, and the Dark Knight's sword seam to lay the hit-box down instantly around you, causing the game to treat it like you were hit despite defending.

It also player's a part in the shield bug where defending while up-close to an enemy causes a rapid amount of shield hit noises. Doing this for to long can sometimes cause your character to be turned around or thrown around, and possibly take damage. It seams that the game is rapidly checking to see if the attack connects with the hit-box or the shield, and sometimes it will decide the player takes damage despite visually looking like it shouldn't.

The game is also prone to major slowdown which tends to be common in dungeons. Destroying too many models on screen causes lots of little voxels to spew across the screen. Two factors exclusively cause frame drops in the dungeons is the lighting and the water. It isn't consistent, but it generally happens in the aqua and flame dungeons.

Other minor issues include the sword not fully extending despite nothing being in the way, sword not swinging in tight area's, enemies instantly turning when performing an attack, and mage's AI not working properly. You will only notice all the issues in the dungeons .


The soundtrack is retro style theme with many of the songs provoke memories of old classic games. They have have a chip tune style while not being restrained by the technical limitations of the era's the songs give tribute to. A lot of the music does pay tribute to the SNES and NES Zelda games.


Imgur “3D Dot Game Heroes” is a fun tribute to the Legend of Zelda and other classic games. I know I reference Zelda a lot, but it's hard not to make comparisons to what it primary tributes. It's a great throwback to classic games and a reminder that the style can still be made today. The game has plenty of content to keep you busy for quiet awhile. It's not perfect though. The latter 4 dungeons o f the game start to take an hour or two to complete and if don't access the boss teleporter before you die, you will have to do it all again. They also have plenty of backtracking, especially the final dungeon. The dungeons aren't horrible, but they can be tiring to play through. Regardless of it's faults, it is an accessible game that I would recommend to all gamers.


The overall impression on playability, mechanics and features.


The overall impression on visuals, effects and framerate.


The overall impression on the entertainment level of the game.

  • I'm not a professional reviewer.
  • A Link to the Past was my first Zelda game.
  • I enjoy classic style games like this.
  • I beat the game and all the side-quests, but didn't get all the swords.

The images were captured through the games screenshot feature. I uploaded my screenshots here. https://imgur.com/a/UtzR9



I like all kinds of videogames from many genres. I've been playing videogames since I was three from the SNES, Genesis, and Atari. I like to write videogame reviews for fun and to test my writing skills. My blog were I host my reviews is http://justforfungamereviews.blogspot.com/

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