The Kingdom of Dotnia was once a well-travelled land, having the history of a famed hero who had sealed away the evil King Onyx and his fiends that overran the kingdom. After the charm of the story wore off, King Tezro of Dotnia realized that his 2D kingdom needed some serious upgrading to appeal to people again. Who would want to visit a land rendered by sprites? As Dotnia springs out into the realm of pixilated 3D, the Dark Bishop Fuelle seized the six orbs and the sages that once allowed the first hero to rid Dotnia of King Onyx, and brought about another eruption of evil monsters to infest Dotnia. Thus, a new hero will have to save the kingdom yet again in 3D Dot Game Heroes
In true fashion of finding the grass greener on the other side, most of us gamers were enthusiastic for the release of a game that Atlus promised would allow us to take a nostalgic trip to games from the industry’s youngin’ days. If you’ve been raised on gaming, you’ll certainly have memories attached to those days that you can attribute to what Silicon Studio tried very diligently to incorporate into their tribute to retro gaming.
Personally, the experience of the game that connected me most with my childhood gaming years was its level of difficulty while simultaneously keeping its simplicity. Most evident of this are the boss levels of each dungeon. Partial to NES sequences, each boss behaves in a particular pattern that is easy to remember but difficult to overcome. There are no chaotic environments for your brain to have to register concurrently. Contact is straightforward, but challenging.
Sometimes, however, the difficulty found in 3D Dot Game Heroes can be attributed to the frustration felt when trying to navigate the expansive world of Dotnia. Some areas will remain off limits until you find items to help you move across them, like the grapple hook that lets you leap across one wooden pole to the next. Even beyond knowing that these areas will need to be revisited, the radius of each dungeon will need to be explored in depth to find your path toward it. I’ve had to take consistent breaks from the game before managing to locate the next dungeon on my list without wanting to throw the controller against a wall.
Traversing past some of the puzzles strewn about Dotnia isn’t always as simple as figuring each trick out. Some will have to be crossed multiple times over to find the correct route, and become extremely tiring. Moving across the desert, for instance, moving streams of quicksand are your mode of transportation but sometimes eject you at unexpected ends of the land. Given the somewhat inaccurate controls, too, you might step out onto the wrong path of sand and, to what always results in a sigh-bearing moment, be forced to wait the trip out to make your way over yet again. Although I wouldn’t exactly call the frustration a pleasant aspect of the game, finally getting to your destination through the haze of spawning enemies and various puzzles feels like quite the conquer over the developers.
The presence of the developers is something they want to keep reminding you of, which is clear by the numerous references to the game industry and the developer’s role in producing the games you play. Jokes like “It’s a secret to everybody,” or your fairy companion’s complaints as to the inconsistency of spell names add to what makes 3D Dot Game Heroes so endearing.
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