I wrote a bit about 3D Dot Game Heroes last week.
Completing the game has not changed my opinion. It’s a great, and you should play it.
What I want to take a closer look at are some of the little details that make 3D Dot Game Heroes so awesome.
There are a number of design elements that make the game feel decidedly retro, and it’s not just the pixel graphics, and quasi-8-bit sound.
The Instruction Manuel
Crack open the case and you will see an instruction manual. However this is no ordinary manual, it’s really poorly written. It’s missing so many things, and some of the items that it does contain are explained poorly. Consequently, the book isn’t very useful.
This can’t be an error, because modern games don’t need to come with instruction booklets, and in the event that they do, they are well-written.
Back in the day, instruction manuals were rarely useful because they were incompetently written, poorly translated, or both. Just like this one.
The Blue Dragon
The Blue Dragon is a powerful foe who randomly shows up without warning, and kills you unless you are either souped up and/or very good.
Random over-powered enemies who unpredictably drop in to kill you is so retro.
In the time it took me to beat the game, I only encounter the Blue Dragon three times.
- Within the first 10 minutes of the game. He killed me before I had any clue what he was.
- Before I entered the sixth temple. I beat him.
- At the end of the game as I was about to enter the Dark Tower he dropped by. I slaughtered the blue bastard.
Color Pallet Shifts
Early video games needed to conserve memory. As a result, developers would reuse character models, and just change the color pallet to signify that the enemy was more powerful.
As you progress through 3D Dot Game Heroes, the enemies stay the same, but their color pallets shifts as they get harder.
At certain points, the game even makes fun of this fact.
Insane & Horrible Dialogue
The dialogue is so poor, campy, and deliberately bad that it is hilarious. Characters make inane and nonsensical demands of the hero, as well as send you on quests that don’t make a lick of sense. Just like so many other games from my youth.
Under almost any circumstances, these traits would constitute a horrible game. However, 3D Dot Game Heroes is to The Legend of Zelda as Space Balls is to Star Wars. It’s a parody, and it’s a brilliant one.