When 3D isn’t

I finally got around to watching the trailer for 3D Dot Game Heroes in preparation for TGS, and… wow. What has happened to From Software? They used to be the company that made dense games no one cared about. Now, they’re doing crazy compelling things that cling to the niche, but not so much that they won’t cross into the mainstream a bit. First Demons Souls, now this.

Seriously, this is fantastic — not least of all because it’s exactly what I’ve wanted since I played Animal Crossing on GameCube. The structure of the first two AC games’ worlds — the top-down viewpoint and screen-by-screen progress — reminded me of nothing so much as the original The Legend of Zelda. I found myself wishing on more than one occasion that Nintendo would tweak the AC engine into a retro-style Zelda game that featured 3D graphics but eschewed 3D design. Not that there’s anything wrong with the series’ modern entries, but the immediacy and simplicity of the NES game help it remain incredibly compelling even 20-odd years later. But that’s not really Nintendo’s style, so of course it never game to pass.

Fortunately, From is scratching that itch for them. Just watch the trailer above and you’ll see a game that shamelessly — proudly, I’d say — lifts direct inspiration from the original Zelda. From the triumphant fanfare to the boulders bounding down a cliff face to the seemingly stiff but direct game controls, this is basically Zelda with a 3D facelift… but not 3D mechanics. It is, literally, Zelda in the third dimension, up to and including the voxel style that retains the NES game’s essential pixellated look. The visuals are pretty great, but I’m more excited by the underlying concept of 3D Dot Game Heroes: The concept that 3D visuals need not hamper or complicate gameplay.

I guess to some degree the licensed Lego games have already done this, but those are kind of insipid and toothless. 3D Dot Game Heroes is, after all, a From game. And that means, if nothing else, that it exists to punch your soul right in the face with its difficulty level. I, for one, can’t wait for my soul to start sporting a From-induced shiner.

16 thoughts on “When 3D isn’t

  1. Wow, this is exciting looking, especially since this is the first I’ve heard of this game. Thanks! Something more to look forward to at TGS – hopefully more than just a trailer.

  2. Oh yeah, getting a big Zelda vibe from the game, and it is exciting. And is that the Spelunker I see in the video around 1:38? An interesting cameo appearance, I see…

  3. Pictures I’ve seen of this really don’t do it justice. That’s incredibly enticing. If the combat is realtime, I have a new obsession.

  4. Looking really good. I too have seen screens of the game but never actually decided to watch the video. Had I known it was so inspired by the original Zelda I probably would have watched it sooner. Really cool stuff.

  5. As I said on the boards, my favorite blatant Zelda rip off – though from later installments – is the abuse the chickens receive in the trailer.

  6. How long do you suppose it’ll take after the game’s release for someone to make Link from the original LoZ as their character?

  7. Totally screams Zelda 1. (Thankfully you aren’t limited to cardinal directions from the looks of it.)

    I’ll bet the blockiness could cause a bit of eyestrain after awhile.

  8. WANT. More specifically though, I want that to be on a system I own. Seems like it’d be a rather obvious choice for a Wii or DS game to the degree it took a while to sink in it was PS3.

  9. It looks absolutely incredible. So does Demon’s Soul, actually.

    Totally blown away. This is what the PS3 needs, man. For me, anyway!

  10. This is a PS3 game? Holy crap, I’ve been a M$ fanboy for the last three years but I have been looking at this fall line up and crying.. maybe it finally is the year of the Playstation… or the “3 months of playstation”

    Either way I already have Demon’s Soul pre-ordered!

  11. Livingitlarge: Yeah, the 360 is looking pretty barren right now. My Xbox 360 hasn’t seen much use since the spring when Street Fighter IV came out, and that dwindled since then too. If TGS doesn’t turn things around, I might be switching my 360 to a PS3 next year.

  12. I imported Demon’s Souls and it has been one of my favorite games this year. I’m hoping for an announcement concerning a North American release of 3D Dot heroes at TGS.

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