3D Dot Game Heroes Preview: I'm a Shark

BOOM widget 98946 Right from the beginning, right when you're picking your character, it's already clear that 3D Dot Game Heroes is something special.

You see, the kingdom of Dotnia needs a hero so badly that it'll take whatever it can get.

Oh sure, you can opt to be one of those traditional heroes, decked out in the old-school armor and such, but where's the fun in that? You can play the game as almost anything. You don't even have to be human.

A shark that swims underground and surfaces to shoot a sword out of its mouth? A walking, talking pumpkin? What about a giant mech? All valid choices.

Don't like your chosen character? Don't worry, you can change it the next time you load a saved game. Don't like any of the pre-made characters? Make your own with the Editor, or, if you're feeling lazy, download some of the clever custom ones bound to be all over the internet after the game releases and transfer them to your PlayStation 3. BOOM video 4504

Yet regardless of the form the fabled hero of Dotnia takes, his or her (or its) gameplay remains mostly the same--traveling from dungeon to dungeon across an expansive Zelda-esque overworld with sword and shield in-hand, solving puzzles, and such.

Then again, to describe 3D Dot Game Heroes as Zelda-esque is a bit of an understatement, especially with publisher Atlus billing it as the "ultimate retro love letter." Sure, it may not be Zelda by name, but the design and mechanics are enough to serve as an immediately familiar homage to the earlier entries in Nintendo's classic series.

The result is an intriguing mixture of old-school design and new-school aesthetics. Remember the last time a game made you physically grab a piece of paper to copy down a clue or the path through a maze? You will if you play 3D Dot Game Heroes. nope

I've only scratched the surface of what's available in 3D Dot Game Heroes, but I'm already smitten. Between the classic Zelda-style gameplay, the steady flow of humorous self-aware dialog, and the fact that the name I chose for my hero results in frequent mentions of "Master Fart," I've rather enjoyed my time in Dotnia thus far.

In fact, I almost don't want to save the kingdom, if just because I don't want the journey to end. However, I must venture onwards. After all, isn't that what a shark hero does?

A PlayStation 3 exclusive crafted by From Software and Silicon Studio, 3D Dot Game Heroes is due to hit North American retailers on May 11, 2010 at $39.99.