3D Dot Game Heroes - Armchair Arcade Interviews Scott Strichart of Atlus U.S.A.

Chris Kennedy's picture

3D Dot Game Heroes for PS33D Dot Game Heroes for PS33D Dot Game Heroes is an upcoming game for Playstation 3 that is set to be released on May 11th in the U.S.A. and May 14th in Europe. 3DDGH has a distinct retro-feel to it, and I recently had the opportunity to discuss the game with Atlus's Scott Strichart.

Chris: Could you tell us your name and what you do for Atlus U.S.A.?

Scott: I'm Scott Strichart, and my primary role here at Atlus is a localization editor.

CK: What is 3D Dot Game Heroes?

SS: 3D Dot Game Heroes is a light-hearted action-adventure game that pays homage to the golden age of gaming. In it, you control a hero (of your making, if you should choose to do so) who must seek out the six legendary orbs of the six sages in order to stop the Dark Bishop, Fuelle. It's a retro game built with the power of a modern console, something that really captures the spirit of the games a lot of gamers (myself included) grew up on.

CK: Most of us here at Armchair Arcade have a deep appreciation for many games and their place in history. 3D Dot Game Heroes appears to demonstrate its own appreciation for classic games by way of satire or parody. Could you elaborate on this?

SS: Well that's a fairly spot-on observation. But first and foremost, 3DDGH sets out to honor the games it parodies. When you come across a character, an item, or a scenario that you kinda recognize from a game of ages past, it's not making fun of that reference so much as tapping into the fond nostalgia we have for it. I think the game is better viewed as a celebration of where games started and how far they've come than as a satire of their roots. And sure, it does that by gently poking fun at some of the tropes and mechanics that have permeated gaming since those days, and by wearing its influences on its sleeve.

CK: Humor is something that is oftentimes lost in translation. Will English gamers get the same experience as their Japanese counterparts? Were there many challenges during localization?

SS: If there's one thing I can say about an Atlus localization, it's that humor is never lost in translation. For this game, the humor was one of the key considerations of the entire process; we wanted the North American audience to be able to "get" all the jokes. And this is where I really have to give credit to translator Mason Hyodo and Project Lead Sammy Matsushima, both of whom were instrumental in recognizing the script's jokes and puns. We had a great team synergy, because we're all very well-versed in retro gaming.

There were of course some areas of the script that were specific to Japanese games we never saw in the states, or even non-gaming references that would have been a stretch for anyone not living in Japan. That may sound challenging, but it was actually a good deal of fun to rifle through the history of gaming to find a gaming trope that has worked its way into our subculture that would fit the context.

CK: Does the game contain a large amount of dialog and narration like a modern day RPG, or does it focus more on the action/adventure hack-and-slash style gameplay?

SS: The story itself is fairly minimal. Of course, it's front and end-heavy, but the middle of the game lets you explore the world as you would have in the 8-bit days, without the interruption of cut-scenes or forced plot twists. I don't think the game would capture what it is we loved about the old days if it was too heavy-handed with the story. But, that's not to say that NPCs and side quests don't provide a continuous narrative of their own to keep it from getting too dry.

CK: How much of 3DDGH's content is based on head nods to older games? Are the acknowledgments peppered throughout, or are they the driving force behind the game itself?

SS: You'll be finding the "nods" to older games from beginning to end, some so well-buried in the context that you'll probably miss a few if you only play the game once. But that's not to say that 3DDGH doesn't have its own set up, as lovingly cliche as its story about a Dark Bishop who steals a Dark Orb and hides it in a Dark Tower is. But I think the king's royal mandate to "upgrade" to 3D, because nobody cared about 2D kingdoms anymore is the game's real driving force - sure it's a plot mechanic, but there's something very telling about the way it's presented.

CK: Does a gamer need to have experienced various 8-bit classics in order to gain an appreciation for 3DDGH?

SS: To have the full experience of 3DDGH, yes, it's custom-tailored to those of us who once had (and maybe still have) NES systems and can appreciate jokes based on the text of games that are nearing their 25th birthdays. That being said, the adventurous spirit of the game is universal, and the circumstances of many of the jokes are funny, no matter how old a gamer you are. For instance, a good majority of people aren't going to get the Metal Wolf Chaos jokes that were left in to please that game's niche-of-a-niche group of followers. But when you find them, you'll still enjoy how silly they are, whether or not you recognize their influence.

CK: What are some of the finer points of 3DDGH that you believe gamers will appreciate?

SS: Well I don't want to go into too much spoiler territory; half the fun of this game is finding the nods and references for yourself. So I suppose that the broad takeaway for the game is that you have fun with it. And yes, that sounds incredibly lame on paper. Aren't ALL games supposed to be fun? Wouldn't you want us to have fun with your company's game no matter what, Mr. Localization Guy? Well yes, all that is true, but I use the word "fun" here in a sense that it captures what we've always found "fun" about gaming - that grand, vibrant sense of adventure that the games of yore established and that 3DDGH really does its best to make you remember. Maybe it's just my nostalgia speaking, but there was something great about picking up that treasure in a dungeon, figuring out the pattern in a robot master, or crossing that bridge north of the castle for the first time. 3DDGH respects and emulates those moments with startling accuracy, and I think anyone who appreciated those games back then will find something to appreciate here.

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My thanks to Scott Strichart and Atlus U.S.A. for granting us this interview.

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Great interview. I've been

Great interview. I've been following this one closely and look forward to giving the game a go at some point.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Very well done Chris!

Hey this is a nice surprise on the eve of 'Queensday' where the whole of the Netherlands turns organge and celebrate's the queen's birthday. Very nice read this interview!

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