Considering how 3D Dot Game Heroes is an unapologetic love letter to The Legend of Zelda and other games from the 8-bit era, it's only natural that a game like this one is chock full of Shout Outs at every opportunity.
References to other From Software titles
- The Moonlight Greatsword is a signature weapon for the studio, and one does make an appearance as one of the upper tier weapons.
- One of the girls in Dotnia Castle will offer to trade you for "some demons game" because she thinks it's too hard.
- There is also a Developer's Room cave where you can find a message saying "Help! I'm in trouble! Please recommend this message!" which says that if you recommend it then a person gets healed, as well as some Sticky White Stuff and a dead body containing a Hero's Soul.
- And a dead adventurer in one of the temples who left the message "My heart's breaking..."
- Before the King sends you on your way to the final dungeon, he says that he has the utmost confidence in you. Why? Because he's "THE GREAT KING OF DOTNIA KINGDOM! YEAAAAAAAH!!"
- The Metal Wolf exists as a selectable man-sized character model.
- Raikoh has his own character model.
- Rikimaru, Ayame, Rin and Dr. Tesshu have their own character models.
- The White Glint from Armored Core: For Answer has its own character model.
- A patron at the inn in Raejack village thinks a 3D mech game would be awesome (and so do two of the developers from the aforementioned "From Cave"), to the point where they'll even make an Armored Core game for you if you keep visiting them between dungeons.
References to other Atlus titles
- One of the character models is a long-haired Bancho.
References to other games
- Take a look at the Loading Screen images here and here, and you'll see that they're all modeled after video game box art, which includes Castlevania, Mega Man, Final Fantasy V, The Tower of Druaga, The Goonies II.
- One of the castle guards tells you "We've located Superb Joe! Head to Area 07 and save him!"
- When you take Ice Candy from one of the Dotnia Castle guards during the endgame, you get the message "You now prosess Ice Candy" as a reference to a recurring grammatical error in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
- For the Dragon Quest series in general, you'll occasionally see fast-moving "Crystal Slime" enemies. If you can corner one and kill it, you'll get a good monetary reward.
- You'll meet a fortuneteller/dancer sister duo named Mina and Mary (Meena and Maya from Dragon Quest IV — referencing the fact that Maya was "Mara" in the original NES-era translation).
- In Raejack Village, one house contains a guy who's trying to choose between marrying his childhood friend and a rich girl he thinks has a better spell list (Dragon Quest V has a plot that revolves around this). For bonus points, he uses the same rationale for each possibility that Konata from Lucky Star used in reference to this decision.
- Also in Raejack is a slime named Bluesy who wants To Become Human (reference to Healie the healslime from Dragon Quest IV, who later actually does become human). Subverted near the end of the game when you use the Mirror of Truth on Bluesy, and he changes back into a slime.
- After sleeping at a certain inn, you will have a dream about a man named Pizzaro checking up on a woman named Rosy in a tower, before abruptly declaring his intention to destroy humanity and leaving. An almost identical dream happens in Dragon Quest IV, involving the main villain of that game, Psaro, and his lover, Rosa.
- Just like in Dragon Quest I, when you finally face Fuelle in the Dark Tower, he offers you a chance to join him and rule half the world. Select "no" and the final battle starts, but if you choose "yes" twice, he tells you that your half of the world is also half of the darkness and your player instantly dies, mirroring the Non-Standard Game Over that can happen when you confront the Dragonlord.
- Raejack Village has an inventor named Dr. Dic ("Cid" spelled backwards).
- There is also a kid who teaches you a "magic spell": "Pam nepo ot 1L sserp!" This is a nod to the brooms in Matoya's Cave in the first Final Fantasy, whose backwards talk shows you how to access the world map.
- One of Sir Signe's signs reads "D3 si dlroW ehT," a nod to a message in Daryl's Tomb.
- Colneria Village is a reference to the first town in Final Fantasy, which has been translated as Corneria or Cornelia depending on the version. ("R" and "L" are interchangable in Japanese, so either of those is a valid translation, as is Colneria.)
- One of the temples is located at Lake Garland. To drive the point home, the sage who tells you where to find it cautions you not to get knocked down.
- After beating the Grass Temple near the beginning of the game and crossing the bridge to leave, the screen flashes white, and narration starts talking about how your adventure has begun, how you're holding a mystical orb in your hands, etc., referencing the prologue as the Light Warriors cross the bridge in the original Final Fantasy.
- If Lee manages to fall into a trap at the beginning of the Fire Temple a second time, he'll shout "Yeouch! Fairy soup!", referencing Ultros's famous "seafood soup" line from Ted Woolsey's translation of Final Fantasy VI.
- Examining a corpse in the 4th dungeon reveals a message that says "Hero needs food badly."
- The first village near Dotnia Castle is called Raejack, a possible reference to Rayjack the knight.
- Much of Dotnia's geographic layout, including a castle and nearby town in the center, or a fiery mountain along the northern edge (and across a river!) with boulders bouncing down its slopes.
- Many of your inventory items, like the Boomerang, Bombs, Bow and arrows, and the "Wire Rod" (hookshot).
- Many of the game's enemies, from arrow-shooting goblins and jumping spiders to octopi that leap out of water and shoot bullets at you.
- Right at the start of the game, when the king gives you your first sword, he will tell you "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this."
- Be careful when attacking chickens with your swords. Eventually a bunch of them will come out of nowhere and peck you to death.
- Lee, the fairy you meet after recovering the Ancient Sword, serves as your Exposition Fairy, similar to (but only a fraction as obnoxious as) Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
- A man in Raejack Village, after paying him 30 G for advice, will start to say "Eastmost penninsula [sic] is the secret", but changes his mind mid-sentence.
- The "Forest of No Return", which houses the second temple. One wrong turn and you're warped straight back to its entrance.
- Bomb open caves and you may encounter Gobins who give you money (which, of course, "is a secret to everyone") ... or cranky old men who complain about it and take some money for repairing the "door" to their house.
- When you acquire the Dash Boots from Dr. Dic, he says "MESSAGE FROM Dr. DIC! DASH-BOOTS COMPLETED! GET YOUR WEAPONS READY!". (Apparently, he's always wanted to say that.) This is a reference to Dr. Light's Item Get! message from Mega Man 2.
- One of the random pieces of advice given by a Raejack villager is "Apples don't explode, so bomb jumping is useless". Bomb jumping is a staple of the Metroid series, as it helps Samus get around really tough areas.
- Enter your name as "Spelunker" when creating a character, or rescue him on the northwest corner of the world map to enable Spelunker mode, where one hit from anything hazardous kills you instantly.
- There's an inn near the forest temple called Wardna's Inn, which looks a lot like Werdna, the boss of the first few Wizardry games.
- A message from a dead soldier refers to how even running into enemies from the side was useless.
- Loading Art #81, which depicts three characters standing in awe before a giant tree while three red chickens fly by is a Dotnian recreation of Secret of Mana's tile screen (and cover art◊).
References to movies
- You can have a shark as your character sprite, whose flavor text reads "You're gonna need a bigger sword. He bites!"
References to Anime
- When you collect the Gold Ring, the game states the effect that causes your damage to be reduced is called an "Abnormous Terror Field".
References to Western Animation
- Among the various user-created character sprites included in the game is "Robo Team": A Hero-class sprite of four tiny vehicles that combine into a sprite-sized robot, and apparently debate "who will form the head" from time to time.