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Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

Review By: Anthony Oury

-Game Specification Notes-

·         For 3DS users and Kingdom Hearts fans

·         Recommended age level (contains some obnoxiously childish themes and ideas at times): 8-32 years old

·         Estimated Length: 30 hours with little replay incentive except for secret endings and bosses

·         Range of Difficulty:  Gives many options and my playthrough on medium mode was brutal in certain fights.

·         Gimmick: Involuntarily switch between Sora and Riku every 10-20 minutes so that world plotlines can be “enjoyed” at the same pace.

Intro and Story   8.5/10

This section contains ludicrous amounts of Kingdom Hearts (KH) knowledge, you have been warned.  This game simply put includes all of the story elements that Nomura is planning to put into Kingdom Hearts III. Many people won’t pay any attention to the several side games in the Kingdom Hearts series and only want to focus on the “main games”.  The main point to get across is that this game makes EVERY game in the series important.  It is shown clearly throughout the game’s plot that Kingdom Hearts III will reference other games in the series, but most importantly this game.  This game is a starting point for the coming Kingdom Hearts III game, if you didn’t know, and it tells of Sora’s and Riku’s mission to go through 7 worlds to unlock some mysterious power for their future fight against the major antagonists known as Ansem/Xemnas/Xehanort/Terranort, and how every game in the series has had its part to play in a grand epic goal.  Throughout the game you switch, or what they call “drop”, between playing as Sora and Riku. This was done so that as you play through one world you will be able to keep up with both halves of the story since each character goes through unique areas and takes parts at different parts in the world’s plot.  The drop system can be annoying sometimes, but only truly becomes an issue in lengthy boss battles.  However, leveling up your character and getting drop bonuses can help anyone overcome the drop system’s main issues, but there is no doubt that the game could’ve done without it all together as seen in Birth By Sleep.  If you are not interested in the story then you are wasting your time playing this series or luckily, if you want to start playing the series now, this game will summarize and explain parts of all the past games.  However, this game also expects you know a decent amount about Kingdom Hearts and the game suffers from this at the very start since technically the introduction for the game is entirely told from optional flashbacks.  Also, characters will pop up that seem VERY random if you haven’t played certain games in the series which further makes this game more for the people who are already fans of the series.  If you are a fan of the series this is a game as relevant as KH 1, Chain of Memories, KH 2, and Birth By Sleep(main games), and it will help understand the games you might not have played.  Similar to other games in the series you somewhat care what happens to the characters and this game even references how most of the other games did not truly have “happy endings”.  If you have never played a KH game in your life you will be destroyed mentally if you try to understand the story, but it is a solid game to pick up for your most likely limited 3DS collection.


Gameplay 8.3/10

            When it comes to gameplay it tries and succeeds in combining the best elements of past games.  The main game it picks up from would be Birth By Sleep with the flowmotion and dives being reminiscent of the surges and storms, but being connected to the world more than your moves.  The command deck structure is back in which you assign attacks to a small menu and scroll through it to use you special attacks during battle.  There is no shortage of moves you can learn; you can acquire these skills through buying, finding treasure, and getting Link Points (LP) to power up your Dream Eater.  The lengthy matches will put a strain on your ability to keep up with the action as you wait for your attacks to reload, but this is helped by creatures called Dream Eaters. They act as your partners and you power them up through an simple menu option.  Your choices in Dream Eaters majorly affects how battles will be done since you get more powerful creatures as you go through the game, but they will not learn moves as fast as your first creatures did.  It is hard not to mention that these creatures start being similar to pokemon real fast as you will get out of them what you “put into them” with the option of choosing what food, games, and activities you can use to power them up.  There are definitely plenty of options to use in battle, but if you want to have an easier time in the game it is recommended that you grind to higher levels and collect treasures in worlds that you like.  The fights overall feel similar to Birth By Sleep and there is no shortage of boss fights as the storyline amps up to the more serious tones toward the end of the game which is common in KH games.  I would consider Birth By Sleep to be the better gameplay game, but if you are at all a fan of playing Riku YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.  Riku’s bosses tend to be a bit fast paced and straight forward with Riku facing opponents calmly and decisively, whereas Sora can seem to be overwhelmed by his opponents in odd scenarios and focuses more on the story within the world.  It would be understandable however if someone found the two’s fighting and storylines to be nearly identical, depending on how and at what pace one plays the game.  Some reviewers have complained about the console controls and game aiming, but to me it’s part of the difficulty and learn curve.  The gameplay’s “repetitiveness” to me is as good as you make it, and helps when you like the game’s story or characters.


Graphics 9.2/10

            The graphics seem to be among the best on the 3DS although the quality drops a little when watching in 3D.  I would say the graphics are basically the same as in Birth By Sleep, and in no way noticeably better, not that it is a bad thing.  The worlds are replicated into the game perfectly and the stories follow each movie very accurately (albeit shortened of course, no musical numbers). 


Music 9/10

            The music is classic KH themes and fighting songs with a small tweak in some areas, but there is a noticeable lack of originality in that there are maybe 2 happy songs, 2 battle songs with variations, and 1 classic unchanged theme.  There are better songs toward the end of the game worlds, including some of the darker, mysterious themes from Birth By Sleep and KH2. The big issue to address would be that you WILL get annoyed from the Dream Eater song that plays when going into the Dream Eater portion of the menu.


Final Thoughts

            It would be a good idea to find a cheaper price if you could, but that goes without saying when buying any game. The game isn’t as emotional/depressing as Birth By Sleep or Chain of Memories, but some might find this a good or bad thing.  I mainly liked this game since it had such a focus on Riku instead of Sora, who I like, but we have played as him for 4 games already, and Riku always seemed to be more badass in past games.  As said before, this is for KH fans exclusively, but due to the limited 3DS library I would say it is a must buy due to its high quality and enjoyable settings.