The lights are on
I played the original Kingdom Hearts when it was first released. I believe I was a junior in high school, and I followed the game from the first announcement, eagerly anticipating the release. As many remember, once it was released it was mind blowing. Nobody could have predicted it being as great as it was. The years went by and several more games were released, with only one big release, KH2, with other ones appearing on various hand held consoles. I played some, I skipped some. In the grand scheme of the story, I believe a couple, like Birth by Sleep and re:Coded are skippable. However, Dream Drop Distance is NOT. Square is clearly leading up to what we have been wanting for years, KH3. Whether you've played all the games or not, especially if not, 3D is a required play though for fans of the series looking for the next big installment.
The only hand held installment I finished was Chain of Memories. Clearly I have missed out on somethings, which leads me to my first point about 3D: this game tells you just about everything you need to know about the story. Square has done a remarkable job of tying all of the different stories and characters together, finally allowing us to understand everything that is going on in a simple manner. Sure, some of this is done in very detailed chronicles, in game summaries of previous games, which is perfect for me. You will quickly unlock all of these, and I enjoyed absorbing every bit of it. There is also a glossary section, covering characters, places, and objects such as the keyblade, X-blade, and the Keyblade War.
The graphics are some of the best I have seen on the 3DS, easily besting what we saw back on the PS2. I played the entire game, except for one of the final bosses due to eye strain from fighting him repeatedly for an hour, with the 3D all the way up, and it was fantastic. Of course it never adds anything to the game, and it occasionally distracts due to seeing double no matter your position, I wouldn't play it any other way.
While you will be tromping through worlds we have all seen before, such as Tron (which looks phenomenal), and Traverse Town, there are plenty new worlds to explore, such as a bit from Fantasia where you enter the world of the music, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Three Musketeers. As always, each world follows its own story arc, tying into the main story along the way. While I enjoyed some more than others (always hated Pinocchio’s world), they were all fun to fight through.
Due to the new Drop mechanic, you will be visiting each world twice, once as Sora and once as Riku. Sometimes you'll be tramping through the same area's as both, however some worlds are completely different for each character, telling a different part of the story of the world, and the story as a whole. I generally enjoyed this new gameplay toy. There is a timer, that when reaches zero, causes you to "Drop" and switch control to the other character. The only time I found this bothersome was if it occurred during boss fights, causing you to start the fight over.
The new flowmotion combat mechanic works wonderfully, giving you a wider range of attacks at any moment. Basically you slide or dash into something like walls, poles, or even bigger enemies, which triggers a flowmotion attack, causing big damage, often to a group of enemies. Using skills follows the typical KH guidelines - a deck of skills that you can pull off, each with their own cooldown timer. This would be my largest complaint with combat, as when you get 8 skills loaded up at once, it can be troublesome during a chaotic boss to cycle through them with the D-pad looking for Curaga, while also avoiding the enemy attacks.
I played through on normal difficulty and generally my gamer skills weren't really tested throughout until the very end, where you will fight several bosses in typical JRPG fashion it seems. One in particular, mentioned above, drove me insane, and though I've heard of people overleveling to defeat this guy, I persisted with what I had and tried some different load outs of skills, eventually besting him and shouting for joy, only to have my wife look at me like a complete idiot. Totally worth it.
I went in expecting a good game to tie together the story, hopefully allowing me to make sense of this giant web Square created. What I came out with was a game that was more than I expected. After about 23 hours, and that’s not doing much extra stuff, and even with the few qualms mentioned,I came away fully satisfied, drooling in anticipation for KH3.
Well done Square, keep up the good work.
I give this game 8.5 Keyblades out of 10
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