The lights are on
Fans of Kingdom Hearts have been dreaming of Kingdom Hearts 3 for consoles for ages now. However instead of that, Square dropped a new Kingdom Hearts game for the 3DS. Many fans then became angry at Square for the distance they would have to go continue the story of the series once again. (Okay no more subtitle puns, I swear) Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS marks the next important plot point in the series since Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 2. Don't underestimate it for being on a handheld, this is one of the most enjoyable game in the series to date.
The story picks up right after Kingdom Hearts 2 and Re:Coded. Sora and Riku are summoned by Master Yen Sid to take the Mark of Mastery exam to become Keyblade masters in order to prepare for the inevitable showdown between Xehanort. To do that, the two must dive into seven Sleeping worlds (worlds that have not fully recovered from the darkness that covered them in Kingdom Hearts 1) and unlock the Sleeping Keyholes to awaken them from their sleep.
If you didn't understand anything that was stated above then don't fret. Although the series has had a past of having a complicated storyline (it still does) and being hard for newcomers to come in, This newest installment introduces a new system called Mementos which gives you a plot summary of all the Kingdom Hearts games up to 3D. Although its no replacement for playing these games and experience them by hand, it does a great job of letting the player learn/refresh their Kingdom Hearts history.
Another accessible feature of the game is the controls and gameplay. Several tutorials show up in the game and briefly, but effectively teach you how to play. Your standard actions; attack, examine, talk, etc., begin with A. B allows you to jump, X lets you use your commands(which I'll get into later) and Y is mainly your special skills like rolling and guarding. The camera is controlled with the L and R buttons or the Circle Pad Pro. Although the second Circle Pad would be helpful, The L and R buttons get the job done. Usually you won't need to mess with the camera though thanks to the faithful lock-on feature. The touch screen lets you change your party, displays your map and current objective.
Although the story has always been one of the important parts of Kingdom Hearts but gameplay is just as important. 3D follows previous Kingdom Hearts gameplay but adds several new features. The command system from Birth by Sleep and Re:Coded returns, allowing you to choose which magic spells, items, and moves you want to use. Your A.I. pals this time are both your friends and your enemies. Instead of having a Disney character accompany you, you'll use Dream Eaters, specifically helpful, friendly Spirits. First you have to collect materials from evil, dangerous Dream Eaters called Nightmares and then use those materials to create a Spirit. Almost every Nightmare can become a Spirit and each one has it's special abilities and powers it can do to aid you in combat.
Two other new gameplay mechanics make their way in this game: Flowmotion and Reality Shift. Flowmotion is a new skill Sora and Riku gain that allows them to use their surrounding to reach new heights, travel faster, and attack enemies in new ways. By going toward a wall and pressing Y, you can move freely between the areas by jumping from wall to wall and sliding down rails. It's not only helpful in battle but gives new platforming sections for the Kingdom Hearts games not seen before. The next new feature is the Reality Shift, which is basically little minigames you do on the touch screen to interact with the world or hurt Nightmares. The minigames are simple and never take more than a few seconds, allowing you to pull one off, let it fly, and then getting back in the action. Each world has a different Reality Shift and they're all simple and fun to pull off.
The last, but unfortunately worst new gameplay feature is the Drop system. The drop system is a gauge next to your health bar which displays how much time you have left until you "drop" or switch characters. You constantly switch between Sora and Riku regardless of the situation. Often times you'll drop during combat and will have to restart that battle over again when you switch back (this also goes for boss battles) Square's idea to make the two character's stories seem together only creates a mess. Although you can use items to give yourself more time, that takes up a command slot that you could use for something else. The drop system interferes with battle, exploring, and even story, forcing you to drop if you reach a certain point in the story.
On the bright side, the soundtrack and voice acting for the game is top notch. The composers for this game did a good job making new songs and remixing new songs. All the games cutscenes is fully voiced as well. Returning Kingdom Hearts and Disney casts never fail and even the The World Ends With You cast does a good job.
The graphics for Kingdom Hearts 3D is well done, matching, or possibly even better than Kingdom Hearts games seen on the PSP and PS2. The worlds are colorful and the character models are well done. Even Jeff Bridges's beard is beautifully done. It's easily one of the prettier games on the 3DS, especially with the enhanced 3D depth.
Conclusion: Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is one great game. The story is intersting and accessible to newcomers and the gameplay is one of the best in the series. Top it off with a great soundtrack and graphics and you have one amazing game on your hands. If you can cope with the drop system its a game that any 3DS owner will enjoy.
Pros & Cons list
I'm going to look for more monster hunter reviews. I thought this one was fair, and agreeable being a KH fan.