Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Going Through The Flowmotions
by Kyle Hilliard on Jun 06, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Rating: Everyone 10+
Platform: 3DS

Kingdom Hearts has been handily avoiding a new numbered entry in the franchise, and for the first time I think I may be okay with that.

The demo offered on the E3 floor gives players the choice to play as either Riku or Sora in a Three Musketeers themed level. I went with Sora, just to keep things old-school.

There is no context offered as to why Sora might have ended up in The Three Musketeers world to set off the demo. But frankly, the story of Kingdom Hearts is so scatter-shot that I doubt I would have been any more prepared to understand what was going on if I had played from the beginning.

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are in the middle of a battle against the dream eater enemies attempting to protect the princess, and are not doing a very good job. Sora jumps in the fight, quickly taking care of the enemies and the group decides that despite Sora’s violent (albeit impressive) battle abilities, that they should be best friends for life and always stick together. The inhabitants of the Three Musketeers world are incredibly trusting.

Mickey, Goofy, and Donald don’t remember Sora, as the game takes place in Jiminy Cricket’s digital journal or some other similarly bizarre conceit. Feel free to revisit my sentence about Kingdom Hearts’ scatter-shot story.

The story really isn’t important in limited demos like this. What impressed me about the game was how similar it feels and looks to Kingdom Hearts 2. There are a number of new mechanics like flowmotion and link gauges and they send Sora flying all over the screen pulling off impressive combos with excellent animation.

Flowmotion is a new system that keeps Sora constantly moving on the ground an in the air as he dispatches dream eaters. It’s a system that lets you incorporate dodge rolls nearly into your combos to send you literally flying from enemy to enemy. It opens the doors to a lot of smooth back and forth, enemy-to-enemy combat that keeps the fight moving at a brisk pace.

Goofy and Donald are not part of your party in Dream Drop Distance. Instead you have reformed dream eater creatures that will assist you in battle. Over time their link gauges will build and you can tap their icon on the lower screen to initiate a short burst of powerful attacks. In the demo I played, I activated an attack that let me ride the small pig-like creature as he bounced around the screen landing on enemies doing damage.

The combat feels great in the powerful, chaotic way that Kingdom Hearts games always delivers towards the endgame. The game also looks incredibly sharp. Trailers online really don’t do it justice. Dream Drop Drop Distance looks great on the 3DS’ small screen. I turned the 3D on for a few seconds, and I can confirm that the game does in fact play in 3D, but I quickly pushed the slider down so I could concentrate on the fluid combat.