Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Nintendo 3DS
RRP: AU$69.95
10 years... 10 years of Kingdom Hearts... really? Has it been that long? 10 years, 7 games and most people have only played the 2 PS2 games... poor fools! Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance is the newest game in the series and timeline and finally shows signs of Kingdom Hearts 3 on the horizon and dumps all the previous games info for those who missed out... in text(as punishment!). Any who, time to review this game... yay... review... god I am tired at the moment of writing.

The story comes to us after the events of Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
... which is based after Kingdom Hearts II for those too ignorant to buy the non PS2 entries of the series. Sora and Riku are taking the Mark of Mastery exam(see Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for more info on what it is) to finally become true keyblade masters. To do so they must enter the worlds still asleep from being swallowed by darkness and unlock the keyholes to gain a new ability. While doing so they are also being stalked by ghosts of the past.

The gameplay is copy/paste from the fantastic Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and hasn't changed except they tacked on a more speed focused combat mechanic know as "Flowmotion". This new combat mechanic has you grinding rails, bouncing/kicking off walls and spinning around posts to get around the worlds and combat moves that can only be performed in flowmotion movement. Most gamers will find this new mechanic a great addition... me on the other hand? I found it an easily exploitable ability to avoid damage, platform against the intended path in the level design and damage enemies without chewing up the skills in the command deck. You can also use the Circle Pad Pro for the camera but it isn't worth it and it's useless in every game so far on the 3DS that uses it.

Ahh... cutscenes! As good as the PS2 games too!
Companions/partners return in this game too called Dream Eaters... but they are also the enemies you fight... and take up the bulk of the grind. To get Dream Eaters you need to farm items to make them... yeah... kinda like Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. These creatures are also where the majority of you commands, stat boosts and abilities are learned from... so yeah, grindtastic! On top of that you need to Tamagotchi/Nintendogs the little things too! To help them perform better in combat you need to pat/poke them and feed them to build up their abilities and switch them out and repeat constantly! To make it more time consuming their dispositions will need to change to unlock more abilities... ARGH! You will spend a lot of time trying to learn everything and make every Dream Eater... kind of like catching every Pokemon.

The game features 7 worlds, each gets played by both Riku and Sora. While most worlds are new, some are recycled with extra rooms or redesigns. As for level design... they all look like their inspirations, but aren't that good... yeah... and with the new flowmotion mechanic, any platforming complexity is killed since you can just wall kick up a wall to get to any platform. The worlds take inspiration from Disney classics like Fantasia, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pinocchio as well as modern movies like Tron Legacy and Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. Level complexity has never been Square-Enix's forte(Just look at Final Fantasy XII and XIII) so don't worry about it. Each world also has touchscreen based gameplay mechanic exclusive to the world... but aren't needed outside of opening certain doors and boss fights.

Best... Party... EVER! A Dragon, a lion and a T-Rex!

When you enter a world for the first time you will enter a "Dive" mini game. During this you are given a goal to achieve, either a collect X amount of stars with a time limit stage or defeat a boss fight. In the star collecting stages you have to avoid obstacles while collecting the stars and if you lose... you have to take it from the top. A needless distraction but gives score chasers something to do.

Within each world you will find pink portals you can open when standing on top of it on the map and touching the screen. These portals will either give you a temporary party of Dream Eaters or a combat challenge to earn items. You need to hunt them down to get some of the rarer items needed to make the coolest Dream Eaters... like a dinosaur! You can also set portals with your Dream Eaters for people to use with the Spot Pass feature, but good luck finding people though... I've yet to.

Yeah! Hitting stuff with a giant key! Totally doable.
The game also has this character swapping "Drop" system. At first I found it annoying but after a while you get used to it. During the game a gauge on screen will deplete over time and the speed it depletes will vary depending on what happens during the character's run. Once the gauge is empty you will switch characters right there and then. Worst thing is if it happens in a boss battle, when you return you'll have to start from the beginning of the fight. You can also change at will but if you do, you'll miss out on all the bonuses you get from cashing in large amounts of droplets you get from enemies. Oh I forgot to mention that didn't I?

This is a game for the true fans of Kingdom Hearts. If you already own all 6 previous entries you are going to buy this anyway but let me reassure you that it's got the best combat so far and will last a good 30 hours on a rush run or a whole lot longer if you want every Dream Eater, command and ability. The story is great and sets up for the next entry forward. If you miss this entry, you should just give up on Kingdom Hearts in my opinion. Also the 3D sucks but who cares about trendy 3D anyway! It's a must buy but it's just a shy from being as good as Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.

Score 4/5

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