Most helpful critical review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kingdom Hearts 3D Review, written by an avid fan for other fans.
on 11 September 2013
Excuses, filler franchise and milking the series are all accusations that Square Enix has
to deal with when fans around the world await an upcoming chapter in this now very confusing universe of Kingdom Hearts.
But dare I say that there is a good reason to why we remain fans and refuse to abandone ships?
why yes I do, because there is and Dream Drop Distance, or as I will refer this title to during this review, "3D"
is a great addition to the a series that's been in a sequential coma since 2005.
Why you may ask? and respectively so, because with an amasssing b-sided story game library of 5 titles spanning across 4 platforms
Developer Square Enix, will have to put out a pretty damn good reason for fans as for why we should continue paying attention
to an otherwise shelfed story.
For those who doesn't know, the story of 3D is the most recent amplification to the series and focuses on Riku and Sora's rite of passage as keyblade wielders, known as the "Mark of Mastery exam" think, a drivers license for Keyblade Wielders.
For this Exam, Riku and Sora has to "Drop" into worlds that are stuck in a coma like state referred to as "dreaming worlds"
to simplify (which will be sorely needed to explain the idea)
Worlds are now "sleeping" after they have been rectified from the Darkness you know as "Heartless" and cannot function before a keyblade wielder releases them from their sleep, which is done in a very old fashioned way that you will recognize from previous games where the keyblade shoots a beam that unlocks a keyhole, hence "waking the world"
On top of this, Sora and Riku cannot work together since they are caught in different dimensions of the worlds.
You know how you sometimes have the same dream twice? well imagine that, but as if each time you had that dream, it made a new world.
your Drop function works in a way so that each time a fixed amount of time has passed, you will be forced to switch character, effectively switching between characters. I will go on to explain the ups and downs of this function later on.
Because of this, you will have to finish each world twice, which works well for some, and others not so much.
In Pinnochio's world for instance, Riku is inside of Monstro which you will recognize from the very first game, whereas Sora is put in the middle of the Carneval that you may recognize from the movie it self.
Throughout each world you will most likely be able to notice that Sora seems to get the main part of the story, and Riku deals with the cleanup.
However this pattern changes as you progress towards the end, and takes on a different approach that I naturally will avoid spoiling here.
Fun fact: Sora and Riku are represented as their younger selfs as they looked in the first game, due to the fact that they are reflected in such a manner because of the dream like state of the worlds they visit, you can see how they are in their late teen years during the first few cutscenes because they are in the "real dimension" but it is never actually explained.
The story it self is lukewarm and melancholic at times as usual, but avoids the "been there, done that" feel that you may have felt during 358/2 days in case you played through that.
And revisiting old friends, but from a memory wiped perspective gives a fresh cut kind of feel to the story, but as a result the newer worlds feels pointless and unexplained to a certain degree.
I was often wondering why I had to visit a world that Neither Sora, Nor Riku had ever visited.
It just didn't make sense to me. apart from the fact that they had a mission, it just raised the quesiton "Well in that case, who freed the world from Darkness to begin with?" anyway, that may seem like nitpicking, and really... If you play Kingdom Hearts religiously like I do, you shouldn't question the obscure scnearios at times like that.
To wrap up the Story part of the review, I want to answer the question "Is this a worthy chapter in the series?"
And I have to say yes.
There will most definitely be more questions than answers, but ultimately it turns out to work in favor of us fans and unlike many other series today, the series dares to go to corners of the story that you need experience with to know about, which I only have respect for.
Does it render the game impossible for newcomers? of course not, but it doesn't make much sense to start here, I can say that much.
GAMEPLAY AND AESTHETICS 4.5/5
Considering we're on the 3DS here, the game looks gorgeous, and only suffers from minor drawbacks like dropping framerates and minor texture popup
I'd say it could rival that of a Playstation Vita, and yes... I own both systems.
The worlds look rich with awesome artwork in the background that makes them look vivid and dream like, as seen in Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2
I was surprised to see how impressive some of the worlds looked. considering it was a handheld title, it sure did feel like you were looking at a console game.
To get the sour and bitter out of the way, let's talk about the "Drop" function and "Reality shift" one of which are entirely made for the purpose of reminding us of the touch screen's capabilities.
During the game you will come across certain objects that will have a pink marker on the bottom screen light up like a neon sign for you to swipe your stylus across.
This will activate a sequence which are by the way unique to each world.
The purpose of this is to reinvent battles for this title only, so that it has that "you're playing on a 3DS, don't forget that" and in actuality it does little to spice up the battles them selfs, in fact, I found it very annoying that I had to sit around with my stylus awkwardly positioned between my right hand fingers because I had to be ready for these opportunities.
not only will you be able to trigger these from objects, there is a small chance for your character upon hitting the enemy to activate a reality shift on the enemy it self, which really isn't game changing, but against bosses it can mean the difference of the outcome.
That is especially true on the "Proud" difficulty setting.
As for "Drop" you will quickly have to deal with being forced away from Sora and switch to Riku, this is controlled by a time limit on about 10 minutes, depending on how good you're doing in battle which can reward you with "bonus time", there are also other ways such as buying a remedy called "Drop-me-not" which will extend your time limit by 30 seconds.
At first this seems very annoying, but actually it becomes a savoring factor for the game's pacing, because with two seperate characters that also level seperately, you would most likely find yourself prioritating one over another, which the drop system prevents perfectly.
You can also Drop whenever you feel like it by simpling hitting "Drop" on the bottom screen, which will throw away whatever time you had left and switch with no consequences whatsoever..
So in theory, you could force your way around this, but only until you come across the need for finishing a chapter in the world that is missing with either characters, effectively forcing you to play the other character to a bare minimum.
I am absolutely positive that you will enjoy this approach to the game, even though it might seem like a hassle to begin with.
Much like most other japanese games, it just takes some getting used to.
The only real downside is that if you are in the middle of a bossfight and your drop meter empties, you have to start over when you get back again, major downside, but it just takes some getting used to as I already said. Check your meter before you engage a boss.
Leveling and gearing is simple and easy, and boss fights can be punishing if you try to rush your way through, especially around the late end of the game.
Just a heads up, I suggest you level to 40 before you go all out at the end.
There are plenty of guides out there for leveling efficiency.
The new "FlowMotion" (Oh Japan how we love your homemade English) is the most prominent feature of the battles and is so fun to play with that it becomes addicting, to the point where you have to learn when it can work against you rather than for.
with the press of the "Y" while midair, you can do a small charge that if, collides with a wall, pole or enemy can send you flying through the air and have you execute powerful area wide attacks.
It also works as an addictive method of traveling since you can consistantly keep up the flight by jumping from wall to wall lightning fast.
I quickly want to add that the mana bar has been entirely replaced with a "deck" and "cooldown" system.
It works in a way that you customize each slot in your deck with an ability or item you want to have with you in battle (customize through menu outside of battle)
as you spend the charge of for instance, "Fire" it proceeds to the next ability/item in line and leaves "fire" on a cooldown that after a certain amount of time, resets and lets you use it once again.
This is important to mention since it is also the only real difference between Riku and Sora Combatwise.
Both characters can have unique abilities that only they can use respectively.
These abilities makes you look like a gameboss.
You know that badass move that owned you in some of the boss battles from the first game? yeah, you can pull awesome moves like that now, Sora/Riku style.
All in all you've got a an awesome package here with loads of stuff to do, but content wise you will eventually run out of things to do, unless you really really like that Pokemon aspect of the game, which I will for the sake of this already lenghty review, avoid entirely.
What you have here is another Kingdom Hearts game, that will keep you occupied for about 30-40 hours, after which you will shelf it and most likely don't look back for a while.
For the price you get a lenghty game, and the story has its moments HINT: You'll get to see an old friend again and it's not who you think it is.
All in all I feel that the emotional value these games try to establish, falls a little shy if you aren't familiar with the story.
I know, because I had trouble remembering some of it, so that it only hit me after it was already done.
And the constant Name dropping, dear god.
Xemnas, Xehanort, Ansem, Actual Ansem.
A word of advice: get the names right before you play this game, because there is a lot to keep track of.
The combat is better than ever, honestly... It sounds wierd for a handheld game, but it really is.
With the exception of the abundant Realityshift (which thank god, is optional), the combat is fast paced and rewarding when done right.
considering the story, you can skip this one if you can't be bothered, but as a fan you should definitely give it a roll, you will not be disappointed.
Just remember that you didn't buy this game for the story, because there isn't too much of it. In fact, most of it goes down around the end, kind of making the rest feel like a theme park ride rather than a contribution to the overall plot, but for that Kingdom Hearts feel that you miss, it's all right here.
for a handheld Kingdom Hearts game, it sure did surprise me.
for non-fans you might feel like there's too much of a setup and too little of a payoff, which is understandable, but listen to me you fans out there...
This game is good, don't be fooled by the gimmicky title and strange approach to the revisited younger Riku and Sora.
And I'll say it's a solid 4/5