Review by MidgardDragon99
"Don't be afraid to give a 10/10 when the game deserves it, as this one does."
Recently I was reading through reviews for one of my new favorite games, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. One review caught my attention calling the game a work of art. The author went on to give mostly 10/10's throughout to the game's many areas, and even rated it (in his review, at least) a 10/10 overall. But the option selected for "reviewer's score" on GameFAQs was a 9/10. Why? This reflects a greater problem with society wherein some have been taught that there is no such thing as perfection and thus nothing should ever receive full marks.
I fundamentally disagree. A 10/10 is about a game or film that may have flaws, but flaws that are forgivable in the face of the greater whole. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is one of those games. It has very few, very minor flaws. Namely one that is levied against almost every game by someone: the controls. I also commented (and forgave) this flaw in my Scribblenauts review, and for good reason. If the controls are passable enough to allow one to control the character then they really aren't that big of a problem. In the case of KH 358/2 Days the only real complaints against the controls is that the DS wasn't designed for button mashing action, thus resulting in hand cramps occasionally.
Moving on from the negative (and that really is the only negative thing I can say about the game), let's talk about the positive. First and foremost the story is spectacular. I didn't think there was that much more left to tell about Roxas and his days with the Organization, but Square Enix has once again proven me wrong. There are moments in here that are deeper than most of the movies I've seen this year, much less any of the books I've read. Themes of friendship, loss, and even what it means to be human are interwoven into what could have been a fairly simple tale. But SE took the time to make this a great emotional experience and the world is better for it.
When it comes to music and graphics this game excels on the DS like no other. The cut scenes are beautifully rendered. The in-game content is very well done and nice to look at. And the music, while lifted from past Kingdom Hearts games, always fits the mood and elevated the game to higher levels. The reprise of Sanctuary especially was a welcome treat.
What it all boils down to, as always, is gameplay. This isn't pure innovation like the wonderful Scribblenauts from earlier this year. No, this is quite the opposite. This is formula that works. It knows it works. And it continues to work on the DS. There have been slight modifications to the leveling and limit systems, but they don't modify the core gameplay which is essentially button mashing and jumping. There's something immensely satisfying about knocking the living daylights out of a giant monster with what is essentially a giant key. That's been true since even the first Kingdom Hearts, and it remains true here. The true addition to the gameplay outside of the panel system, though, is the mission based system. This isn't really all that different, though, as it is simply a way of doling out the story and quests in small chunks rather than opening up a whole Universe to explore at once. The Universe does open up, though, as you are able to go back and repeat missions and revisit areas late in the game.
Overall Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days isn't going to bring any new fans to the series. What it will do is be immensely satisfying for the overwhelming number of Kingdom Hearts fans that already exist. And what more can we ask for?
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/05/09
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (US, 09/29/09)
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