Review by The_Kratos
"An amazing game"
When the original Kingdom Hearts came out in 2002 it seemed...strange. It was hard to predict what the result of mixing Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters would be but Square-Enix has handled it better than most people would have ever expected. Kingdom Hearts quickly boomed into a major game and has since had many sequels and side stories, this game being a mix of the two by filling in the missing time between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2. But just how good is it? Read on to find out.
Sound 10/10 - Some people complain about most of the music being reused from the previous games but when its good music to begin with that's not really issue. There are some new songs too though (one of which has become one of my favorite compositions from the series) that are also very good. The voice acting in cutscenes is also very good and most (if not all) of the characters have the same voice actors as they did in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Graphics 9/10 - The entire game is in 3D. During the cutscenes the graphics are downright amazing and look as if they were on the PS2. The graphics during the rest of the game are also good. The symbols on each panel in the panel system (explained later) are all clear and the general gameplay looks good, although a little jagged.
Story 10/10 - The story follows Roxas and his time in Organization XIII. If you have no idea what that means then you've probably never played Kingdom Hearts before and while you could probably get by without knowing the overall story (though things will be confusing at first) you should probably play the series in order of release (Kingdom Hearts > Chain of Memories/Re:Chain of Memories (the GBA original/PS2 remake) > Kingdom Hearts 2 > This). Anyway, the story starts off with Roxas' birth and the actual gameplay starts when he's a week old. You play as Roxas as he does missions for the Organization and eventually befriends Axel (another member and an important character in CoM and KH2) and Xion (the new fourteenth member of the Organization who was never mentioned in KH2, despite this game taking place before it, for reasons that will make sense once you finish the game). The story starts off fairly slowly but once it picks up it only continues to get better and better until it reaches an amazing climax.
Controls 10/10 - The controls are fluid, I never had any problem with them. A attacks, B jumps, and Y does special actions such as blocking, dodge rolling, or gliding. There are two types of camera controls as well (touchscreen can always control the camera), Type A where L opens your list of shortcuts (up to four Magic or Items you can set to either L+A,B,Y,X or L+R+A,B,Y,X depending on your control type) and R centers the camera behind you and Type B where the camera can be rotated with the L and R buttons and shortcuts are accesses with L+R.
Gameplay 10/10 - The game takes place on a day by day (mission by mission) basis making it easy to pick up and play when you only have a small amount of time. It also works just as well in large chunks. The missions involve visiting the Disney worlds from the previous games and fighting heartless, a boss, investigating, or something else. After each mission you'll get heartpoints and exp from whatever heartless you killed, whatever munny you picked up, and whatever the rewards of the mission were (viewable before you start). Heartpoints and money can be used to buy things from the shop (which gets better as the game goes on) and collecting enough exp gives you level up panels.
The game is made very customizable through the use of the panel system. Abilities, magic, levels, keyblades, and items are all in panels of various sizes that you place in an empty grid. The grid starts off at 5x3 but for each mission you finish after a fairly early point the story you get another empty panel. You can change your panel set-up before each mission but once you enter a mission you've only got exactly what you equipped (2 Fire panels = 2 casts of Fire, 2 Potion panels = 2 Potions, not having an ability panel equipped means you don't have that ability, etc.) You can also link some panels to other panels, for example placing a Doublecast panel (one closed panel that you can't place anything else in and then a field around 3 more panels that you can now only place Magic in) on the grid and then placing a Fire panel in the field created by it gives you two casts of Fire instead of the usual 1. There are plenty of linkable panels that have various effects such as leveling up abilities, giving you more casts of magic or making it stronger, or giving you more level ups for each level panel equipped.
Conclusion 10/10 - This game is one of the best DS games available at the moment, especially for fans of the Kingdom Hearts series. The story itself took me about 28 hours to get through but there's a lot more to go for if you're a completionist. You can earn rewards for doing challenges (redoing a mission but with special restrictions), or by replaying the mission in mission mode where you are able to choose from a wide variety of characters (all customizable via the panel system) and even play with other people who have the game through local wi-fi. Even if you're only playing the game for the story, it's still a great game and a must-play for fans of the Kingdom Hearts series.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/06/09
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (US, 09/29/09)
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