Review by Arkyron
"The Thirteen Definitely Don't Struggle"
A solid series has received yet another solid title. Following the story of Roxas, we're taken through a story full of adventure, friendship, betrayal, mysteries, and ultimately sorrow. Throw this all together with a brilliant plot, detailed character development, and familiar gameplay, and you have quite possibly one of the best games to hit the DS, period.
Contrary to what is commonly told, the story is very much linear, though it does branch out and give more background to some of our favorite characters.
After the opening sequence, Roxas finds himself in none other than the Castle That Never Was. Following a brief dialogue with Saix, you begin to take on your first few missions, which are basically tutorials on how to use the newer features such as limits, and how certain missions are conducted. Really, the only thing that irked me in this sequence is a tutorial on jumping. Really. Jumping. Seriously Square Enix? What a waste of time and coding.
Now, onto the actual gameplay itself. The battle system is very much the same as past Kingdom Hearts games, save for the addition of limits. In fact, veterans will have no trouble getting into the swing of things. Magic has received improvements, and enemies are actually strong enough that mere button mashing typically won't suffice.
Preparation for missions, however, is really quite awkward. It takes a bit of getting used to, and figuring out what you do and don't need. Do I equip level ups, or do I equip a potion? Do I go the physically offensive route, or do I stick to magic? Each of these things needs careful consideration, and it's not something a casual player can just pick up. After you get used to it though, it's actually very simple, and very effective.
The missions themselves are very diverse. Sometimes you'll simply have to take out a certain number of heartless, sometimes specific heartless, and occassionally boss heartless, as one would expect. The newer aspects are things like scouting new areas, searching for your fellow Organization members, destroying mysterious black globs, or trailing a person of interest. Each of these new tasks actually fits in quite well with the standard Kingom Hearts gameplay, so much so that it took me by surprise.
Then there's the music. While many tracks are very much familiar to veterans and will appeal greatly, the newer tracks are what really shine. The music is outstanding! It's exactly the type of OST you'd get stuck in your head all day, and can't get out.
As per the graphics, they actually surprised me. Gameplay and cutscene graphics are great, but the conversation graphics are really lackluster, requiring you to look at a person's conversation bubble for any expression or change. Sort've ridiculous given the amazing cinematics the game has to its name.
There's also plenty of unlockable content, ranging from characters, to missions, to weapons. Completionists have their work cut out for them.
Mission mode is quite interesting. You can take it on solo with a character of your choice, or team up with friends... if only locally. I really think Wi-fi capability would've been extraordinary for this title, as the multiplayer gameplay itself is fantastic!
So, let's do a quick overview, shall we?
Very much linear save for the beginning.
Character Development: 10/10
The characters feel very real, and you walk away looking at them completely differently. You can really feel for just about every one of them.
Solid combat system, and it flows without problems. My only complaint is the awkward level up system. It's just not something for the casual gamer. I had no problems with it whatsoever, but I can definitely see where others are coming from.
The conversation graphics are just pitiful compared to the amazing cinematography. It feels like Square Enix just sort've decided, "Eh, it's not THAT important," and just went on their merry way.
Mindblowing. Brilliant. There's not a single negative word that could be used to describe the amazing melodies.
Additional Content: 9/10
There's alot of it... almost too much. Completionists have their work cut out for them. I myself am not sure I'll go for 100%, and I always do!
It's limited only by being local-play-only. Without that standing in the way, it would have been FLAWLESS.
Most of the replayability comes from Mission Mode, as you have nearly 20 different characters to go at it with. The story mode replayability is hurt by the inability to skip the tutorials.
358/2 Days is an amazing game, and quite possibly one of the best available for the DS. However, its flaws leave me wondering, why didn't Square Enix take the time to make it even better? Why not take the extra time to correct those minor flaws I've mentioned and make the game the best that's out there? It was certainly capable of reaching such a standard, so why didn't it?
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/06/09
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (US, 09/29/09)
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