Review by angrywalrus13

"A solid DS title and gem in the Kingdom Hearts series."

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (that's Three Five Eight Days Over Two. I know, I know) is another long-awaited installment to the ever-growing Kingdom Hearts series that combines Disney with Square-Enix's RPG style we all know and love/hate. This particular installment, though, has Final Fantasy and Disney both take the back seat and lets the Kingdom Hearts original content and characters shine more than ever in the series.

The story revolves around Roxas and his time in Organization XIII, specifically his relationship with Axel and Xion, the latter of which is a new member who Roxas is immediately taken to and completely changes his life.

It's a full-fledged action-RPG on the Nintendo DS that stays faithful to its console predecessors, and boasts cooperative multiplayer letting you choose from loads of characters - a first for the series. The game isn't without its flaws, but it is quite easily one of the DS's must-haves.

Anyway, let's get to it.

Story: 8/10
I'll start with this: the story that is present is fantastic and amazingly written compared to the rest of the series. It's nothing on a large scale like the other games, but it is much more of a simple story based on character friendship and relationships... at least until a certain plot twist turns your way. The reason I give this an eight, though, is from the sheer lack of story-based motivation to continue until about halfway through the game. After Roxas gets settled in the Organization, most of the story revolves around the building of his relationship with Axel and Xion, as well as various bits of friendship drama that hint at story points further down the line.

The Good:
- Simple story revolving around character development really gets you attached to the main three characters more than in previous games
- Once the story comes around, it is very engaging and incredibly emotional thanks to all the character build-up in the first half of the game
- Story is spread out very well, unlike Kingdom Hearts 2, which had it in major chunks with nothing in-between. Here, it's evenly spread so you don't feel like nothing's happening once it starts

The Bad:
- Every single mission ends with an ice cream-eating scene, and these get incredibly repetitive at times
- There isn't much story besides the character's relationships until about halfway through the game (as mentioned)
- Some things are only explained via Roxas' diary. They're minor things, but still (for example, one ice cream scene shows him by himself with no dialogue whatsoever; where the others are or what he's thinking isn't explained until you read his diary entry for that day, which most players likely won't do)

Gameplay: 9/10
The game is an action-RPG similar to its console counterparts, as mentioned (and isn't card-based, don't worry), and follows a mission-based structure similar to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, but with a lot more freedom instead of 100% linearity in mission progression. Character customization is done entirely through a panel-based system where literally everything you could possibly alter about your character (including levels) is done by placing little panels on slots in your panel grid. There are two modes tot he game: Story Mode, where you progress through the story, and Mission Mode, where you load up your Story Mode file and play through missions you've already completed as your choice of Organization member (and then some) either by yourself or with friends.

The Good:
- Panels allow for massive amounts of customization
- Gameplay is very fluid and natural, and somewhat addicting once you get to a certain point in the game
- Status effects, unique weapon combos (every weapon has a different combo), tough/vast multitude of enemies, and different missions keep things more varied than past KH games, but the name of the game is still "kill stuff"
- Mission-based gameplay allows players to still be able to accomplish something if they only have, say, twenty minutes to play (it's an effective portable game while still retaining the depth of the console games)
- Multiplayer adds a whole 'nother side to this game, and is incredibly enjoyable to play with a group of friends
- Very few instances of framerate-drop (pretty much only when you kill like 10 enemies with a really flashy move), though overall frame rate drops in multiplayer (only 3- and 4-player) to prevent further drops
- Plenty of optional things to do (Mission Mode, Challenges, completing missions 100%, searching for treasure chests and badges) that help add some form of exploration

The Bad:
- Gameplay can get pretty repetitive
- Camera wonks out in certain points
- There are some very, very annoying enemies/bosses and some that have a ridiculous amount of health compared to how easy they are (one enemy has literally one attack that is very easy to dodge/block, but has more health than most bosses and is just tedious to kill instead of difficult)

Graphics: 10/10
Given the platform, the game has amazing graphics. Definitely some of the best on the DS. Characters models look great, as do most textures. FMVs dotted throughout the game provide the PS2-quality graphics in video file form, and, while impressive-looking, don't break the easily-noticeable pixel grid of the DS.

The Good:
- Very impressive character models and animations
- FMVs add to the graphic presentation
- Textures, for the most part, are detailed

The Bad:
- Some textures are easily noticeable
- Keyblades are two-dimensional, though it's not really noticeable much

Sound: 9/10
While most of the music is reused, it's still just as good as it was before. Yoko Shimomura has done the series wonders, and her new tunes for this game don't disappoint at all. I can recall the music towards the end being some of the most emotionally-driven pieces I've heard in a video game in a while. Sound effects are great as well, with nothing very wrong except for a few sounds that are somewhat off. Voice acting is also top-notch; individual performances are much better than the series' past games, though there isn't as much in quantity, sadly.

The Good:
- Soundtrack is stunning and fits the scenery very well
- Music in important scenes fits perfectly and helps drive the emotional impact home
- Voice acting is superb, even compared to the rest of the series
- Sound effects fit in very well and don't feel out of place much at alll

The Bad:
- Most music is reused, but given the repeated worlds, it's forgivable
- Voice acting, while great, is in small numbers due to limited ROM space
- Some select sound effects just sound funny (Tinker Bell comes to mind)

Overall: 9/10
- Great gameplay with amazing multiplayer, though some parts can get tedious and annoying
- Slow story at first, but charming dialogue and plentiful character development make the eventual story have a huge impact
- Great sound quality with excellent voice-acting, though some music is reused
- Graphics are stunning for a DS title, but some flaws are obvious

Buy?/Rent?/What should I do?:
Buy this sucker. It'll keep you around for a long time. The story takes about 25 hours to beat on average, and there is plenty of extra things to do. If you have friends with the game, you'll be playing for quite a while.


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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