Review by IamSuperMagic
Live the Dream, Drop the act, and go the Distance
I've loved the Kingdom Hearts series for a long time. I've beaten the first 3 games in the series, and I couldn't wait for this one. And I was not disappointed; in 2 days I had already played about 23-24 hours of this game. No joke. I could barely put it down, and each level was just as enjoyable as the last.
For someone who hasn't played any other games in the series, the story for this game will make close to no sense at all. For those that missed a few games, or need a refresher, the game has a synopsis for all of the past games, but especially during the ending scenes some might be a little confused. But that's normal for a Kingdom Hearts game, right? Kingdom Hearts 3D is a sequel to Kingdom Hearts II and Re: coded, and is a huge step forward in the story. The game gets you started quickly, and tells you what's going on mostly in flashbacks. This never got confusing for me, so I could enjoy the story without having to wait through long cutscenes before I finally got to play. This time around, Sora and Riku have to take the Mark of Mastery exam, which if they pass they will become true Keyblade masters. Most would think at least Sora would deserve this already, but this task had to be done anyway.
To pass the test, both Sora and Riku have to awaken 7 sleeping worlds; worlds that never fully awakened when Sora defeated Ansem at the end of the first game. 2 of these worlds we've already seen before, including Traverse Town, but Square Enix finally gives us 5 new Disney worlds to explore. If I had to go through Atlantica or Agrabah one more time I would be sick. These worlds are based off of movies like Tron: Legacy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Fantasia. I was skeptical about some of these at first, but after playing them it felt like they fit right in to the Kingdom hearts series.
Various parts of the game can still be confusing, as there's time-travel and Inception like dream stuff (a dream in a dream in a dream). The game tries to explain this stuff with science or logic, but doesn't quite make it all the way. Gameplay consists of running through worlds, defeating enemies, then a boss, obtaining a new weapon, and moving on to the next world. Battles are fairly simple, yet very fun. You can jump and attack or course, and also roll away or block, but you also have deck commands, which let you use items or special attacks. You can get new commands from chests or buying them.
Something new that was added for this game is called Flowmotion. It lets you jump super high and fly through the air--until you touch the ground. You can also pull off different powerful attacks off of these. using Flowmotion is fun and can really help in battle. The only thing is you can use it to get to places you normally couldn't, like before the game is supposed to let you. Like in one world, you have to activate switches to make a bridge across a gap, but you can use Flowmotion to fly across before even hitting the switch. Things like this can be useful, but ends up taking more time and feels like cheating.
Instead of having Donald and Goofy helping you in battle, you get what are called Spirits. These are monsters based on different animals like cats, beetles, elephants, lions, etc. These are kind of cute actually. They will level up just like you. You can use items dropped from enemies to make new and different spirits, and you can "link" with them to perform powerful attacks. All abilities you gain are from Spirits. Using a spirit will earn you Link Points, which you can use to unlock more abilities from a board for each Spirit. This is really helpful, but unfortunately its the only way to earn new abilities. You also can't fuse two deck commands together like in Birth by Sleep either.
For those used to digging through the many menus in Kingdom Hearts, this game will be the same, but I can see someone not used to it having trouble, getting confused, or disliking the large pause menus and multiple things you need to do. To finish the game, you need to play as the two protagonists: Sora and Riku. To change between them, a system called "dropping" was made. There's a bar next to your health that goes down over time. When it empties, you switch characters. Both characters can be in different worlds, so wherever one is, when you drop you fly back to wherever the last one was before it dropped. Sora has a different story for each world than Riku, and the bosses are different as well. For me, it got a little confusing about what happened in which story, but in the end both stories came together well. The ending of the game was satisfying enough to feel like it came to a close well enough, but still wanted me to find out what happens next in the next game in the series, which was nice.
The graphics were really good, especially for a portable system. The graphics easily rival those of Kingdom Hearts II, and I think surpassed Birth by Sleep. The opening of the game was even more fantastic, and nostalgic to any long-time fan. The music, like normal, was great. They still used Sanctuary and Simple and Clean, but that's alright. They give a certain feel to the series. The voice acting was like the rest of the series: not fantastic, but believable and matched the characters.
Overall, this game was VERY good, and I enjoyed playing it a lot. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the series and anyone who likes RPGs. Do NOT miss this game.
Replay value: 8.5/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (US, 07/31/12)
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