Review by KeyBlade999

"I'll play this for 358 Days (or more)"

Ahhh... yes, one of my absolute favorite games. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is the second-most recent addition to the Kingdom Hearts saga, and the second game of three to be on a handheld. The others are Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA) and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP). Anyways, Square Enix, this game's creator, was once known as Squaresoft. Their specialty was Final Fantasy. And, yes, they were very good at it, peaking with Final Fantasy VII (PS), Final Fantasy VIII (PS), Final Fantasy X (PS2), and Final Fantasy XIII (PS3 and Xbox 360). One of their last acts as Squaresoft was Kingdom Hearts, released shortly after Final Fantasy X. This game had an odd mix of two companies. Squaresoft, known for fantasy violence and T-rated RPGs, and Disney, known for EC-rated games and theme parks, were those two companies. When you mix the two, you'd normally be blown up, too. Amazingly, they actually did a great job, creating diamonds out of coal. Later, in the GBA generation, they, as Square Enix, made a sequel - Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. It was, essentially, a mid-series mess-up. Nevertheless, they came back with Kingdom Hearts II. Eventually, they re-made Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories as Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories in 2007.

In September-October 2009, Square Enix tried their hands at a handheld game once more. This was a game that actually covered part of the timeline of three games - Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts II (almost). This game is our subject - Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. It filled in the blanks of Roxas's days in Organization XIII. Admittedly, it seems like Square Enix was planning all along for this. Later, first quarter 2010, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was released in Japan for the PSP. Hopefully, this will come to the US.

The gameplay is rather similar to previous games in the series. All five Kingdom Hearts are RPGs. RPGs are characterized by two major characteristics - a level up system, and a story in which you complete a seemingly impossible task. This game has a great mix of both of these. The level up system, like before, is based upon which enemies and how many you defeat. However, the level isn't instantaneously earned. You use a panel system. Each level panel creates another lost space - therefore, becoming too strong actually can be bad for you, as all panels must share the same space. However, they don't HAVE to be there. That allows you become as strong as possible, or challenge yourself at the lowest levels. This is a major playability element.

This game also is one of those games that have a real-time battle system. All Kingdom Hearts games that I've played have this, as do games like Final Fantasy X-2 and Grand Theft Auto (at a stretch). Basically, the battles are like real-life. You have virtually no free time in a battle. You have to be quick when healing or casting magic or you'll lose. The battle will be going on all around you, regardless of what you do. This puts another fun and challenging element into the game.

There is also a multiplayer mode. If you and some friends have DS's and copies of this game, you can play missions in Mission mode. In this mode, you compete to get the most points, while cooperatively completing a mission. The rewards of this mission are good, as the items in the shop that are freebies are amazing. You can also do this mode by yourself and take all of the loot for yourself.

Onto the story of this game. Roxas, a Nobody, has just been admitted into Organization XIII. A week into this, No. XIV is also admitted. Throughout the course of the game, the two become friends. However, they do not realize just how tied they are. They also know that they are being used to complete Kingdom Hearts, which makes Nobodies whole. However, strange happenings in the Organization start to make... well, play this game or the others to attempt a full understanding.

The graphics could be worse. In the field and in battle, the graphics are rather block-ish. Something that is normally circular - such as the Keyblade's blade and hilt - is flat. The blade, when tilted, looks like it is made of a bunch of little squares and rectangles. The field has the worst graphics. Sure, the detail is decent, but don't get this for graphics. However, the FMVs are great compared to the rest. You can even see them all over again!

I don't really pay too much attention to the sound effects. However, they are practically the same as the other games. The battle theme, magic, EVERYTHING is nearly, if not entirely, taken from previous games. However, they are good. The themes usually fit the situation.

It takes some time before completion. Completion of the basic storyline will take about 15 ~ 25 hours. Completion of every mission will take about 40 hours. Fully completing them will take almost 70 hours. And the absolute completion of every single thing in the game (Challenges, Mission Mode, freebies, all chests, Lv. 100, all items, etc.) will take anywhere from 100 to 200 hours - or even more! I do recommend replaying this game, if just to re-experience the story. It feels so good to re-experience what you otherwise couldn't play. Of course, the missions are the same as the first time, so once you unlock all of the missions, you can just replay them in order.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is truly a great game. If possible, get it in any way possible. Even first-time players will enjoy this. Grab it, and love it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/26/10, Updated 05/03/10

Game Release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (US, 09/29/09)

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