Go With the Flow.
For many years now, fans of Kingdom Hearts have been begging Square Enix to develop the actual third mainline installment of the series in the desire to have the story move forward in a significant manner. Instead, Square Enix has been releasing spinoff games with elements of backstory spanning across multiple platforms with multiple characters, making the Kingdom Hearts fan base nuts. Finally, it seems we are getting somewhere with the Nintendo 3DS exclusive, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. This game does not hide the fact that it directly ties into Kingdom Hearts III. With a story that expands on the Kingdom Hearts lore and brand-new Disney worlds to explore, does Kingdom Hearts 3D go the distance, or should perspective buyers simply drop out?
As stated, the story of Dream Drop Distance is intended to lead right into Kingdom Hearts III. The tale follows Sora and Riku. Both young men are tasked with completing a special Mark of Mastery exam by Yen Sid to determine who will be designated as a true Keyblade Master. The exam dictates that the two will have to unlock seven worlds from their deep slumbers. After accomplishing this task, the title of Keyblade Masters will be theirs. Unfortunately, evil Dream Eaters, the enemies of Kingdom Hearts 3D, stand in the way as do other bothersome beings.
After the original Kingdom Hearts, the plot of the series became quite convoluted with the introduction of Organization XIII, Roxas, and the Nobodies. For the most part throughout the game's seven worlds, the plot is somewhat simple to understand -- a Disney villain is doing something sinister or a character needs Sora or Riku's assistance. But when the true antagonists enter the fray, things get particularly murky and confusion will no doubt flood your mind. Thankfully, if you haven't played previous games in the series, you can take a look at summaries of past games that will show up as you play through Dream Drop Distance. Whether they make any sense to you is another story.
|All for one, and three for five!|
|Spells can help even the odds rather quickly.|
Like every other game in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D is an action-RPG with plenty of chances for platforming and discovering treasures. In fact, spread across both Sora and Riku's campaigns and through all seven worlds are over 400 treasure chests to find and open. Thankfully, the game records all treasure chests that have been found, as well as what Dream Eaters you've encountered, trophies you've obtained through accomplishing specific in-game goals, and plenty of other information such as tutorials and glossaries for the uninitiated.
|An example of a Dream Eater.|
You can hold three Spirits in a party, two to duke it out alongside you and one in reserve if one were to perish. Just like Sora and Riku, Spirits gain levels. By nurturing your collection of Spirits, they gain points that can be used to get new commands (like spells and offensive maneuvers) and stat boosts (HP increases and elemental resistances) for Sora and Riku. However, the stat-boosting effects only last as long as the Spirit who gives them to you stay in your party. Spirits fight, defend, and battle along Sora or Riku against baddies and bosses alike. As they fight, their Link Gauge increases. Once full, they can be used to unleash a special attack on opponents. If both Spirits in your party have their Link Gauge full, a devastating attack known as a Dual Link occurs.
|Riku reeks havoc on those silly enough to challenge him.|
As for Sora and Riku, their combat consists of striking Dream Eaters with their Keyblades, using attacks, items, and spells from their command lists (cycled through with the d-pad), correctly timing blocks to counter baddies, rolling out of the way to avoid hazardous assaults, and the new gameplay mechanic-- one that I absolutely adore-- Flowmotion. Flowmotion allows Sora and Riku to slide into a wall, surrounding them in an aura, and giving them the ability to dash at high speeds, jump from wall to wall, swing fast from lampposts and poles, and strike enemies with powerful chains of offensive wonder. In some worlds it can be easy to abuse Flowmotion, making some skirmishes particularly with large numbers of enemies to be a breeze. It can also make platforming irrelevant as you can just keep boosting into a wall to jump higher and higher. Regardless of these potential issues some players may have, I found the increased speed and mobility to be a blast. Kingdom Hearts 3D has one of my favorite battle systems in the series, and Flowmotion is an important part as to why.
|Can you even tell what's going on in this screen?|
It's prudent of me to note that Kingdom Hearts 3D allows for the Circle Pad Pro attachment to be utilized. However, I did not feel or have the need to use it throughout my Dream Drop Distance experience at all. Manually turning the camera with the shoulder buttons is simple and practical enough, locking onto Dream Eaters and bosses through tapping both at the same time is non-problematic, and other functions came easily to me. There is just no need for the attachment. It's totally not required.
|All potential Keyblade Masters know that|
sometimes the best way to fight is to run.
Even though Sora and Riku visit the same worlds, most of the time they are journeying through different areas, though there is some overlap. The benefit of a map on the bottom screen helps so much in finding where you entered an area at and all possible exits. Getting lost is a thing of the past.
But before Sora and Riku can visit a given world, they must dive into it, hence Dive Mode. This takes the place of the Gummi Ship segments from Kingdom Hearts I and II. You control Sora or Riku and must accomplish a given objective before time runs out. Such objectives include collecting a set number of prize points or beating a boss. After the objective is clear, the goal ring opens, unveiling the way to the actual world. The faster the time, the better your score, the better your letter grade (with an A giving you a special prize). These segments break up the action, but they seem forced and unnecessary.
|You won't get this kind of ride at Disneyworld!|
Kingdom Hearts 3D shines in its presentation. Disney and Square Enix have created colorful and crisp worlds and characters, all sporting impressive geometry and animation. I found the effort for the mouths of the characters to sync somewhat with the words being said to be alluring, as was the top-notch cast of all-star voice actors, all performing their parts tremendously. The game runs steady for the most part, but things can get a little rocky when there's multiple creatures and effects on the screen. I've had bouts of slowdown at sporadic periods during my time with the game.
Yoko Shimomura returns to scribe the sensational score of the game. Takeharu Ishimoto also provides some remixes of songs from The World Ends With You (like Calling and Someday) to the game as the main cast of that game shows up on several occasions throughout Traverse Town. If there is one flaw I have towards the music of Kingdom Hearts 3D, it is that Sanctuary is once again a prominent tune. We couldn't get Utada Hikari to come up with an all-new theme after all of these years? I digress. The package as a whole is delightful.
|How many botched drug deals |
started with this line?
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]