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on November 9, 2013
The mega-popular Kingdom Hearts series has been going on for ten years, continually giving fun games with interesting stories. As unusual as the Disney-meets-Final Fantasy concept is, the series has become one of the most popular modern RPG franchises. The latest entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, is a challenging yet enjoyable game. The new flowmotion mechanic, dream spirits, and colorful worlds make Kingdom Hearts 3D the all-around best game in the series thus far!

The story of Kingdom Hearts 3D picks up where the game Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded left off. The protagonist Sora and his friend Riku need to prove themselves as true masters of the keyblade, a key-like weapon that is used throughout the series. To do this, they must rescue worlds that are lost in slumber by unlocking the keyholes found in the worlds. The story is interesting, but it gets complex. There are some things that take place later in the story that I still don't fully understand. However, unlike many other games, you can actually understand most of this story without playing the other games in the series first (although I would recommend playing the others). This is because the game comes with a glossary that defines key elements in the series, and also with a section called Chronicles that tells the basic plots of the previous games in the series.

The play style for this game is the best in the series. It maintains the elements that made the series so great, and adds more to it. As with the other games, you go to several worlds fighting enemies in real time battles. Fighting enemies gives you experience points which, when enough are gained, will allow you to level up. You also have deck commands, which let you do things like cast magic or do special attacks such as throwing the keyblade.

In the game, you play both Sora's and Riku's stories. Both characters have a drop meter that depletes as you play. When the meter runs out, you switch to the other character's story. This is called "dropping." You can also manually drop by pausing the game and tapping the drop button on the touch screen. The problem with dropping is that unless you manually drop regularly, you can end up dropping in the middle of a fight or boss battle. If you drop in the middle of a boss, you have to restart the battle when you drop again.

The main element that makes Kingdom Hearts 3D so great is the new flowmotion mechanic. Flowmotion allows you to dash into a wall, a pole, or other object and perform either an extended dash or special attack to have your character interact with objects in unique ways. Some things this lets you do is grind on rails and spin around large enemies. When used in combat, the flowmotion mechanic creates very flashy battle sequences.

Another new addition to the series are the dream spirits. Dream spirits replace your usual teammates of Donald Duck and Goofy, and they resemble animals such as dogs and bats. You can raise your dream spirits like pets by naming, petting, and painting them different colors. You can also put them in tournaments against other dream spirits. Depending on what kind of dream spirits are on your team, you can equip different upgrades to your character such as health upgrades and attack boosts. I honestly think that the dream spirits are a great improvement over Donald and Goofy.

The final new feature that this game introduces is reality shifts. Reality shifts are special moves that either damage your enemies or help you get around in the worlds. These are activated when a purple icon appears on the enemy or obstacle, and you slide the stylus down on the touch screen. Another way to activate reality shifts is to press the X and A buttons at the same time. Reality shifts vary depending on the world you are in. Some include flinging objects like a catapult or making grind rails that allow you to reach other areas. Reality shifts range from average to really cool.

The graphics to the game are true to the other Kingdom Hearts games. The 3DS' graphics capabilities enable the game to look just like the PS2 games.

The worlds in this game look great! As with the previous Kingdom Hearts games, most of the worlds you visit are themed after Disney films. Aside from a world or two, all of the worlds are brand new. The worlds featured are colorful and unique.

Also, the 3D in the game works really well. Menu screens pop out, and when you use flowmotion, things appear to be flying out of the screen. Unlike most 3DS games, I actually enjoy playing this game in 3D.

The music in the game is excellent. Although some of the tracks are reused from previous games, there are still enough new songs to keep the soundtrack sounding fresh. The voices of the Kingdom Hearts exclusive characters, as well as all the other Disney characters, sound really expressive.

The controls in the game are simple. You run with the slide pad, jump with the B button, attack with the A button, roll with the Y button, and activate deck commands with the X button. You can scroll through commands with the directional pads and move the camera with the L and R buttons.

My criticisms for the game are few. My biggest complaint is that even though basic gameplay is challenging, boss battles get extremely frustrating sometimes. The flowmotion ability is usually the best strategy in these situations, but sometimes they cause you to die even more. When you level up enough, you can unlock an ability called "Second Chance." This move allows you to keep at least one HP when you die, which makes these bosses easier. As mentioned earlier, unless you manually drop regularly, you will probably drop in the middle of a fight or boss battle, which can get really annoying. My final complaint is that the dialogue sometimes gets really odd. For example, the line, "Well, I guess the rules of the worlds don't apply when your hearts are connected" makes the infamous "lamers" line in Kingdom Hearts II look like poetry.

Kingdom Hearts 3D is an incredible game and one of the best 3DS games out there. The gameplay is even better than the other Kingdom Hearts games, which is saying a lot because I loved the gameplay in the other games. Because of the fast-paced flowmotion mechanic, the colorful new worlds, and the useful dream spirits, Kingdom Hearts 3D is to me the best game in the series.

Final Score: 9.1/10

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on April 27, 2013
Well, I say one small flaw. But is the flaw really that small when it's the game's central mechanic? I'm talking, of course, about the drop gauge. A timer that is present at the bottom of the screen, when the timer runs out you switch from Sora to Riku or from Riku to Sora. Whether you want to or not. Even if you're in the middle of a fight. Even a boss fight. You will then have to start the fight from the beginning the next time you return to that character.

The storyline is pretty interesting, if a bit confusing at times (time travel is involved, nuff said). The addition of monsters to the battle system is an interesting idea, and if not for it being mandatory, the drop system would be kinda nifty as well. Getting to play as both Riku and Sora, seeing how they deal with different situations and what have you.

The difficulty is a bit higher in this game than it was in previous ones, which is especially noticeable in the later stages, but that just makes it more of a challenge, yeah?

Collecting the right materials to create the monsters for your party can be at times tedious or difficult but it's well worth the effort because their abilities aid you in combat.

Over all 8/10. In closing, I loathe the drop gauge with a fiery passion. The guy that thought of it should be fired. Out of a cannon. Screw him and the horse he rode in on.
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on August 1, 2012
I have been a Kingdom Hearts fan since I bought the first game the day it came out. While I started to loose faith in the handheld titles, Birth by Sleep recaptured the imagination and amazing storytelling that sucked me into the series. The same team was put in charge of this title, and I truly hope they are in charge of the inevitable Kingdom Hearts 3 we have already waited 6 years for. I don't want to spoil anything, but as with all Kingdom Hearts titles you can guess the entire story from the intro video. Luckily this time it included the main plot points from every previous title in the series.

This game:
The graphics are amazing, even better than the PS2 sequences. The 3d adds even more depth to an already amazing game. I have 10 3ds games including LoZ:OoT, Starfox, and Mario 3d Land. Kingdom Hearts 3D definitely is the best 3d game I have seen to date.
Flow motion is a bit hard to get used to at first, but by the end of the first level it will be your main source of damage to enemies. If you were annoyed as I was at times at how long it took to get across the vast Kingdom Hearts maps, you will love this feature.
The Dream Eaters are cool in concept, and definitely make controlling Riku more awesome (try giving him wings). However, the developers attempted to make them Nintendogs meet Tomogatchi. Which means to make them truly useful in combat you need to show them affection and play minigames to fully power them up. Luckily to beat the game you don't technically have to participate in this side activity, but all of your stat boosts are dependent on doing this.
Spoiler for those who know nothing of the game/% There are seven worlds, each needs to have its keyhole locked to have Sora and Riku finish their Mark of Mastery Exam. Each world is split into two parts such that Sora and Riku can play the same world from different storylines and perspectives. %\ Each of the worlds in the game are "new." Even Traverse Town has a new and expanded twist with the addition of The World Ends With You characters and Shibuya style.
Dropping is my least favorite part of the game, but it does help propel the story. It takes a few drops to really get used to (especially if you are like me and attempt to grab every treasure chest on the first play through), but it forces you to keep up with the stories of both Sora and Riku. As much as dropping annoys me, I remember KH Chain of Memories where you had to play as Riku after Sora by which point you probably forgot part of the story. Or Birth by Sleep where you had to play the game from 3 different perspectives. The nice thing is that if you fall behind with a character, you can "drop" early and switch back to the other character.

Overall Kingdom Hearts 3D takes a little while to get used to, but once you get past the first hour or so of gameplay you will find so much to love. The character development, graphics, and battle system make this the most unique and arguably best handheld Kingdom Hearts to date. I have high hopes for what Square Enix will do with the third installment of this amazing series.

First time Kingdom Hearts Players: While I think the team did a great job of making the intro video tell the main story of the game, there is a lot of story to catch up on. I would suggest either finding a website with a description of the main parts of each game (most of the storyline will be "spoiled" by playing this game anyway), or make sure to read every report in your journal as you collect it. If you don't care about storyline, then this is a perfect starting point in the series. The battle system and worlds are a lot of fun, even if you don't know exactly what is going on in the grand scheme of things.
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on November 12, 2015
I actually don't like this game. Everyone kept recommending it to me because I love kingdom hearts but I feel like this game is too different for my taste. You still do go through the different disney worlds including some new ones. Unfortunately I feel like the story line is rushed - I could complete each world in 10-20 minutes. Also throughout the game you switch playing between Sora and Riku. So you're constantly switching between two journeys/stories. I find it distracting and adds to how quickly everything seems to happen.
The main enemies are "dream eaters" which are practically the same as heartless - there's new dream eaters in each world just as the heartless change. You can have pet dream eaters which you train to help you fight. Basically I feel like there's too much happening at once and not enough of a storyline to keep up. If the worlds were more involved I might be able to handle all the switching and dream eater training, but I feel like the story line rushes through so there isn't enough time to really get used to everything else.
I know many people that love this game - but personally I found it too far from the original Kingdom hearts story that we all know and love.
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on June 17, 2014
This is my first 3DS game I actually enjoyed, even though I bought other highly acclaimed 3DS games. I really wanted to play a kingdom hearts game, and I'm glad I started with this title. My biggest complain is that, in order to get new powers and get stronger, you have to frequently pause the game to play some kind of pet simulator and some minigames to make your companions give you your powers. I though that aspect broke the whole fast-paced combat action of the game. although the story is confusing, this is one of the few games I have had a lot of fun in recent years due to combat alone (and I'm impressed in how much powers, abilities, and combat animations Square Enix packed in this title). If you are looking for an exhilarating sword fighting role playing game, I reccommend it, but expect pausing the game a lot between combat to do some tedious pet simulator minigames.
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on October 1, 2014
Now, I am a KH pro. I play all these games at LV1.

I can tell you, that this is probably the best portable KH game, HOWEVER it is NOT like KH2FM (my favorite KH game of all time.)

The gameplay in this game is excellent, but the defensive system is trash.

Also the AI in this game is CRANKED UP. OH GOD IS IT CRANKED UP. Your own party members suck so bad, but the enemy AI on Critical will tear you to shreds.

The music is arguably some of the best in the series, and you will get many hours of this game. The worst part is well... :/ The end game/ NG+ stuff is dumb. You fight a boss named Julius which, he is easier than Ice Titan (and I beat Ice titan in 1.5 HD at LV1). And not all the fights are refightable, such as Ansem 1 and 2. I also have the Mark of Mastery edition.
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on July 31, 2012
While this is NOT Kingdom hearts 3;
It's still a great game!

The Evolution of Kingdom hearts:

The combat system is that started on the Ps2
was brought to the Nintendo DS with the arrival of 358/2 days, and extra layer of customization with the deck system,
Inspired by the GBA game brought new life to the game, it revamped the magic, and attack system. it also added limit breaks.
The Traditional 'MP' magic/mana points where replaced with tiles, 4 fire tiles, meant 4 fire attacks.
This game also featured co-op story missions.

With the release of Kingdom hearts Birth by sleep, we were introduced to a third incarnation of the deck system,
where you could use different magic, and elemental attacks that could trigger a new form of limit break, you could now
essentially use a style change, if you used a bunch of fire element attacks then you would turn fire style, and your appearance would change, and you could unleash powerful fire moves. the ability system was also reworked, to allow easy access to the different ability, you received an on screen list of your ability, and you could switch between them, and the magic was changed so it has a cool-down timer instead of limiting you to a set number of 'cures' or Fire spells. This game did not have co-op story mode, but it did have a arena mode where you could join with friends and do VS battles, or fight bosses, and earn cool prizes.

In this game they have revamped the ability list, and added a cool flowmotion ability, that lets you fly off walls like something from ff7:AC, and land powerful attacks, also you fight alongside dream eaters, (your new companions)
--
I have not gotten that far in this game, but the battle system alone is enough to keep me going!
It seems with each mobile KH game, starting with Chain of Memories, that have been experimenting with different
battle techniques, each better, more fun, and even cooler than the last!

If they even incorporate 1/4 of the cool stuff from the last few games, Kingdom Hearts III will be the best Game in the series!

(I have to get back to the game! more details on story and stuff later...)

EDIT:
The drop system ruined this game,
basically every battle is timed, you have to finish before times runs out, or you'l get transferred to the other character.
even boss battle (final boss included) and it gets really frustrating, you can add more time with a special item, but you can only carry two.

I have no idea why it was added, it dose not add anything to game at all except to make sure you play as each character equally? but I preferred bbs's style of play who you want, when you want.
it literally ruined the game for me, cool gameplay, interesting story, but when you're about to beat the final boss,
and you have full health, only to see, you have like 5 seconds left, it gets annoying.. if it was just a few bossed that were timed. or just the final, that would make sense, but every battle, even random encounters??? c'mon guys. (-2 stars)
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on July 28, 2014
Sora and Riku's mark of mastery is here. Journey with them through even more disney locations and go back to some from the original Kingdom Hearts. I would recommend this to any Kingdom Hearts fan. As for newbies, play the first and second one first. It will make the experience so much better.
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on November 30, 2014
If you're a fan of the kingdom Heart series, it's worth checking out. I enjoyed the game but it took a while to get used to the gameplay. It's different from the other series. Some fans may or may not like it. But the story is still there and stays true to the kingdom hearts story.
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on August 23, 2015
Nearly a decade has elapsed since the release of the second main entry of Square-Enix’s Kingdom Hearts franchise on the Sony PlayStation 2, and information has almost just only begun to trickle in on the third primary and forthcoming entry on the PlayStation 4, with the company content to put out HD rereleases and spinoff games. Among the latter is the franchise’s first and thus far only entry on the Nintendo 3DS, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, which provides an experience on par with the better series entries.

The main storyline of 3D focuses of keyblade wielders Sora and Riku undertaking the Mark of Mastery examination under the guidance of King Mickey’s Master, Yen Sid, which necessitates the duo to venture into a series of “sleeping” worlds that reveal some backstory in the Kingdom Hearts mythos, particularly with regards to Mickey himself, his consort Queen Minnie, his chums Donald and Goofy, and his nemesis Pete. There are some minor instances of the game rehashing the storylines of the movies from which it borrows, mainly regarding the City of Bells, the world based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but otherwise the storyline is a nice diversion from the gameplay, with a long and rewarding ending having a bit of a twist.

3D features the franchise’s classic hack-and-slash gameplay using the system from Birth by Sleep of allowing players to assemble a deck of combat commands including consumable items, physical skills, and magic spells, with each having a recovery time after execution, though players can hack away at antagonists with Sora or Riku’s keyblade. A twist distinguishing the game from others in the series is the ability to create friendly versions of the antagonistic Dream Eaters known as Spirits from various materials purchased and/or gained from vanquishing foes.

Although one can easily forget the potential of Spirits, given the ability to take them across ability matrices similar to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid system, doing so can grant Sora and Riku shared abilities, some of which can actually be the difference between victory and defeat, as this reviewer discovered when getting his healing interrupted by the daunting endgame bosses, the Leaf Bracer power mercifully protecting them during health recovery. There is minor issue with the camera and the game often not detecting the C-stick on New Nintendo 3DS systems, but combat is more than enjoyable and a main draw to the game.

There are, however, some issues with regards to the control, with unique field abilities necessary to advance the game easily forgettable by the player, in some cases driving this reviewer to reference a walkthrough, alongside the annoyance of the main menus to typically have a “New” indicator flashing whenever accessing it, not to mention the inability to scroll through voiced cutscene dialogue if the player doesn’t want to sit and wait for characters to speak their entire lines, not to mention the map on the bottom screen indicating not the camera’s direction, as well as the overly-long endgame. This aspect isn’t a complete writeoff, though, since it rectifies the common Japanese RPG problem of wasted gameplay time with options upon death to restart the current area of the world or exit a lost boss battle to the previous save point.

In spite of some recycling at times, music has largely been a high point in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, with 3D disappointing not in this regards, even containing remixes of tracks such as that in Traverse Town, not to mention classical music in the world based on the movie Fantasia, as well as superb voice acting including Leonard Nimoy’s final performance as Master Xehanort. The comical voices of characters such as Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, though, can certainly sound out of place in a game devoid of comedy, but the aurals don’t disappoint.

The visuals are some of the best to grace the 3DS, with superb character models (those in the Tron Legacy world being among the most realistic on the platform) and distinctive Dream Eater designs having minimal palette swaps, not to mention polished scenery with only minor textural blemishes, as well as nice use of the system’s three-dimensional capabilities.

Finally, depending upon the player’s grasp of the mechanisms, completing the game can take a little under twenty hours, although for a significant intervention this player forgot about Spirit abilities, thus upping his playtime to a little over twenty hours, with plentiful lasting appeal in the form of adjustable difficulty and in-game trophies.

All in all, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is another feather in the franchise’s cap, with its solid series gameplay having plenty twists, a narrative contributing well to the pantheon’s mythos, superb audio, and gorgeous graphics that look even better when the Nintendo 3DS is set to three dimensions. It does have quite a few issues with regards to interaction, among these problems being the drawn-out endgame, but those who can look beyond these flaws and have enjoyed prior franchise entries will very likely enjoy this spinoff.

The Good:
+Solid Kingdom Hearts gameplay with nice twists.
+Narrative adds nicely to series mythos.
+Great music.
+Nice graphics better in 3-D.
+Trophies and variable difficulties add lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Drawn-out endgame.

The Bottom Line:
On par with other games in the series.
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