on August 2, 2012
I've been a fan of the "Kingdom Hearts" franchise for a while, but even the most devout followers have begun to grow weary of its publisher's practice of shelling out prequels, in-between-quels, and all-over-the-place-quels. In all of these games, the gameplay remains fundamentally unchanged, with the exception of "Re:Coded", which was otherwise a disappointment in my book. It seemed that, on the surface, Square Enix was simply jumping on the 3DS bandwagon and shelling out another half-baked entry in order to stall before people tore down their door and demanded Kingdom Hearts III already. Regardless, I decided to give this the benefit of the doubt, and I'm pleased to announce that this is the best game in the series since "KHII". In fact, it may arguably be the best entry yet.
We join Sora and Riku after the events of II and "Re:Coded". Riku is playing for the good guys again, teaming up with Sora to take on the Mark of Mastery exam. This involves them travelling to various worlds in order to find hidden keyholes that will prove their meddle as true Keyblade Masters. The plot is a welcome change of pace from the treacly sentimentality of "358/2 Days", the rehashed narrative in "Birth By Sleep", and the confused logic and pacing of "Re:Coded." Nomura and all others involve certainly listened to the critics when it came to the story in this entry, and gave us what we wanted: a true follow-up. Much in the vein of "Chain of Memories", "Dream Drop Distance" expands on world of the game without losing its focus, and never gets lost trying to pander to fans. The result is the most focused game yet, and one whose story is filled with enough emotion and excitement for any gamer to enjoy. That being said, it's best to be familiar with the franchise before tackling this one. Newcomers may feel a little bit lost.
My main concern about "DDD" was definitely the gameplay, given that it hasn't really changed in several years. All fears have been put to rest now, due to the fact that the dev team definitely took their time with making a fun and balanced experience. The level-based hack-n-slash we're used to is still here, but it's aided by the addition of a new system called "Flowmotion." This is a snazzy way of saying that Sora and Riku now fancy themselves to be masters of parkour. The real surprise here is that Square Enix managed to slide in a new gameplay feature without turning it into a convoluted wreck. Flowmotion works fabulously. Within a few minutes of playing, you'll be grinding off of rails, using enemies as pommel horses, and careening off walls hundreds of feet in the air. Doing this allows you to deliver devastating special moves on enemies. Every enemy encounter, and especially every boss stage, transcends typical button-mashing battles and turns into something more visceral and downright fun than I ever expected from this franchise.
The other addition is the "Drop" feature. You'll be playing as both Sora and Riku in this game, as they battle through parallel worlds to find the hidden keyholes. This works in a very unique way; you have a time with each character, as they experience different narratives in the same worlds. You have to beat the world with both characters in order to truly beat it and progress the story. This is less cumbersome than it sounds, and is in fact a very interesting way to approach handling both characters. You can also jump to another character early by using the "Drop" button on the pause menu. This can be handy if you get to a good stopping point in one character's progression. Getting to experience both characters' unique perspectives is a welcome change in pace for the series.
Another worth mentioning, if only for a few sentences, is the addition of Spirit companions. Much like the world-specific partners of previous games, these animals fight side-by-side with you and can be teamed up with for a special attack. However, it works in a similar fashion to the "Shin Megami Tensei", where you collect certain components of the monsters, then combine them in order to create them. Depending on how many components you have, you can alter the strength and abilities of the monsters. You can have three with you at any given time, and I highly recommend you do so. These partners are very helpful, and fun to customize and level up. The interface for leveling them is very similar to a virtual pet simulator by way of "Final Fantasy X"'s level system. It's not too complicated, but not overly simplistic. Just the right balance of strategy and fun make this a worthwhile component to an already great game.
Graphically, this is the best-looking game in the series, without a doubt. Having played several 3DS titles, I can firmly say this is the prettiest one yet, and clearly demonstrative of what we can expect from Square Enix in the near future. Environments pop to life with dazzling use of textures and shadows, and everything blazes forward with no drop in the frame rate. From Notre Dame to The Grid, these are beautiful renderings of iconic settings, some of which have never been visited in the franchise before. The only negative is, unfortunately, the uneven use of 3D. Frame rate has a noticeable drop when the feature is used in some areas, yet flows smoothly in others. While the effects are nice and all, I would recommend only using it for cutscenes. The game actually stands very strong on its own graphical merits, and the effects steal the thunder a little bit.
Haley Joel Osment (remember him?) turns in another show-stealing performance as Sora, enough to make one wonder why he hasn't just decided to become a full-time voice actor already. The rest of the cast is predictably great, as is the music. The soundtrack once again spans a variety of styles, implementing the techno and trip-hop found in "The World Ends With You" when its characters are on-screen. There's nothing more to say, really, given that people already know Square Enix excels in this department.
Here we are, seven years after "Kingdom Hearts II" left us speechless, and we're finally given the sequel we've wanted for so long. According to series creator Nomura, "Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance" is a taste of the gameplay we can expect from the third entry. If this is truly the case, then I say bring it on. This is the best entry in the "Kingdom Hearts" series so far, and a surefire candidate for Handheld Game of the Year. If you've been holding out because of Square Enix's incessant milking of the franchise, this is the one you've been waiting for.
Ironic. In creating the best game of this stellar series, the developers have created perhaps the best 3DS title yet.
on August 24, 2013
One of the best things I can say about the 3DS is that the hardware is amazing, allowing for a handheld gaming experience equivalent to a slightly scaled back PS2 game. This all works in 3D's favor, as it provides fans with an experience not held back by hardware limitations like the DS games were, and provides a similar feeling to the original 2 games as well as Birth By Sleep.
The confusingly named Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance has to deal with a powerful goal: combining the huge cluster storm of a story that has been told in the previous handheld games, and somehow tie them all together, while setting up the highly anticipated third installment in the series, no matter if it has to use multi-layered storytelling, insistent terminology of its mythology, and ret-cons. Loads and loads of ret-cons.
3D takes place after Kingdom Hearts 2, and follows directly after the secret ending of re:Coded. Sora, Riku and the gang have to deal with the fact that (spoiler alert) Xehanort is coming back. To prepare, Master Yen Sid has Sora and Riku take what is known as the Mark of Mastery exam. Unlike the one seen in BBS, however, this is different. Sora and Riku must travel to 7 Sleeping Worlds, worlds that have returned after being attacked by Heartless but are still in a "sleeping state." In order to do this, they must enter a dream state themselves. Things get... complicated, to say the least, and eventually Riku and Sora are split up and they find themselves encountering old foes and an even bigger plan than they thought.
3D takes what was already a complicated story and makes it even more complicated. New elements are introduced to advance the story, but as a result end up complicating previous events in the story to make it work. The overall result is something very confusing. Luckily, the developers realized this, and they added flashbacks and journal entries that summarize all the previous games, just in case there was something you missed. For the most part, they're not bad, and they do an okay job, but the problem I seem to have is that they never really get into the terminology and definition of the previous games. What exactly are nobodies? Why are memories so important? What is all this talk about hearts and the X-blade? It does an okay job, and by the end I'm sure you'll understand, but it's still something worth noting. Furthermore, most of the important story exposition is reserved for the very end, meaning a massive amount of the story is spent trying to figure out exactly what's going on, and then the end is spent trying to make sense of all this new info you've acquired.
If I'm making it sound like I dislike the story of 3D, I apologize, as I actually really like the story, especially near the end, when everything comes together. It introduces new elements, advances and develops our protagonists in believable and natural ways, and makes the stakes actually feel severe, which is a problem a lot of recent (ex: re:Coded) Kingdom Hearts seemed to have. It gives a lot to work with for the third game, and makes me excited to see the path they go down.
Gameplay wise, there's very little to complain about. It's Kingdom Hearts. It plays like Kingdom Hearts. It uses a slightly simplified command deck system from BBS. Keyblade upgrades are the same. Kingdom Hearts 3D is different in two matters, however: Flowmotion and the Dreameater system.
Flowmotion is similar to the reaction commands from 2, but with more emphasis on movement and (as the name implies) flow rather than a button that just lets you do cool things. Flowmotion is an interesting idea itself, but I found that the more I continued playing the game, the less I used it. Getting stuck in Flowmotion makes you more vulnerable to enemy attack. It's main benefit is that it's a quick way to do some damage, but it won't do you much good if you get killed before you finish it.
The Dreameater system seems to be this game's replacement for Donald and Goofy, as well as a mix of a Pokemon/Nintendogs system. Basically, throughout the game you gather supplies and recipes to create dream eater companions, each with their own set of skills and inevitable cuteness. With these, they can fight with you, heal you, and do special limit attacks similar to the Drive forms from 2 in a way. Also included is a mode where you can play VR games and have a giant petting session with your Spirit Dreameater. They're very interesting ideas, and maybe it's just because I didn't play the game right, but it sort of seems superfluous in a way. I couldn't really see any benefit to participating in it, and for the most part I didn't have the desire to. My main focus in the game was Kingdom Hearts, not the Nintendogs system that comes with it. Then again, to each their own. I'm sure there's some that love it and really got into it, and it's really a rather well made gamemode, but it just wasn't something I was interested in.
Another change is the drop system. The game shares a campaign with both Sora and Riku as playable characters, but rather go the BBS route and have you play each character's story separately, 3D has you switch between characters while you're playing. I mean literally. Next to your health bar is a meter that slowly decreases over time. When it reaches zero, you switch over to the other character exactly where you are. The drawback is that this happens against your will everywhere. Even in boss fights. The aggravating thing about being dropped in a boss fight is that when you return, you have to start the entire boss over again. There was a time where I so close to defeating a boss, only to suddenly be dropped before I could get the final few hits. This ended up with me having to replay the boss fight 4 additional times past that fact. Surely they could have devised a way to either return you as you left off in the boss fight like they do everywhere else in the game, or turn off the drop meter as soon as you enter a boss fight.
Luckily, the drop system isn't all bad because of the DP upgrades. Throughout the game, as you slay enemies you get what are known as "Drop Points." The drop points are a currency that can be used to purchase temporary advancements, items, and slowing down of the drop meter when you switch to another character. This is a mechanic that can, with enough motivation, can be abused enough to where if you feel under powered in a boss fight, quickly drop, collect some DP as the other character, use the DP to upgrade whatever you want in the drop menu, and then face the boss as the original character.
The worlds of Kingdom Hearts 3D step the bar. It's refreshing that the 7 Sleeping Worlds (minus Traverse Town) are all based off of previously unused Disney properties, meaning that for those who have grown tired of Agrabah or Olympus Collesium can finally get some kind of change. All of the worlds are rather fun to play, each very interesting in its story and design. Special mention goes out to the levels based on Fantasia. The lack of sound and the use of orchestra music, as well as famous imagery from the film, makes it one of the best levels Kingdom Hearts has seen.
If I did have one gripe about the worlds in 3D, it's that they feel far too small. Most of the time worlds amount to a handful of separate areas where you simply go straight, fighting enemies along the way. The end result makes most of the worlds feel slightly repetitive. It would be nice to see some wider areas, or some more complex areas like Traverse Town. Although, to be fair, it is already pushing the limits of a handheld system, so I'll cut it some slack in the size regard.
Reading this you may get the impression that I think 3D is a very flawed game. While the game certainly does have it's flaws, I'm jmerely nitpicking it in comparison with the others. In reality, it's one of the best games available for the 3DS at the time being, and a very worthy Kingdom Hearts game. For the most part, it closes up the Handheld Saga well and gets everything ready for 3. Highly recommended.
on July 31, 2012
Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] is an amazing game in nearly every way. There are a whole lot of things to do while on your adventure, and the worlds are large and full of places to explore.
The story is still as complicated as usual, but it's a great one that really sets the tone for Kingdom Hearts 3. If you've never played a Kingdom Hearts game before (or just need a refresh on the story), this game has cutscenes and readable reports that fill you in from the very beginning.
New gameplay elements to the series, such as flowmotion and the drop system, are intuitive and really make the game great. Flowmotion makes moving on the field, whether in battle or not, a much easier and more enjoyable experience. The drop system is a clever pacing tool that keeps you interested in both Sora and Riku's respective stories throughout the game. In addition, the command board and abilities make a welcome return here.
In battle, Sora and Riku have partners that are creatures called spirits, and they are one of the two types of Dream Eaters. There are over 50 different kinds of spirits, and as such they are quite varied in size, shape, and fluffiness. There are a lot of things you can do with a spirit that influences their stats and even their affection for Sora or Riku; for instance, you can pet, feed, and play with them in similar vein to the Nintendogs games.
The second type of Dream Eater is called a nightmare; the various types of nightmares are Sora and Riku's main enemy throughout the game. Depending on the difficulty level you choose at the beginning of the game, nightmares can be easy or more difficult to defeat.
The sound system in the game is noticeably more high spirited and festive than other entries in the series, but this is not a bad thing. Classic Kingdom Hearts tracks such as Hand in hand and Dearly Beloved make a return, while new songs still keep to the original feel of the games. My personal favorite track in the game is Traverse in Trance.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] is clearly one of the series' best, and one of my all time favorite video games.
on November 13, 2013
Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance is a great game for any KH fan. This game takes after Re:coded, Riku and Sora are chosen for the Mastery Exam and soon the end will begin in the next game: Kingdom Hearts 3. You have to play both of them to unlock 7 worlds, battle hard bosses, recruit new allies called Spirits, and unlock certain abilities, weapons, and items to become stronger. This game had beautiful graphics, easy controls, intense boss battles, and a secret ending I cannot spoil. As a fan of KH, I want you to buy all of the games.
on December 5, 2015
This is a fantastic addition to the Kingdom Hearts series. It plays well on the 3DS XL screen, and the graphics look great. Unfortunately, the sound feels low at times, and if it weren't for the subtitles, you could sometimes miss something during the dialogues. Overall, the game is GREAT, and the story is thrilling, exciting, and gasp-inducing.
on November 28, 2015
There is SO much to keep track of in this game. All the different features are actually why I bought it, but now I find them tedious. You have to manage Sora and Riku separately (and the game forcing a switch between them is an annoying mechanic to begin with) including their keyblades and their action menus, but then you also have the manage and create dream eaters and their menus and mini-games. It ends up feeling like I spend more of the game in the start menu than anywhere else. And maybe that's by design because the game play I don't often look at what I'm doing because it's hard to work with the camera and the character takes up half of your view. What is worse is the cutscenes. The graphics are amazing, but the speed through each of the Disney stories so quickly as to make the whole experience feel very, very shallow. While it was a nice touch that Riku and Sora have different stories in each area, it just leaves the whole thing feeling rushed.
I wanted to like this game and was excited about it, but instead this is the kind of game that just ends up feeling like work :(
on January 19, 2015
This game has a lot going on. Probably too much, but I've enjoyed getting back into KH games. My last one was playing the original on the PlayStation. My son and I even went head to head on completing it, and I won by a matter of hours (getting all the stuff and the Ultimate Weapon and such). Since then, I did play the disappointing card version on another Game boy platform and my son has played KH2. This game made me forget all about it.
First off, it's gorgeous looking to play. The 3D really works nice in the game, and the colors are bright. Tron world and Traverse Town are stunning. The battles have a fantastic interface, and I admit that was my biggest worry with such a small screen - you are auto targeting the closest mob and then hitting it. Add to that the deck, which once you get used to it is pretty straightforward, and you have a crazy amount of commands and options in only 2 buttons. Also, Flowmotion is crazy fun. I thought it looked stupid in videos, but I am heavily addicted to fighting in that mode. Ricocheting off walls, posts, etc to do an outlandish battle mode is just plain fun.
Like I said, the game has a lot going on. You have the start of each world which is a dive (falling mini game), then trying to find every chest in the world you visit, and then the seemingly endless Spirits (virtual pets) that you have to create, unlock, and nurture. Toss in some story, the usual keyblade assortment, the somewhat quirky Drop system, and you see that this is a full party.
One thing I was pretty impressed with is the developers' decision that this game was the last one before KH3 (my guess), because as you are playing it, another story is going on in the background. You keep seeing snippets of it, and as you do, you get explanations of lore from the dozen or so KH games, tying them together into one story. Pretty hard, since some of them are way out there, but thus far it all makes sense. I have not finished it yet, as I only get a few hours a day play time, but I am heartily enjoying it. Definitely would recommend for someone looking for a solid KH game on portable, and perhaps even for someone looking for a basic RPG.
on December 22, 2014
Before I start, I'll just say I absolutely HATE the drop system of this game. When I first started playing and came to the first boss on Riku's end of the dream world, I was just about to stun it when the drop system sent Riku into sleep and I was then ported over to Sora's part of the dream world where, after awhile, I was then ported back to Riku's end and I had to start the boss all over again. Hence, I had the level on hard mode. I'd advise you stock up on Drop Items in place of potions as that can be very useful when you go against hard bosses. Just a thought.
The plot picks up from the end of Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. It begins with Sora and Riku embarking on a quest to complete the Mark of Mastery exam to become Keyblade Masters, which fans of the series might recognise from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Sora and Riku must then journey to the Realm of Sleep, and awake the sleeping worlds: Traverse Town, La Cite des Cloches, Prankster’s Paradise, The Grid and Country of the Musketeers. If all of this makes little sense to you at the moment, don't worry too much; you don’t need to be able to understand the complex plot behind the series in order to enjoy the individual games, but it still helps!
In Kingdom Hearts 3D the usual enemies, the Heartless and even the Unverse, have been replaced by Dream Eaters, who look--SO ADORABLE JESUS STOP IT I NEED TO PUNCH A WALL TO GET MY MANLINESS BACK UGN. While lacking the scare factor, there is a plus side to these colourful characters, as you can recruit friendly Dream Eaters (known as Sprites) to your party to help in battle. Sprites are customisable, with lots of different paint gun colours to collect and spray to your heart's content. There is also a new ‘petting’ feature, similar to that in Pokémon X and Y, where you tap the lower screen with your stylus to give your Sprite a stroke, earning you ‘Link’ power-ups to make your compadre stronger in battle. You can also feed your Sprite cakes to boost its abilities and also take 3D photos of your Sprite, but only if you really want to. Personally, I never took pictures with it but I did feed my Meowow a lot (If you're first using Sora, your Sprite is named Meowow unless you want to change it's name).
As usual Square Enix has done a great job with the visuals; Kingdom Hearts 3D looks absolutely stunning. The facial detail on Sora is particularly impressive, and all of the environments and movie flashbacks look fantastic. While the 3D effect is not pivotal, it does add a sparkle to the beautifully detailed cut scenes, most noticeably when flames rise in the Cite des Cloches stage — make sure you have the 3D slider set to the max for that scene because hot damn, in this particular game, that is always my favourite world to visit. Like all Kingdom Hearts games the voice acting is also spot-on; even where the original voice actors from the movies are missing, an impeccable replacement has been found, making the change barely noticeable.
Even though Kingdom Hearts 3D may look incredible, the gameplay is rather tedious. You must play as both Sora and Riku, undergoing each world twice and therefore defeating the same bosses twice too. This is where the new ‘Drop’ element features, as you're only given a certain amount of time playing as one character before you're dropped out and wake up again as the other. Having a time limit is essential, as it stops you from leveling up and progressing too far as one character. However, the drop counter continues to tick down even during boss fights, meaning you could be grinding down a big Dream Eater for ages only to be suddenly dropped out, forced to replay the whole fight over again when you next wake up. As I mentioned in the beginning, I HATE that with a burning passion.
The combat has been improved with the addition of free-flow, an acrobatic feature which adds speed to the many street brawls you encounter and becomes a very powerful tool once you get the hang of it. There is also a new Reality Shift system which allows you to perform a special command or attack depending on the world you are in. For example, in Traverse Town, when you use Reality Shift mode you execute a Slingshot attack.
Once you're fully immersed and battling it out against never-ending streams of Dream Eaters, you'll soon notice that potions aren't very easily accessible. You can't retrieve them from the main menu — which would force the battle to pause — or even select them on the touch screen; instead you have to flick through the X button menu using the D-pad while the fight still continues. For those who've played Birth by Sleep, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The battle system is exactly like it is in Birth by Sleep. So if you were good with that, you'll be fine with the battle system in Dream Drop Distance.
Overall, I love the game. There are not many KH games that I don't like, except for Coded/RE:Coded but that's for another review. If you are new to the series and want to know what it’s all about, then try Kingdom Hearts I or II before diving into this one. However, if you are a series veteran then step this way, as there is still a lot of fun to be had if you can overlook the small gameplay problems.
on April 21, 2015
The Kingdom Hearts series is my favorite franchise of all time. This particular game is very fun, sporting the best combat in any of the games.
The new Flow Motion ability which allows you to use your environment for awesome attacks will have you jumping and swinging all over, on top of the countless numbers of attacks, skills magic and other powers that Kingdom Hearts games are always loaded with.
You do not fight heartless in this game, but a new type of enemy called Dream Eaters. To aid in this fight, you get a whole slew of partners...no not disney characters...but the anti dream eater. They are basically Pokemon that you collect and customize, each providing you with perks and attacks. You can care for these creatures by petting them, feeding them and playing with them, which is kind of annoying some times, but it helps them level up and become more powerful, which is always a good thing.
You visit a lot of new areas, probably the most new disney worlds since Kingdom Hearts 2, which grants you many new characters to visit. They even put the characters from "The World Ends With You" (another square enix game for DS) in it, though they serve no purpose other than fan appeal.
The "Drop" system in the game has you switch between Sora and Riku as regular intervals. You have a drop meter, which constantly empties,and can be sped up or slowed down. When the meter runs out, you switch characters, which can be annoying, because I then forget what I was doing with that character when I come back to them. Sora and Riku both have different abilities and fight styles and pokemon things and different storylines. Which speaking of storyline...if you have played every other game in the series, you will know the story is very confusing the way they tell it out of orders, leaving many holes to keep you wondering. This game FINALLY fills in all those holes, even answering questions I've had since the first game. It leaves you with no other questions except "What happens next?" The game sets you up directly into Kingdom Hearts 3, and even has a secret movie at the end to set you up even further.
Now we just have to play the waiting game to finish of the Xehanort Saga
Overall I think it is the best handheld game in the series, though nothing will beat the two on PS2 until Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out
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.