9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This game can Drop-Me-Not forever and ever and ever....[update 1],
This review is from: Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance (Video Game)
I pre-ordered the MoM edition for release date delivery. I'm still playing the game since that day. I'm currently 43 hours into the game on Proud mode with 38% of the story completed. Hence, you can tell I am taking my sweet time with the game unlike other people, who just rush through it for the story. I've played all of the localized released KH games, except for re:coded (which was originally a cell phone game). Birth by Sleep was my favorite game out of the KH series, but I think Dream Drop Distance can sit right next to it.
Story: A Dream? -----
I probably don't have to repeat it here as it's been posted, said and repeated a million times, but whatever...
You get that the story's gist is: Sora and Riku must enter the dreams of seven sleeping worlds as a part of their Mark of Mastery exam in order to become full-fledged keyblade masters. However, a mysterious boy shows up trying to "incept" the exam and throw some riddles at both of them. Who he is and why he resembles Xehanort when he was a young boy, we'll find out eventually at the end. In the world of the waking, everything may seem fine on their end, but they're not....?? Remember this: "Darkness becomes light and light falls into darkness."
If you're a KH newbie, there are Chronicle entries that you can read in this game, that are unlocked as you go through it, explaining to you what happened in the previous KH games. Unlike other game series out there, KH is one big continuous storyline ala Harry Potter. So, you'll come across a plot point that won't be answered until a future game. I highly recommend you guys to Google the "KH Info Block", because that Tumblr explains certain plot details a little better than the Chronicles. The Chronicles are still alright for giving you guys a good gist of the story. If you ever think about playing some of the past KH games, go in release order. You can try the official timeline order, but things work out better, both story and gameplay-wise, in release order.
(Out of all the KH games, re:coded holds the least importance to the story so you can skip that one if you want, and watch the ending cutscenes on Youtube.)
For KH fans/veterans, the story pacing has improved a lot from its early days of KH1, CoM and 2. It is also paced a little differently than Birth by Sleep, because you're dealing with two characters who battle in separate identical worlds instead of three characters trying to find one another in three separate storylines. Overall though, Dream Drop Distance works almost just like Birth by Sleep, but you're playing the two storylines at the same time. You no longer have to switch out of one character's file just to go to another character's file. That's why the Drop system exists for that purpose, however, I'll get into that a little later.
In each world, you won't find NPCs, except for Moogles and a particular Dream Eater, that you can simply walk up to and talk to them. All of the NPC conversations are in cutscenes, but they can be replayed again in the Flashback section of your Momentos menu.
Going back to DDD's pacing a bit, each world makes you go on a "mini quest" to do something for the NPCs who live there. Thus, it is a different type of interactive feel compared to trying to find a button behind a wall in Cinderella's house. However, each world holds a moral/theme that's actually important enough that both Sora and Riku keep reflecting on them. Some people seem to not look at Sora and Riku's thoughts/feelings. They just see the Disney worlds as they are calling them "filler", but they're not. You'll also be "interrupted" by someone, or some people, in each world that is/are related to the story's main villain, Xehanort. After beating each world, you'll see the other half of the story as to what's going on in the waking world. If you've seen the trailers, you can kind of picture how the beginning of that portion unfolds.
The System -----
Like the previous KH games, you are offered three different difficulty levels: Beginner, Standard, and Proud. If you complete Proud mode, then, you can unlock Critical mode. I highly recommend Proud mode. It's an improvement mode over Birth by Sleep, where the Unversed there were very easy to triumph over after just leveling up a few levels. In other words, there was a lack of a need to grind in Birth by Sleep throughout most of the game. That was the main disappointing thing in BbS that I had an issue with. However, in Dream Drop Distance, we can grind once more with enemies that are push overs.
For the two 3DS screens, the top shows your gameplay and cutscenes. The bottom screen functions as a world's map (which can be enlarged or shrunk), access to setting up a Link portal, checking up on what you need to do (via story), interacting with the Link ability system, and doing any Dream Eater training related activity.
The menu system, itself, is just like the previous KH games, but probably the most similar to the Birth by Sleep menu system. What's new about it is the Momentos section, which I already explained above. In that section, you can view past cutscenes, tutorials and other review type of information. Very easy to read and digest.
The camera system works the same way the first Kingdom Hearts game worked, but a little more stable where it does follow your character around more. You use the L and R buttons to pivot the camera, but I don't really use it so much. Some people think the camera follows the character too closely, but it's not that big of an issue to me.
Gameplay and Monsters Galore -----
One good chunk of the physical gameplay relies on "Flowmotion" where you parkour off walls, lightpoles, stair railings, strings of light, etc. and etc. It's a little bit of what some people would call, "the battle system on crack". You can even use it to scale up buildings such as Notre Dame. However, it's not invincible against enemies. Some of the enemies will be able to interrupt your Flowmotion with their own attacks. So, you can't always rely on it for everything. If you ever do feel that Flowmotion is overpowering you, you do have the option to turn it off in the menu. However for me, I'm completely fine with it as it's fun to use and makes traveling through the big worlds much easier. You'll also be able to unlock the normal platforming abilities in this game. How you choose to use both systems are all up to you. You have the option to turn off abilities in your Command menu section.
Update 1: Sorry, forgot one thing. Reality Shift. It's a system that involves both the air and the ground. When you're near Dream Eaters and objects, like barrels, a group of flashing pinkish/purpleish arrows show up. Slide down your stylus and you activate Reality Shift. There are different Reality Shifts per world each fitted to that world's theme. You might find some of them to be helpful when dealing with bosses and hordes of DEs.
The amount of Commands are less in Dream Drop Distance than in Birth by Sleep, but they still pack a punch. It seems that Square Osaka (- Square-Enix's division in the western part of Japan, who made Birth by Sleep -) were able to pick out some of the popular ones from BbS into Dream Drop Distance. At the same time, they invented some new Commands, which are just as awesome. Unlike Birth by Sleep, you don't level up these Commands. What you have to level up, besides Sora and Riku, are your Dream Eaters. In Birth by Sleep, you had Shot-locks and Dual Linking. In DDD, the same can still be seen when you link up with your Dream Eater. Certain Dream Eater abilities look exactly like Shot-locking. Just minus the target icon.
Dream Eaters are indeed cute and colorful looking residents of the dreaming universe. There are two kinds of Dream Eaters. The ones that are good are called "Spirits". The bad ones are known as "Nightmares". Despite their appearances, the enemy Dream Eaters do get really powerful and menacing if you're not too careful. Their A.I.s are MUCH better than Donald and Goofy's so that's how good they are to you. Sometimes, I would let them battle some DEs for me in order to succeed in a "Special Portal", where I'm not allowed to get hit more than two times. (Portals will be explained later.)
You're responsible for taking care of your Dream Eaters in order to level them and their abilities, up. Taking care of them are similar to Nintendogs/cats "petting the pet" effect, but these rubs and pokes are effective towards your Dream Eaters' Link Points and EXP as well. For a certain number of pokes and rubs you do on a Dream Eater, you can change their "Disposition" levels in order to unlock new abilities. What's amusing about these Dream Eaters, they each have their own personalities. Some are very happy, while others can be very moody and are easily prone to anger management problems. The pickier Dream Eaters can be harder to train.
You can also play a few mini-games with the Dream Eaters that go into their EXP level. The only slight downside for some people with the Dream Eaters are: if you switch a Dream Eater out of your party for a different DE, you lose all the resistance abilities (i.e. Dark Screen) that you gained with that particular DE. If you want them back, all you have to do is switch that DE back into your party. Despite saying all that, Sora/Riku can do pretty well with a lack of resistance abilities on hand. It doesn't bother me one bit, at least. For some other people, they just want to keep that resistance level all the way through, regardless of the Dream Eater they have in their party.
Speaking of Dream Eater resistance abilities, you'll be leveling up your Dream Eater through an Ability Link status matrix grid system. The more Ability Link points your Dream Eater gains while fighting against other Dream Eaters, the more abilities you can unlock on the matrix grid.
In Birth by Sleep, you level up Commands and fuse them together with a crystal in order to get a new Command. In DDD, you mix Dream Eater ingredients with Commands in order to create new Dream Eaters. So, the process of combining something with something else is still there. You're just not required to constantly level up new Commands to level 3 or 4. Leveling up newly acquired Dream Eaters have taken that place. You may also not be using all 50 Dream Eaters, however, in order to gain one of the completion trophies, you will need to make all 50 Dream Eaters. Before you can even make a Dream Eater, you will need to find that Dream Eater's recipe scattered about in the seven worlds.
Drop System -----
The other main component of the game's system is the Drop System, which makes you switch between Sora and Riku in intervals of 20 minutes each. There's a bonus countdown that kicks in towards the end of your Drop gauge where you can get extra items from enemies. That's if you choose to do it by any means.
When the game first came out in Japan, I was completely worried about this because I had nightmares of time limit gameplays with Majora's Mask. Even some of the Japanese fans were ripping it apart. I am seriously NOT a fan of time limits. I love taking my time and exploring the worlds of games. I could tolerate them in Birth by Sleep, but something like Majora's Mask's three day system (which can be countered by a song) was scary.
However, to my pleasant surprise, it's very very veeery easy to counter the Drop system with items that you can buy early on in the game starting at the affordable price of 40 munny. (You can buy up to 99 of them so you have plenty of time to spare.) One such item is the one in my subject line, "Drop-Me-Not", which resets your Drop counter one-two bars back. In the future portion of the game, you can also purchase a "Drop-Me-Never", which completely resets your Drop counter back to however it started.
Another way to elongate your time is by obtaining Drop Points that you get when you fight enemy Dream Eaters. During the process of "Dropping", you'll be shown a menu of choices that affect the character that you'll be switch to. One of these choices is a "Drop Decelerator", which slows down your Drop gauge in three different speeds. The more Drop Points you obtain, the easier chances you can obtain the highest level of the Decelerator.
Thus, I encourage you guys to spend a lot of time per character/world grinding and fighting DEs so you can get the desired number of Drop Points. This particularly works well in Proud mode. I hear that Standard mode is sort of easy. (For Proud, it's probably not easy to do this in the beginning of the game, but a little later on, I find that spending an hour or two in one world can net me, at least, 200 DPs easily.)
Any remaining Drop Points get turned into munny, which can be used for more Drop-Me-Nots, so it's a fair deal.
If you ever come across people constantly complaining about Dropping constantly in the middle of boss battles or exploring in their games, there is something completely wrong with this picture. Some of these people do not know that Drop-Me-Nots exist so they keep playing through the game allowing the system to Drop for them. (Thus, thinking that the game "forces" them to rush.) You can also Drop yourself any time you want in the game via save points, accessing the menu, or putting the game on pause. So, you actually have full control of how you want to play the game rather than let the game play you. Couple that with the Drop-Me-Nots and highest Decelerator level, and you can play both characters for as long as you want. You just can't progress past a certain number of worlds as one character until you beat the other character's required portion of worlds. Their stories are suppose to play out in synch. Not separate like Birth by Sleep.
I would recommend playing as one of character's world stories all out first before Dropping to another character's story and play that from beginning to end. That way, you wouldn't get that "lost" feeling of trying to remember what happened before you were there. (Though, you could consult the Momentos section just for a memory refresher.)
Other people think they can only put the Drop-Me-Not in their active Command deck and it interrupts with their battles. For me, I put my Drop-Me-Not in the second Command deck, which is void of any Commands. It's very easy to go into the Command menu, switch to the second Command deck, press the X button for Drop-Me-Not, go back into the Command menu and switch back to my active Command deck. It only takes a few seconds to do this. You can make up to three Command decks, but I think one is enough for me and some other people to go by if you like mixing up your Commands once in awhile.
Note of caution: Being hit by some Dream Eaters may cause your Drop Gauge to speed up a little so that adds a teeny bit of challenge to your time management. It's not really that much of an issue when you have Drop-Me-Nots at your disposal.
The Seven Sleeping Worlds -----
You go through seven huge worlds. Some of them, you've been to before, but they're expanded. You may think you knew one area so well, but turn a corner, and you may find yourself becoming lost in it (which is good in my book). In true KH fashion, you'll find most of them to be "empty" except with Moogles and unlimited Dream Eaters/Tron NPCs. So, it's not really a surprise if you're use to this from the past KH games. The only difference here is that you won't be bumping into any standing non-Moogle NPCs. As I said earlier in this impression/review, they're all accessed through cutscenes.
For this kind of game, I don't mind there being a lack of standing non-Moogle NPCs, because they'll be in the way of the Flowmotion. Furthermore, coming across them, they'll usually say the same things over and over when you talk to them. Thirdly, I don't see any way you could incorporate non-Moogle NPCs in this game as all the worlds are in dreamland dreaming up of only the "important" characters of their respective worlds. Thus, these worlds are not the true versions of themselves. And yet, I have a feeling we can never truly know what's real or not later on in the game.
The Portals -----
There are four types of portals that exist in DDD.
One is a "Dive" portal that is used to travel between worlds that replace the existence of Gummi ships/shape-shifting keyblades. You only have to do them once per character and world, but you can replay them over and over in order to obtain certain abilities. Like KH2, traveling through a Dive portal is in the form of a mini-game. You'll come across some special Dive bosses in the midst of your travels. I enjoy the challenge of not being able to obtain the required amount of points or dying in these Dive portals. It makes you want to push your limit with what you can do.
The other three portals are Dream Eater related. One of them is the "Friendship" portal that lets you leave three DEs anywhere in the seven worlds, that will be found by other players via local wi-fi. Your DEs will be borrowed by those other players in order to fight the enemy DEs. The other portal works just like the friendship portal, except, it requires you to fight against the DEs that other players left for you.
If you don't know anybody nearby with DDD (that's like, the majority of KH players in the West), worry not. There are preset random A.I. portals that show up everywhere in the game. They all have Final Fantasy related names so you can't miss them.
The fourth portal is strictly an A.I. set up challenge type of portal that's known as "Special". Each Special portal you find gives you a requirement you must fulfill in order to make a mark of accomplishment in your Journal.
The Extra Content & Post-game Stuff To Do? -----
I previously explained that there are some mini-games you can do with Dream Eaters, while another one is the Dive portal system. The third one is the Flick Rush game, which is found in the first world (Traverse Town). It's a game that takes a little bit of patience and number skill to succeed through. Primarily, it works just like Chain of Memories' battle system, but at a faster pace and you must find a way to match up cards in order to get the upper hand. It's definitely a fun addicting mini-game. What you win from a Flick Rush round are a number of medals that can be traded in for abilities, items, etc. at the Moogle's medal shop. This is a refreshing change from seeing the Olympus Colosseum in almost every single KH game.
If you want the full experience of a game, you do your best on 100%ing the game. On top of collecting over 50 Dream Eaters, completing most of the DEs' matrix boards, and finding every single Comamnd/ability out there, there are 438 treasure chests to be found. For me, I try to find as many chests as I can while playing in the main story, rather then save it for post-game stuff. Some people do it that way, but I rather do it all before the final boss.
The amount of collectibles are smaller than how many collectibles you have to find in Birth by Sleep, but just like Birth by Sleep, there is a Trophy Shelf that needs to be fulfilled. Eighteen trophies to be exact. They are all mostly doable, except the questionable link portal trophy. So, these trophies add onto the re-playability. One of the trophies require you to beat the game in Critical mode.
As for what goes on post-game-wise, I know there is a New Game+, which is a little rare for a KH game. (Birth by Sleep touched "lightly" on this with Aqua.) I believe your Dream Eaters are carried over, but a lot of other things do not.
Yoko Shimomura, Takeharu Ishimoto, and the rest of the DDD composers, arrangers and performers all deserve a big pat on their backs for creating another golden KH soundtrack. With everything from old songs we've heard before to new composed ones, there's nothing really much else I have to say with their music. It's magic. ^_^
Overall ----- <3
DDD is easily up there with Birth by Sleep for me in the favorite KH column. It's not a perfect game, but it's fun and won my heart easily. I wish you could be more interactive with your environments, beyond what they give you here in both BbS and DDD, and be able to unlock more hidden things/rooms/secrets. Also, I wish the portal system and Flick Rush game were open to global wi-fi instead of just local wi-fi. Those issues I have are minor compared to a lot of things that I do like in this game. (And if there's anything else I notice, I'll add it in here.)
Looking forward to seeing how this game sets everyone up for KH3. :)