Friday, August 24, 2012

REVIEW - Kingdom Hearts : Dream Drop Distance

In my hands was the case of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance where I was excited and eager to play the next piece of the Kingdom Hearts story. The past Kingdom Hearts games were motivating and stimulating. There is no other game that has such a passionate story along with characters from Disney. I expected this game to be just as good and interesting with answers to my questions regarding how the story is connected to the previous games. I have been a big fan of Kingdom Hearts since the first game came out in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and have been following the story since. Kingdom Hearts was developed and published by Square Enix along with Disney Interactive Studios and created by Tetsuya Nomura and Shinji Hashimoto. As you, the reader, read along this review, you will be shown through the eyes of a devoted girl gamer just how fascinating and well created Dream Drop Distance is. 
Image by Pixelenemy
In Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Sora and Riku are given The Mark of Mastery Exam to become Keyblade Masters by Master Yen Sid (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: 1940). The exam requires Sora and Riku to unlock seven keyholes of the worlds that are trapped in slumber and need to be awakened. Sora and Riku are sent into the dream world in order to unlock those seven keyholes; however they were not aware of Master Xehanort’s plans. Once they enter the dream realm, Sora and Riku are in alternate worlds yet they are the same. In each world, Sora and Riku meet a variety of Disney characters as well as characters from another Square Enix game, The World Ends with You. The story continues after Kingdom Hearts II and takes bits of other games’ stories, Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days.
Throughout the game the player must travel to different worlds as Sora or Riku, defeat creatures called Dream Eaters, and unlock the keyholes. At the world map, the player can choose which world to go to next. If it is a new world, the player enters dive mode, where, depending on the character, the player can either fight a boss or complete the assigned goal. As one character, the player has a certain time limit as they play. Once the time is up, there is a bonus time where the game gives the player 30 seconds before dropping. The “drop” refers to the transition from one character to another. Fortunately the player has the option to ‘drop’ back to the previous character. Unfortunately, you can be dropped in the midst of a boss meaning you’ll have to fight the boss all over again. As the player plays both characters, they’ll find that both stories are connected to the other character’s story despite the fact that Sora and Riku are in parallel worlds. In addition to the travel, the player fights Dream Eaters with creatures similar to Dream Eaters but tamed, known as spirits. The player can create new spirits by collecting dream pieces and following a recipe as well as putting them in a team of three. However, the player can only use two spirits during battle but is free to switch spirits between the three they had placed in the party. With the spirits, the player can also link with their spirits, either to team up with them and attack enemies (Sora only) or absorbing the spirits to power up combos for a certain amount of time (Riku only).
Bonding with the spirits would probably be the only cutest thing to do in the game. You can actually pet or nudge the spirit to bond with it, which can change a spirit’s disposition, increase affinity, or earn it some EXP. The player can also use training toys to help them grow. Fighting alongside the spirits or bonding with them will earn them Link Points (LP). The player can use Link Points to spend on the Ability Link board to unlock new commands and abilities for the Sora or Riku. While in battle, the spirits can run out of HP and if they do, a countdown will appear and give you time to rescue them before it hits zero which will return back into dream pieces.
There are many new things introduced in the game such as flow motion, reality Shifts, link portals, and dive mode, giving the game a wide variety of things to do. In addition, Dream Drop Distance allows the player to read chronicles of past games, look at flashbacks of other characters, and provides a glossary.
Square Enix doesn’t fail at graphics, as usual. The graphics of Kingdom Hearts is amazing, considering the fact that it is a 3DS game. The images are sharp and very colorful. The cut scenes are also sharp and colorful, and expose bright and appealing lights after a keyhole/world is opened or after a command move.
The game gives the player many tutorials that are accessible anytime on the main menu, therefore if you are confused about the controls, just visit the main menu and look for the tutorials. As for controls, they are not difficult at all. I found the controls to be similar to the PS2 and PSP controls, however, due to the fact that the 3DS has a touch-screen, there is only one difference in controls; when the player’s spirits’ link gauge is full, all you have to do is tap on the spirit’s icon and you will be able to link with the spirit. Of course tapping on the screen during battle is part of the easy stuff. As for the difficulties… well, as I played the game, changing commands on the command list was annoying. During my fight with young Xehanort, I had to escape many times and while switching my left thumb from the analog to the D-pad. It was a bit difficult since the boss would constantly charge at me and do so much damage while I desperately try to look for the right command. However, that is just a small defect that can be easily conquered with memory or quick reflexes. Having a great camera view in a game is extremely significant. In order to look up or down, the player must hold down the L and R buttons and move the analog. In order to lock onto enemies click L and R at the same time and click one of the buttons to switch to a different enemy you want to lock into.
Overall 4.8/5 If you’re looking for a role-playing game with beautiful and colorful images, a well put-in voice cast, and a ‘heart-warming’ adventurous story, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance provides these traits and many more. I don’t see any major flaws in this game when dealing with controls, graphics, and game play, however the rating cannot be a ‘5’ due to how easy and short this game is. After defeating the game, players can try to unlock secret messages, new weapons, or boss fights but that is basically it. Despite being short, Dream Drop Distance will not fail to be a great role-playing game.

                                             Happy 10th Anniversary to Kingdom Hearts!!
             “The past will be reawakened as a new number in never-before-seen detail. Prepare yourself for the awakening of the next number” (Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance).
             If you are interested in the Kingdom Hearts series and want to try it out, here is a list of all the games in order from oldest to youngest:
1.       Kingdom Hearts, released in 2002 for the Playstation 2
2.       Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, released in 2004 for the GameBoy Advance
3.       Kingdom Hearts II, released in 2006 for the Playstation 2
4.       Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, released in 2007 for the Playstation (similar plot as the original)
5.       Kingdom Hearts Coded, released in 2008 (Japan), for mobile phone
6.       Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS
7.       Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, released in 2010 for the Playstation Portable
8.       Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded, released in 2011 for the Nintendo DS (features updated gameplay in which combines 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep)
9.       Kingdom Hearts Dream  Drop Distance, released in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS

OrpheusGear is a freelance writer and Otaku. Check out her stuff on Girl Gamer Vogue.

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