|08-24-2012, 02:38 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Hillsboro, OR
Blog Entries: 4
[3DS] Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Review
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Title: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Editor: Ryan "UWCrash" Kern
What I can say for certain is that Sora and Riku are still around and now working to become Keyblade Masters. The Mark of Mastery exam requires they unlock seven Sleeping Worlds; however, they quickly become separated after setting out and you’ll spend your time swapping between the two protagonists. This is done via the Drop System, an ever-moving gauge in the lower-right corner marks the time you have before you’re forced to switch characters. You have the option to “Drop” to the other character at any time, but along with experience and Munny (currency) you’ll find Drop Points on defeated enemies. You’ll also find Link Portals littered around various areas, miniature battles which can reward you with items and additional Drop Points. Drop Points can be spent at the beginning of any Drop to purchase items, Attack/Defense boosts, and a Drop Decelerator which extends the life of your next cycle. Unspent DP are converted to Munny, so you can’t stockpile them and are encouraged to play through the entire gauge to make the next cycle easier.
One of the few times the heroes will see each other.
Like most of the series, combat has its foundations in third person hack-and-slash. Blocks, dodges, and strikes are there, but they are only the most basic elements of your arsenal. Each character has an ability “deck” into which they can slot items, spells, and other techniques. Extra abilities can be purchased from vendors, found in chests, unlocked through Ability Links (see below), or on rare occasion purchased with Drop Points at the beginning of a cycle. Focusing on solely magic or techniques (which tend to be more physical) play equally well. However, there is no penalty to striking a balance between the two, and you’d never find me without at least one copy of Cure/Cura/Curaga slotted on either character. Abilities have no “cost” to use, but each has a set cooldown when you attempt to execute it. Enemy attacks may interrupt you, but you can acquire passive skills to reduce the duration of the cooldowns.
In and out of combat you’ll also have access to Reality Shift, a new feature in Dream Drop Distance. Reality Shifts are triggered by moving near certain terrain or enemies with critical health, and activating the shift will move the action from the 3D screen to the touch pad. The mini-games are unique to which world you’re in and only last a few seconds, so executing one during combat keeps you continuously engaged. Outside of combat the shifts generally help you get around by spanning large gaps or crushing obstacles. In combat they generate devastating effects, usually outright killing anything that isn’t a boss.
Rounding out your controls is Flowmotion, another feature unique to Kingdom Hearts 3D. On the surface Flowmotion is a way to get around terrain quickly or climb hard to reach places: dash into a light pole to start spinning around it or dash off a wall in mid-air allowing you to jump and dash again, etc. Some combat techniques are also exclusive to Flowmotion. Jump, kick off a wall, jump again, and then you’ll have access to a classic ground slam (“Shock Dive”). Hit the attack button while grinding on a rail to teleport to your target and strike (“Sliding Dive”). Some of the larger enemies can also be treated like obstacles: dash into them and you’ll start spinning around them, after which you can toss them or move into a different Flowmotion maneuver. It’s fairly easy to pick up, pretty fun once you do, and very useful in combat as the added speed and ability to “climb” walls lets you move in and out of danger quickly. Unfortunately most boss battles lack the terrain to kick off a Flowmotion sequence, and the constant direction changes tend to make the camera spin wildly.
A Dream Eater Spirit, along with the ever-reluctant Neku Sakuraba.
Unlike many of the previous titles Donald and Goofy won’t be joining you this time. Populating the Sleeping Worlds are Dream Eaters. The “Nightmare” form of Dream Eaters will serve as almost all of the enemies you encounter while “Spirit” versions of Dream Eaters will join your party. Spirits are created using memory fragments which can be found as drops, purchased from vendors, or awarded from Link Portals. There are close to 50 Spirits to choose from, and you can have up to three in your party at any time (although only two will join you in the field).
Each Spirit has a unique Ability Link board from which you’ll unlock both active abilities you can equip in Sora/Riku’s deck and passive abilities you’ll gain for keeping that Spirit in your party. The Ability Link board is reminiscent of the Final Fantasy 10 Sphere Grid or Final Fantasy 12’s License Board in that you’ll earn Link Points from battle to unlock each stop. If you’re so inclined, you can also learn Link Points through a couple different mini-games where you play with your Spirits. Caring for and playing with your Spirits is geared towards younger players, but to my surprise the Water Barrel game was actually a great source of LP and rather engaging.
Spirits that accompany you on the field will offer some support in combat with their own attacks and the occasional buff. They also each have a Link Meter which fills up as you land attacks simultaneously. Fill up the meter and you’ll be able to combine your powers with one or both Spirits (if both meters are full) for some devastating attacks. The results are varied based on the Spirits and current character: Sora fights with the Spirits, riding or carrying them around the battlefield while they attack, while Riku merges with them to gain limited flight and a powered-up Keyblade.
Time to unleash something wicked.
Kingdom Hearts 3D has plenty of replay value if you have a collector or completionist personality. When you create Spirits using memory fragments there is a minimum quantity you must use. Adding additional fragments will raise both the Spirit’s experience level and quality level. Quality levels have a range of letter grades, from F-rank up to S-rank, and the size of the Ability Link board increases with higher levels. If you truly want to unlock everything a Spirit has to offer, you’ll need to save up fragments until you can reach S-rank as you cannot raise the quality level after creation.
There’s plenty to keep you playing Dream Drop Distance outside of the main story. Early on you’ll unlock the Flick Rush arena. This mini-game allows you to pit your Spirits against an NPC team in battle using sets of numerical cards. It’s fairly hard to describe out of context other than it bears some small similarity to the battle system of Chain of Memories. Flick Rush is completely optional, but it's worth playing a few tournaments as the medals you can earn can buy some very nice rewards. After finishing the game, there is a New Game+ mode if you’re looking to play through again. You’ll need this if you want to unlock every Spirit. I only had 16 Spirits after my first playthough and only 4 of those were S-rank. Along with New Game+, completing the game also unlocks Critical Mode: the hardest difficulty for those looking for a challenge.
The artistic presentation here is fantastic as you’d expect coming from Disney and Square Enix. The opening cinematic is a beautiful pre-rendered sequence, and the orchestral version of Hikari, used in the original Kingdom Hearts, is equally magnificent. The 3D is solid and provides good depth-of-field for the environment, which is a blessing as almost all of the action takes place on the upper screen. Dream Eaters stand out in sharp contrast to the environment emphasizing that they don’t belong in these worlds. And if you’re familiar with the source material from each world, you’ll be treated to recognizable audio tracks.
Kingdom Hearts 3D isn’t without its faults, however. I’ve already mentioned some rather jarring camera problems which are accentuated by Flowmotion. The overarching story is also fairly convoluted. Dream Drop Distance does try to catch players up to speed by providing Flashback cutscenes and Chronicles detailing events in previous Kingdom Hearts games. I’ve read a few summaries online as well to try and make sense of things, but between the in-game and online resources I still have a tenuous grasp on what’s happening.
...or confuse the heck out of them.
Progression within this entry of Kingdom Hearts can also be frustrating at times. The classic Kingdom Hearts “first world”, Traverse Town, features the cast of The World Ends With You. Here the divergent stories of Sora and Riku are still fairly well tied together by the close of the chapter. Following this three new worlds open up giving the impression of choice, but ultimately both characters will need to tackle the same worlds in the same order due to the fixed progression of enemy levels. In worlds where Sora and Riku’s stories are disjoint, the Drop System falters. Playing leap-frog between different stories in the same world generates confusion and ultimately makes it difficult to care about what is happening around the character.
Score: 4 out of 5 CoGs
Ryan says, "Kingdom Hearts 3D is a beautiful and genuinely fun game. Even after finishing the story there's a fair bit of mileage to be had in Spirit collecting, New Game+, and Critical mode. A very solid title for 3DS owners and a must-have for fans of the series. If you haven't followed the Kingdom Hearts story, however, don't expect to pick up this title and understand everything that's happened to-date."
|08-25-2012, 08:54 AM||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Las Vegas
Rather nice Review, UWCrash. Thinking this will be one of the first games I pick up when I finally get a 3ds.
Still, it wouldn't hurt them to get a script writer on staff at some point. There's a document going around that actually explains all the plot threads, and just reading it caused me to black out. I think the Kingdom Hearts script might actually be a conduit to a realm of madness.
|08-26-2012, 11:32 AM||#3|
Back from E3. Boo.
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Blog Entries: 2
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person on Earth that has played through all the Kingdom Hearts games. I am pretty sure that I'm the only that enjoyed them all.
Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF700T using Tapatalk 2
|08-28-2012, 11:48 PM||#4|
Kamalot at heart
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bangalore, India
Blog Entries: 1
Why is it so difficult to write a half-good, coherent story for games? Why are characters so incredibly unbelievable and poorly written?
Blog of Adventure
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Xbox 360: JayVe
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