Published on August 31st, 2012 | by Duke0911
Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Who would’ve thought that the Kingdom Hearts franchise would come this far? The idea of Disney and Square Enix teaming up to make an action rpg sounds a bit far fetched, but the end results have been astounding for the past 10 years. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, hereinafter simply Kingdom Hearts 3D, is not only a celebration of the series, but a continuation of the overall story for the Nintendo 3DS. So, what else makes this game so unique from the others? Read on to find out.
The events of this game take place after Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded, in which Sora and Riku are needed again. Master Yen Sid has summoned the two Keyblade wielders to his tower, and warns them about Master Xehanort and his inevitable return. In order to be prepared for the impending danger, Sora and Riku are tasked with travelling to seven sleeping worlds, and unlock the keyhole in each world in order to obtain a new power. Once they complete this task, they will be deemed true Keyblade Masters. Along the way, you’ll see familiar faces from previous games, and learn more about their current status (many who are presumed to be gone forever at this point). As always, the story telling in the game can be a bit confusing at first, but in the end it all comes together as a nice intro for the obvious Kingdom Hearts 3 title (still no word on development for the game, by the way). You may not realize it at first, but there are many details spread throughout the game that are actually meaningful to the overall plot, even the new outfits that Sora and Riku obtain early on play an important role. The story of these games have evolved over the years, and normally it’d be confusing to start with this game. Fortunately, in Kingdom 3D the stories of each game are all here, once you unlock them that is. Whether you’re a veteran that wants to brush up on their Kingdom Hearts history, or a newcomer to the series, this is a very welcomed feature.
If you’ve played either Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep or Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, you’ll get the hang of playing Kingdom Hearts 3D in little to no time. Even if you’re new to the game there are tutorials spread throughout the game around every corner. If you’d rather not read through every hint though, you can easily skip them and have the choice of looking at them later through the pause menu. Aside from your basic attack movement, all your moves and items are put into a command deck. Potions, fire spells, and special attacks are all set as separate moves, similar to Birth By Sleep and Re:coded. Once a command is used, it goes through a cool down period and is usable after the gauge of that move fills up. You also have action commands that let you glide, dodge roll, double jump, etc. This system still works, and gives you a great amount of customization for both Sora and Riku. One feature that I wish they had brought back was item synthesis (though it’s possible with making allies). In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, you can combine 2 commands to make even more powerful moves, usually ones that are rare and more expensive at shops. It’s not even a problem acquiring moves or saving munny (the game’s currency) in order to buy more items, it’s just one of the more addicting features that I was hoping would return for this game.
So what other new features have been added to this game? Well, Dive Mode has replaced the gummi ship mini game, and I hope it makes a return in future games (given the nature of the story of this game though, I doubt it will return). Instead of flying from world to world, you literally fall towards the world, but you must meet certain requirements in order to actually enter the world, such as defeating a boss or popping a certain amount of balloons. Once you land in a world, you can use Flowmotion to traverse the land. With Flowmotion, you can dash across the air, grind on rails, and even wall jump off the same wall if you wanted to (Megaman X style). One thing about this ability is that you can completely ignore puzzles with ease. If you want to find all the treasure chests though, you may want to explore the arae the old fashioned way. Switching between characters is, well, definitely a love it or hate it gimmick. While playing the game there will be a drop gauge that decreases as you play. Once it completely depletes, you’ll automatically switch between Sora and Riku. Immediately after you drop, you can spend points that you acquired as one character, and buy bonuses for the other character. The speed at which it decreases can either decelerate or accelerate, depending on many factors such as items, or attacks from enemies. I can see this being a problem, because regardless of what you’re doing, whether it be a boss or a mission, you will drop when the gauge is empty. I however didn’t find this feature to be annoying, seeing as how there are ways to completely ignore it with the right items and drop bonuses.
Donald and Goofy won’t be joining you as allies this time around. Instead, you’ll be fighting alongside and against Dream Eaters. There are many varieties that you’ll not only fight, but also create to fight alongside you. By defeating the nightmares, you’ll get materials, and you use these materials to make spirits by either following a recipe, or combining them in any way you want. Though following recipes will guarantee a specific spirit, you can create stronger ones by mixing different ingredients, and even get access to spirits before meeting their nightmare counterparts, including ones that are exclusive to AR cards. You can boost there stats by leveling them up, petting them, and even play mini games with them. It’s important to take care of them, because in Kingdom Hearts 3D they are your gateway to all of your abilities. Each dream eater comes with its own ability link board, where you can not only unlock abilities, but acquire more items, and even new commands for Sora and Riku. The big difference from previous games, is that certain abilities are only active when a spirit is part of your party. Not only that, but you can also link with your Spirits to pull off devastating attacks, such as riding a meteor or gaining water elemental attacks. So, if you wanted to, you can customize your character to have a lot of health, gain Attack Haste, etc. Keep in mind that there are times where you’ll be fighting without your spirits, but there abilities will still take affect. In other words, you can make your game experience more difficult if you fail to keep up with your adorable pals.
When it comes to how many Disney locations you’ll be visiting on your journey, there are only a handful, and compared to other games it’s not very lengthy. When compared to previous games in the series though, they have a lot more personality, and feel like their movie counterparts. No longer are they incredibly linear like in Kingdom Hearts II, or mysteriously small such as Re:coded’s designs. You’ll see the return of old worlds such as Traverse Town, and some new ones including The Grid and Prankster’s Paradise. Old faces such as Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse make a return, along with some characters such as Quasimoto, and even some faces from Square Enix’s The World Ends With You. The incredible music, especially in Symphony of Sorcery, brings the whole package together, though after revisiting the worlds there’s zero character reaction. It’s just you and the Dream Eaters, and it gives the game an empty feeling when taking a second trip everywhere.
The game is far from over after the credits roll. In fact, there are portals scattered through every world that gives you access to spirits that temporarily become part of your party, and missions which awards you with materials and goodies, regardless if you achieve the objective or not. Though these missions boil down to taking down a few nightmares, you’ll always have a certain objective to achieve, such as clearing enemies out under a time limit, or using flowmotion to take down your enemies. After a certain point, other portals will open up that let you fight bosses at any time (including a secret boss, traditional to most games in the series at this point), with the difficulty vamped up of course, that also rewards you if you achieve victory. Streetpass takes advantage of this, letting you leave your own portals around the game using your spirits, as either a combat mission or an ally portal, but keep in mind that you can’t use any spirits that are left at a portal. What’s more, there’s an arena called Flick Rush, in which you pick three of your spirits and pit them against either a friend or AI controlled team. There are plenty of other things you can find, including a critical mode, and the replay value of this game is a major plus.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is a fantastic game, and will definitely satisfy those waiting for the inevitable Kingdom Hearts 3. The game has a story that pushes the overall franchise forward, and leaves you with a nice cliffhanger. The combat is just as fun as ever with the combat deck setup, and though flowmotion can completely ignore the the puzzle solving, it’s still nice to just wall jump all over the place. The addorable Dream Eaters, which for me, took up half my playtime, are amazing enemies/allies, and judging by the ending, they may be brought back in the future. The biggest complaint for most people will probably be the Drop Gauge, but as I’ve said before, you can control the rate of the gauge if you’re willing to do so. A lot of fans have gotten tired of the handheld spin-offs, but honestly, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance shouldn’t be missed. If you wanna get a feel how the next game will play out, definitely give this game a chance.
+ Fun battle system
+ A great variety of Disney themed worlds
+ Fantastic story that pushes the series forward
+ Dream Eater spirits are fun to fight alongside with
– Drop gimmick can interrupt the action
– A short game overall
Score: 4.5 out of 5