Game: Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Describe This Game in Three Words: Kinda Mickey Mouse
Plot Synopsis: Sora and Riku find themselves sucked into adventure again when they wake up in mirror versions of Traverse Town. The two Keyblade wielders are caught in different dream worlds where they must navigate Disney settings and unlock the portals between dimensions.
Up Up: Though the original Kingdom Hearts was one of the reasons that I bought a PS2 in the first place, I never finished it. Part of that was the insane completist in me was frozen it terror that I might miss some of the stupid Dalmatians. Still, it was a lot of fun with an interesting premise, though all it really makes me do is wish Square and Nintendo would get together again on another Super Mario RPG.
When Dream Drop Distance opened up I was blown away at how close to PS2 technology the 3DS was capable of in their opening cut scenes. It offered some high hopes for the adventure, and for the most part fans of the series can expect a pretty solid entry.
The action starts off quick with a battle against a giant version of Ursula to get you used to the battle system. From there you move into a pretty standard Kingdom Hearts outing. Thankfully, the Gummi Ship scenes are gone and now you simply fall through tunnels to new worlds attacking enemies and dodging obstacles. It's a much better experience that the original method.
The worlds themselves are extremely well done as well. The Tron: Legacy world in particular you'll want to get to as fast a possible for the light cycles and fresh, beautifully rendered sci fi environment. Plus, how often do you get to talk to Jeff Bridges in a video game? It's just Frederick Tatasciore doing a Jeff Bridges impression, but the in game sprite is so dead on you'll never notice the difference.
Down, Down: Unfortunately, there's a lot to dislike about the game. Even in the original console releases it was easy to lose your enemies in the middle of a battle when an attack took you off in the wrong direction, and the small DS screen doesn't make it any better. Combined with an extremely lackluster in game map feature means that navigating in battle or between is aggravating.
New to the series is the ability to create spirit versions of your enemies to fight as pets on your behalf. While these pets do aid you quite a bit, you have to build them up by playing versions of the Nintendo Petz games and rubbing down or playing with them to enhance their abilities. It gets old fast.
Lastly, the story is fairly underwhelming with a script that is pretty cringe worthy. Listening to the faux-gangsta stylings of Beat is particularly hard to endure.
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Left, Right, Left, Right: This is another area where the 3DS fails. Though running, jumping, and attacking are all pretty seamless, after all this is still the same basic battle system invented by Ocarina of Time that games have been copying for over a decade, be prepared to hold the stylus in your mouth in order to quickly use the features that require it. Using shoulder buttons to maneuver the camera is also still an inferior method than the more instinctive analog sticks of the Playstation. Control-wise, it's just too much of a hybrid to be comfortable.
B, A: I will say this. Even though there are only five Disney worlds to visit they are good ones. Pinocchio and the Hunchback of Notre Dame are average, but Tron and Fantasia are some of the best ever included on any system. A lot of attention has been paid to getting them right graphically and atmospherically, and you will instantly be immersed. Also, kudos for the Mickey, Donald, and Goofy Three Musketeers inclusion, which is a very underrated cartoon.
Start?: In the end the purpose Dream Drop Distance is to preview coming aspects of the much anticipated Kingdom Hearts III. It's a novelty that is more trailer than standalone entry. It's certainly no place for new players to jump in as those with no attachment to the characters aren't likely to have the patience to endure a whole lot of tutorials and exposition. Of the first hour of gameplay you'll probably only actually play 20 minutes.
If you've come this far with Kingdom Hearts you'll want to try it out, and with all the speculation on when and on what systems KHIII will appear, this might be your only chance for a while.