Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
BlitzerNatu's Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days Review
With fully 3D enviroments, which push the Nintendo DS to it's limits, KH 358/2 days sports alot of Good things. Completly 3D scenes completed with great voice acting and great graphics make you feel like you've rediscovered handheld gaming. The storyline of 358/2 days is so carefully and deliberatley written in a way that you bond with the characters over the course of the game, and even end up feeling for what happens to them. It also explores more thoroughly the story of Roxas, and what the organization's motives were, both at Castle Oblivion and in the many other worlds. Strategic gameplay is at the roots of this game, from the unique panel system to the way you fight in battle all have to be thought out, which makes for a great and enjoyable game, with so much choice on how you want to complete the game-whether you only do what is required, or go and complete all the missions and extras. 358/2 also includes, for the first time ever, a wonderfull multicharacter multiplayer mode, which can be tackled alone or in Co-Op, and all of the Organization (aswell as a few extras) are playable.
Although no good game comes without it's let downs, theres only a few in 358..however they are just minors unavoidble but dissapointing, The missions seem repetitive and bland up untill the last quarter of the game. Also, some objects are only 2D and rotate along with the camera. The graphics out-of-cutscene are reminiscant of old 3D computer games, which is more of the console then the game's fault.
This latest entry to the Kingdom Hearts franchise is overall a very good game. Although it is let down by the Nintendo DS's capabilities, it's still better then most other DS games on the market currently. First thing is the background to the game. It fills in the gaps beetween Kingdom Hearts I, Chain of Memories and KH2, following the story of Roxas, a nobody in a group called Organization 13 who hope to one day become complete, through the use of a power only obtainable in the heart of all worlds, Kingdom Hearts. to do this, they need the keyblade, using roxas they sucseed to a degree. Roxas is assigned daily missions which will involve the player doing a wide array of scenarios.
Now, let's get into the story mode review. Story Mode is progressed through a series of missions. Each mission has it's own requirement, however generally they fall into basic categories: Defeat Heartless, Eliminiate the Heartless Threat, Destroy the Shadow Globs, or Track down heartless. Their are exceptions to these categories, but those are the most common mission types. The game explains them with more detail when you accept it for the first time. While on a mission, the Touch Screen shows you a map of your area, your mission task, the number of chests you've opened compared to the number left in that world, the world your in, the name of the area and world your in, the day, and your mission progress. It's alot less cluttered then that sentence makes it out to be though. Mission progress is tracked through the use of the Mission Gauge. it fills upto Green when you have completed a mission upto an acceptable standard, or Gold when you've fully completed it. Once past the green, at any time your able to "RTC", a term commonly used in the game that means "Return to Castle", or complete the mission. The benefits of getting a Gold completion means that, on days where more then 1 mission is availble, the "Bonus Gauge" is increased. that means your rewards are doubled, or tripled depending on how high it is, upon your next mission completion. The game also gives you the choice to return and do any mission you wish in single player (upon completing the mission or day) and try for a better completion state then before. Each mission has a Challenge Sigil, which means you can go back into Holo Missions and try it with an added challenge, like "complete in record time". Each mission also has a "Unity Badge" which unlocks the mission for play in Multiplayer mode. Unfourtnatley, Story mode gets very repetitive. Eventually, it will seem like your only completing the mission just to see the scenes at the end of it, or at the end of the day. This is sad, as missions are enjoyable but with a bit more variety, the game would definatley have a better rating in score.
Multiplayer mode can be done either by yourself (which is pretty much Story Mode, just as a different character and obviously some scenes taken out.) Completing a mission in mulitplayer mode earns a "Mission Crown". These can be taken to the moogle shop and be reedemed for freebies. Characters in multiplayer mode are unlocked generally through the progression of story mode, or by the completion of some tasks. Multiplayer Co-Op can be done with 2 or more DS's with the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days DS Cart. Depending on where you are in the game, your given a rank. Each mission in multiplayer mode has a certain rank requirement, which all players participating must be equal or higher then. An extra sense of competition is present throughout co-op, as players fight for points that are released upon the defeat of a heartless, or the smashing of an object. they are also placed throughout the world. The player with the most points at the end of the mission gets a mission crown.
The game, being an RPG, gives you a wide selection of choices in the growth of your character. They come in the forms of Level Ups, Abilities, Equipment, Accsesories, Magic and what items your taking into the mission. they are all equipable through the game's unique "panel system", which is a bit like a variation of tetris. There are numerous types of panels. "Growth Panels" are panels that consist of either Levels, Magic or Abilities. "Support Panels" which connect to other panels which takes up more then 1 space, and "Equipment Panels", which are your Items, Weapon and Accesories. At first, panels just take up one space. Soon, as you get better abilities, and better equipment, they start to take up more space on your panel grid. (Which at first is limited, but later on in the game completing missions gives you a free panel slot to unlock an extra panel.) Support Panels for weapons are able to give you additional boosts in stats like Strength, Magic, Sight and Defence. The ammount that is increased also varies from weapon to weapon. Magic support panels allow you to level up magic assigned to it. This makes it more effective. combine that with a Extra Casts support panel, to get more casts of the levelled up magic. Abilities work nearly the same. Dodge Roll for example, can be bought in panels of 4. You can then assign DodgeRoll+ to a spare panel in DodgeRoll 4, to level it up making it faster. Then, you could connect a "Auto Dodgeroll" panel to it, allowing you to have a chance to automatically dodge roll some attacks. These are called "links". Levelling Up is sort of the same. You can have individual level panels, or, you can put down a Level multiplier panel. however many numbers it has next to it, will be the number linked level panels will multiply too.(like level multiplier 2 will make 1 level up act as 2.) Accsesories are more restricted, as you can only equip one. Accesories give you additional stats or abilities, or even a better percent of anti-elements. Your arrangements are kept the same beetween Single and Co-Op mode, but the game allows you to save panel arrangements in 1 of 3 slots.
The Interface and controlls of 358/2 days are simmiliar to that of other KH games. Generally, there is a command menu in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, which in this case has Attack, Magic and Items. Scrolling through the menu is done with Y, and selection by A. This can be changed to a second method, where holding down Y allows the player to scroll through the selections with the D Pad, A handy feature for heavy magic or item users. Battles are done in Real Time, so even when healing your able to get hurt. Controlls almost come natural to the player, and it does share alot of resemblance to the Playstation 2 controll scheme. Like mentioned before, touching the lower screen makes the camera jump to a position which you selected (the focus still on the character however). Later in the game, you can change to other methods of camera movement like L and R buttons. This is alot easier and more handy in the midst of battles. Your character's HP is shown on the bottom right corner, aswell as a portrait of there face. With Scan equiped, the enimies HP and name comes up in the upper right hand corner. Also, the game allows the player to lock onto a target. This makes the camera focus on a position where the player and the selected target are both visible, and attacks by you are focused on that target. when this mode is activated, "LOCK ON" appears in the upper middle of the screen. Lock on is activated through double tapping R.
The gameplay features that set 358/2 apart from other entries in the series includes the Limit Break feature, which brings a new level of strategic gameplay to the field. Once a character reaches a certain point in their HP, (HP represented by green, and the Limit area as yellow). once they are at that point, holding down A on the attack selection will activate the character's limit, a powerfull combination move that is very helpfull. Each time the player utilizes this, the yellow bar drops, meaning your time in limit gets shorter, and eventually unusable. The yellow bar can be increased with 'Limit Restoration' items, and, is rested upon mission completions, or game overs. The AI in the game can be customized to your liking. Usually, your not alone in missions. You can customize your partner so that they don't attack, they heal only, or they only use magic. You can also make it so they don't use there abilities, they only fight targets you lock onto, or they just run. This can only be done through the main menu, only acsessible outside of missions.
All in all, 358/2 sucsesfully continues that disney-square enix magic that so many love and captures it into a nice, wonderfully detailed, excellently prepared and finalized portable game, which brilliantly tells the story of a troubled boy, and the struggle that took place during the year Sora was asleep. This game is definatley one you should put on your christmas wishlist for 2009.
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