Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Review
Square Enix's beloved franchise is back and has landed on the Nintendo DS. The Kingdom Hearts series is a collaboration of characters from one of the biggest animation studios of all time, Disney, and one of the most popular RPG production companies, Square Enix. When these two companies combine, it's like magic. While Disney's games are pretty dismal, with the help of Square Enix, Disney characters can make an appearance in a deep RPG as well.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, set between the first and second installments of the series, follows Roxas' backstory. Roxas is a nebulous character who was given little character development within the series despite being the first playable character within the second installment.
There are many throwbacks to the other Kingdom Hearts games. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days' plot parallels the events in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories,
often featuring cutscenes from the aformentioned game. There are also various "flashbacks" from previous Kingdom Hearts installments. The way these different scenes are implemented is very unique. When a flashback begins, the bottom screen will distort as if Roxas is actually recalling information from the past.
While the graphics in this game are good for what they are, they won't win any prize. The graphics are incredibly detailed for a DS title, resembling that of a Nintendo 64 game. Many of the edges on characters and objects are jagged, the same can be said of backgrounds, reminiscent of the 64-bit era.
The game settings which debuted in Kingdom Hearts 2 are back in this iteration; the levels keep the same styles and designs that fans will recognize upon entering each world, which are tweaked to better fit the handheld console. The levels are shrunken down and areas are cut down in order for fans to experience the same worlds on the DS.
However, the music in this game is flawless. The soundtrack is on par with any score in any other epic RPG. The game has a beautiful soundtrack, due to most of the tracks being ports from the original Kingdom Hearts games.
The lack of voice over work was greatly disappointing. It is ridiculous to be forced to read so much dialogue when cartridges have the capacity for audio voice overs. These voice overs are only present during the beginning of the game and a smattering of cut-scenes. It is awkward to play a game with considerable length while reading copious amounts of text on a small screen. Hopefully the next game in the series, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, will give us a full-voice track.
There are a vast number of missions in the game. The plot deals with Roxas undergoing missions given to him by Organization XIII. For new players, there are missions given in order to help players become familiar with newly unlocked worlds. There are other missions which require the player to kill a certain amount of Heartless.
While there are a vast amount of missions, they are also extremely repetitive. There were a lot of times when I found myself repeating the same goals for different worlds.
A new feature is the ability to go back to a particular day and repeat the mission by selecting "Holo-missions" in the menu tab. This option also allows players to repeat the mission under various constraints, such as time. This provides a degree of challenge to an already long game. Though this is great for somebody who wants to replay the game under different settings, there's little point in repeating generic missions objectives.
The fight mechanics from the original games has made its way over onto the DS. The game is a standard action RPG. Many of the features that we have seen in the original games are back, like the magic system and item system.
The panel system is one of the innovative new features in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days; it allows players to set various abilities for characters throughout the game. The player starts the game with a certain amount of panels unlocked. After each level, a new panel opens. Once open, a panel can hold either magic, item, or ability panels.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days offers replay value thanks to its mission mode. This mode offers various missions as either solo or with other members of Organization XIII. As the game progresses, access to missions involving protagonists from the first game become available.
In multiplayer mode, up to four players can participate at the same time. Although multiplayer is nice addition to the Kingdom Hearts series, it doesn't add anything valuable to the main story. After a couple of hours, you find that there are better multiplayer experiences. This mode, like “Holo-missions,” only allows players to replay previously completed, not allowing players to progress through the story solely through this mode. Other games allow players to progress through a story or campaign together, so it was puzzling to see that feature absent in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
The camera in this game is terrible. In order to adjust the camera, the player has to press select and move the camera with the D-pad. While this gives players some camera control, it is very ineffective during battle. It is frustratingly hard to adjust the camera during battle, making for some awkward positions which can inevitably result in death.
While Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days isn't a breakthrough achievement in gaming, it does offer a fun and enjoyable experience. Fans of Kingdom Hearts will want this fasinating adventure of Roxas. For those who haven't had any experience with Kingdom Hearts, it would probably be best to go back and play the original two Kingdom Hearts game before picking up this adventure. The game is a satisfying attempt to create an epic RPG on the small screens of the DS. One can only hope that Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep will deliver the definitive Kingdom Hearts experience to a handheld.