Let’s see… Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance came out in 2012. That means the last time I played a Kingdom Hearts game was… 2012!?
But since the recent 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue actually had some new content, I decided to see how Kingdom Hearts III is shaping up in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep -A fragmentary passage-.
So, disclaimer: I’m not very good at action games. But I have completely cleared all of the games except the mobile Unchained X and the challenges in Days 358/2. Because there’s no way I’m going to not miss a swing on a DS screen. In 0.2, I played through three times: Proud, Beginner, and then Critical. Yes, in that order.
- I still think the Kingdom Shader makes everyone look terrible in stills, but it sure does look wonderful in motion.
- Style changes and finishers are awesome. They were cool in Birth By Sleep, but you could easily get screwed. (Nothing worse than accidentally activating Ghost Drive instead of Rhythm Mixer…) Instead, you build up the counter and decide when — or even if — you want to unleash your bonus attack and alter your combos. Hope they’ll go the extra mile and turn ones you don’t like off.
- Enemies seem pretty smart. Some will chase after you. Constantly. The others will snipe you. Constantly.
- Aqua runs pretty fast.
- Music is still nice.
- All three elemental magic spells have their use. (But Thundaga is still the best.)
- Revenge values means Bosses aren’t snapping out of combos randomly.
- Puzzles aren’t always so obvious, but the game still gives hints. A good balance I think between exploration and hand-holding.
- Feels like a huge difference between difficulties. You can’t assume anything in Critical, especially with no Orb drops.
- The ending is great.
- Short, and even with 3D and Back Cover, it just feels like a downgrade after getting two full games in 1.5 and 2.5. Even though it’s a PS4 game, it shouldn’t have retailed for the price of a normal game.
- Super small UI. I mean, it’s not that big on the TV, but on the Vita, it’s like fine print in a contract size. Plus it feels like ten miles between the menu and the gauges.
- Item menu. It always seemed a bit silly to equip items, but the three item limit is pretty harsh. I guess maybe it will increase like in the other two main games, but what about Donald and Goofy? Will they just equip items like in the other main games? Because for example, I can’t imagine doing some of the Mushroom XIII challenges on just three Ethers.
- Frame drops. I had several instances during the secret boss where the game just stuttered. (PS4 Slim) Had a couple of game overs since it just threw me off. They really need to make sure this runs smoothly on non-Pro systems. Plus it’s also going to be on Xbox One, so I hope they don’t try to overload the consoles.
- Everything transforms or teleports, making Lock-On a lot less useful than it should be. Hate having to keep R1’ing.
- Boss design was dull and repetitive. I can understand this is because Aqua is in the World of Darkness, but if you want to complete all the objectives, it just feels tiring. “Great, you again…”
- Some of the objectives are just plain irritating. (No damage, using a specific Finisher to defeat the enemy.) Worse yet, they’re only obtainable in one fight. And a couple only activate after completing 0.2 once, even though you could actually do them the first time through.
- I miss the cute 2D portrait.
- Wasn’t Blizzagun/Firagun/Thundagun in Kingdom Hearts II? Why were Aqua’s Finishers switched to the -ja spells?
- Third and fourth worlds didn’t seem as good as the first two.
- Dodging and Guarding require timing. I’m sure many of the skilled gamers are cheering. However, combined with the Lock-On issues, I think more deaths will come from enemies seemingly appear out of no where rather than poor skill. I know camera has always been an issue, but I worry there’s going to be less room to readjust and regroup.
- They did patch it, but the default Critical version seemed pretty unfair from what I’ve read.
- The partner you get can do a pretty decent amount of damage, but I’m hoping Donald’s spells give him a little bit of an advantage over Sora’s magic. He’s a magician; he needs something considering all the mobs.
I still really like the Command Deck system of the handhelds. Of course, I knew it wouldn’t carry over into Kingdom Hearts III, but I do like how you can easily make more adjustments in difficult fights other than “just get good”. The enemy A.I. had issues, but experimenting with all the different abilities you get was a lot of fun. But I do like the direction the Osaka team is headed, a sort of “best of all games” approach.
However, if you’re not interested in replaying Dream Drop Distance right away, then there’s absolutely no rush to buy 2.8. It’s not like Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae where it was only included as a bonus for a limited time. Wait for a price drop… and also because it really makes you want Kingdom Hearts III.
In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not replaying Dream Drop Distance. Getting all the Dream Eaters once was enough. And the superboss is lame.