By Heath | September 16, 2011 at 5:40 am
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance continues the series trend of increasingly nonsensical names, but goes a complete 180 by finally being a Nintendo-specific Kingdom Hearts title that is actually good.
Two demos were available, one starring Riku and one starring Sora. I started with Sora and kinda smiled to see a cameo from The World Ends With You as the game began in Traverse Town. Combat functioned extremely similar to that of Birth by Sleep with each spell and skill requiring a set amount of time to regenerate after use. Using the d-pad would cycle up or down through the list of equipped specials. Naturally, I was tasked with taking out a slew of baddies before fighting a boss. The boss battle is what really made the demo — and hopefully the game as a whole — shine. Generally, fun as Kingdom Hearts boss battles can sometimes be, they’ve been in a fairly closed arena. I don’t mean literally an arena, but the field of battle is distinct and not that big. In Sora’s boss fight, the area was enormous. I laid a beating on him, and the sucker bailed out, leaving me to try and find him around the stage, my heart pounding the whole time as I wondered “is he around this corner?” with every turn I took.
Sometimes he’d be the one surprising me, though, with a solid blow to the back of the head. He wasn’t hard, but he wasn’t easy either. There was more than one time when I had to make a getaway and heal myself. The battle felt amazing in that big stage, and I hope they’re all this way. What action.
Riku’s story began in Notre Dame, with Quasimodo distressing over Esmerelda’s condition as he held her in his arms. Our hero (?) spoke as if he had an established relationship with Quasimodo before this event, one would wonder how their familiarity came about. Like Sora’s story, Riku had to take out the trash before fighting a boss. Riku’s boss battle was a giant flying enemy. Riku could occasionally strike him with a leaping attack or magic shot from the ground, if the enemy came close enough, but the real way to fight this guy was in the air. Jumping twice let Riku fly just Like a Boss. The stage was smaller than Sora’s demo stage, but dude, he was flying. A stage doesn’t need to be huge to be great.
I didn’t much care for 358/2 Days (it got a decent review from me because I tried to view it from the eyes of someone who is wrong) and thought RE: Coded was just awful. Birth by Sleep was the first good portable Kingom Hearts game in my mind, and the best since the original. If the whole game is as good as the demo and story makes enough sense, Dream Drop Distance might overtake it, though of course that’s a tall order. KH 3DS is due out next year.