Dreaming of 3D Kingdom Hearts (E3 2012)
At the Square-Enix booth at E3 2012, I got to play Kingdom Hearts 3DS: Dream Drop Distance. The game was a blast, with free-flowing combat that was fast-paced and some of the best action I've experienced in a portable title. It's the seventh game in the series, and in the demo, you can play as either Sora or Riku as they prepare for the Mark of Mastery exam. The demo opens with Minnie Mouse in danger of getting kidnapped by the Beagle Brothers. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy appear as the Three Musketeers, and Sora leads the charge to rescue Minnie. However, first you do some guard duty, fending off a tyrannosaur-resembling Dream Eater while protecting Minnie's carriage. It's not just a matter of hack 'n' slash, as you ward off volleys of fire and deflect them back at the monster.
The new battle features in KH:Dream Drop Distance go a long way in making the combat fun. I've heard the developers wanted to match the feel of FF Versus XIII, and it shows in a few new features. First off, the Link Attacks with allied dream eaters activate more powerful attacks and were useful against big waves of enemies. There were three types available in the demo, and I especially enjoyed a Dream Easter shaped like a cat I could ride as he bounced like a ball and flattened enemies. These are easily swappable in the lower screen of the 3DS. Second, Flowmotion allowed the character to perform Air Slides using the Y Button, so Sora could kick off walls, spin on poles, and do an attack while bursting from one part of the screen to another. The controls felt great, and I had a lot of fun air sliding through the levels.
The Beagle Brothers eventually kidnap Minnie. Sora climbs up a tower, avoids rolling barrels, and fights off the trio of brothers. A hilarious cinematic follows where Goofy comes to the rescue, taking Mickey Mouse and jumping out of the tower. They use a tree on the ground from which they spring off and thrust back up to the tower, in order to knock the brothers into a lake. Everything seems happily resolved until Mickey gets kidnapped by Captain Pete. Once again, you rush to the rescue.
Some of the worlds featured in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance will include Pinocchio, Fantasia, Tron, Radiant Garden, and Disney Castle. The game will also include guest appearances by some of the characters from The World Ends With You, including Neku Sakuraba, Joshua, Shiki, and Beat. Unfortunately, there will not be as many Final Fantasy cameos, but I'm alright with that, as I would love for The World Ends With You to receive more of a spotlight.
The 3D mode in Dream Drop Distance was solid and gave a heightened sense of immersion to the gameplay. The voice-acting was spot-on as usual, and the fact that Leonard Nimoy will play the main villain, Xehanort, is promising. I was confused at first to see younger versions of Sora and Riku, but it's all part of the plot, according to the developers. Considering that Tetsuya Nomura is at the helm, it gives me even more confidence that this game will be one worth playing. Look for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance to come out on July 31, 2012 (July 20 in Europe, and it's already out in Japan).
He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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