"Let’s celebrate in 3D 10 years of Kingdom Hearts!"
I bet Dr. Frankenstein would have been proud to see this experiment. Who knew that creating a monster called Kingdom Hearts would become a massive success? For any Disney and Square Enix fan, going through the worlds of these characters was bliss. Fighting alongside Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse was the icing on the cake.
Ten years and a few games later, Square has brought another entry to the Kingdom Hearts Series. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is its name, and it's for the Nintendo 3DS. Yes, the game is in 3D. And yes, the game's title is a pun.
Kingdom Hearts 3D pits Sora and Riku in a quest to become true keyblade masters. They must travel across worlds, battle with dream eaters, and watch all the confusing cutscenes as players progress through the game.
In order to travel from world to world, Square opted for a new approach in Dream Drop Distance. Rather than a Gummi Ship to get around, players will go through a diving mini-game where they have to capture star points and avoid being hurt during the dive.
Once the main characters arrive at their destination, players are able to switch perspectives between Sora and Riku. Each character has their own storyline, and players are able to experience their intertwining arcs through the game's Drop system. During a moment of boredom, it's a nice change of pace to see what the other character is up to.
When players are able to explore, enemies will undoubtedly creep up. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, combat holds the same basic principles as previous iterations. Locking on to enemies is still a key feature in battle, and whacking them until their health dwindles is the way to progress through the game.
To assuage veterans of the series, Square Enix touches up combat through the Flowmotion system. In Kingdom Hearts 3D, Flowmotion is a means of traveling around town or dungeons. A player can interact with certain portions of the environment for boosts and buffs. Flowmotion also has its uses for combat. Jumping off walls and swinging on lamp posts for a flashy kill on an enemy has nice charm to it. However, because these moves are fairly strong, players may forego the other skill and mash the Y button throughout the game.
Despite the fun combat system, the camera in Dream Drop Distance really bogs down the game. Yes, locking on enemies alleviates it to some degree, but the camera does not do the player any favors. It's simply too slow and clunky to keep up with all the great action taking place. It's one of the biggest criticisms I have with the game.
Aside from combat, the developers put in a pet system to add some depth to the game. The pet system allows players to gather materials and recipes to create friendly Dream Eaters. These pets can offer the player significant buffs and activate certain skills in a pinch. The system acts like a miniature Nintendogs: players are able to interact with their pet through the touch screen, take pictures, and level their skills. Raising Dream Eaters can get addictive and it's easily the game's most significant feature.
Although Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is filled with solid gameplay, the story is a little convoluted. NPCs spout dialogue that is easy to read but hard to understand the context. The game's tutorials and flashbacks may fail to capture a player's attention. I did not have significant playtime with previous Kingdom Hearts games, and I was sort of lost in the mix. Despite the criticism, the story plays out well. The quality voice acting and the glorious fan service more than make up the game's deficient story.
All in all, Kingdom Hearts 3D is a nice addition to the Nintendo 3DS library. The game is a solid title that's fun to play. Yes, the story may be convoluted. Yes, the camera is terrible. Even with those deficiencies, there is an undeniable polish that lies within the game. Traveling across worlds using the Flowmotion system to whack enemies and switching off storylines are all factors that make this game a good title. I recommend Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance to all Nintendo 3DS owners.
GameDynamo's Score for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (3DS)
Chris started playing games at the tender age of 5. Since then, he sees mushrooms, hearts, aliens, and spikey-haired blondes in his sleep.
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