Let me start by saying that I adore Kingdom Hearts. I love every game and I plan to continue buying them and playing them for as long as they plan on releasing them. I mean its Final Fantasy and Disney in one detailed setting, what's not to love?
Be warned, there are a few spoilers ahead.
Dream Drop Distance is the first game to pick up with Sora and Riku after the end of Kingdom Hearts II - Its a direct follow on rather than a prequel or side story like Birth By Sleep, 358/2 Days or Recoded. You play as both Sora and Riku and learn some nifty new tricks from some new characters in Traverse Town. Actually, these pretty cool guys are the first characters to appear in the series who came from something other than Disney, Final Fantasy, or Kingdom Hearts. They are from another game that is property of Square Enix, as well as being designed by Tetsuya Nomura.
The basic storyline goes like this: Sora and Riku are about to take their Mark of Mastery exams, so that they can become proper Keyblade Masters. They get sent into the 'sleeping worlds' so that they can earn their Mastery. The game has a set of things called Memoirs that either teach you how to do things in the game (Like the aforementioned nifty trick called Flowmotion), or they show you flashbacks and scenes of what's happening elsewhere (let's just say that Organization XIII are not as dead as we thought XD). There are no Heartless in this one, instead we have Dream Eaters - the bad ones called Nightmares and the good ones that you control are called Spirits.
It's the storyline that makes me love this game. As a huge lover of Roxas and Axel (and a few other Organization members) the surprise reappearance of Axel/Lea and the others made me literally squeal and dance around my room in joy. I'm only half way through, so I don't entirely know how it happened, but I'm immensely happy about it.
The bit that frustrates the hell out of me is the boss fights. the Dream Eaters you come up against in the worlds are numerous, but not difficult to defeat, but the bosses are four times stronger and nearly impossible to beat. It took me days to beat the bosses in both The Grid and Prankster's Paradise - only to go to Traverse Town and have to fight them all again! The sudden jump in the difficulty curve is something that most Kingdom Hearts players will be familiar with. Cerberus in Olympus Colosseum in the original Kingdom Hearts, Xaldin in Beast's Castle in Kingdom Hearts II, Xigbar in The Land of Departure in Kingdom Hearts II. The list goes on. Everything is nice and manageable and then suddenly you're dead. A lot. And Dream Drop Distance seems to be biggest offender to date.
Perhaps I should explain why it's called Dream Drop Distance. For those of you who aren't aware, Riku and Sora are exploring different realities of the same worlds. So, to switch from Sora to Riku or vice versa, one drops into a deep sleep that switches you to the other character. So, if you're playing as Sora and you want to switch to Riku, you select the 'DROP' button in the menu, Sora falls asleep and you play as Riku. Seems simple enough. Except its also on a timer. If you run out of time, you drop. There are items that extend your Drop Gauge but if you run out in the middle of a boss fight you're stuffed. You change characters, and when you get back you're back at the start of the boss fight. It happened to me a lot. At one point I wasn't sure it was even possible to finish the boss fight even with a full gauge. It was enough to make me want to throw my 3DS across the room in a fit of game induced rage.
But over all, the story is great, the graphics are stunning, and Dream Drop Distance is a fantastic lead up to the much anticipated Kingdom Hearts III. They have given us an amazing set up for a third full feature game that I just know I'm gonna have to buy a PS3 to play!
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