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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Impression Review - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a new KH title exclusively for the PSP. As Square-Enix has finally brought the franchise over to Sony’s handheld, let’s take a peek into the Kingdom’s door and see if the game is worthy to be the “awakening” title for KH.

Before anything else, let me give you few guidelines to my review: Since I’ve never played any of the past KH games and am not very familiar to the story of KH in general, I can’t tell how different KH:BBS is to previous KH titles or even how their plots are connected to each other.

KH:BBS is a prequel to the original KH series. The story revolves around 3 friends, Ventus, Terra, and Aqua, as they get involved in an incident that relates to the appearance of dark entities called the Unversed. These happenings lead them to a journey and eventually tear them apart.

The game is separated into 3 campaigns, one for each of the main characters. The three travel separately through different Disney worlds. Although they would all travel through the same worlds, their paths taken are mostly different. For example, in Snow White’s world, Ventus is with the dwarves while Terra is in the Evil Queen’s castle. Another is at Cinderella’s world, where Terra is assisting Cinderella to the castle while Aqua just came to follow his tracks. They would sometimes bump into each other at certain points of the game and even fight together at times.

KH:BBS’ Command Deck System allows you to customize things such as the Battle, Action and Shotlock commands for use in the fight. Battle commands consist of skills and magic commands that can be leveled-up to certain degree. Slots used to insert commands are limited but will eventually increase as you level-up. You can insert any commands or even items to be used and order them however you want, but if properly arranged, you’ll be able to connect combos out of it. Action commands are basic movements like Jump, Dash and Block. You will eventually obtain more movements like Air Dash and High Jump that will soon be useful not just in battles but also while traveling. Shotlock commands are basically just your regular long-range attacks that consume your Focus Meter, which may not be of much use most of the time, but still comes in handy at times.

You can create new Battle commands by “Melding”. Combining 2 mastered commands will create a new command. Meld it again with another mastered command and you might probably get a new one again. Also, if you add a Synthesis item while melding, new commands created can get bonus abilities that can be used to boost your stats, attacks, defenses, item drops, experience received, etc. Abilities such this will only activate if you use the command that goes with it, but once you’ve mastered that command, the ability is yours to keep and use even without the command (kinda like the learned abilities in Final Fantasy IX).

KH:BBS’ battle system plays quite similarly to the action-based, hack-and-slash style of previous KH games. Since the battles are fast-paced, it would probably take some button-mashing until the hordes of enemies are defeated. However, button-mashing isn’t everything here. When you face the cleverer and more powerful enemies, especially the bosses, you HAVE to fight strategically. Here, camera angles might pose a problem. Although your cursor automatically locks on to the nearest enemy, the camera angle won’t follow so you might find yourself viewing the fight from a wrong angle. This might become a problem, especially in boss fights. Anyway, you can still manually aim your attacks at a target if you desire.

Other than your Command Deck, you have other abilities to use in the battle. D-Link (or Dimension Link) allows you use other characters’ commands and allows you to fight at the same groove as that character. For example, if you’re Terra and you D-Link with Ventus, you can use the latter’s commands and you even move just as agilely. You also have this command gauge that fills up for every blow you throw at the enemy. Once it’s filled up, you become temporarily powered-up and can do a final attack move, but if you’re only able to fill it up partly using your Battle Commands instead of your regular attacks, you will sometimes change Command Styles. Your Command Style will depend on the Battle Commands you used. Once you change Command Style and are able to fill up your Command Gauge again, you can perform a much more powerful final attack.

There are other features in the game that would probably keep you busy other than the main missions. There’s this Mirage Arena which features several modes, mainly for multiplayer play. Although I haven’t explored much of the multiplayer aspects of the game (since I don’t have someone to play the game with), I could still say that the multiplayer feature here is probably something worth a try. There’s also a mini-game called Command Board that is more like a board game that plays using your Deck Commands.

Overall, KHBBS is a very good game. For a game that’s on a handheld, the graphics and cinematics are beautiful. Of course, since it’s Kingdom Hearts, the highlight of it all is the crossover between Disney and Square-Enix characters. Though I’m not much of a fan of Disney’s works in general, a crossover like this always amazes me. The voice-acting is okay (I guess), but there are parts that’s kinda off. Nonetheless, it’s very much tolerable, considering that most of the voice actors/actresses here I believe are popular in the field. The replay value here is high especially if you wanna go over each character’s campaign.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is an action/RPG game developed by Square-Enix for the Playstation Portable, released in September 2010. The game requires Official Firmware update 6.20. It has an optional Data Install option that requires 200-600+ Mb of data.

Until then!

6 blabs:

Raipo said...

I'd try this game out :D Right after VC I think. I like the concept of 'dimension travel' any which way (and it kinda reminds me of a certain KR series *wink*)

Anonymous said...

I first try this before VCII. Now my game there is on hold because I got hook at VCII too much XD

Maxwell said...

Wanted to play but as I learned. you need to have played all series to understand the story.

Anonymous said...

@Maxwell: I think its still alright to play it even you don't have any knowledge about past KH games.. besides, BBS is a prequel.

Raipo said...

Ah so this is a prequel. Thought it was a sequel to the GBA KH.

Anonymous said...

@Raipo: Ah, you mean the Chain of Memories... from what I knew, chain of memories happened between KH1 and KH2.

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