- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ell, it's been seven years since "Kingdom Hearts" was first introduced on the PlayStation 2, and since then, the series has become well known and loved for its wonderful blend of Square Enix's storytelling and characters from the Disney universe. The story has more than its fair share of twists and turns and, like "Metal Gear Solid" and "Devil May Cry," the developer has decided to release its installments in random order so that they can confuse the hell out of you. The problem with this is that they plan to release the series across a wide spectrum of systems, each release being its piece to the overall puzzle of the “Kingdom Hearts” plot. So for those of you who just own a DS and planned on getting into the story, this might be very confusing.
"Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days" (yes, that's really the name of the game) falls somewhere after “Chain of Memories,” which was originally released on the Gameboy Advance and then re-released on the PlayStation 2 as "Kingdom Hearts II ." You play as Roxas as he joins up with Organization XIII, a group of eccentric individuals who refer to themselves as "Nobodies." Through the story you assist them with your keyblade as they attempt to build Kingdom Hearts, which they claim will complete them. When you first begin, the game runs you through a tutorial of sorts, but it also sets the tempo. You are treated to a bit of story, then a mission, then more story, another mission and so forth. This might seem tedious if the story wasn't done so well, but the only thing lacking is the voice acting from the console versions.
The gameplay is a bit of a double-edged sword. People who are familiar with the series and have played through the previous games might find it too familiar, as very little has changed. The combat systems are the same, as is the music, enemies and even the environments. Those who haven't will be treated to an amazingly well-done action RPG (especially for the DS), but will more than likely have no clue as to what the hell is going on. The controls are pleasantly easy to learn, especially with an almost complete lack of stylus support. There is a new system for leveling, as well as a "Tetris"-like grid system and icons that you collect during your missions; these control everything from which spells you have, as your abilities, items, and even your overall stats. Everything must be set in this grid prior to starting your mission, and though it can be pretty confusing at first, you should be able to grasp the concept as the game runs its course.
There is also a multiplayer mode called Mission Mode that has been added to sweeten the deal where you and up to three friends can play together. Each of your friends will need their own copy of the game, and while you don't play through the actual story, you can earn treasures and experience, play as any of the Organization XIII members, and even uncover a few unlockables. There’s a noticeable bit of slowdown when four people play at the same time, but it isn’t game-breaking.
It certainly doesn’t add a breath of fresh air to the series, but “Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days” remains a fun title coupled with a good story. With the addition of a multiplayer mode all for the sweet price of 35 bucks, this is a pretty good deal. It isn’t my favorite RPG on the DS, and not exactly great for people new to the series, but I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to any fan of the franchise.