Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

KH3D_Dream_Drop_DistanceOh boy.  So yeah, 1.5 years later, here I am, making the last post on my Kingdom Hearts series.  I actually finished the game this past summer, but due to a myriad of circumstances, I’m only now getting around to actually posting my thoughts on it.  And what I will say is that this game was great!!

The plot of this game picks up after Re:Coded finishes, where Sora and Riku must take their Mark of Mastery exam.  They have to travel to various worlds, which are disconnected from the regular worlds, and wake them up by opening the 7 Keyholes of Sleep.  They have to fight these new creatures, called Dream Eaters.  The twist here is that there are 2 kinds of Dream Eaters: Spirit and Nightmares.  While you fight the Nightmare versions, you actually train the Spirit versions as a sort of pet that will fight alongside you, which adds an interesting twist to the game (as you aren’t rolling around with Donald & Goofy this time around).  You take turns switching between Sora & Riku (after a period of actual in-game time).  As the story progresses and you close off the worlds, Sora travels to the World that Never Was.  He learns that the main foe, a young version of Xehonart, is trying to gather versions of himself across time to create a new Organization XIII that can be pitted against the 7 “Guardians of Light” in order to forge the X-blade.  Sora defeats Xemnas, but his heart is then swallowed in darkness and is encased in Ventus’ armor (from Birth by Sleep…see where this is going?)  At the same time, Riku is being guided by Ansem, and eventually makes his way to the Castle that Never Was and defeats this young version of Xehonart.  Xehonart says they will be back (hinting at KH3), and Riku brings Sora back to Yen Sid, enter his dreams and wakes him up.  Afterwards, Riku is declared a Keyblade Master (finally!!).  At the end (and included in the secret ending), Yen Sid and Mickey discuss the 7 Keyblade wielders (the “Guardians of Light”), who will be needed to prevent Xehonart from forging the X-blade.  These 7 are: Sora, Riku, Mickey, Aqua, Terra, Ventus, and to everyone’s surprise, Kairi.

The worlds you get to travel to this time are almost completely new: La Cité des Cloches (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), The Grid (Tron: Legacy), Prankster’s Paradise (Pinocchio), Country of the Musketeers (Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers), and Symphony of Sorcery (Fantasia).  You also travel to Traverse Town (and visit an entirely new area never seen in any of the previous games), and The World That Never Was.  After spending the last game re-treading a lot of the same areas, it’s was awesome to see something new.

Also, with this game being on the 3DS (and therefore being the most technically advanced system that a Kingdom Hearts game has appeared on, minus the recent HD ports), this is actually one of the best looking games in the series.  The animations are much smoother, and the visual effects are spectacular for Kingdom Hearts.  It was really nice to see (and gets me super excited for KH3 on a current generation system).

The gameplay itself was pretty standard fare for a Kingdom Hearts game, and when I first started playing, I thought I was going to give up on the game (in all reality, I actually did…from the time of my last post 1.5 years ago, I actually started the game, but stopped until this July).  They were trying to introduce a lot of new features that I thought was just going to needlessly complicate things (raising Dream Eaters, the various new combat abilities, etc).  It turns out, a lot of that extra stuff wasn’t really required, and once I picked the game back up, I simply played it like the other KH games, and had a blast.  Also, getting the secret ending ending this time around was much easier…you only had to get a certain number of trophies (7 in my case, as I was playing on Normal).  A lot of these trophies were also very easy to get, so I did spend the extra time to gather them all.

I think what did it for me was that this game finally resolved the 2 storylines that have been ongoing:  The main story with Sora & Riku, and the new story introduced in Birth By Sleep with Aqua, Terra & Ventus.  By the end of this game, KH3 is set up perfectly, and I couldn’t be more excited (you know, whenever it comes out in 2050).  It’s a must-play for all Kingdom Hearts fans, but if you haven’t played it yet, feel free to wait for the new HD collection coming sometime this year (Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue…that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?).  This collection will contain an HD port (well, remake actually) of Dream Drop Distance, and I’m sure will look and play incredible.

When I started this series, I figured KH3D would be the last game in the series before KH3, and I was doing this to prepare myself for that game.  This has since changed a bit, and the aforementioned 2.8 HD collection will contain 1 new piece of content, the story of Aqua (when she entered the Realm of Darkness) called Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (don’t you just love these titles?).  I will be doing a post on this as well whenever it actually comes out, but I did want to say that this entire series was a blast.  I had a lot of fun going through all of these games (yes, even the bad ones :)).  I’m going to likely continue this in the future, and this time I have my sights set on the entire Final Fantasy series.  I am not going to put a due date on this at all, so posts will come as they come.  I also don’t want to take up all my gaming time with this either (there are a lot of these!!).
Hopefully you’ve all had fun reading these as much as I had playing and writing it!!
Until next time…



Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded

Kingdom-Hearts-Re-Coded-LogoWow.  2 Kingdom Hearts posts in 1 day?  Crazy, I know.  My vacation time has been kind to me and I’ve had the chance to finish both Birth By Sleep and Re:Coded.  Re:Coded wasn’t as long as the other games (well, my game time clocked in around 24 hours).  I think this is mostly because Re:Coded started it’s life out as a cell phone game in Japan released in multiple episodes over time.  Eventually Square decided to bring it over here to North America on the DS.  It was a fun little game.  Not overly deep, but was very easy to play through.

The game starts out right after the events of KH2, where Mickey, Donald, Goofy & Jiminy discover something bad has happened to his journal and only a single message appears.  They discover the journal has been corrupted and in order to fix it (and discover the meaning of the mysterious message), they enlist a data version of Sora to help.  Sora travels to various worlds (all from KH1) like Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, Wonderland, Olympus Coliseum, Agrabah and Hallow Bastion and help them be rebuilt from all the Bugs that are corrupting them.  You get help from a data version of Riku as well (which he himself gets into trouble and you have to rebuild his mind by re-assembling smaller versions of the worlds you’ve been to).  Eventually the quest leads Sora to Castle Oblivion (from Chain of Memories), where, as Sora goes through simple versions of each of the worlds yet again, forgets everything.  After being told from a mysterious black figure that he’ll never forget the important people and to not let the sadness consume him, he fights this mysterious figure, who actually turns out to be a data version of Roxas.  After the fight, Sora finally meets a data version of Naminé who explains everything that she did to the real Sora while he was in the Castle Oblivion, and gives him a message that 3 other people (who turn out to be Terra, Aqua & Ventus from Birth by Sleep) also need Sora’s help. Mickey is by his side and promises to tell the real Sora everything.  Data-Sora also sends his one message he has to Data-Naminé, and that is Thank You.  At the end, we see Mickey writing a note to Sora (that we see him reading at the end of KH2 and Birth By Sleep) explaining everything and asking for his help one more time.

The secret movie this time around has Mickey back at the Mysterious Tower, telling Yen Sid that they think Ven might be close to waking up, but Yen Sid warns that Xehonart is going to be revived because Sora defeated fake-Ansem (Xehonart’s heartless) and Xemnas (Xehonart’s Nobody).  Yen Sid suggests that Mickey call up Sora and Riku to perform the Mark of Mastery and become true Keyblade Masters.

The story is somewhat thin throughout the main game, and we get most of it there at the end, which is fine (knowing how this game was originally released).  It ties in the events of KH1 & 2 and Birth By Sleep together, and as far as I can tell, sets up the next game in the series (Dream Drop Distance), which hopefully will start answering some of these questions about how Sora is going to actually save Aqua, Terra & Ven.

The gameplay this time around is similar to the rest of them, as it’s a regular Action RPG.  Much like 358/2 days, the camera control is garbage, as you have to hold down R in order to control the camera (since the DS didn’t have 2 control pads).  It’s normally not too much of a problem, but when they are asking you do to hard platforming sections, it gets very annoying.  Character growth is a very nifty mix of the previous 2 games.  For stats, you have this Stat Matrix, in which you have to place these stat chips in in order to increase your stats.  These are things like Level Up Chips, +Strength, +Magic, etc.  Somewhat similar to the tetris thing from 358/2 days, but you don’t have to play tetris this time, as all the slots are actually laid out for you.  you just get to choose what chip goes into what slot.  Commands are back and grow much like they do in Birth By Sleep (equip them and combine them to make stronger versions).  You can also equip keyblades and accessories.  Pretty fun, once you get the hang of it.

A lot of the post-game content this time around is in the form of these quests that each world has, and to complete them, you need to go into these hidden System Sectors and earn SP.  Now, in order to earn SP, you need to complete these challenges inside, like “Don’t miss more than 8 times” or “Leave the level in under 60 seconds”.  Some of them are stupid hard to do, and it doesn’t help that the camera doesn’t cooperate.  I made it through most of them, but eventually just gave up after the 5th time failing a challenge because the camera decided to lock onto something behind be.  This game would have worked wonderfully with just 1 extra camera control (which I realize was impossible given it was on the DS).

Oh well.  Not a perfect game, but does tie up a lot of the loose ends from the previous games and focuses everything down to the next game in the series, which I’ll be starting in on shortly.  After that, it’ll be the long wait until Kingdom Hearts 3, which will probably come sometime before 2025 (I hope).

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep

Kingdom_Hearts_Birth_by_Sleep_Final_Mix_LogoAnother Kingdom Hearts game is now in the books.  Shocking, I know.  I managed to start and finish this one even before I had the chance to write an initial impressions post.  Maybe because I thought this was a pretty awesome game?  Perhaps.  I ended up playing the Final Mix version, which was a ROM translated from the Japanese version of the game (I wasn’t going to wait for it to come in KH 2.5 in December).

I’ll start here by summarizing the plot (or at least the best as I can…its a little…complicated).  Birth By Sleep takes place about 10 years before the original Kingdom Hearts game, and tells the story of 3 Keyblade wielders named Aqua, Terra and Ventus.  Aqua and Terra are to become Keyblade Masters, while Ventus is still a few years away.  You actually play through the game 3 times, once as each character in order to get their perspective on the events that happen.  The story goes that Aqua and Terra perform the Mark of Mastery, which is needed in order to become a Keyblade Master.  This test is administered by their master, Master Eraqus, and watched over by Master Xehanort.  Xehanort sabotages the test, which coaxes out Terra’s inner darkness and he fails.  They are then told by Eraqus that a terrible danger has arisen (in the form of the main bad guys in the game called the Unversed) and the Princesses of Light might be in danger, which is setting up the first KH game.  Terra leaves, which prompts Ventus to take this the wrong way and leaves too (goaded on by Xehonart’s apprentice, Vanitas), which leaves Aqua to track them down (and deal with the Princess problem).  They travel to various different worlds (mostly different from the other games), including the Dwarf Woodlands (from Snow White), the Enchanted Dominion (from Sleeping Beauty and where we get to meet Maleficent), Castle of Dreams (from Cinderella), Deep Space (from Lilo & Stitch), Disney Town (which just seems to be a town that exists near to Disney Castle), plus a few returning places like Radiant Garden (before it was turned into Hallow Bastion), Neverland, Olympus Coliseum, Destiny Islands, the Mysterious Tower (where we learn Yen Sid is currently training Mickey to be a Keyblade Master), and the final area called The Keyblade Graveyard (which is seen in the final movie in KH2).  Terra and Aqua try to help the 3 princesses (with Ven just wandering and discovering them on their own), which eventually lead them to Radiant Garden on a tip that Xehonart is actually the one wanting the princesses. Aqua also meets Kairi there (which explains where she is actually from, and accidentially gives her the power of the Keyblade).

Eventually Terra & Aqua find themselves at Destiny Islands (at different times), where Terra bestows his power of the keyblade to a young Riku.  Aqua wanted to do the same for a young Sora, but after realizing Terra already did so to Riku, she didn’t want the 2 to fight.  During this time, Ven discovers that Vanitas is actually the darker side of himself that Xehonart pulled out of him in order to make the fabled X-Blade (pronounced Keyblade).  This was Xehonart’s goal all along.  Ven & Terra travel to the Land of Departure where Eraqus wants to destroy Ven for what he might become.  Terra defends Ven, and in the process kills his master.  All 3 meet up at the Keyblade Graveyard where a complicated battle ensues.  Xehonart freezes Ven and knocks Aqua out, which prompts Terra to open his heart to darkness, allowing Xehonart to take over and be reborn as a younger version of himself (that we see in the later KH games as Ansem’s apprentice).  Ven gets up to battle Vanitas, which causes them to create the X-blade (or at least a lesser version of it).  This fails, and the X-blade and Vanitas are destroyed.  Aqua wakes up and (with the help of Mickey) takes an unconscious Ven back to the Mysterious Tower to consult Yen Sid.  She realizes Ven’s heart might be gone and may never wake up.  So, she travels back to the Land of Departure (where they all started), takes her master’s keyblade and turns the whole place into Castle Oblivion, and hides Ven in the Chamber of Waking (which is what Xemnas is searching for in KH2 and 358/2 Days).

And to wrap things up, Aqua travels back to Radiant Garden (where Xehonart-Terra is) for one final battle.  After the battle, Xehonart-Terra falls into darkness and Aqua tries to save him, sacrificing herself.  Xehonart-Terra wakes up in Radiant Garden, alongside Aqua’s armor and keyblade with no memory of what happened.  Ansem finds him and takes him under his wing (along with Braig, which is Xigbar’s human form).  Aqua is left to wander the darkness for years until she finally finds Ansem 12 years later (after the events of KH2) and is happy to see that Sora is the one saving the worlds now.  Also, we see that Ven’s wandering heart actually found it’s way to a young Sora, which is why he is also able to wield the Keyblade.

Wow…long, I know :)  What I loved about this story is all the awesome tie-ins to the older games.  We learn where Xehonart is from (and how he became the younger version of himself), how Maleficent got started on the path to gathering the Princesses of Light’s hearts (which was just Xehonart’s plot all along).  We see how Pete and Maleficent become partners, and we even get to see most of the Organization XIII members before they became nobodies (and wow…it took me a while, but I realized that all of the Organization XIII members’ names are anagrams of their human names with an X places there e.g. Axel is Lea, Xigbar is Braig, etc).  It really puts into context how the whole situation was set up.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s an action RPG like the other KH games, where you’re running around beating up bad guys with your Keyblade.  The skill system this time around are called Commands that you equip (things like Fire or Strike Raid), which can level up and be combined together to create more powerful commands.  You also have this concept of D-links where you can call upon the power of people you’ve met along the way (like Cinderella or Snow White).  I found it very simple, yet perfect for this game.  It just worked.  No real need to expand on it any more than that :)

There’s also the Mirage Arena, which is basically this game’s version of Olympus Coliseum where you battle rounds and rounds of enemies to get some of the best gear in the game.  I made it through for Aqua, but for 100% completion, you need to do it for all 3 characters, and I said no to that….way too much time.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about Birth By Sleep.  I blasted through this one in a hurry (well, if you consider 30 hours fast), and started right in on the next game, Re:Coded, which you’ll see a post about soon.

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts 358.2 Days Final Impressions

Well, its done.  I finally finished KH 358.2 Days after about 3 months.  This one took a while, which was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t all that motivated to finish it.  I’m hoping that will change for the next game.

I enjoyed the plot a fair bit.  It fills in the gap between KH1 & 2 quite well from a different perspective.  I didn’t elaborate very much last time, other than you’re playing as Roxas during the entire year.  You end up making good friends with Axel (which was alluded to in KH2) and another member called Xion.  You go through all these missions, visiting many different worlds (on top of what I mentioned last time, you also go to Neverland & Halloween Town).  As the story progresses, you learn more about Xion and how she’s a replica of Roxas (much like there was a replica of Riku you were fighting in CoM).  The goal was to try and replicate the power of the keyblade so the Organization could take control of it.  Eventually Xion and Roxas find this out, neither of which are happy.  Xion also discovers that she has absorbed some of Sora’s memories (from Riku, who has been keeping an eye on the entire situation), and because of this, it is preventing Sora from walking up.  At first she doesn’t care, but eventually she comes around and decides to sacrifice herself for the greater good.  Roxas has to fight her to finish the task, which of course he regrets doing.  After it’s all done, Roxas inherits Xion’s Keyblade and tries to leave the Organization when he encounters Riku.  They battle, and while Roxas almost wins, Riku embraces the darkness and knocks him out.  In the final scene we see if Roxas waking up in Twilight Town on “The First Day”, leading right into KH2.  Very complicated, I know, but like I said, it fills in the story quite well.

As for the gameplay, I felt it just dragged on.  To be honest, I didn’t go through and finish every single mission 100%.  Each mission has a base completion state, but you can also collect all the treasure boxes, do a few extra tasks, and collect all of these badges, which I didn’t care to do.  I did enough that I was able to play every single mission (as there are some missions that get unlocked by completing other missions).  These extra missions though are just filler….no real story bits in them.  I did feel I was getting more powerful, which was cool.  I ended up really not liking the inventory Tetris game you had to play though.  It would have been cool if I had to actually make choices between which set of skills I could take with me, but you end up getting enough squares that you can take everything…you just have to gut your inventory and rebuild it each time, which to me was just a waste of time.  The battles themselves were alright, but I got bored near the end as you were fighting the same types of enemies over and over (…and over) again, no matter the world you were in.  I get it’s the DS and you have limited resources, but I suppose you didn’t need to go to all the different worlds then, or cut down on the number of missions because after the 50th “Collect hearts” mission, it was really dragging on.

After I finished, I went back and watched all the cutscenes in KH 1.5 HD.  Square had remastered all the cutscenes for 358/2 Days (although not the game itself…apparently there wasn’t enough time).  They looked good.  They all were fully voiced, and the story bits that didn’t happen in cutscenes were replicated with some text layered on top of screenshots from the game.  I know I wanted to actually play the game, but I will say that if you just wanted to experience the story, these are perfectly fine.  I even think they may have thrown in a couple extra scenes here and there to explain things a bit better.

Anyways, this one is done now, and I’ll be moving onto Birth by Sleep next, which I hear is actually really really good.  Here’s hoping :)

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Initial Impressions

WDaysLogoell, here we are again.  Onto the next Kingdom Hearts game (and probably the most oddly-named one, not that they all aren’t oddly named), 358/2 Days.  this game is on the DS, and while it looks a bit dated these days, but thinking back to 2009 (before the 3DS came out), it looked really good for a DS game.

The story this time around focuses on Roxas (who was a member of Organization XIII, and you played as at the beginning of KH2).  We found out in KH2 that Roxas was actually Sora’s Nobody who was created when Sora became a heartless for a short period there at the end of the original Kingdom Hearts.  There was about a year or so that passes between then and the start of KH2, and it is in that year that this game takes place.  You basically track Roxas’ adventures as he learns the ropes of becoming an Organization XIII member.

The idea this time around is you go out on these “missions” for the Organization (which Saix gives out), and they are things like “Kill x Amount of Enemies”, or “Collect Hearts” (which only Roxas can do because of this Keyblade).  There are also investigation missions where you have to poke around the world and discover things about it.  Each mission takes 1 day (but, there will be times where you skip ahead a few).  I’m on around day 110 so far, and have done around 40 missions.  You get to interact with many of the Organization members, and they even make reference to the Castle Oblivion event (from CoM).  After that, obviously there’s a number of members who are no longer around.  I love all the little references to the previous games.  Looking forward to how things pan out.

I’m pretty sure you get to visit a bunch of worlds, but so far, I’ve only been to The World That Never Was (which is where the game starts), Twilight Town, Agrabah, Beast’s Castle, and I’ve done 1 mission in Olympus Coliseum.  So far, the missions are a bit repetitive (as you’re doing the same sorts of things in each world).

Gameplay this time around is very different from Chain of Memories (the last portable entry).  It’s way more like traditional Kingdom Hearts games…very action based, only without the use of an analog stick.  It can be a bit frustrating at times (like having to use the L and R buttons to control the camera), but you get settled in fairly quickly, and the battles don’t seem all that difficult (at least so far….I suppose that can change).  The inventory is very unique this time around too.  Instead of just equipping keyblades and accessories on Roxas, they make use of a Panel system where each item (whether its a keyblade, accessory, potion or skill) is either 1, 2 or more Panels in size, and these items or shaped like Tetris pieces, which all have to be organized correctly if you want to get the most out of the system.  Your “inventory” is essentially a giant empty list of panel slots.  As you progress through the missions, you’ll open more panels to slot stuff into, but what I find really interesting is the fact that you have to equip skills and even level up panels if you want to get more powerful.  It really offers a unique way of progression.  I like it.

I guess that’s all I have to say so far.  After I finish the game, I’ll be going through the HD cutscenes they released with the KH1.5 release.  That’ll be cool too.

Until next time…


Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix Final Update

Well, it took a while, but I finally made it all the way through KH2 Final Mix.  Since the last time I wrote, I had just opened up the whole world, and was slowly making my way through each level.  This game has quite the mix this time around…you got to visit Agrabah, Halloween Town, Atlantica, Hundred Acre Wood and Olympus Coliseum again, plus the Land of the Dragons (from Mulan), Beast’s Castle, Space Paranoids (Tron), Port Royal (Pirates of the Caribbean), the Pride Lands (Lion King), and even The Timeless River from way, way back to Mickey’s first appearance in a cartoon in Steamboat Willy.  All the levels were really cool.  They all seemed much smaller, but unlocked a bit more as you visited each one a second time later on in the game.  Hundred Acre Wood was still a non-battle world, but you were going through playing minigames again to try and help Pooh remember who Sora is (and still adorable).  Atlantica this time around wasn’t a battle area either, but more a music-based level where you had to hit the keys and move the sticks to the prompts on screen.  The music was cool, but honestly, the sequences were a little tedious.  Space Paranoids looked really cool (with all the neon lights and music….pretty much like it was taken right from the movie).  Port Royal was an odd world.  It’s the only one that was “realistic” (or as realistic as a PS2 game can be).  Sora, Donald and Goofy were still in their same clothes, but everything else was way more toned down (from a color perspective), much like the Pirates movies.  It was really neat.

Besides the worlds from the movies, you also got to visit Hallow Bastion, which has been totally remade and updated since the last time we were there.  There’s not a town on the outskirts of the castle where Cid, Merlin, Yuffie and Leon all ended up.  You come back here a few times to fight the Heartless and Organization XIII, and even Sephiroth makes an appearance.  The final world is somewhat reminiscent of Castle Oblivion from Chain of Memories, but it’s actually a different place, called The World That Never Was (yeah, very dramatic).  This is where the Organization actually lives, and your goal is to make it to the end and battle Xemnas, who is the leader of Organization XIII (who was really the Ansem you fought in the first game, because the real Ansem was a good guy who helped Mickey out…yeah, batshit insane!!).  It was a complicated battle with many phases (including one riding a magic flying thing that Riku pilots and you have to chop at enemies).  I beat him once, but that wasn’t the end, as there’s more to unlock on a New Game + (which isn’t really a New Game +…you just start the game again at the end, but with more stuff to do).  As per usual, I went through and tried to complete everything I could.

This time around, it involved many things….first, collecting all the treasure boxes (and some of them were well hidden).  Also, made sure I levelled up my synthesizing skill so I could make the best weapons for Sora, Donald & Goofy.  I didn’t synthesize everything (that would have taken way too long), but I got the most important parts of it all.  Final Mix introduced a bunch of new stuff to do too.  There were these puzzle pieces spread over the world which you needed to collect and assemble.  They brought back the mushrooms from the old games, but this time there are 13 of them, and each one asked you to do a specific task, like kill it in 20 seconds, or pick out the fake one.  To me, these were the hardest tasks to do in the whole game….I probably killed 15 hours just retrying these guys over and over.  There was a super boss called the Lingering Sentiment.  He was alluded to in one of the final videos of the game (once you beat it the first time), but you really have no context for him.  Once you battle him, you see he mistakes you for someone else, and tries to kill you.  He was crazy….he had the maximum number of health bars you can have (I think 18-20), and took about 45 minutes to kill.  He was rough, but somewhat predictable.  It was more of an endurance match than anything.  There were also these Absent Silhouette battles where you faced off against all the Organization XIII members that you defeated in Chain of Memories.  Those were a bitch too, but not nearly as bad as what was to come.  The final task was a secret area found in Hollow Bastien called the Cave of Remembrance.  This was a challenging level where you had to use all the skills you had (like glide, double jump, etc) to navigate, and once you got to the end, you had to battle all 13 Organization members, only this time they were all much, much harder.  I probably attempted each one 15-20 times (sometimes more), as they all employed the same tactics as their previous battles (either as the Absent Silhouette or the level boss battles), but this time they had WAY more health.  They were killer, but I still think the mushrooms were harder.  After completing all this though, and you beat the game (again), you get an extra ending video showcasing what might be coming (which extends from the one you saw earlier with the 3 Keyblade masters).

Overall, I loved the game.  I was thinking all the Organization XIII stuff would just be dumb, but knowing that they’ve expanded on them in later games (which I have no idea about), I really appreciated it this time around.  I also really loved the gameplay too.  There was much less focus on platforming (except the Cave of Remembrance, but it wasn’t too bad), and way more on the cool fights.  I’m really excited about what’s to come next.

I’ll be playing the DS game 358/2 days next (I’ve actually already started….been trying to complete this blog post for a while).  I’ll be posting initial impressions shortly.

Thanks for following along, and until next time…

Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix Initial Impressions

Kh2fmp_logoAs mentioned in my last post, I’ve already started into Kingdom Hearts 2, and so far am having a great time.  I decided this time to play the Final Mix version, which up until now was a Japanese-only release.  It was announced a couple months ago that Square Enix will be releasing a Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD collection sometime later in 2014 (which will include KH2 Final Mix, along with Birth by Sleep and the cutscenes from Re: Coded), but I couldn’t wait.  I discovered that there was an english patch made for the Japanese version, so I’m playing through that through an emulator.  Yeah, I know that might not be super kosher with some people, but it was ripped from my own personal copy (yes, I had a copy laying around that I imported from Japan ages ago), so I don’t think that’s much of a problem.

Now, onto the game.  First major thing with this game is that you don’t actually start the game as Sora.  You start as a guy named Roxas, who does look a bit like Sora though.  The game begins in a place called Twilight Town (which was also a level in Chain of Memories), and you’re with your friends just before they go back to school.  A bunch of stuff happens (like fighting Vivi from FF9 and Setzer from FF6!!), and it’s eventually revealed that Roxas used to be a member of Organiation XIII, but he doesn’t remember any of that.  He eventually stumbles across Sora (who was inside that machine that was being used to reconstruct his memories), and finally you gain control of him.  This is where the game opens up, and feels more like KH1.  You get to go back to Hallow Bastion (where everyone from Traverse Town ended up), and even get to make a trip to Mickey’s Castle.  I’m only about 10 hours in, so I have a long way to go, but as I said above, I’m having a great time (by the way, the Beast is awesome again!!!).

The gameplay this time is so much better than KH1.  You really feel awesome right from the get-go.  Sora starts whipping his Keyblade around like an expert (which I suppose he should be).  He even has a mode now where he can duel-wield Keyblades.  You’re still equipping items and stuff like before, but there’s many more skills this time around.  The enemies do seem a bit harder, and I don’t know if that’s just me not being high enough levelled, or just aren’t utilizing the combat system well enough.  I haven’t been throwing the controller yet though, so that’s good.  There hasn’t been many platforming sections either, which is a god-send because I’m not sure even the traversal this time would hold up (the first game was horrible, and while improved this time, still way too floaty).  The camera also works like an action RPG should.

Overall, I’m very happy with this game so far, and am happy with how it looks too (thanks to the emulator spitting this game out at glorious 1080p).  I’ll post another update in the next little while….hopefully not too long though :)

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories HD


So yeah…I realize this is pretty late, but I wanted to throw up my thoughts on Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories for the PS3.  As I said before, this game was included in the same package as KH1 HD, and I had never actually played this version before (only the GBA version).

For the gameplay, it’s a card-based action RPG.  I know that it might sound a bit weird, but here’s how it works:  You get a deck of cards with attack values on them (between 0 and 9), and every button press uses up a card.  Enemies will use their cards too, and as long either the enemy doesn’t play a card, or your card is higher than their’s, you’ll get to attack.  Outside of just attack cards, you also have use magic (fire, lighting, etc) and restoration (cure, refill deck, etc) cards.  There’s also enemy and summon cards, but I never made much use of them.

When not in combat though, you’re wandering through the floors of a place called Castle Oblivion, where Sora, Donald and Goofy find themselves after the events of KH1.  Each of the floors are themed in the worlds from KH1, like Agrabah, Hallow Bastion, and others.  Each of the floors are divided up into various rooms that need to be unlocked with cards too.  Each of these “map” cards puts a modifier on the room, like making the enemies easier/harder, have a shop, or even a save point.  Because of this, you have a lot of choice in how the levels are actually play out, which is pretty cool.  Most of the art was taken from KH1 as well (as this game is now fully polygonal, unlike the sprite-based original), so it looks pretty good.

The story this time around is quite a bit different from KH1.  We now start to learn a bit more about the universe of Kingdom Hearts.  Obviously after the first game, Ansem couldn’t have been the only big bad guy.  You learn about the people really pulling the strings, an organization known only as Organization XIII.  These 13 members are known as “Nobodies” (which you learn more about in KH2), but have an agenda.  They want to turn Sora to their side so they can gain the power of the Keyblade.  So when you’re not battling bosses in the levels themselves, you’re usually fighting members of the Organization.  The way they try to take over Sora is through a girl known as Naminé.  She has the power to reorganize someones memories, and she does just that to Sora.  She makes it so Sora eventually forgets Kairi and concentrates solely on Naminé.  They almost succeed, but there are a couple rebellious members in the Organization, and they tip Sora off to what’s going on.  Eventually Sora prevails and convinces Naminé to reconstruct his memories…the catch of course being that he’ll forget her and everything about Castle Oblivion.  That’s where we end up, and this is where we find Sora at the start of KH2.

Now, after this all happens, you have the ability to play the game over again, but this time as Riku.  Now, when you play as Sora, you end up fighting Riku multiple times, but it turns out this was a copy, and the real Riku was also trapped in Castle Oblivion, but in the basement.  You work your way up in the same manner as Sora did, and eventually battle Ansem again.  With King Mikey’s help, Riku learns that he still has a lot of good in him, and he can use the darkness still inside to his advantage.

The gameplay this felt totally different from when I played it last time, and while it looked good, I’m not certain I really liked the battles taking place in a real 3D space.  Maybe this is just me coming off the first game (which was a proper action RPG), but this time every attack uses a card.  You can attack pretty much as fast as you could in KH1, but that’s not a good thing because you need to be very careful with how you use your cards, as they can now be broken.  I also found most of the regular enemies were very easy, but by the time I got to the bosses, they kept kicking my ass.  I threw my controller more than once after dying for the 20th time on a boss.  I slogged through it, but only because I wanted to proceed through the story, not because the combat was good.  Granted, I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn all the ins and outs of the system (as I said before, I rarely used summon or enemy cards), but then shouldn’t the regular enemies also be pretty hard?  You’d think they’d try to teach you how to effectively use all that stuff.

I still had a fun enough time with the game, even if it was only with the story.  Learning about Oranization XII was cool, and watching them betray each other was fun.  Watching Sora almost lose it trying to get to Naminé was great.  Then having him realize what’s going on at the end, and making the decision to forget everything was a pretty powerful character building moment for him.  Watching Riku battle his inner demons too was great.  He spends the whole game fighting the darkness, but realizes he can be more powerful with it…and having King Mickey there to guide him through this decision was pretty cool.

So, where does this leave me…well, I’ve already started into KH2, so I’ll be posting my initial impressions here shortly.  Not sure how long it will take me to get through this, but hopefully not too long…then it’ll be on to the handheld games.

Until next time…

Kingdom Hearts HD Final Update

So, I was anticipating having more of these updates as I went, but random things kept getting in the way, so I actually ended up finishing the game before I had a chance to write another post.  But, I’ll wrap up my thoughts here.

I left off last time about to start Hollow Bastion.  As expected, having Beast in my party was a lot of fun.  What was not so fun was a lot of the platforming bits, and areas with no ledges.  Locking onto an enemy to start a combo just to have the game drag you off the edge halfway through was not exactly my idea of gripping gameplay.  And the slow cutscenes that you have to sit through as you make your way up the lifts just adds to the pain.  But, I made it all the way up and handled Maleficent and Riku without much trouble.  After I was done there, I went right ahead and blasted through all of The End of the World level, and got up to the last save spot before the final boss.  As with a lot of RPG’s I’m a little OCD, so I decided I was gonna finish up all the side stuff.  Game time roughly when I made this decision?  Probably around 35 hours give or take.

So, the trek back through the rest of the game now begins.  I went back to get all the Trinity marks (thank god they moved the one that was missable in Halloween Town).  I then was going to push for all the synthesis items, then realized it was gonna take me hours…then tried to do some of the side bosses, but again realized it was gonna take me hours to grind up to a high enough level.  Ditto goes for the Coliseum cups.  I honestly almost gave up at this point, but I just buckled down and took it step-by-step.

I started by getting as far as I could in the Hades cup.  I managed to get through it the first time, and then again with just Sora.  No way I was able to do the time trial though (hell, I couldn’t yet do the previous cups’ time trials).  I then started going through the worlds, getting as much of the synthesis materials I could.  The guide I was using was mostly for the original KH, not the Final Mix version, so some of my earlier attempts at trying to get materials before I needed them didn’t really pan out.  After getting enough items to open up the 4th list of items, I went back to beating 2 of the side bosses I had left (the one in Agrabah and the stupid Phantom in Neverland…what a bastard).  By this point, I made it up to around level 75.  I figured I’d give Sephiroth a try…yeah, no.  That didn’t work.  I realized I honestly just needed to grind more, and get enough synthesis materials to get the Ultima Weapon.

So, out into the world I go.  After chopping down what felt like millions of heartless, I got all the materials I needed.  Side effect of all this searching?  I’m not level 92.  Yeah.  Lets just say Sephiroth wasn’t much of a challenge anymore.  I figured I’d also give the last secret boss a shot (The Unknown).  This was late at night, and figured I’d lose, but may as well give it a go.  Well, turned out he was much easier than even Sephiroth.  So much for hardest boss in the game.

I’m now level 99, and the game clock now reads just shy of 50 hours.  I honestly can’t believe I grinded for 15 hours.  It really didn’t feel like it (which is probably a good thing).  Obviously by this point, the final boss was just a walk in the park.  Fly up to him, bash on the A button, and win.  Game, set and match.  And spoiler alert, but how awesome was it seeing King Mickey there at the end?

It was sorta sad to be done with it already, but am now excited to get going on Chain of Memories.  I had played the Gameboy Advance version way back when it came out, but never played the 3D remake they did for the PS2, so I’m looking forward to seeing how its changed.  It’s also pretty heavy on story if I recall, so we now get into the meat and potatoes of Kingdom Hearts.

Until next time…

KH HD First Impressions – Small update

Just wanted to add a couple extra things to my last post about how I’m going through this game…

I chose to take the staff route at the beginning.  I’m usually a magic user in most RPG’s, so I stuck with it this time too.  I believe I played it this way my last time through too.

I’m probably not going to do a full 100% completionist playthrough this time for a few reasons.  First of all, if I’m going to be going through all these games, I just don’t have the time to put 100+ hours into each of them, and in all reality, a lot of the mini games in KH HD aren’t very good or fun (the Jungle slide thing comes to mind).  I will be trying to get all the Trinity marks as well as all the Dalmatians, since you tend to find most of these things just playing through the game normally anyways.  I’ll also try to do all the side bosses (including the new one I hear was added to the Final Mix version).  We’ll see if I can actually do it without spending too much time.  Oh, and I’m basically saying fuck the Gummi ship stuff….I don’t think I know a single person who ever liked those things, and like hell if I’ll be putting in any time into that stupid mini game thing besides using it to get to new worlds.  Whatever possessed the developers to put this stupid thing in the game in the first place?  At least in this version is “seems” easier…either that, or I’ve just gotten better at putting up with dumb shit in games…

Oh, I am also using a guide…I know, I know.  Some people don’t like guides, but they help me blast through the game much quicker.  I’m not using them to spoil any of the story (even though I’ve played this game before)…it’s just there to help speed things up, that’s all.  Once I get to the games I haven’t played yet (like the DS and PSP games), I may change my mind at that point.  We’ll see.

I am currently about 20 hours in.  Just finished up Neverland last night, and am currently wrapping up some side stuff before I head to Hollow Bastion.  Looking super forward to this…I remember loving having the Beast in my party :)

Until next time…