Platform: Nintendo 3DS/XL
Reviewed by: Darryl Linington
Back in 2002 the world of gaming was introduced to a very special gaming title, Kingdom Hearts, which proved to be a title that not only captured the heart, but also remained as a comforting memory for gamers who experienced its sensational storyline, unique gameplay and eye-catching visual appeal. Fast forward to 2012 and Kingdom Hearts is back, only this time on the Nintendo 3DS. Developed and published by Square Enix, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is the latest instalment in the Kingdom Hearts series.
For those of you who have not experienced past Kingdom Hearts titles, here is a background of the storyline: The first game in the Kingdom Hearts series follows Sora, Riku and Kairi. Sora is unwillingly separated from his friends when their world, Destiny Islands, is invaded by the Heartless; however, during the invasion, Sora obtains the ability to wield the Keyblade, which allows him to fend off the relentless attack of the Heartless. Soon after obtaining the Keyblade, Sora arrives in Traverse Town where he meets Donald Duck and Goofy, who have been sent by King Mickey to find the wielder of the Keyblade. The trio then embarks on an unforgettable journey, through various Disney-themed worlds, in order to prevent further invasions by the Heartless.
The Kingdom Hearts series also includes: Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts: Recoded, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 and now Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance follows the story of Sora and Riku, who have now been tasked to take on the Mark of Mystery exam in order for them to become full-fledged Keyblade Masters and counter the coming return of Master Xehanort. As part of this trial, the two are separated from each other and sent to worlds previously destroyed by the Heartless that have since been restored, though now in a state of “deep sleep” that disconnects them from the other worlds.
These seven worlds are plagued by Dream Eaters — creatures born from darkness that seek out the sleeping worlds’ Keyholes. Sora and Riku’s given task is to reawaken the sleeping worlds by unlocking the seven Keyholes they find there and then return to the realm of light, recruiting benevolent “Spirit” Dream Eaters to guide them and battle the malevolent “Nightmare” Dream Eaters, after which they will be deemed Keyblade Masters.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance features a thrilling, and emotional storyline, which truly makes it a great addition to the Kingdom Hearts series. Additionally, if you have had the pleasure of playing the previous instalments, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance will certainly bring back some really great memories.
When it comes to gameplay, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance mixes things up with the introduction of Flowmotion combat. Flowmotion allows the player to perform spectacular special attacks and dodge enemies in grace and style. Furthermore, it can be used to traverse various buildings and speed across various environments at amazing speeds. While Flowmotion can be a bit touch-and-go on occasions, it is still a great addition to the Kingdom Hearts series.
Another new addition to Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is the Drop system, which basically forces you to switch between Sora and Riku’s overlapping storylines after a certain amount of time has passed. The Drop system is slightly intrusive at first, as your characters can be switched at any given moment; however, it gives you a larger scope of what is happening with the other character and prevents you from neglecting each character. The Drop system is quite honestly a great addition to this title. Additionally, Square Enix has done a brilliant job of making each characters storyline unique, which really adds to the depth of this title.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance also features the Command Deck that first graced Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. The Command Deck allows you to equip an array of abilities or items in order to overcome the truly memorable battles featured within this title. Additionally each ability features a cool down period, which will prevent you from using the same attacks over and over again. This adds a great sense of variety to this title and also increases the difficulty of the overall gameplay. The Command Deck can also be customised, in order to suite the players needs, which will allow you to setup each character to perform some devastating attacks.
With all these great additions to Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance what more could you want? Well, apart from the above mentioned features, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance also allows you to recruit various Dream Eaters, which offer assistance during the course of battle. Each Dream Eater is the equivalent to a virtual pet that will allow you to perform special attacks and combos when the Link meter is at its full capacity. Players can also interact with each Dream Eater by rubbing the stylus across the screen, which will also create a stronger bond between the character and the now tamed Dream Eater.
When it comes to graphics, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is a visually stunning title that really compliments the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. The character models have been designed with flair and creativity and the environments have been designed with the previous titles in mind. This truly brings Dream Drop Distance to life while staying true to the original Kingdom Hearts series. Additionally, the voice acting is spot-on and the music featured within this title is as equally as beautiful as the graphics.
While Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is a stunning title overall, it still suffers from a few issues. At times characters will not interact with the environment as expected; this is especially prominent when using Flowmotion in order to toss larger enemies across the battlefield. Additionally, you may find yourself trying to get to areas that seem accessible, but are not. This does not entirely take anything away from the overall experience in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance; however, it can become somewhat frustrating, especially during the heat of battle.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is a stunning addition to the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. It features a phenomenal storyline, gorgeous graphics and sound that truly compliment this titles ability to draw you into a world that is magical, inspiring and well crafted.
While Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is spectacular, it does however suffer from a few flaws. As stated above, characters will not interact with the environment as expected and you may find yourself trying to get to areas that seem accessible, but are not. This does not entirely take anything away from the overall experience in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance; however, it can become somewhat frustrating, especially during the heat of battle.
If you are a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series, Dream Drop Distance is definitely worth picking up; however, if you have never experienced Kingdom Hearts I suggest picking up a PlayStation 2, and every other console it has been featured on, and start familiarising yourself with the series, as it is truly inspiring.
Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Predominantly reviewed on Nintendo 3DS.