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[1/16/2010] Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

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#1
Devia Eleven

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* Square Enix
* h.a.n.d. Inc.
* Action Role-Playing
* Release: Sep 29, 2009
* ESRB: Everyone 10+


Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a side-story iteration of the Kingdom Hearts series. Released for the Nintendo DS portable console, it's a decent adventure for a transportable gaming system. The game itself takes place after Chain of Memories, and before Kingdom Hearts II, while Sora is asleep is his hibernation chamber. The Kingdom Hearts story presents itself to be complex while it is ultimately flawed instead. This game can clear up certain mysteries, such as Xion's true identity, Riku's actions, Namine's decisions, and so on. A player who is unfamiliar with the Kingdom Hearts storyline will be lost, because the game fails at fully explaining anything, using cutscenes with ambiguous messages to create a facade that Xion's past and ambitions are significant in every way. They are made especially for the die hard Kingdom Hearts fans who are aware of the characters.

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Throughout the entire game, you will play as Roxas, Sora's nobody. All missions are proposed and taken in the main hub, The World That Never Was, the castle owned by Organization XIII, and also, the ending world in Kingdom Hearts II. The game starts off rather rocky, as you will be participating in many simple tutorial missions with surprisingly good writing. Voice overs are only present in certain cutscenes, in real-time scenes, text boxes appear, but the writing style that wonderfully depicts the different characteristics of each Organization member compensates for the lack of actual speech.

The story begins from Roxas's birth, and as you progress through the game Roxas becomes more socially experienced and emotionally attached to certain members. The combat system involves the occasional button mash wail around your keyblade malarkey. In this iteration, there aren't certain keyblades to equip, etc. Instead, the game implements the simple "panel" system. As a new mission is a completed, a new box will appear in the grid of the panel system. Certain objects, (Hi-Potion, Blizzara, High Jump, Lvl Up), will take a certain amount of boxes to use. Similar to Tetris, you can customize your panel so that all desired items will be equipped in an orderly fashion. Instead of certain keyblades, there are "Gears", fully customizable groups of boxes that can be filled with, Power, Ability, Guard, or Magic, more than one can be equipped in one Gear, or vice versa. Other groups include Double Cast, or Level Up Doubler, which are used to be filled with their specific counter-parts. The Level Up Doubler, doubles one Level Up box, if it has four open slots, four Level Up boxes can be inserted, making you level 8 instead of four, multiple Level Up Doublers and Triplers do stack up. The same applies to magic, and the system is better understood while in-game.

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Momentarily after certain missions are completed, a special cut-scene will trigger, 90% of the time, having to do with the Clock Tower of Twilight Town, whilst Roxas, Axel, and sometimes Xion will sit with each other, discuss wonders and feelings, and consume sea-salt ice-cream. The worlds are taken directly from Kingdom Hearts 1, and instead of having Donald and Goofy accompany you throughout missions, you will be assigned certain Organization members to fight along side you instead. This is where Roxas will engage in conversation with said members, and trigger some rather interesting dialouge, mostly involving an Organization member insulting Roxas upon his feeble skills, or his stupidity. The missions are unsurprisingly repetitive, on seldom times, you will fight alongside two other Organization members simultaneously instead of one, but more frequently one is tagging along.

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All worlds are empty of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, considering the time-line. The Disney characters are indirectly and directly involved with Roxas's main objective. Nine times out of ten, you'll be completing objectives entailing, "Seek and destroy the Giant Heartless", or, "Kill all Heartless, Collect Hearts", and so on. After each mission is completed, depending on how many Heartless you've killed, and how many points you've gained, you will receive a Level Up block instead of physically leveling up, where the Level Up block can be equipped or un-equipped at will.

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The Moogle has made a return, coming back with the Synthesizing system, Level Up blocks can be bought or synthesized, every item mentioned above and even more can be created through the synthesizing process, including more. Items can be bought with money gathered, and ranking up will allow you to synthesize more powerful or complex items. Different keyblade gears comprise of distinctive combos and abilities, provide a somewhat fresh vibe to the standard one-two-three flip in mid air combos. A new limit ability has been implemented. On a certain section of your health bar, an orange overlay of color indicates that your Limit can be activated. After a certain amount of damage is taken, holding the attack button repetitively will unleashed a many rapid blows with the Keyblade, and only lasts for around seven seconds, Organization members also have this ability.

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As you engage in memorable Disney worlds, on the bottom screen of the DS, will be Sora also doing the same action as Roxas on the above screen, in a faded Television screen filter, of one needing better reception. Characters such as DiZ, Namine, Riku, make countless appearances, virtually no one is excluded from the story. Ties between Roxas, Xion, and Axel keeps the player considerably interested in progressing through the game. The gameplay is conspicuously repetitive, but to any Kingdom Hearts fan, this is of minor concern. The cut scenes are compressed videos using the PlayStation 2 graphics engine, and the graphics themselves are reasonably decent. Considering the cartridge size, the music is also slightly above mediocre, only because they are dumbed down versions of Yoko Shimomura's original compositions for Kingdom Hearts II. The game's multiplayer involves a Mission Mode where characters who aren't playable in the main game can be controlled.
They are direct imitations, with exception of the music for Castle Oblivion and other dungeons not seen in any other installations.

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With no surprise, the time is constructed in days, obviously leading up to the 358th work day of Roxas. Roxas's boss Saix refers to your missions as work, and not 358 days are actually witnessed, sometimes the game skips 20 or 30 days, indicating that those days were insignificant and best omitted or skipped. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days isn't right for a person who loves games with good stories, especially when the story can only be understood by playing the other main titles first. It can be picked up and played by any Action-RPG enthusiast, and is a game barely woth indulging in for the Nintendo DS, clocking in around 20-30 hours of gameplay.

Overall: 7.7

#2
Agozer

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A good review, as always. It seems that more and more games nowadays are constructed to follow a mission format, which doesn't fit a JRPG in my opinion. Unless it's a T-RPG, in which case I suppose it's fine. I also think it's a good thing that Square-Enix fleshes out the story behind Kingdom Hearts, but I'd much rather see them working on KHIII.

I still resent Square-Enix for never bothering to give westeners any of the massive special editions of their games (Final Mix+, etc., why is it that we never get those despite the editions have tons of new content and clearly being the definite versions?).

Need Kingdom Hearts III. If Disney gets their way, we'll get it.




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