Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dream Drop DEAD

It is already public knowledge that I am a massive Kingdom Hearts fanatic, so to start my first post on this blog about something from the franchise seemed most fitting.

I recently finished Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and the entire experience felt almost… quick. I began playing it immediately after finishing the first KH game (that experience is somewhat chronicled here), and the whole thing took me a week to finish without a walkthrough. (Knowing my history, this is record time as it is.) My actual gameplay was almost 25 hours, though it wasn't like I managed to take home the 100% completion award.

That's hardly what I'd call an A+, son.

I really did not bother with the plot. I was with Alex in spirit (read: online) when she played KH3D the first time around, and we thoroughly discussed the complex storyline back then. When I finally got to play this game for myself, I hardly paid attention to the story- or rather, I could barely keep up. It hardly made sense, and by the time I finished the game I had no idea just wtf happened.

(Don't worry, I know enough anyway.)

KH3D should also be called Kingdom Hearts: Pokemon, because in replacement of having Donald and Goofy in our party, we get to have an army of cute and colorful creatures called Dream Eaters.

All images from here on out are either from or

With the right materials and necessary recipes, you can create new Dream Eaters to add to your arsenal. Leveling up isn't only through battle; your Dream Eater's stats are raised when you play with them (via petting with your stylus or using the toys you find in-game.) This feature gave a sort of Nintendogs feel to the game, though it wasn't unwelcomed for me. I can't really tell you much on its AI because I didn't really notice how much of a difference it made in my gameplay, but the fact that I don't get to hand over some potions and whatnot to my Dream Eaters means my items are never wasted. *coughDolanplscough* I feel like the Donald and Goofy tandem could inflict more damage on enemies though, but maybe that's just me.

Replacing the Gummi Ship mini-game from previous titles is the Dive Mode. To get from world to world, you basically... dive. It's like the Gummi Ship without the ship and shooting; in Dive Mode, you are tasked to either collect points before time runs out, or defeat a mini-boss before you can move on to the next world.

I was never much of Gummi Ship fan, to be honest. I have no significant feelings for Dive Mode, however I did find it much easier (not to mention shorter, save for those mini bosses) than having to sit through Gummi Ship mini games.

My biggest issue about this game was the Drop System. I really don't like having timers on me when it comes to games, so watching the Drop Gauge slowly deplete was a little pressuring. Moreover, I just did not appreciate Sora/Riku suddenly falling asleep while I was in the middle of exploring or going hack-n-slash-happy. It got a little disorienting and frustrating, ESPECIALLY IN BOSS FIGHTS I MEAN YOU DON'T JUST FALL ASLEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF A BOSS FIGHT UM

As much of a cockblock the Drop System was, I think I gradually got used to it towards the latter half of the game. I'd grind some and get the timing right, even deliberately dropping to the alternate character at times. Still though, the whole Drop System was just… annoying.

And then there's Flowmotion. Flowmotion is like Dodge Roll on drugs with a sprinkle of fairy dust. You basically charge into your enemies (and occasionally make fancy turns around lamp posts and other erect pillars like a stripper's pole) for fast and extra damage. Flowmotion allows you to explore certain areas of a map that aren't normally accessible with just high jumps alone, which is pretty convenient for those hard-to-reach treasure chests.

Plus I mean getting around via Flowmotion is just cool beans. You bounce off walls. You glow. You basically get high... literally. It's interesting to hear that Squeenix is developing Flowmotion and letting it bleed into KH3 because while the difficulty level of KH3D ranks higher on the scales, the Flowmotion feature somehow balances that out.

On that note, let's talk about the difficulty level. Maybe it was just me, but sometimes my hands felt a little cramped playing on the 3DS, so there were times when battling felt kinda awkward. But talking about the actual difficulty level... I dunno. I had just finished the first KH game before KH3D, and I had often overestimated boss fights in the former.

With KH3D though, I guess I'll put it a bit above KH2 in terms of difficulty. It took me a few tries with the Anti Black Coat boss fight; he had one attack that could sap out all your HP, and you'd be done with if you don't have the Second Chance ability equipped. (That, or he really deliberately spares you 1HP as a troll gift lol.)

The infamous Young Xehanort battle. Skip to 6:16 for the actual battle.

I remember Alex really struggling with Babynort (a.k.a Young Xehanort) and how scared I was for my impending doom of facing said boss fight. I mean, if Alex struggled, what more myself? To my surprise, the Babynort battle only took me one try, though I did miss a Reality Shift opportunity the first time. I think I really lucked out with that boss fight though. I had no idea what was going on, and in the final phase of the fight where you slash away at the clock, I was thinking, "OK I GOTTA FINISH THIS OFF I CAN HEAR THE CLOCK TICKING WHAT IF TIME REWINDS IF I DON'T FINISH THIS FAST ENOUGH AAAAH" Turns out that IS what happens if you fail to defeat the clock in time, which is difficult because that's when Babynort gets REALLY aggressive. I think my panic worked to my advantage because it was all pretty much tunnel vision for me by then.

Skip to 7:28 for the final boss fight.

The final, final boss fight was also difficult for me, though it did seem much shorter than the Babynort battle. It's hard to pinpoint the real 'final boss' here because the last boss fights come in waves: Xemnas is the last for Sora, and you automatically drop to Riku, wherever you are in the game as the latter character. With Riku, there's the Anti Black Coat battle, after which you aren't given a chance to save (my ultimate nightmare) because two battles with Xehanort's Heartless (or 'Ansem') immediately follow. After that and a couple of cutscenes in between, you get to save, then off you go to Babynort, then cutscenes again, and then the final, final boss fight commences.

Alex and I have several nicknames for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Some of them include "KH3D: GDI XEHANORT" or "KH3D: The boss fight saga" because wow so many Xehanorts wow so many boss battles.

I'm going to give KH3D another try; maybe I'll attempt secret boss Julius and obtain the Ultima Keyblade because I have never been able to acquire an Ultima Weapon in any KH game. To conclude, it took a while for me to get used to KH3D (especially with Flowmotion) and some of the boss fights were challenging, but I really did enjoy myself in the end. Even if the story was lost to me from the very beginning.

Then again this IS a Kingdom Hearts game, so really, of course I'm going to like it.

- Ina

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