Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kingdom Hearts: Death By Feels

What game got me into a gaming slump? Kingdom Hearts.

What game got me out of a gaming slump? Kingdom Hearts.

THIS Kingdom Hearts game, in particular.

I have had a long and tumultuous journey with Birth By Sleep. I made several failed attempts at trying to get it on my PSP way back when, but eventually I just gave up because it wasn't going to happen. Enter the anticipation for KH2.5, and boy was I excited. Imagine having to miss out on this piece of magic for so many years until an HD remake finally came out on the PS3. I was totally psyched.

Having played Dream Drop Distance prior to BBS, I was no stranger to the battle system. While the first and second numbered entries in the franchise are the most similar in gameplay, BBS and 3D have a similar battle system as well. I've heard a lot of people claiming that BBS was one of the hardest games in the franchise, and I have to agree. Some of the boss fights here -- particularly the final bosses -- were incredibly hard and epic. Boss battles typically intimidate me, but after Terra's final boss I was so pumped at having cleared it. I can't express how stressful some of the final bosses were; oftentimes my hands would be shaking in adrenaline after finally beating Terranort, most especially the first Terranort I encountered. BBS has one of the hardest bosses in the whole series, not counting optional superbosses. I feel like playing this game on a PSP would have been more difficult, because honestly having to press so many buttons with fast reflexes might feel a little cramped on a handheld.

One thing this game shoves down your throat is the value of blocking. I was always the kind of player who would blindly attack, evade, heal, rinse and repeat. But never block. The final bosses (a.k.a. anything Terranort) made blocking a necessity, to the point that you had no way of winning if you didn't block.

Another thing I learned to value was magic, particularly with Aqua, the resident mage. The only magic I ever used in KH were Cure spells to replenish my health, and occasionally Magnet and Aero spells. But with Aqua, utilizing different types of magic allows you to enter several command styles, giving you different skills unique to each command style.

Out of the three characters, I think I enjoyed Ven's fighting style the most. Besides his agility, his fighting style closely resembles that of Sora's, so needless to say it was the most familiar of the three. I really enjoyed Terra's evasion though, and while Aqua's Cartwheel felt a bit flimsy at times, it was at least as invincible as Dodge Roll.

Images from KH Wikia!

BBS also features mini-games in a new world called Mirage Arena. Here, you can play a board game (literally), a racing game, and level up via fighting in matches. I only played the Command Board once (the game's AI is impossibly smart, or maybe I just really suck) and only pursued some of the matches to get a Secret Report in order to unlock the Final Episode.

Playing three characters provides different points of view to create the overall story. Some scenes can get repetitive at times, especially when you're just starting out another character's story, but there's always that option to skip the cutscene should you wish to.

Archive Completion: 70%. I never really make it to 100%...

Collectively, my gameplay time went under 30 hours; 28, to be exact, just a little over my game duration for KH3D. In numbers that seems a little short, but maybe it's because I usually play games to finish the storyline and not complete every single nook and cranny the game has to offer. I just finished the game today and have yet to check out the additional features the Final Mix edition has, but I am aware of some of the superbosses and how... impossible they are.

This was such a great game, and such a great prequel to the series. As a KH fan, I think it's imperative to play this, not just for the story, but for the actual gameplay. It's really up there in the ranks of my imaginative "Best Entries in the KH Franchise" shelf.

ALSO, THE FEELS. THIS IS THE KH GAME WITH THE MOST FEELS. THE END. This makes me so excited for KH3 now, like you can't even believe.

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