Kingdom Hearts, the title of Square Enix’s popular RPG title mixed with Disney characters that has received international acclaim since its inception. With two original games and the spin-off known as Chain of Memories, the series has been met with very favourable reviews. Onwards to Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, the title that takes place in the events occurring between the first and second Kingdom Hearts with a unique storyline of its own.
The game follows the tale of Roxas, the nobody created when Sora sacrificed himself to release Kairi’s heart in the original game. While Sora remains asleep, Roxas is recruited as an Organization XIII member and is sent on various missions to do their bidding. With no memories of Sora’s past, Roxas is accompanied by allies such as Axel, other comrades, and Xion, the enigmatic fourteenth member of Organization XIII. Along your journey, you will encounter friends and foes alike that will be instantly recognizable for Kingdom Hearts veterans and fans. Even if you haven’t played Kingdom Hearts before, the slew of Disney characters in this game never fails to put a smile on many peoples’ faces.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days treads a lot of familiar ground that fans will recognize throughout the game’s various missions. The newest feature in this game is the Panel System where you level up your characters by customizing them via installation of panels. All of your magic, equipment, items and weapons are stored as panels. With the exception of synthesis materials, panels can be installed and uninstalled at will with certain magic spells available only if the specific panel is equipped. Link Panels allow you to equip other abilities that are unlockable in the game.
In a move reminiscent of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series, you can unleash Limit Breaks upon unsuspecting foes in battle when your health is extremely low. With the help of an installed panel, you can unleash a Final Limit Break, which is a stronger and more powerful version of your character’s existing Limit Break, to destroy surrounding enemies.
The most promising feature is the inclusion of the multiplayer mode. You can now partner up with your friends to fight cooperatively via Wi-Fi. The multiplayer portion is a mode entirely separate from the single player story with its own fair share of mission-based combat. It is up to you whether you choose to play as the Organization XIII members or as the Disney cast of characters that include Mickey, Goofy and Donald Duck.
Visually, the game is impressive with ample consideration given to the fact that Kingdom Hearts has been compressed into a DS title. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is a disappointment as many tunes and background themes are reused from previous Kingdom Hearts installments. Considering Square Enix’s track record when it comes to music, this will come as a big shock to many Kingdom Hearts fans.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a title that appeals strongly to series fans and veterans. Regrettably, those who have yet to play Kingdom Hearts may wish to reconsider buying this game and divert their attention back to playing the original game first. This DS title is not bad by any means, but it is certainly the weakest installment of the Kingdom Hearts series so far. However, to its credit, the game is still a charming and fun title to play for Kingdom Hearts enthusiasts and fans alike.