Seeing that Gamespot released a launch center for the arrival of "Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days", I figured I would do a sneak-peek review since I've played the JPN version already.
"358/2 Days" takes place in between Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts 2. To be more specific, it takes place right after Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, chronologically speaking of course.
This game gives us more background on the mysterious character in Kingdom Hearts 2 named Roxas (If you haven't played the series, please skip this or wiki the storyline out). All we know from KH2 is that Roxas is Sora's Nobody, created when Sora became a Heartless. However we don't really know much about Roxas' own background, his own life in Organization XIII. Many fans loved using Roxas and is disappointed that you stop using him early in KH2 (who doesn't like duel wielding keyblades!). Thus that's what this game is for: Roxas. Here's a brief overview of the story:
Roxas, unlike most Nobodies, does not have memories of his counterpart (aka Sora) before he was created. He was found my Xemnas and became the 13th member of Organization XIII. There he was mentored by Axel ("A-X-E-L, got that memorized?") who ended up, as we all know, as Roxas' very good friend . Soon, a 14th member named Xion joined the Organization. Okay I'm threading near the spoiler line here, so all I can say is: Roxas and Xion ended up as close friends, since they are kinda alike like not having memories of their counterpart. Then a plot twist concerning Xion's true purpose happened (omg so close to spoilers!).
You wonder if Roxas ever gets sick of the same ice cream in this game...
Anyway, it's still about the life of Roxas overall. 358/2 means '358 work days and 2 days off' as bluntly stated by one of my friends. Unlike other Kingdom Hearts games, this one is quest/mission based. There are main missions and side missions on every world you visit (yes you still go around Disney worlds). Main missions advance the storyline, side missions gives very nice rewards and self-satisfaction for your greedy perfectionist self, so usually, you would want to complete everything. Hence, you will end up visiting the same world over and over again, just that you will be doing different things each time. However, there isn't many variations of things you can do, so the game CAN get boring at many points of time.
So bottom line is, the game can end up feeling like a grindfest. Then again, there is MULTIPLAYER. Yes, I said it: MULTIPLAYER, which you and your friends can revisit missions and play cooperatively or competitively. This way, everyone can grind together! (I just destroyed the mood there I think)
Combat remains pretty much the same
Combat is still the same as the ole KH1 and KH2. I'm a little surprised they managed to pull it off on a Nintendo DS. You beat enemies, they drop green balls that restore HP, bubbles that restore NP and colorful balls which gives you money. Oh yes, they finally added in LIMIT BREAKS to the game. But what IS new is the Panel System.
The Panel System is a very interesting way to customize your character. It determines you equipment, your spells, your stats all in one interface. For example, if you place three 1x1 'Fire' power-up panel on three 1x1 empty slots, you are able to cast 'Fire' 3 times. If you place a level up power-up panel, your character will level up (you don't gain levels normally in this game, you 'equip' levels). As you progress through the game, you will be given more slots as well as more powerful power-ups to equip. The power-up panels may exist in several different odd shapes, causing you to try to fit in the power-ups you want like a jigsaw puzzle. It almost feels like the 'koma' system from Jump Ultimate Stars series.
The panel system rules your character.
We are only a few days till the arrival of the English release, so for those hoping it wouldn't suck, I would confidently say that it doesn't. At least, if you are a Kingdom Hearts fan, I don't see how it would suck for you. You get to use Roxas after all :)
Anyways, I'm planning to get this game because my save file for the JPN version recently died and I would like to listen to the English voices, the way I played the rest of the KH games. I didn't really like Roxas' japanese voice anyway. Here's the E3 trailer:
- You get to use Roxas!
- Smooth gameplay, alike to KH1 and KH2
- Panel system is a great customization system and it actually does not suck
- Good story overall. I liked the Xion plot twist.
- Story that sets up the KH2 stage satisfyingly (ie there's no empty time 'holes')
- Hard mode available for those worried about difficulty
- Repeating maps may be boring
- Repeating maps may be boring...really
- Repeating maps may be boring...really, so get a friend to play along.
- Some map 'puzzles' can be tedious and boring (Square Enix does it again!)
- Story doesn't pick up until towards the end.
- Not enough quest variations, so repeating maps may be..._______.
NeetGeek gives "Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days": 7.5/10