After 30 hours (give or take) of world jumping, exploring (and getting lost), and frustrating boss fights, I finally finished Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance—the first KH game I ever finished. I feel so proud of myself.
The good thing about KH:DDD is that once you progress through the game, you unlock Chronicles—summaries of the previous games—thus giving you an idea of what has been happening in the previous games. For someone who has never finished a KH game, it was extremely helpful in keeping me out of…the darkness. But of course, nothing beats actually playing them. But that would have to wait.
For starters, I think Dream Drop Distance is comparatively easier than its relatives—the fact that I finished kind of proves that, I think. It also presents the interesting concept of switching between Riku and Sora in order to progress the story. The game starts with our two protagonists taking their Mark of Mastery exam in order to become Keyblade Masters. In order for them to do that, they must visit the seven sleeping worlds and open their Keyholes. They meet plenty of their old friends along the way as they fight through evil Nightmares and the ever persistent Organization members.
GRAPHICS: It’s Square Enix so I guess you should expect nothing less than stellar. Everything is pretty—the surroundings, the characters. I was stoked to see Neku and company from TWEWY all CG-ed up. Add in the 3DS’ 3D effect and, yeah, you get what I mean. Just imagine Cloud Strife in 3D.
SOUND: I tend to zone out when I play so I don’t really notice in-game sounds that much. In general, they do fit the world you’re in. Upbeat, techno sounds for the Tron world and orchestral music for the world Symphony of Sorcery. Again, Utada Hikaru lends her voice (and pen) to the game’s beautiful ending theme, as well as other songs in the game.
GAMEPLAY: Just like Crisis Core, KH:DDD requires you to press a multitude of buttons to do stuff. However, controls are in the same format as previous KH games—you cycle through your command deck at the lower left hand corner of your screen and press X to execute special attacks and magic. At the lower right hand, you can see your grinning face which, incidentally, is also your life bar. Once your face starts to look like it’s about to faint, that means you’re about to die. An easier way to find out is by looking through the green circle ‘round your face.
DDD also allows you to create Spirits—un-evil version of Nightmares who are, in a nutshell, your enemies. Spirits can help you through different ways and are like your virtual pets since you have to take care/bond with them so they’d follow your orders. Spirits are capable of Linking with you, giving you additional abilities depending on what Spirit you’re using. You can see their status just above your grinning face.
Finally, there is the Drop Gauge. It tells you how much time you have left until you, well, drop. Once you drop, you change to the other character. Say you’re playing Sora right now. Once Sora drops, you’ll wake up as Riku and continue where he left off. A Drop-Me-Not can help you keep from Dropping for a while longer—although I only realized this a little later on in the game. Shame.
Once you master the controls, everything else should be easy. Although another nifty trick they added to your arsenal is Flow Motion. It allows you to use walls, poles, and rails to move faster and easier—kind of like sliding through the air. It also helps you in battle as Flow Motion attacks tend to do plenty of damage to enemies.
REPLAYABILITY: I wouldn’t exactly call playing a game in different difficulty levels “replayability” but you can do that with DDD. You can also play the game to complete trophies, treasures, Nightmares and Spirits. Or if you missed the mini-game during the credits, you can do that too.
OVERALL: Challenging for expert gamers but do-able enough for KH virgins. The wealth of information in-game is a great backgrounder for non-KH players (like me), and a definitely nostalgic experience for hardcore fans. Of course, it’s an addition to your Kingdom Hearts collection as well as a very good title for gamers, in general.