Game Review: Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Release: September 7th, 2010
Developer: Square Enix
Available Platforms: PlayStation Portable
Players: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E 10+
The Official Kingdom Hearts Site
First I’d like to start off with a huge apology to the P*N readers. This should have been up quite a while ago. I wanted to get the full game done for you guys, and I’ve been really busy lately. Thank you for your patience!
Long before Sora is chosen by his Keyblade, the worlds’ safety lay in the hands of others known as the true Keyblade Masters.
It is under one of these, Master Eraqus, that three young people have been training long and hard to prove that thye, too, exhibit the Mark of Mastery: Terra, Ventus, and Aqua.
The three of them will soon find themselves in the middle of a crisis affecting worlds far beyond their own – just as another Keyblade Master, Xehanort, goes mysteriously missing.
Three friends, three purposes; one grim fate toward which they must unknowlingly march…
(Taken from inner game booklet.)
There are no spoilers in this review.
I’m normally not a fan of prequels, but they did a beyond amazing job with this one. Birth by Sleep takes place 10 years before the events of the original Kingdom Hearts. You will spend the entire game realizing how and why they did things in the original, and why everything happen the way it did.
Your three main characters are all students that want to become Keyblade Masters. When they are brought forward to see who has made it and who has not, things don’t go exactly as you would expect, and the drama starts. These three characters are Ventus, a boy who admires his two friends and would do anything to help them; Aqua, a young woman with amazing bravery; and Terra, a young man compelled to be the best he can be. You will use each of these characters, go through their story, and eventually understand fully the entire beginning to Kingdom Hearts.
Like the Kingdom Hearts games you’ve played before, you start out in one world in a big galaxy full of other places to travel. Each destination has a fighting level (so obviously you wouldn’t want to start right off at level 5…) and a completion percentage so that you know if you’ve a) been there, and b) are finished with the world. The thing that I noticed right off the bat is that you easily fly from one planet to another, there are no “space battles” to get through between each world. I wasn’t too upset about this since I wasn’t a big fan of building the ship in the first game.
Each world is being overrun by Unversed (a lot like the Heartless) and it is your job to rid the world of them, help where you can, save your friends, and save pretty much everyone else as well. Where they perfected the story in this, I think, is with the additions to the Disney stories. We all know what happened with Cinderella but, did you know, it wasn’t just Gus that helped her escape when she was locked in her room? No, Ventus actually had a hand in it. And you thought the Prince in Sleeping Beauty vanquished the dragon by himself? Of course not, he had help from Aqua! The little tweaks to the stories meshed perfectly with the game, showing just enough behind the scenes footage to open your eyes to brand new versions of our favorite Disney movies.
Another great thing they did here was keep the same game-play system though they added a few new perks. You customize a “deck” of commands you want to use, no more learning a series of buttons. It can be switched any time (outside of battle) so that you can be prepared for each fight. You also now have a Command System that, when the gauge is full, initiates a different command style you can use to take down your enemy. Imagine it’s kind of like an “overdrive” in battle that brings new abilities to the table.
Another new and exciting ability for battle is the D-Link (Dimension Link). Let’s say you’re over helping out Cinderella, and Terra is with Sleeping Beauty. In the middle of battle you can call to your D-Link and connect with someone in order to use their specific abilities. You only have so much time though before the gauge runs out and you have to wait for it to refill again. Not only do you take D-Links for the other characters you can play, but you also connect with non-playable characters as well (example Experiment 626 from Lilo & Stitch).
Then you have the Command Board. Very interesting way to level up, probably the most interesting way I’ve seen so far in a game. It’s like a board game, just you’re the pawn and your commands are what you will place on the board so that when someone lands on them, you level up. You also pick up new commands along the way. When you start the game you only have access to one Command Board, but as you continue to keep playing, they will start to open up more. An easy, but strategically challenging way to level up your commands.
Another bit of fun that was brought to the table is the ability to play with multiple people. Supporting up to 6 players at a time, there are many different ways you can play with others. Versus, Arena, Rumble Racing, and the command board.
I have only two complaints. My first one is related to this game only. Since it’s on the PSP, the load times are insane. Very worth it, but frustrating at the same time.
My second complaint has been a constant throughout each of the Kingdom Hearts games I’ve played. If you use Cure in the middle of a battle it should heal you, correct? If you get hit while you are casting Cure, nine out of ten times it won’t fully work. Talk about beyond irritating. You’re then stuck waiting for your command to recharge and trying not to get the crap beaten out of you.
Now for the basics. I was really happy with how good the graphics are, especially on the PSP. This is probably why the load times are horrible, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Music is fantastic as usual. Simple and Clean was brought back as the main song (great song, used it in my wedding), and many backgrounds and sound effects were also brought back into the game.
All in all. I would recommend it. Highly. If you have a PSP, get it. If you don’t have a PSP, get a PSP, then get the game. If you are a fan of the Kingdom Hearts games so far, you will fall in love with this game.