3DS
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Game Info:

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Released: July 31, 2012
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
Available On: 3DS
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: 1
Price: $29 New

The mega-popular Kingdom Hearts series has been going on for ten years, continually giving fun games with interesting stories. As unusual as the Disney-meets-Final Fantasy concept is, the series has become one of the most popular modern RPG franchises. The latest entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, is a challenging yet enjoyable game. The new flowmotion mechanic, dream spirits, and colorful worlds make Kingdom Hearts 3D the all-around best game in the series thus far!

The story of Kingdom Hearts 3D picks up where the game Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded left off. The protagonist Sora and his friend Riku need to prove themselves as true masters of the keyblade, a key-like weapon that is used throughout the series. To do this, they must rescue worlds that are lost in slumber by unlocking the keyholes found in the worlds. The story is interesting, but it gets complex. There are some things that take place later in the story that I still don’t fully understand. However, unlike many other games, you can actually understand most of this story without playing the other games in the series first (although I would recommend playing the others). This is because the game comes with a glossary that defines key elements in the series, and also with a section called Chronicles that tells the basic plots of the previous games in the series.

The play style for this game is the best in the series. It maintains the elements that made the series so great, and adds more to it. As with the other games, you go to several worlds fighting enemies in real time battles. Fighting enemies gives you experience points which, when enough are gained, will allow you to level up. You also have deck commands, which let you do things like cast magic or do special attacks such as throwing the keyblade.

In the game, you play both Sora’s and Riku’s stories. Both characters have a drop meter that depletes as you play. When the meter runs out, you switch to the other character’s story. This is called “dropping.” You can also manually drop by pausing the game and tapping the drop button on the touch screen. The problem with dropping is that unless you manually drop regularly, you can end up dropping in the middle of a fight or boss battle. If you drop in the middle of a boss, you have to restart the battle when you drop again.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun gameplay, flowmotion mechanic makes the gameplay much flashier, awesome soundtrack, good voice acting and story
Weak Points:  Story gets complex near the end, some dialogue is odd
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence, H*ll is said once, some use of magic

The main element that makes Kingdom Hearts 3D so great is the new flowmotion mechanic. Flowmotion allows you to dash into a wall, a pole, or other object and perform either an extended dash or special attack to have your character interact with objects in unique ways. Some things this lets you do is grind on rails and spin around large enemies. When used in combat, the flowmotion mechanic creates very flashy battle sequences.

Another new addition to the series are the dream spirits. Dream spirits replace your usual teammates of Donald Duck and Goofy, and they resemble animals such as dogs and bats. You can raise your dream spirits like pets by naming, petting, and painting them different colors. You can also put them in tournaments against other dream spirits. Depending on what kind of dream spirits are on your team, you can equip different upgrades to your character such as health upgrades and attack boosts. I honestly think that the dream spirits are a great improvement over Donald and Goofy.

The final new feature that this game introduces is reality shifts. Reality shifts are special moves that either damage your enemies or help you get around in the worlds. These are activated when a purple icon appears on the enemy or obstacle, and you slide the stylus down on the touch screen. Another way to activate reality shifts is to press the X and A buttons at the same time. Reality shifts vary depending on the world you are in. Some include flinging objects like a catapult or making grind rails that allow you to reach other areas. Reality shifts range from average to really cool.

The graphics to the game are true to the other Kingdom Hearts games. The 3DS’ graphics capabilities enable the game to look just like the PS2 games.

The worlds in this game look great! As with the previous Kingdom Hearts games, most of the worlds you visit are themed after Disney films. Aside from a world or two, all of the worlds are brand new. The worlds featured are colorful and unique.

Also, the 3D in the game works really well. Menu screens pop out, and when you use flowmotion, things appear to be flying out of the screen. Unlike most 3DS games, I actually enjoy playing this game in 3D.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 91%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 9/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The music in the game is excellent. Although some of the tracks are reused from previous games, there are still enough new songs to keep the soundtrack sounding fresh. The voices of the Kingdom Hearts exclusive characters, as well as all the other Disney characters, sound really expressive.

The controls in the game are simple. You run with the slide pad, jump with the B button, attack with the A button, roll with the Y button, and activate deck commands with the X button. You can scroll through commands with the directional pads and move the camera with the L and R buttons.

My criticisms for the game are few. My biggest complaint is that even though basic gameplay is challenging, boss battles get extremely frustrating sometimes. The flowmotion ability is usually the best strategy in these situations, but sometimes they cause you to die even more. When you level up enough, you can unlock an ability called “Second Chance.” This move allows you to keep at least one HP when you die, which makes these bosses easier. As mentioned earlier, unless you manually drop regularly, you will probably drop in the middle of a fight or boss battle, which can get really annoying. My final complaint is that the dialogue sometimes gets really odd. For example, the line, “Well, I guess the rules of the worlds don’t apply when your hearts are connected” makes the infamous “lamers” line in Kingdom Hearts II look like poetry.

This game, like the rest of the series, is pretty clean. Aside from the violence and the magic that you use, the only moral issue is that a character says H*ll once. Actually, this is in a flashback you don’t have to watch, so it can be avoided. Also, some characters from The World Ends With You are featured, and while that’s not entirely a problem, one character wears an outfit that shows her midriff.

Kingdom Hearts 3D is an incredible game and one of the best 3DS games out there. The gameplay is even better than the other Kingdom Hearts games, which is saying a lot because I loved the gameplay in the other games.  Because of the fast-paced flowmotion mechanic, the colorful new worlds, and the useful dream spirits, Kingdom Hearts 3D is to me the best game in the series.

Click here to visit the official Kingdom Hearts site.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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