A Panasonic store in Tokyo, Japan, had demos for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep and Coded available for the public to play November 2008. Japanese gaming sites Dengeki and Famitsu both were present at the event, and Dengeki has written a very detailed impression report, which you can check out below. Please do not repost without crediting to Heartstation.
DENGEKI ONLINE – On November 12th, an event introducing new mobile phone products was held at Panasonic in Tokyo. Since there were demos of the three new Kingdom Hearts titles exhibited at the event, here are the impression reports.
The three RPG titles were exhibited at the event: Kingdom Hearts Coded beginning service in spring 2009, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Three Five Eight Over Two Days) releasing February 2009 for the Nintendo DS, and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep releasing 2009 for PSP. Out of them, Coded will come preinstalled on the “docomo PRIME series P-01A” (below, P-01A) releasing this November from NTT DoCoMo.
KINGDOM HEARTS BIRTH BY SLEEP
At last, I played Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep the longest and here’s the report. This title draws on the furthest back in time of the series. Because it focuses on the viewpoints of 3 new main characters, each of their 3 scenarios can be thoroughly enjoyed. In the demo version I could play from two scenarios; the level playing as Ventus took place in Cinderella’s world and the level playing as Terra in Sleeping Beauty’s world.
This time all three of the titles I played had action packed battles, but personally I thought this title’s battle action was the most refreshing. The operations went like: Attack with the O button, Jump with X, Evade with Square or hold it to Guard, and Triangle to select a command from your deck. At a glance it seems to resemble the other Kingdom Hearts games.
Here are the interesting parts, an evasive action technique and the command deck. The command deck contains magic like Thundaga and Cure, as well as various special attacks that are set beforehand such as the Rush techniques. During battle, you use the directional control pad to switch to the attack (or possibly cure) you like and execute with the triangle button. Rather than consume MP, as the gauge accumulates over time, you can select different techniques again and again. To me, it has a sense of how Materia was used in Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII.
The other is the evasive action technique, it’s not Dodge Roll, its a high speed movement like a dash performed by executing a combo. I find its very important during battles. The dash like evasive action can also be used while jumping, by making full use of the space it creates a truly 3D battle system.
Furthermore, as for the characteristics of the battles, the Command Gauge increases as you fight and the Command Style changes. Normally you can just select Attack, but when the Command Style changes the kind of attack you inflict on an enemy changes too. The various last techniques called Finish will change as well. The Finish technique will end a combo with a sweepingly powerful attack. Therefore in the boss battles, you aim to deliver Finish attacks at the enemy’s weak spots. It’s difficult and very fun!
With an aggressive system that can unleash a lot of strong attacks and a high speed evasive technique, I was able to enjoy a high speed battle that was totally by any means inferior to other action games. But the characteristics of Kingdom Hearts came through as well with the beginner friendly combos that come from hitting one button over and over. Though the fun flashy action sequences appear to have evolved, people who think “at any rate the action is weak because its button mashing” so far may play it without changing their minds. Still, it’s slightly difficult to compare it to the other two titles being introduced.
By the way, I wrote in the beginning that I was able to play as Ventus and as Terra. In this title the skills prepared are different for each character. Even using the regular attacks is different for each of them, as well as a new attack method being introduced called the Shoot Lock system. If you hold the L and R buttons for a fews seconds at the same time, you can target enemies. When the targets become red, you can unleash the attack. The character then fires at them using their unique skills.
In the demo version I played this time, Ventus would dash and attack the enemies with the keyblade while Terra would fire some sort of long distant bullet at the enemies. The Shoot Lock technique uses the Focus Gauge and points for it can be restored by picking up after an enemy is defeated.
I’ve introduced the various battle elements as I have experienced them, but there is in fact more. During a battle, there are times when you’ll be prompted to press a button (it’s quite severe). If you push the corresponding button, you are able to continue the succession of attacks and end it with a strong flashy blow. The same goes for the Finish technique, so staying aware during the battles is a good idea.
This has become very long, but I felt the greatest characteristic of this title was the range of action packed gameplay I experienced while playing it this time. Considering that all 3 characters have unique battle systems and scenarios, it’ll be very enjoyable. The release date for this one is still so far, but the more information comes out about it the more I think it will continue to exceed our expectations.