Kingdom Hearts can be summed up to be called the love child between Disney and Square and that all started 10 years ago, Dream Drop Distance is celebrating that anniversary in flying colors. It’s pretty much an Action/Adventure/RPG game.
So Dream Drop Distance starts where we left off from Re:coded where Yen Sid basically announced that Riku and Sora need to go through the Mark of Mastery exam (which is the test to see if they could become Keyblade Masters). Right from the start you’re kind of whisked away to this exam, but with a fight with Ursula after leaving Destiny Islands.
After that, you start off as Sora waking up in Traverse Town (again??) and you meet a familiar face in Neku (from The World Ends with You) and you make you way through Traverse Town learning the new things about the game and then right when things get good you pass out and end up as Riku who also woke up in Traverse Town. Of course you meet more TWEWY characters and one rather important one named Joshua who explains that Riku and Sora are in the same world but parallel basically…and through some flashbacks and other explanations, they both have to find sleeping keyholes which can awaken the worlds and put them back right.
After Traverse Town, you go different places like La Cité des Cloches from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Grid from Tron: Legacy, Prankster’s Paradise / Monstro from Pinocchio, Country of the Musketeers, and Symphony of Sorcery which are from The Three Musketeers and Fantasia respectively, going through their collective storylines from the movies (though some are kind of from the previous Kingdom Hearts’ as well.
During the exam, the storyline gets filled out as well with Riku questioning himself if he’s even worthy of the Keyblade while Sora is kind of figuring out what is going on because both are met up with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas and a younger hooded member. As things continue, we also see a reappearance of Ienzo, Lea, and Aeleus (well Dilan and Even also return but they’re AFK in the game for the most part).
Moving on, Sora is the first to end up in a very familiar world…The Organization XIII’s stronghold, The World That Never Was and Sora starts to wonder why he’s even in the place. Well, after exploring the area, we end up meeting with Xigbar (wait…Xigbar?!?) and he’s put to sleep again and is put through these moments in time where things happen and try to get Sora to feel as if he’s being left behind, but he’s also shown the truth finally that he holds more than what he knows (Ventus, Xion, Roxas)…and of course the other prominent good guys that are missing. He snaps out and fights Xemnas and does win but the hooded guy is shown to be Young Xehanort and pulls him into darkness where he almost gets enveloped in it but Ventus’ armor protects him.
While that goes on, Riku also ends up at the stronghold and searches until he finds Sora in a bubble being contained but gets pulled into battle with Ansem a couple of times and beats him, but not without being told that Riku was actually Sora’s Dream Eater….Something Xigbar/Y. Xehanort explained was that they kind of sabotaged the exam throwing Sora into sleep but Riku ended up going inside Sora’s dream to protect him from the enemies.
Moving onto the throne room, the explanation of Ansem/Xemnas/and Young Xehanort comes full circle. Young Xehanort can time travel and he’s collecting 13 Darknesses hoping for 7 lights so they can clash and have Kingdom Hearts appear. He tried that with the original Organization XIII but either they were traitorous (Marluxia, Axel, Larxene), or too weak (Xaldin, Vexen, Demyx, Luxord, Zexion, and Lexaeus) and Roxas was too late once he figured himself out. Saix and Xigbar have a little part of Xehanort in them which explains why they are there lol.
Things get worse when Master Xehanort (the old fogey) finally makes his reappearance and is about to control Sora when Lea out of nowhere shields him from the take over. At this point he sends a hooded member at Lea but it turns out Saix returned and is on that side. The tension in the air was there but Donald and Goofy appear and take out Ansem’s Darkness monster and the evil group back down and escaped saying that there will return when the time is right.
While Sora is still in a coma, Riku decides to bring him back out of the Darkness and dives in to save him, but he gets ambushed by the armor and defeats it. Before Sora gets swallowed up, Riku open the keyhole in his heart and awakens him. Then Riku ends up by Ansem the Wise and they strike up a conversation of things that happened and such before going back out and and celebrating being reunited
Then the big news, since the exams were basically screwed up from the start, regardless Yen Sid said both really did deserve to be masters but Riku went above and beyond and saved Sora and that was what made him the Keyblade Master. Sora isn’t phased by it and congratulates his friend and getting it. Lea speaks up and says he wants to wield a keyblade and randomly he summons one up and shocks everyone. Sora then leaves to go back to Traverse Town and be with his Dream Eater friends….
As for the secret movie, it really is just saying that it’s preparing Lea and Kairi to train for the upcoming battle that lies ahead of them.
So there’s that but there’s a couple of things that I wondered…
Time traveling? really? - Yeah the biggest WTF was bringing this into the series because now the story is also wild and just more confusing and mmore than likely will be explained better in KH3.
So the Organization is back…sooooo >.> – The thing that got me WTF-ing is that Lea, Ienzo, Aeleus, Even, and Dilan are back and on the flipside Xigbar and Saix are back…notice that those two groupings are different. I’m not sure how Ienzo, Aeleus, Even, and Dilan are even back (and I’m sure the other members are as well) but I think Xigbar and Saix are back because they have a little of Xehanort inside and were brought back due to the Time traveling shtick.
Is the story hard to follow? – I hate to say it but as a big fan of the series, it was actually a little confusing at the end. Everything you thought you knew you were doing was kind pulled under your feet when you find out that Sora has been dreaming the entire time and Riku was just a Dream Eater. It blows your mind and the story accelerates into high gear for the end, possibly leaving you lost and sometimes confused.
Mementos / Chronicles - So to explain a little more of what was going on in the game we had Mementos which were essentially flashbacks. Chronicles is text-written explanations of the previous games which are nicely done and it does explain the series without getting to redundant and confusing so the newbies can have an idea of what’s going on in the series because if you’re not a KH fan, this game will be hard to follow!
The power of dreams?: Yeah, it’s really how it felt like the story for this one was more of what dreams can and can’t do. A good point is date (like the Tron world), they can’t dream because it’s data and it’s told what to do and think and is controlled by an outer source. I mean The Grid itself was the original form before Space Paranoids so I thought that was cool to do. Still the focal point was stopping Nightmares from winning so that’s pretty big….so KH1 = Light & Darkness, CoM = Memories, KH2 = Friendship, 358/2 = Lies and Honesty, Re:coded = Realizations, BBS = Belonging, and DDD = Dreams.
7 Lights and 13 Darknesses? – I think that’s the main point to cover for the next game because while there are close to having it, it makes you wonder who’ll represent the darknesses and lights because we the players do not know this information.
OVERALL: I felt the story part of the game was good but not the best. I felt like it shoved you into the action a little too fast and things just felt rushed. Then the storyline didn’t get really interesting until both character got to The World That Never Was…It was just like shoving all the information into the last section.
So the gameplay went through a LOT of changes, some good, some poor. It still was essentially a hack n’ slash which is always good and I wanna keep hitting the Nightmares forever. So lets get into the features!!!
Dream Eaters, PKMN (or at least Square’s take) - The first of two main points in the game, Dream Eaters take the place of Donald and Goofy in the game where two of these cuddly dream creatures will aid you in battle and well just support your ass XD. They play a much bigger role though because they are they way Sora/Riku gets their powers! You do that by going into the DE area and training them by mini-games of either popping balloons or a water thing that I can’t really explain xD. You can also feed them to make them stronger. When they get enough points you can go to their boards (all of them have a different board) and opens new spaces and get the benefits and new things for your command deck.
Add the in-battle where you can link with them and they’ll do some wicked things (like limit breaks)…they can also die too which means you’ll lose them forever!
Now I thought it was a cute addition and they helped out nicely for me and to get the more stronger and rare ones, you’d have to do a lot of searching. Plus the AR cards you got also got you a unique one to help out.
The Drop System, pissing you off, but too lazy to actually try to stop it…logic blown – The other big thing this game utilizes the most is the drop system. What it does is that you have a select amound of time with a character before they pass out (or drop) and you switch to the other character. Now, the frustration comes from the fact that this still happens during bosses which doesn’t matter (or shouldn’t) BUT once you come back, the fight is back at the beginning so if you were fighting and were close to defeat and the drop happens, you’re going to be pissed off. Now there are items that lengthens the time but I felt like it shouldn’t have been happening during bosses…why seriously? Otherwise, the drop system didn’t bother me elsewhere.
Flowmotion, or how to cheapen the game – I’m not sure how to explain why and how it works besides being in dreams, but Flowmotion makes you faster and makes you travel all over the place at a high rate of speed. I liked being able to fly around the worlds, bouncing off the walls and such…but this was like the Triangle button of KH2. However, you can spam it as much as you want making fights a bit too easy. It was still fun and you can customize it to not be there, but I do remember relying on this a lot.
Reality Shifts, odd stuff but cool effects - In each world there was a special move called the Reality Shift which is different in each world. There’s one that uses barrels to blast enemies, the other made traveling so much easier and my least favorite which had to deal with breaking chain links (it was hard to do). They made the gameplay a little more fun but it just felt gimmicky all around…but a few were cool.
The command deck returns, and it’s a lot of familiar – Yup what started on BBS is back once again with new abilities and techniques but lack the leveling up that the original had. It’s pretty good but, my problem was that the regulated the moving to the directional pad which is under the analog stick which made for some awkward issues. When you need a Cure it’s hard to find it when you’re trying not to die.
Overall these new ideas made the gameplay with the existing platforming and such…It was varied and I liked most of it, but not all of it. The camera is still a problem which hasn’t really been fixed ever and the game does lag a little when the screen is a little too crazy with enemies and magic attacks and the like all appearing at once.
Graphics / Sound
Graphics: Well it’s good to know that the graphics were pretty damn good and made the DS games look jarring. I loved the textures and the cutscenes were done nicely. Add the FMV scenes and you get a really good-looking game. The 3D effect was also pretty awesome and made the game pop out a lot which is good for a game like this.
Sound: You can’t go around without looking at KH’s music which has always been great to the series thanks to Yoko Shimomura and others. I am starting to get a little tired of hearing Simple and Clean and Sanctuary being used as themes but whatever. I was loving that they used 3 vocal themes from TWEWY which were sung by KM-reviewed artists OLIVIA and Stephanie. The rest is pretty good but some of the Disney songs were a bit eh but most of it was good.
There aren’t as many things to do after the game but most of it is good to come by. First off, you have the ability to create more Dream Eaters (look for the stronger ones) and them you could take the three you have and pit them in cups at Flick Rush tournaments at Traverse Town. Flick Rush is essentially Pokemon but mixed with the Card battling system from Chain of Memories.
Then you have the secret boss of the game, Julius (who is pretty hard but not impossible, but he’s relentless and will take you out easily).
The Theater Mode opens up and you can rewatch every scene of the game which excites me,
Or if you are really wanting to test youself out, replay the game in Critical Mode.
There are some StreetPass inclusions but I don’t think there’s really important to talk about hahha.
I think DDD is the best handheld KH there has been though BBS might take over after the fangasming. It’s a pretty good game and represents the 3DS really nicely but there were some things that were not-so-good. I will say that it does a nice job pulling the new players in the game because they explain things (not in HUGE detail but enough for people to get the gist) with Chronicles. The story starts off a little bit too fast and sudden and then it slows for majority before bum-rushing you at the end with tons of story movement which was a problem for me. Another problem was the drop system, while the idea of it was good and all, the mechanic of it was clunky and having it present during bosses and letting the fight start all over again was just stupid. The rest of the new mechanics are cool enough and I hope some of them stay but some should leave entirely or change it so it works better. I did love the more heart-wrenching parts and Sora/Riku’s paths and the Disney stories were still faithful which is good too. Great game overall, just some gameplay flaws and story flow issues.