Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] (3DS)

I've been playing Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] on Nintendo's 3DS handheld, and I'm really enjoying it.

Typical of many Square Enix games, the production values are high, pre-rendered 3D cutscenes look almost  "current gen console", the voice work is robust and pretty comprehensive, and the gameplay is really, really diverse.

Design-wise, the game does a good job of dropping you in, and offering you dismiss-able tutorials. Even better (design-wise), it follows up tutorials with you repeating mechanics shortly after you've learned them with a second character. It's not overt, and it's a slick way to re-inforce the mechanics.

Which is good, because there is a lot (a lot a lot) going on here. Shoving a full-on RPG into a handheld, with real-time combat, minigames, leveling, companion creature mixing and training, etc. -- Can be a bit much. I think if I were playing just this title, I'd do fine, but I'm finding as I bounce back and forth between a few dozen  3DS, PS Vita, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and SNES games in the same two weeks, I get lost every time I come back Kingdom Hearts. (Not bragging about the titles / platforms I'm hitting; it's work.)

That said, the game is really good. Like "warm hug from an old PS2 friend who moved into the now" good. It's a little typical teen angsty, but in a fun, non-whiny way.

And Square Enix does a good job making the core Disney characters in the game feel weighty and important and cool -- And they're not even the owning company, so it's even more impressive.

And there are nice touches -- like language that positions tutorials as "mementos", the use of a slick conceit that makes the game accessible to both new and longtime players in the context of this game's (and the franchise's) fiction, etc.

So far, I could do without the 3D in this game. While the 3D functionality in the handheld is scalable from "off" to "full", if it's on at all, I have to be at the perfect angle to make it work. The game's mechanics require pushing both of the shoulder buttons (which pulls the handheld inside my set distance for enjoying the 3D), or the L or R shoulder button (pivoting the console and shifting / "bouncing" the image).

I was turning on the 3D during cut scenes and off during gameplay, but stopped doing that.

Personal-bias-wise, I don't like switching contexts in games (x is sometimes jump and sometimes interact and sometimes julienne fries), but I like it even less in the real world. Needing to interrupt gaming to adjust the 3D, or keep a stylus out and grab it in menus but not use it in gameplay detracts from the overall experience.

But it doesn't detract by much, and it no way takes away from giving a strong recommendation for playing Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance].

No comments: