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Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

No we don't know what that title means either...

It doesn't matter what language you speak, anyone can plainly see that Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a ridiculous name for a videogame. Equally obvious is that it's also a very fine handheld RPG. It takes advantage of what the DS can do and then pushes those technical strengths right to their very limits. Although the version we played was largely impenetrable thanks to our total lack of any handle on the Japanese language, what shone through was 358/2 Day's sky-high production values and engaging gameplay.

For the uninitiated, Kingdom Hearts is a quirky RPG mash-up mixing Final Fantasy-like characters and Disney icons, with main character Roxas battling through a dark kingdom aided by the likes of Mickey Mouse and Goofy. PS2 owners have had two episodes already, which this DS debut sits neatly between.

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Camera Obscurer

This being a collaboration between Disney and Square-Enix, graphically this is clearly a treat but it seems that some sacrifices have been made in squeezing a fully fledged Kingdom Hearts game into the humble confines of the DS. Chief among these is the camera, which is rather shaky, especially when you're on the move. All too often it clouts into a wall just when you need it to be perfectly still as you battle the enemy, and shifting it as you move or attack enemies is near impossible to do without seriously injuring your thumb. It was a major factor in the first game, released some seven years ago, but then, as now, it's by no means a game-breaker - even when you're struggling to see where you're going in the frequent platforming sections. Unfortunately it's highly unlikely to be resolved by the time we see the game released in Europe, unless Nintendo rushes out a new DS with an analogue control stick - and that just ain't going to happen we're afraid.

On the other hand the customisation system - a grid-based affair which organises your entire inventory - is particularly cool. As you complete more missions you gain more slots for this inventory, and that in turn allows you to pack in more skills and items for Roxas (the game's main protagonist) to call upon. Micro-managing his skillset is almost a game in itself. Each skill, ability, spell or item is a different size and shape, so it's a puzzler arranging and rearranging everything so as to fit as much as possible into what is (at first) a very tight space. Spells and abilities are upgradeable, so most take up multiple slots - one for the basic action, then other slots for enhancements. You'll constantly be fiddling around in an attempt to fully optimise Roxas, and you'll be drawn to 358/2 Day's peculiar form of grinding.

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Ahead Of The Curve?

There's real variety in the challenge offered. Some missions are incredibly easy, while others are at the other end of the difficulty curve. There doesn't seem to be much order - a trifling, easy mission can be followed immediately by a daunting encounter with the Heartless (the shadowy enemy Roxas is pitted against). One in particular had Roxas helping Aladdin to overcome a succession of the Heartless in a dimly lit town, only some of the Heartless were present in a supporting role - there to prevent their battling comrades from falling. Armed with plenty of action magic, their role was to keep a number of Heartless alive. It's tricky to say the least. But most missions are short and snappy in length, which helps hold your attention and encourages you to have just one more go, further improving Roxas' abilities as you do so.

There are still some rough edges and control issues, but this is a powerful demonstration of the DS's ability to stage a grand adventure. Dragon Quest IX has a real fight on its hands for RPG fans' hearts.

Comments

18 comments so far...
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  1. fisher2007 Friday 4th Sep 2009 at 15:04

    i'm buying the us version and its coming out 29 september.

  2. lman_234 Friday 4th Sep 2009 at 17:39

    i'm buying the us version and its coming out 29 september.

    kool i might because i cant understand the japanese version kingdom hearts fore ever 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

  3. Kolo67 Friday 4th Sep 2009 at 18:32

    Well, I have played the japanese version, and the camera is fine. And the Graphics are amazing, although there are some annoying invisible walls...

  4. BOWIEtheHERO Friday 4th Sep 2009 at 22:23

    Because Chrono Trigger came out (although actually a SNES game)... It is impossible for 358/2 Days to be the best DS RPG of 2009.

    I'm still going to get it (probably import from America.. not because i'm impatient... I waited for Brawl and Rogue Galaxy) but because the US boxes are SO much better... Sleaker, thinner, and not clear. The box-art isn't always better.. but the BOXES most definitely ARE!

    All my DS will be imported from now on... Sorry English market... I love you, but your DS boxes suck something awful!

    WHAT WHAT!

  5. mantisboy1 Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 11:26

    I agree, what a -)^: name.

  6. Man_Utd_17 Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 13:48

    as a on going kingdom hearts fan since the story began although there would obivoulsly be some graphical and control difficulties for the ds this game has prooved nearly everyone wrong with their doubts seeing as it seems to have worked out fine. Cant wait for uk release :D

  7. Shmilly Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 17:10

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdom Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP

  8. Shmilly Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 17:10

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdopm Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP

  9. Shmilly Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 17:12

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdom Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGDOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP

  10. Shmilly Saturday 5th Sep 2009 at 17:13

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdom Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGDOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP

  11. pokemonworld_95 Sunday 6th Sep 2009 at 07:55

    getting it on UK release.
    its got a name with meaning.
    also, you'll never forget it!
    ive played KH & KH2.
    birth by sleep looks good but thats PSP only :(

  12. Shadow_Blaze Sunday 6th Sep 2009 at 16:15

    I cant wait!!
    I have loved Kingdom Hearts ever since the first game came out.
    I never had the chance to get Re Chain of Memorys even though it rocks.

    Im getting it the day it comes out in the Uk.

  13. Shadow_Blaze Sunday 6th Sep 2009 at 16:15

    I cant wait!!
    I have loved Kingdom Hearts ever since the first game came out.
    I never had the chance to get Re Chain of Memorys even though it rocks.

    Im getting it the day it comes out in the Uk.

  14. Shadow_Blaze Sunday 6th Sep 2009 at 16:15

    I cant wait!!
    I have loved Kingdom Hearts ever since the first game came out.
    I never had the chance to get Re Chain of Memorys even though it rocks.

    Im getting it the day it comes out in the Uk.

  15. Shadow_Blaze Sunday 6th Sep 2009 at 16:15

    I cant wait!!
    I have loved Kingdom Hearts ever since the first game came out.
    I never had the chance to get Re Chain of Memorys even though it rocks.

    Im getting it the day it comes out in the Uk.

  16. Hypertech Monday 7th Sep 2009 at 12:00

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdom Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP

    Nice summary, although I thought that the /2 bit was because it was 2 people (Roxas and Xion). You might be right though... I have the japanese version and the cameras not as bad as they make out. Cant wait till october :P

    I have all the Kingdom Hearts games and cant wait for this one! I will be getting a PSP just for BBS aswell...

  17. robbie the king Wednesday 9th Sep 2009 at 21:50

    spoilers wuld've been good on the explanation although i've read the plot summary, secret kingdom hearts fan right here :P

  18. dragonslayer Saturday 12th Sep 2009 at 08:22

    IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING:

    The game is called 358/2 Days because it takes place in the year between the end of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. The other 7 days (making 365, the whole year that Sora was asleep) take place at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, where the player controls Roxas' last week.

    Finally, it is pronounced 'Kingdopm Hearts Three-Hundred-and-Fifty-Eight Days Over Two'. It is divided by two because Roxas is one half of Sora (as explained in the main games) and the other half is sleeping.

    ONM, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE THIS, OR KINGOM HEARTS FANS WILL MISTAKE YOU FOR KNOWING VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND OF THE SERIES.

    Hope this helps people! XP


    its actual set between kh1 and 2. com falls in the middle of 358/2 days

    And i have the japanese version and i dont think theres a single control issue and the camaras fine u just press r to recenter it

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