Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance review
Kingdom Hearts sure has come a long way. From its debut back on the PS2, it has seen releases on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PSP and now the 3DS. While I wasn't that much impressed with the earlier iterations of the handheld Kingdom Hearts games, namely Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and even Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, I really loved Birth By Sleep. From the various gameplay mechanics introduced, to the gorgeous graphics on the PSP, it was one of my favorite KH handheld iterations to date. I can now say that Dream Drop Distance sits alongside Birth By Sleep as one of the best handheld entries to date.
KH3D once again puts Sora and Riku into the hands of player as they are tasked with going through the Mark of Mastery exam, in order to prepare to take down the returned Xehanort. Unlike our protagonists in Birth By Sleep however, Sora and Riku must travel to and save seven different worlds that are in the state of deep sleep. Don't worry though, this is no snooze-fest.
While some mechanics make a return from Birth By Sleep, such as Link attacks, there are numerous changes to the formula here. Instead of playing out each character's storyline separately, you'll be constantly switching between parallel universes of Sora and Riku thanks to the new Drop system. Each character has a Drop gauge, which depletes over time. When completely out, your character will fall asleep and switch to the next. While it does sound somewhat tedious, the game does allow you, through items or bonuses, to extend your Drop time.
While playing as either Sora or Riku, you collect Drop Points, which at the end of each Drop will grant various bonuses to the next character, such as increased strength, increased magic, or a longer Drop gauge, though more bonuses unlock as you progress through the game.
In the end, the Drop gauge ends up being one of the best integrations, as it always keeps the gameplay fresh. And while you'll be exploring the same worlds as both Sora and Riku, in the same order as well, each character's world and storyline are different, ensuring the monotony is kept at an all time low.
One of the other new mechanics is Flowmotion, which unfortunately I wasn't a huge fan of. It's not that I didn't like the concept, I just thought it was hard to control on such a tiny system/screen. Flowmotion, as the name implies, allows your character to move around the map in high speed, dashing from one wall to another, grinding on rails and flipping off of lamp posts. Combine this with combat, and you'll be able to dash from wall to wall, ending in a spectacular and flashy finishing move that is not only awesome to look at, but does some great damage.
The problem I had however is that since you're playing on such a small screen, it wasn't always easy to gauge exactly where the next rail was to grind, or where I was dashing to when propelling myself from a wall. I always ended up messing up the flow of Flowmotion, which I'm sure wasn't the way it was intended. I can see Flowmotion being awesome on a console (possibly in Kingdom Hearts III?) or even possibly on the 3DS XL, but I just couldn't get comfortable with it on the 3DS' small screen.