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Last week, I broke down and bought a Nintendo 3DS XL. It's basically a 3DSi with a screen almost twice as large. I bought it because the newest Professor Layton was coming out on October 30th for the 3DSi, and I pre-ordered that. While waiting, though, I decided to get Kingdom Hearts 3D - Dream Drop Distance.

My god. I don't know whether to say "Thank you SquareEnix" or "I really HATE you, SquareEnix".

First, the non-spoiler stuff.

Dudes, the opening is EPIC. Seriously. And since it's just re-cap of KH1, KH2 and I think KHBBS (I haven't played this one), it's not really spoiler-y. But the graphics and the summary of the story is breathtaking in art and music direction, timing, and...and...I wanted to cry for joy by the time it was almost over. You can find clips of the opening on YouTube, but only of the top screen movie, and unlike the other hand-held game episodes, the opening requires you to see both the top and the touch screen to get the full effect.

Battles are real-time, and here is where I think that SquareEnix is advocating genetic mutation. The 3DS has both a "+" control pad and a 360 degree joystic pad as well as an L button and R button on the top of the device, A/B/X/Y buttons. And you have to use ALL OF THESE CONTROLS IN BATTLE. Sometimes two at once. And what is worse? The + pad that controls your special actions selections (like spells) and the joystick pad are on the same side. That's right, you have to use the same freaking hand to move around as you do to choose cura/fire/strike raid, etc. So you can imagine how hard it is to dodge an attack while trying to get to your fireball spell in the menu.

There is only one camera view, that follows behind your character, and it is very sensitive to turns. You can pan with the L and R buttons, but you can't look up or down. One of the things I liked about KH Re:Coded was that you could choose a pulled-back view that allowed you to see more of your surroundings, but sadly, they removed this view from KH 3D.

There are some great mini-games included in the story, including an interesting travelling game used to get between worlds. It is mandatory to do the first time you visit a world, but once that world is opened, you can redo it again or skip it on your next visit. And they will often have goals, like "get 10 stars before the goal" or something.

There is also a "card battle" game that involves pitting a team of pets that you collect/make (I'll get to that in a minute) against either computer-generated teams, or teams of friends who you can link to through your 3DS.

And speaking of pets, you can create pets called "dream eaters" in this game from fragments and items like potions and skills. They are not just for playing the card battle, but will follow you around and aid you in battles and boss battles.

And now the spoilery part.

3DS is really more about Riku's growth than Sora's. You play both characters simultaneously, switching (or "dropping") between the characters either by choice or by limited amounts of time. Riku's storyline is all about him discovering himself and casting away all his doubt and guilt over what he has done, and accepting his mission as a Keyblade bearer. Sora's story is all about foreshadowing and pre-Kingdom Hearts background. Yes, there is story there, but all the character building is for Riku.

First, I positively screeched when Axel showed up. No, when Lea showed up. In Radiant Garden. In the computer room! With most of the original Organization XIII guys. I really do hope they turn out to be good guys. And I can't get over his Keyblade! OMG SEXY flames!

Second, I like Sora. I like his positive attitude and his love for everyone in his circle. And I know his heart was set on being a Keyblade Master, and it's totally not fair for Yen Sid to decide only one of them will be chosen when it was hinted at the beginning both of them would be masters if they both passed the test. I mean, sure, technically Sora only opened six keyholes, but the last one was inside himself. How the fuck was he supposed to get to it? They weren't even the fucking worlds Yen Sid was going to send them to in the first place. And it is really, really, really creepy of SquareEnix to show at the end that Sora went back into his dreams, because that can be taken so many ways, inlcuding trapping himself in disappointment with only dream eaters for companions.

And what the fuck is up with Kairi? Sora couldn't beat Riku in an unfair competition to being a Master, but instead of working on him, you bring in Kairi as his replacement? WTF Yen Sid? Sora failed so he's nothing? He's useless to you so send him back to dreamland so he can't be used by Xehanort instead?

Actually, from the hints they're giving, I think that Sora is going back into dreams to wake up Ventus. And that Sora is going to end up being the X-blade. Either that, or Sora is Kingdom Hearts itself.

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March 2015

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