2/01/2017

Do I Like Kingdom Hearts 2.8??????

Yeah...
...
...
Oh, I have to keep going? Okay then.

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is actually a compilation disc of three separate features, so I will do a quick shot at all three.

KINGDOM HEARTS: DREAM DROP DISTANCE HD

I already beat the ever-loving hell out of Dream Drop Distance on 3DS. In fact, KH3D was one of the only reasons I got a 3DS in the first place, much like how I pretty much only have a PS4 for Uncharted 4 and Kingdom Hearts III. So after the 100+ hours I put into KH3D, I think I have a pretty grounded and fortified platform to compare the two versions.

You would think because KH3D is on a somewhat recent console and the PS4 is technically leagues more advanced than the 3DS that the PS4 remaster would be obviously better than the 3DS version, hands-down. I personally don't think it is worse, or at least not notably worse.

Kingdom Hearts 3D for 3DS utilized the touch screen in a few minor ways. There was a Nintendogs-like system where you could pet little animal creatures that helped you in combat and served as ability trees for your playable characters. In the PS4 version you can hit X and move the left-stick around, ignoring the big-ass touch pad in the middle of the PS4 controller. I'm not saying I would have preferred it to be the touch pad, but for one, it isn't doing anything else, and two, there was an intricate disposition system here that might be harder to pull off now. There are four different dispositions that each Dream Eater (the creatures I mentioned) can have and no one has 100% figure out what determines which disposition yet... to my knowledge. I have heard it has something to do with the way you pet them considering that it only changes as you pet them. This only matters because certain Dream Eaters have hidden ability tree paths that can only be unlocked by getting the Dream Eater to a certain disposition, even though you don't know that or which disposition or how to get to said disposition. This becomes even more ridiculous and impossible to comprehend if you are just jiggling a joystick around and hoping for the best. But that's a nitpick in comparison to this next thing.

Link Portals are challenges thrown in each world in the game that are necessary to complete the game. A welcome addition. You can find them easier on the touch screen in the 3DS version. The only mini-map in the PS4 version is in the top-right corner instead of the full-color and luxurious touch screen map in the 3DS version. Again, a nitpick of sorts. Here is why this is shitty. There is no secondary screen on PS4, so how do you open the Link Portal if you can't touch it? You hit X near it, which would be fine, if X also wasn't your primary source for attacking enemies. So if a Friendship Portal specifically pops up by a wave of enemies, and you hit X close enough to it while trying to hit enemies, it will keep asking you about the Friendship Portal. This forces you to waste a bunch of other abilities on enemies just to work around this in a way that isn't overly time-consuming and awkward.

There are other reasons why I would say the 3DS version is better, but the frame rate upgrade is a huge plus and full camera control wasn't something I felt I needed in the 3DS version but isn't a bad thing to have in the PS4 version. The definitive version, as they say, would be the 3DS version but you really can't go wrong with the PS4 version either. Dream Drop Distance is one of my favorites in the series and it is a great game in the series to play while you wait for Kingdom Hearts III because it happens right before it and has a bunch of stuff you can read and watch about other games in the series you might have missed (I have met plenty of people who only played I and II and I think Square Enix sadly knows this too).

KINGDOM HEARTS 0.2: BIRTH BY SLEEP - A FRAGMENTARY PASSAGE

This was surprisingly good and bums me out for III. Fragmentary, as I call it, is set in The Realm of Darkness and the designers, directors, and other developers really took advantage of the setting and lore behind that to make Fragmentary a unique and psychedelic experience. I know there is no real place for this in KHIII, or at least not for the whole game, and that is something I think the series could use. This amazing concept was brought to its fullest potential in a 2-hour game about a character that a lot of people don't even know about because they didn't play Birth by Sleep. Aqua is like my new favorite character in the series basically after playing BBS: Final Mix recently and this game... demo... thing?... just made me realize that she is actually the series badass.

On a more mechanical level, Fragmentary makes me incredibly excited for Kingdom Hearts III. The magic is way more useful, comfortable, and even looks more satisfying than it has in any other game in the series. Their usage of the -ja level magic was really smart and grows directly from elements from BBS. There were a few moments where it felt a bit like Final Fantasy XIII in the sense that you just go down a hallway, fight planted enemies, then move on with the plot, but the parts that weren't were some of the most engaging in the series. Getting back away from the the technical, the 3D models are so much more expressive now (for the most part) and that is fucking amazing. All Square Enix has to do is not screw it up and make it about four metrosexual dream-people in a car taking pictures of things... that's all they have to do and Kingdom Hearts III will be my new favorite... that's all they have to do...

KINGDOM HEARTS [symbol thingy] BACK COVER

For those of you who don't know what this is, I'm still not 100% clear myself. Apparently there was a kind of recent mobile Kingdom Hearts game and this is all the cutscenes for it? Or a tasteful re-imagining of the main dialogue? I don't know. So like... the fuck?

First off, you don't have to understand the overall arc of the Kingdom Hearts universe to get Back Cover, but at the same time, this will disappoint fans like me who do know what's going on. Back Cover is a prequel that takes place even before BBS yet has little-to-no connection to anything else in the series. Also there is only one fight scene, and its the lame one they show in the trailer, and the rest of it is dialogue. There are also cutscene breaks like there are in the game when it transitions from one hefty cutscene to another, which breaks the immersion a lot since this was supposed to be more movie-esque, but if you're a fan of the series, you won't find this super jarring because you are already used to that bullshit.

That all being said, and I'm not being sarcastic: Back Cover has some of the most clever writing and most believable voice-acting in the entire fucking franchise. It's the Reservoir Dogs of Kingdom Hearts in the sense that it all bottles up in one place and the sequence of events take place out of order, but are organized in their importance to the viewer's understanding to better tell a story. Too bad that story has basically nothing to do with anything in the rest of the universe, or at the very least, you sit through an hour or so of it and none of it tells you anything you didn't already know about the bigger picture of Kingdom Hearts. So if anyone tells you "you're not a real fan because you didn't watch Back Cover" you can tell them to back off. If they refuse to back off, then tell them that I told them to back off. If they still don't, I'm really sorry and I have nothing else for you. Oh yeah. So Back Cover. Good? Bad? I don't know. It's very Advent Children in a lot of ways. It is a fun little side-adventure and nothing else in the franchise has taken this route so if you are going to get 2.8 anyways, you might as well get your money's worth and check it out. If not, there's always YouTube, if you can find it without someone's annoying commentary over it.

OVERALL

Duh, I already said I liked it. Leave me alone.

... But thanks :) <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

That was too much.

Amendment: those were supposed to be hearts, but in this font... they don't look like hearts...

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