Game Review

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Henry Stockdale

Your days are numbered

Kingdom Hearts is a series which will need little introduction to many gamers. First seeing release in 2002 for the PS2, it centres around the adventures of Sora and his friends as they battle the Heartless across the different worlds. Highly noted for the crossover of Disney and Final Fantasy elements, mixed together into an original story, it was a big success worldwide and has since gone on to form a very successful series. Fast forward to 2009 and we have Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, the fifth instalment in the series and the first of them to hit the DS. While it doesn't hold up as well as its console counterparts, it's still a great game.

The game features two main modes, story mode and the all-new, exclusive mission mode. Story mode serves as an interquel to Chain Of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2, taking place in the year's gap between the two and is told from the perspective of the “Nobody” Roxas, who unlike other nobodies, has no memories at all of his previous life. The game reveals a lot about his backstory, chronicling his daily life at Organization XIII, his relationship between fellow Organization members Axel and Xion and also attempts to fill some gaps in the overall series storyline.

This may be slightly confusing to series newcomers but series veterans will have no trouble picking up on it. Those same veterans are likely to be disappointed in the story to some extent, however, as although it reveals a lot about these characters and develops them quite well, it doesn't add much to the overall storyline of the series due to its placement in the timeline but it's still rather entertaining.

Throughout the game, you'll be travelling across a variety of different Disney worlds, such as Agrabah and Wonderland. Unfortunately, a common complaint in the series is that the worlds are recycled too much between entries and 358/2 Days is guilty of this too, with no new worlds featuring at all. While they are presented slightly differently from before, due to the Organization usually blocking off areas in a world to stop you going off track in missions, it's not nearly enough to make up for this disappointment.

Gameplay is similar to that in other Kingdom Hearts titles. As you progress through missions, you'll find the worlds generally littered with Heartless, a set of creatures borne from the darkness. In 358/2 Days, your job is primarily to collect the hearts that they hold by defeating them with Roxas' keyblade, a powerful weapon used to combat darkness and one which can be customized through the use of “Gears” in the link panel system.

However, 358/2 Days is different in that, as a member of Organization XIII, Roxas is assigned missions by their leadership which you must complete in order to advance through the story, with your progress being measured by a “Mission Gauge” on the bottom of the screen. On top of this, you will often be accompanied by another Organization member such as Axel or Xion, who will help you in order to complete the task. There are also several other changes to the battle gameplay, with characters able to also use Limit Breaks, as seen in the Final Fantasy series. Once a character's health drops to a certain level, as indicated by a yellow bar across your HP bar, you can then unleash a unique, more powerful attack. The gameplay makes a smooth transition from the PS2 to DS here, with it still being as engaging as ever and is still a lot of fun to battle it out with the Heartless.

One of the biggest new additions to the gameplay is the Panel system. This allows you to customise everything from your weapons and abilities, character levels, items in your inventory, magic spells and more. There are some quirks to it as well, such as how you can get "Link Panels" that occupy multiple slots but can be combined with other panels to form new or stronger abilities. It’s an interesting addition to the game and one which feels right at home with the DS interface.

For the controls, Square-Enix decided to go against any major use of the touchscreen and instead stick to the traditional D-Pad and button in similar style to the other games. There is some use of the touchscreen though – you can drag your stylus across the screen to the left, right, up or down to move the camera. This can make gameplay rather awkward though, particularly when fighting enemies, but fortunately there is an alternative camera method available that instead uses the L and R buttons to rotate, which feels a lot more natural.

There are over 90 different missions available, ranging from simply collecting a set number of hearts by defeating Heartless, training missions and more, which help keep the gameplay from getting repetitive. A lot of these missions will also contain collectable Ordeal Badges, which unlock a Challenge version of that mission containing more powerful enemies and a variety of restrictions, such as requiring you to finish as quickly as possible or earn a lot of “munny”. The better you do in these Challenge missions, the more “Challenge Sigils” you earn. These act as a type of special currency and can be redeemed with Moogles in exchange for items, with the more sigils you obtain, the better the items. This is a great little addition to the game as it provides a fresh, challenging twist for these missions and adds further incentive to go through them.

Some missions also contain “Unity Badges”, which you must obtain in order to unlock the majority of missions available in Mission mode. In this mode, you can also choose to go through the mission with up to four people in a local co-operative multiplayer mode (via Multi-Card Play) and you'll be given the choice to play as one of the 14 members of Organization XIII, with other characters from the series also being unlockable.

Graphically, the game makes nice use of 3D graphics keeping in style with that in other entries and features a lot of fully animated cutscenes, both of which have been done very well by Square-Enix for DS standards. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is not so great as Square-Enix have recycled a lot of music from previous entries in the series, ranging from background music used in the Disney world's to the main music theme from Kingdom Hearts 2, “Sanctuary”, although it's still generally nice to listen to.

Conclusion

Overall, any fan of the Kingdom Hearts series with a DS should pick up 358/2 Days. While it doesn’t really add a great deal to the overall story of the series and recycles a lot of content from the previous games, what you'll find is a very enjoyable experience, chocked full of content that will keep you glued to your DS for a long while.

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User Comments (42)

SonicMaster

#2

SonicMaster said:

For a while I've been considering getting a KH game for DS, I just haven't gotten to it. Anyways, good review.

HeroOfTime007

#3

HeroOfTime007 said:

Wow, about 2 years after the release? How diligent, while IGN STILL hasn't reviewed Phantasy Star 0....

Tails

#7

Tails said:

I honestly agree with this score. The story isn't real big on this KH game but overall the gameplay is satisfying. Very nice review. :)

nicknintendo68

#8

nicknintendo68 said:

lol finally XD but ya imo its one of the best ds games but im still at that phantom tail boss the game is hard in some parts then it gets easy then hard again XD

SilverBaretta

#13

SilverBaretta said:

Eh, I would give it an 8, myself, mostly because I tend to enjoy games more than the general consensus, but still a solid score and a very agreeable review, Terra. :)

Knux

#14

Knux said:

Finally, it's about time this gem was reviewed! My nagging finally payed off! :P
Anyway, I love this game despite the rehashed content from previous games. KH:BBS and KH:Re:Coded are better games, but this still is WAY better than Chain of Memories (and possibly KH2). The story is better than KH:Re:Coded's but way weaker compared to the other KH games.

I agree with the score and review though, even though I personally would have given it a 8. I wish the multiplayer mode was online and not only local, that would have really increase the game's replay value. Another awesome review Terra! :)

LordJumpMad

#17

LordJumpMad said:

I would have given it a 5, for it Broing Story.
But I did enjoy the Gameplay, and The Muitlplayer was fun too.
They did put alot into this game but, if they were to add an Online Vs. Mode, it would have more of a use out of it.

Rathe

#18

Rathe said:

I guess I'm the only one that didn't enjoy the gameplay on this one. I found it to be extremely boring and repetitive. Even on different types of missions, it was the same hack-n-slash to beat the level. I struggled through about 16 hours of play before I finally gave up out of boredom. I disagree with the gameplay being called similar to the console iterations; the console versions gave a reason to play through each level. There was progression to the story and it did not feel as though you were completing missions over and over and over and over. 358/2 was pretty much "talk to the Organization, go kill heartless, come back, wake up the next day, repeat". The worlds felt uninspired and just didn't have the "draw-you-in" factor that the console versions had.

Would have given it a 5/10, recommending it only to those who absolutely NEED to experience every piece of the Kingdom Hearts saga. The game did what it did and that was it; not a very engaging or intriguing experience. Definitely the lowlight of the series for me.

SwerdMurd

#21

SwerdMurd said:

sounds like a generic, serviceable, unremarkable a-rpg. I have enough of those.

I dunno if anything will ever convince me to give this series a shot...it just looks so ordinary (plus the Disney thing does nothing for me)

Chunky_Droid

#22

Chunky_Droid said:

I would've given it an 8 myself, but I'm a KH fanboy :)

Also I'm one of the few who doesn't mind worlds getting recycled, it wouldn't make sense to have new worlds being infested with heartless, only for Sora NOT to visit those worlds in Kingdom Hearts 2.

Also, for a side story, the licensing of getting new Disney movies in probably wasn't worth it.

Doma

#23

Doma said:

It deserves an 8 really. That panel system was perfect, definitely the best i've seen in a KH game.

For a DS game, i was impressed with it. It does feel very repetitive at times, but try showing me a KH game that isn't... exactly.
Re-Coded and that GBA KH were epic fails when compared to this.

I won't complain about the story because we all know that aspect will remain as garbage until KH3 (..maybe).

Vizardvalor

#24

Vizardvalor said:

In my opinion I loved the game, but even as a KH fan I disliked the button mashing attacks, the short and pointless missions, the short storyline, and the lack of online play. I did on the other hand liked the cutscenes, the storyline, and the graphics that made me never look at a Ds game the same ever again.

AVahne

#25

AVahne said:

The only thing I liked about this game were the graphics and certain parts of the story. But beyond that, I didn't really like this game. :/

Hokori

#26

Hokori said:

why are people saying it should be a 5? Im new to the series and I give it a 9 :O

EvisceratorX

#27

EvisceratorX said:

At last you finally wrote this review! Anyways, I would probably agree with you on the 7, Terra. This game is good, but mostly fans of the series should buy.

LordJumpMad

#28

LordJumpMad said:

@26 your new to the series
I played them all!

But I did like one thing about this KH game ,and that is, that I didn't have to play as Sora.
and playing as Mickey and the others were alot of fun.

Rathe

#29

Rathe said:

@23

I didn't find either KH1 or KH2 to be repetitive at all. Each "mission" (I'm reluctant to say mission, more like adventure) in those games are interesting, unique, and advance the storyline very well. This game's missions were uninspiring and essentially all the same. While other games can get away with this, this story is not engaging enough to pull it off.

Again, this is all my opinion. Also, a 5 isn't terrible, it's average. I think 358/2 was an average action game. It's playable, but not spectacular and it does get boring if you cannot find a way to make the story do something for you.

danschemen

#30

danschemen said:

I would give this game an 8 you said it doesn't have a lot of story in it but that's not true. the story just picks up closer to the end. but the game got really repetitive with the seemingly endless amount of missions that didn't add to the story at the beginning.
@29 5 is not average!

Marioman64

#32

Marioman64 said:

i love the story in this game. great all the way through to the end. it really fills in lots of missing pieces between kingdom hearts 1 and 2.

i personally liked the mission system, and even got the optional ones. more missions = more slot releasers = more overpowered :P

The_Fox

#33

The_Fox said:

Ugh, another one? Squeenix is milking the fanboys for every dime they can.

triforceofcourage

#34

triforceofcourage said:

NP gave it a 9 last year. it also got voted game of the year there. I've never really felt a need to buy a kingdom hearts game though. Any review of the newest one Re:Coded coming soon?

RabidPikachu

#35

RabidPikachu said:

I thought the story was pretty good. It answered alot of my Roxas questions since he was only in the begining of KH2 and appeared a couple of time at the end. I was wondering after beating KH2 what Roxas was doing before the story in 2. This answered many questions and actually the familiar world from before were enjoyable. It wouldn't have made sense to add any new worlds until 3.

Lotice-Paladin

#36

Lotice-Paladin said:

Nice review Terra, definately one of those to play through the missions after the story is done. I like the graphics too...as it reminds me of what a PS1 KH game would look like.

Crunc

#39

Crunc said:

I tried to play this game a while back and didn't get very far before trading it in. Mind numbingly boring, and where were the Disney characters? I guess they are there, but I sure didn't see any in my time with the game. 7 out of 10? I guess this just isn't my cup of tea.

ianmage1

#40

ianmage1 said:

Only 7? This is a beautiful game! It has a very emotional story.
Has anyone noticed that the 358th day of the year is Christmas Eve? It really interests me...

kyuubikid213

#41

kyuubikid213 said:

This game is...
AMAZING.
I made the mistake of trading it in, but now I'm going to buy it again. With a PowerUpRewards Card and enough money in my pocket, I'm going back for this diamond while it's still around.

CrimsonMoonMist

#42

CrimsonMoonMist said:

After having played the game all the way through,
my thoughts are summarized as this.
pros: Multiplayer. I like the panel system, enjoy that Keyblades now specialize in different attributes of combat instead of simply being stat boosters
and the original bosses are a blast.
Cons: no mission variety, repetitive enemy recolors all over the place that can take way too much punishment and a story that doesn't pick up until near the end makes for a game that ultimately becomes a chore to play.

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