Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

Review

posted 11/4/2010 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
Early in the game your character can only equip a few commands, however by the end of the game you will have a complete deck full of over-the-top magic attacks, health spells and maybe even a few secret melded attacks you've been saving up for.

The result is a combat system that is surprisingly fun to play.  In order to cycle through your various deck commands, all you need to do is fiddle with the D-pad.  You can even do this in the middle of combat, which allows players to plan out attacks ahead of time.  What's more, these special abilities and spells level up with each enemy you take down, allowing you to create even more impressive attacks.


It's a good thing the combat is so much fun, because going through the same levels can sometimes be a real drag.  The good news is that most levels play out differently depending on which story you're going through.  Some boss battles are exclusive to one character, while another character might get an entirely new part of the planet to explore.  Unfortunately, from time to time the three stories will come together for boss battles.  This isn't so bad the first time, but if you go through all three stories, you'll be forced to sit through the same lengthy cinema and battle the same boss.

What has always disappointed me about the Kingdom Hearts series is how conservative they are when it comes to the Disney-themed levels.  There's nothing wrong with this batch of levels, but I can't help but notice that we've been to each and every one of them before in a past game.  If I had something brand new to see and do, I might be able to stomach going to visit Hercules for the fourth game in a row.  With so many Disney properties to reference, it's too bad that we keep getting the same played out stories.  I have nothing against Snow White and Peter Pan, but maybe it's time to visit the Toy Story and Pocahontas planets.


As good as the combat is, it can't make up for some of game's shortcomings.  Fans of the series will already know a few of these all too well, as they are the same complaints critics level against the series each and every time.  For one thing, the camera can be a real problem.  Even though you're giving the ability to lock onto an enemy, I found that the game would remove my lock at inopportune times.  Even more frustrating is the character's inability to cycle through locked enemies, a problem especially troubling when fighting boss battles.

Of course, all of these gripes pale in comparison to the platforming problems I continued to run into.  Although most of the game involves little more than battling waves of characters, from time to time the game will force you to jump from high up platforms with little room for error.  The Kingdom Hearts games are known for a lot of things, but platform jumping is not one of them.  These teeny platforming areas are far and away the hardest parts of the game, excluding the battle with the unfair final boss (who I swear is cheating).
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