If you’re a fan of the series or not, KH:Birth By Sleep stands on top as one of the best looking PSP games at the moment
Most cross-over stories on two franchises these days have either been popular or unpopular over the past years. Back in 2002 Square Enix and Disney teamed to create Kingdom Hearts, and having the idea of Final Fantasy characters in Disney worlds proved quite clever. After the release of the first game it’s been a success worldwide and still remains one of the most memorable series on the Playstation 2. Back in 2007 Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep not for the PS2 but for the PSP this time round.
The story takes place 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts, before Sora picked up the Keyblade and how the Heartless existed. The story will focus on three characters, and during the story you get to decide who you want to play as from Terra, Aqua or Ven. The main plot for Birth by Sleep starts with the three training to become Keyblade masters, but one day one of their masters Master Xehanort goes missing and mysterious enemies start appearing out of nowhere in random worlds.
So it’s up to Terra, Aqua and Ven to find out the truth and what really happened to Master Xehanort. I would talk more about the story but I don’t want to spoil it especially for Kingdom Hearts fans out there.
Gameplay: If you’ve played the series before or are new to the series, the gameplay for Birth by Sleep is action role-playing. Birth By Sleeps allows you to customise your own command deck with attacks, spells, skills and items, similar to Chains Of Memories.
You’ll notice you can build up a gauge above your command deck, and when it’s full you can pull off powerful and strong attacks on your enemies. Going through each world can be a bit repetitive after you’ve played through the game once with a character, but each character will be in a different timeline uncovering different events throughout each world.
Another feature for the gameplay is that MP is not used in Birth by Sleep and is replaced with “Focus” where the player can go into first-person using ‘ShotLock’ mode and each character is able to cast unique magic attacks. D-Link replaces summon, which can be used to summon allies to lend their power to aid the player from different worlds, like Experiment 626, Mickey Mouse and Snow White.
Yet there is so much more to talk about for its gameplay, there are a few mini games like Rumble Racing which is a little similar to Mario Kart, Rhythm Ice Cream where you have to follow the music beat, and FruitBlitz which is like Volleyball mixed with Pong but using fruit to shoot and score.
I was really amazed how well done it is on its graphics
Command Board is a new feature to the series where you can take a break from the main story. The Command Board plays like a regular board game where a dice is thrown and the player moves, each space having its own unique effect on the player. If you either win or lose you can easily level up your commend deck for your Attacks, Spells and Skills which can be handy if you can’t be bothered levelling up each item by killing random enemies.
Graphics and Sound: I’ll have to admit Square Enix has really done an excellent job on its graphics especially for a handheld game. Most of the graphics look a little similar to Kingdom Hearts II which was released back in 2006. Most of the Disney worlds you play through are well detailed and Square did mention that they’ve watched most Disney films to get every detail on its environments and graphics. From the beginning they’ve used CGI graphics for the opening and used the standard graphics that were used for the PS2 but on the PSP.
Yet there were one or two problems you’ll find annoying though out the game, one of them is the camera control which can go all over the place at times and you can only use the L button to view your surroundings. The other problem you’ll find annoying is that this game will have a lot of loading times before and after cutscenes, you can Data install this game to avoid the long loading times but I would highly recommend installing the highest one which is over 650 MB just make sure you have a 2GB or higher memory stick.
Voicing does a nice job to the Kingdom Hearts series has always had a great line-up on Hollywood actors and past actors who played Disney characters from the TV series and movies. You’ve got actors like Mark Hamill, Willa Holland, Jesse McCartney, Haley Joel Osment and James Woods. Leonard Nimoy does a great job on Master Xehanort which seems surprising to most people out who are RPG fans or Star Trek fans. The soundtrack does a great job but one or two theme tunes might get stuck in your head like Bibbity Bobbity Boo in Cinderella’s world.
Overall: If you are a fan of the series you’ll definitely get the most out of this game, if your new to the series it’s worth checking out if you haven’t played the first Kingdom Hearts. It can take you up to 7-8 hours for each of the three characters you’ll play as Terra, Aqua or Ven. But overall can take you up to 20-30 hours beating the game.
Multiplayer is available online or offline with your friends for Birth by Sleep where you can fight enemies in an arena, play through a command board, or race against your friends. There is also Versus mode where you can fight against your friends in a Keyblade style match.
After playing through the game, I really liked how the story fits into Birth by Sleep it gave me a lot of thought and emotions and some humour. But I was really amazed how well done it is on its graphics since the PSP doesn’t have many good PSP titles; this one stands up on top for the system. I haven’t had this much fun in a Kingdom Hearts game since Kingdom Hearts II but the difficulty is just about right for anyone if want to play it on Normal, Expert or Critical mode.
The Bad: Annoying Camera, Long Loading times, Repetative Worlds enviroments and Music.