[TBT] Kingdom Hearts – 358/2 days: A Game Review

After so much button mashing and video watching, I’ve finally finished the latest Kingdom Hearts franchise by Square Enix entitled 358/2 days. I’ve been a fan of the game ever since it debuted in the PS2 console.

For those of you who are not aware of the game, think of it as a mesh of your favorite Final Fantasy characters and combined them with the Disney ones. Although I’m sad to say that I felt that Disney characters are too few in this game but well, you’re playing as Roxas (Sora’s Nobody) and not Sora this time. Let’s leave it at that or I might go into a lengthy post about the story instead of just reviewing it.

358/2 days is not really a sequel to the Chain of Memories per se, but started in the middle of Kingdom Hearts until the start of Kingdom Hearts 2. I believe it’s safe to say that Chain of Memories is running parallel with this plot. And all of this happened because of an event by Sora in the first game where in turn Roxas is created. This closes the gap in between the first game and the second one.

The story is about how three (3) Nobodies and members of the infamous Organization XIII became best of friends even if they don’t possess what normal people already have: a Heart. Organization XIII’s primary goal is to fabricate Kingdom Hearts — a powerful, ethereal collection of hearts — so they can reclaim their own hearts and complete their existence. The opening was a surprise because for the first time, the creators introduced the thirteen (13) members of the Organization with their abilities and weapons they used for battle.

Gameplay for 358/2 days is almost the same as the Kingdom Hearts in PS2 and because of this, stylus is only used to rotate the camera and panel management (I’ll talk about this in a while).

Unlike the game in PS2, the game is broken down in different missions which can be repeated if you miss some hidden treasures or for grinding. Missions are staged throughout seven classic Disney worlds that are segmented, but you’ll quickly encounter new areas to explore.

There are also challenges based on the mission that you finished that will reap more rewards in the end. Challenges can be accomplished by performing solo or with friends – yes, you heard it right, 358/2 days features four-player multiplayer. Of course each player needs to have their own cartridge, but you may select any of the Organization XIII members or secret characters.

Also a new feature is the panel system which dictates the character’s abilities. Every level-up, item/equipment, spells and abilities is represented by a panel block that you must fit in a Tetris’ like panel. There are also modifiers that can attach multiple ability panels or raise their level for intense customization. The player can change the panels whenever they are in the headquarters to suit their needs for the next mission they need to complete.

Cut scenes of the game are awesome and very detailed. 3D character models are comparable to their PS2 counterparts which is a huge feat to place it all in the Nintendo DS. Voicing some of the key plots is done as well to emphasize the story.

Unfortunately, the Disney characters and environment are rehash of the previous installments – minus Goofy and Donald of course. Even the music they used for this game is still the same with UTADA’s song as opening and ending.

Nevertheless, the one-of-a-kind melancholy story will pull your heart strings as you watch Roxas’ interplay with his friends as they try to find their own path and definition of friendship. This also enlightens some of the inner workings of the Organization XIII.

358/2 days is more catered for the Kingdom Hearts fans rather than new players. And despite its repetitiveness and rehashed environments, it is still the same heart-wrenching story that we all come to love.

Oh, and for players who got to see the secret ending in the first Kingdom Hearts game, you might want to finish this one. 😀

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