Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days Hands-On Impressions

We take a spin through the latest partnership between Square Enix and Disney.

The Kingdom Hearts series found its way to Nintendo hardware back in 2004, when Square Enix released Chain of Memories on the GBA. So perhaps it was just a matter of time before the franchise made its way back, this time on the DS. But while Chain of Memories played quite differently from the original PS2 game, 358/2 Days hasn't messed around with the series' formula; it fully plays as a similar 3D action game.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days' storyline is centered on Roxas from Kingdom Hearts II, and it takes place between Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. Unlike previous installments in the Kingdom Hearts series, the game tells more of the franchise's story from the Organization XIII's side.

At Square Enix's event, we had the opportunity to try two short demos. It seems that 358/2 Days is mission based, which makes sense considering that the DS version is a handheld game that's often played in short intervals. In single-player mode, you play as Roxas, and a computer-assisted Organization XIII member aids you on your missions.

The first demo took place in Twilight Town, and we were accompanied by Axel. When the game started, we were quickly greeted by heartlesses that came to attack us. Most of the mission took place inside a building where we needed to hit switches to open up shutters to advance. After we advanced far enough, we ended in a boss battle against a Guard Armor. Similarly to that from the original Kingdom Hearts, we had to hit its multiple attack points to defeat it. After we beat the boss, the demo ended in a scene where Axel treated Roxas to a sea salt ice cream bar, which they ate and talked on top of the town's tower. The second demo took place in the Beauty and the Beast's castle, and the boss turned out to be the monstrous Darkside, another enemy from the original Kingdom Hearts.

The basic controls in 358/2 Days follow those of the PS2 series. You use the D pad for moving around, the A button for attacking, B for jumping, and Y for guarding (or quick evasion if you hold on to a direction). Additionally, when you've jumped into the air, you can air dash with the B button, or glide around with the Y button. You play the game on the DS's upper screen, and the bottom screen shows you the map of your current area. The bottom screen also has another function: You can move around the game's camera angle by touching anywhere on it. If you're too involved in a battle and you can't touch the bottom screen, the R button is there to assist you. Upon pressing it, the camera resets into the direction that you're facing.

Given the lack of buttons on the DS compared to the PS2 and PSP, it seems that the developer had to make some compromises in terms of the command menu where you select magic and items. You scroll through the menu by pressing the X button multiple times and making a selection with the A button, and then do so again in the submenu. This can be hard to do when you're in the middle of the battle, especially since it leaves you vulnerable to enemies since you won't be able to attack (remember, attacking is also done with the A button). Thankfully, the game has a shortcut where you can quickly select a menu option by holding the L button and pressing one of the main buttons (A, B, X, or Y).

We also had the chance to try out the multiplayer mode, where you get to go on missions together with three other players as Organization XIII members. Some of the characters were locked off in the demo, but it was good enough for us to get a feel for how the game plays. Each character fights with trademark weapons from the Kingdom Hearts installments. Our demo started out in the woods and as we advanced, we went to a town that had a very complex structure, almost like a maze. To make things even more challenging, the boss turned out to be the Chameleon-like heartless from the original Kingdom Hearts, and it kept hiding and reappearing in various locations of the map. Fortunately, the map on the bottom of the DS screen not only shows the location of the players, but it also shows the whereabouts of enemies.

While you essentially cooperate with the other players to beat your missions in multiplayer mode, you'll also be competing against one another in terms of score. The result screen should be interesting for Kingdom Hearts fans. The game makes use of the DS's double screen, and you see your characters shooting up through the screen on their white meeting room chairs. The height of the chair changes depending on your score result. If you've scored badly, you see yourself at the bottom, holding your head in disbelief. If you've scored high, you see yourself in a chair that's higher than the rest of the players'.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days' graphics isn't exactly up to the PS2 or PSP's standards, which of course is impossible, given the hardware's limitations. But Square Enix has done a pretty good job in trying to come close, and it looks much better than an average 3D game on the DS. The game is slated for release this winter in Japan.

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170 comments
bookeristhemac
bookeristhemac

let's hope square enix did a good job with this one.

mdc6
mdc6

I WONDER if its wifi

Mewt2021
Mewt2021

Um, one question. What the hell is up with that name? If this game has any flaws what so ever its the name. I love Kingdom Hearts but I really don't agree with the name of this one.

Hindle_1
Hindle_1

can't wait, theres not enough decent rpgs on ds

amateratsu
amateratsu

whao looking great! not sure i like the idea of mission based stuff tho =/ i liked the free roam, ah well bet it will still be awesome

BlueKazoo20
BlueKazoo20

It's been a while since I played anything Kingdom Hearts (blame that on my lack of a PS2). This one looks interesting.

fireXfox
fireXfox

omg the wait is killing me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

irlumir
irlumir

jajaja S.E is from japan, corse they will release it there. In fact japan is a better market anyway for these kind of game . well wait and see, S.E have disapointed the audience in the past so..... better wait and see

AMD91
AMD91

i cant wait until this game is released i like it kingdom hearts and i think this game would be great and worth the wait

ruffluffs
ruffluffs

The graphics aren't bad looks about like final fantasy 8 pretty good for ds

pacres_2
pacres_2

the reason it come sout in japan first is because... THATS WHERE SQUARE ENIX IS LOCATED... and because they are apparently more important than the u.s........wtf i cant wait for it tho, and same thing for birth by sleep and the other one which the title hasnt been released, but its supposed to be about sora's father who saved destiny islands or something like that =p

supersonicsega
supersonicsega

Kingdom heart has always been a good game to play! i have it on ps2 and my brother have it one GBA its jest awsome......!~

Pokemaster_Bob
Pokemaster_Bob

GOTTA WASTE ALL MY MONEY TO GET IT!!!! GOOD PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pokemaster_Bob
Pokemaster_Bob

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE KINGDOM HEARTS!!!!!!!!!!! *heart attack*

deamonhunter35
deamonhunter35

sweet but i have 2 biiiiiiiiiiiiig problem 1 i dont have a ds and its not coming to america yet that sucks why in japan first whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Sunrie
Sunrie

I'm really interested to see what kind of questions get answered in this installment. At least we get to see what Roxas was really up to before KH2

HugoMattos
HugoMattos

can`t wait to play it. of course one of the best DS games!

ZookGuy
ZookGuy

AND we get to play Roxas for more than 1 hour

ZookGuy
ZookGuy

This will be completely awesome.

Vatii
Vatii

This game is gonna be bloody brilliant, cant wait, although i heard it was coming out in 2010, which is gonna be a while...

8shadowmaster8
8shadowmaster8

They probably just wanted to make DS owners happy. I mean, didn't it win against the PSP or something? (don't flame me, I own a DS but I'm not a fanboy or anything. Also I lost track of the handheld wars...)

Brunopereira14
Brunopereira14

i undestand PSP and PS2/3 but nintendo DS hahahahahahahahahahahah........ oh god square enix make me laugh

estkill
estkill

Kingdom Hearts always sucked.... Come to think of it, ALL Square Enix games sucked. [with the exception of FFVII of course, and possibly FFIV for DS and Crisis Core: FFVII]

6321
6321

this game is awesome can't wait to get it

6321
6321

this game is awesome can't wait to get it

Meru3
Meru3

Can't wait definetly gonna get it. Waiting...... waiting....... waiting...... waiting....

FallenGod666
FallenGod666

yes we get to play with roxas and the other organization members.

thelegendislink
thelegendislink

This looks like a really good game, I can't wait for it's release. Ihave 1 and 2 on PS2 both clasic games. BBS looks good too.

Nexeus
Nexeus

AHHHRWEIHFSDHF YESSSS KINGDOM HEARTS!!!!!

drzkeny
drzkeny

its going one of the best games for ds

Irishmandkg
Irishmandkg

I can't wait for both of the new kh games, but when is the new kh coming to ps3?

DarkFlareKin
DarkFlareKin

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days seems cool, but I think Birth by Sleep will do a lot better. Square Enix and Disney are pros at making PS2 games and the PSP is a lot like the PS2, just shrunk down into a hand-held.

GamesMaster4Evr
GamesMaster4Evr

Can't wait. So sad I don't have a PSP so that I could play BBS!!!

spike6958
spike6958

Sounds good, hoping to see some of the other characters return, but im looking forward more to Birth By Sleep.

lordmasterrof
lordmasterrof

Can't wait for this - but honestly, i'd rather play as Sora, with donald and goofy by my site, i dont care much for roxas, axel, or anyone of Organization XIII... But i'm still gonna get this game, and geek through it like nobody else - i even got myself a psp just so i can play Birth By Sleep when it arrives... :P

fireXfox
fireXfox

i cant wait till it comes out

ghettomani4
ghettomani4

no can joke about this game, it aint one of those people who are retards. This game is truly amazing, i will be getting it ASAP :D

sorakiaririku
sorakiaririku

Sounds amazing!! but when does it come out in canada?

WeaponX08
WeaponX08

Why make another game based before the ps2 games? I mean I'm equally excited about this new one but set between Chain of Memories and #2? C'mon man I want to see KH blow em outta the water but I'm still skeptical. Overall can't wait for it.

WeaponX08
WeaponX08

Why make another game based before the ps2 games? I mean I'm equally excited about this new one but set between Chain of Memories and #2? C'mon man I want to see KH blow em outta the water but I'm still skeptical. Overall can't wait for it.

wogboypaul
wogboypaul

DYING TO PLAY IT... but we yet to find out whether it has wifi multiplay or just wireless cartridge (and download play hopefully).