Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Hands-On

We check out Square Enix's latest take on the Kingdom Hearts series.

Square Enix had a playable build of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 on display at its booth, and we went for a hands-on test drive. In the first of two playable missions, our hero Roxas was joined by Axel, who served as our combat wingman. Our goal: Kill the guardian. It was simple enough and certainly a goal befitting for a Disney game. The level opened with a visually impressive cutscene featuring our two heroes chatting before getting started on the adventure. It should be noted that unlike the previous games in the series, the dialog is conveyed only via text, with nary a word spoken, which is disappointing given that voices are often the most defining aspect of Disney's characters.

As we explored the town, both ground-based and aerial-based enemies would materialize in front of us, giving us a chance to try out the combat engine. Unfortunately, there's not much to report because the combat we experienced was very simplistic. Attacks are relegated to a single button, though combos can be performed with multiple presses and also used in the air. The combat seemed very basic and repetitive, with the only real challenge being how fast we could hammer the attack button. Now, magic and items can also be used on the fly, via a seamless menu system, but we weren't able to gauge how much they added to the battle because the demo didn't feature magic attacks for use (despite the game's recommendation that we "stock up on Blizzard Magic"--thanks game, leave the tips to the guide writers). Thankfully, after battling through a few waves of enemies, we encountered the boss who was a little bit more engaging in that we had to actually strafe around him to avoid his attacks before pummeling him with some of our own.

The second mission sent us on an egg hunt around town to kill five fire plants that had infested the streets of Aladdin's Agrabah. The mission was preceded by a quick cutscene involving Princess Jasmine and Aladdin who provided some context. Unfortunately, as soon as the cutscene ended, that was the last we see of them, which makes us slightly concerned about how prominent a role Disney's characters and environments will play in the final game. For example, the world was disturbingly barren and bared little resemblance to the magical lands they're supposed to represent. At any rate, finding and killing the plants wasn't too challenging (mash attack), but the final couple of plants did pose a more interesting fight because they were protected by a force field. A mysterious nearby enemy floating around on a book appeared to be the key--knocking him off his book seemed to dispel the plant's shields, giving us a precious few seconds to take down the plants before the book reader (and the plant's shields) recovered. It was an interesting puzzle, and we hope the final game features more of it.

It's unfortunate that role-playing games, such as Kingdom Hearts, don't lend themselves well to brief demos. With its highly intricate stories and its entire leveling-up mechanic almost completely absent, we were only left with a small glimpse of what the final product will offer. While what we saw of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 didn't leave us too impressed, we were exposed to far too little to draw any sort of conclusion. Given the strong pedigree of the series, we're hopeful that the final product pulls everything together more convincingly than the demo. Look for the game later this year on the Nintendo DS.

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Discussion

73 comments
KHeartssora
KHeartssora

then im just gonna turn around and sell them again! yay!

KHeartssora
KHeartssora

i had a redular nintendo ds but i sold alot of my stuff to buy a dsi just for this game. then i asked for a psp for christmas two years ago just so i could play birth by sleep. ........im such a sucker for the good titles.

cwajo13
cwajo13

Im buyin a psp just for Birth By Sleep

cwajo13
cwajo13

im gettin this the first day.This is gonna be SWEET!

ChidoriBoyU
ChidoriBoyU

the DS is getting huge titles SMT DS and here's KH there's TWEWY FFs and many others,personally this game and devil survivor were the main reason for me getting a DS

SilvrSlayr96
SilvrSlayr96

me and my friends are all getting this the first day it comes out. its gonna be pure awesomeness! and i always do magic more than melee. im a ranger in games like these

DS_fan5452
DS_fan5452

there is no doubt in my mind that this game will be amazing!!! Come on KH is the complete opposite of FAIL... It's an awesome step away from all the crappy puzzel games on this system. I can't wait. :D

CoreoVII
CoreoVII

It's a DS game. What the heck do you guys expect. I've played the japanese version and for a crappy handheld system this game is awesome. I'm surprized the trash which is the DS could even handle a game like this. Its the only reason Im keeping my DS from being destroyed by my PSP. Of course, until Birth By Sleep comes out. lol

Um_Wut
Um_Wut

I hope it's good

Jacob006
Jacob006

it is going to be the best cant waite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Z_XIII
Z_XIII

I hope it's good

Z_XIII
Z_XIII

I hope it's good

Z_XIII
Z_XIII

I hope it's good

randomrings
randomrings

what if the demo ends up really accurate and this game's terrible??? bleck... i might cry. im sure they'll make it just as good as the others by the time it releases

Thunderstarter
Thunderstarter

No voice acting? :( I guess they put a lot into the visuals, which is OK. TEWEY didn't have voice acting and it was perfect!

helix_105
helix_105

Ive' played every kingdom hearts. so far , the 3 ps2 titles, and gba advance title. This is the main reason why i got a DS.

Wellk
Wellk

read another site's impression of the game and they said the demo wasn't long enough as well, but gamespot's is much more detailed. i can't wait for this game though!!

NuKkU
NuKkU

this wont be as good as Birth By Sleep i can guess but i wish i could still get it

gmax
gmax

Not much to go on at this point, apparently.

geomyr
geomyr

i 've been waiting for this KH since chain of memories

Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

Nintendo DS again being amazing.

Anarchy231
Anarchy231

i'm very excited for this game. before chain of memories, it was the only kingdom hearts game i've been able to play!

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Wow, visually impressive indeed.

lionheart234
lionheart234

go King Mickie...... xD ~counts down the days til release~

OOspeedy
OOspeedy

wow!! this game is totally amazingXD..can't wait for it!!:)

dont_know_2
dont_know_2

im lucky this comes out in my birthday need for speed shift comes out by my birthday and the psp go comes out oct 1 im getting all of this 3 and im going to get saw

dont_know_2
dont_know_2

does ds really have graphics like that

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

Not a real big fan of the Kindom Hearts games

SonicTheMonkey
SonicTheMonkey

I'm sort of expecting the gameplay to be a bit of a letdown, as the simplistic mission structure and basic combat system don't seem to suggest greatness. However, for whatever reason I've found myself hopelessly drawn into the lore of the Kingdom Hearts games and I'll be picking this up day and date for practically the story alone. The idea of acting as the quiet observer to the Disney worlds rather than the outspoken hero this time also sounds pretty interesting. The panel and weapon upgrade system does intrigue me and if I can find anyone to play the multiplayer missions with (or if it's possible to play them with bots), I'm sure I'll find fun in that as well.

ssszzz8
ssszzz8

I wonder what that micky mouse is doing there

pakhair
pakhair

gooooddddd...........

93soccer
93soccer

waiting for it but if only it had voice acting... oh well i will give it a try

sin-kiu
sin-kiu

Looking forward to it!!!!

soulless4now
soulless4now

I'm so getting this game later this year.

nestorafranco
nestorafranco

finaly, kingdom hearts has many holes in its plot, but SE is starting to fill them in... i gotta get a DS!!

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

kh com totally pushed the gba i see this one doing the same with the ds

calvinsora
calvinsora

It's been getting good reviews in Japan, so I'm hopeful.

nicktarist
nicktarist

If what everyone says about it is true--I need to really look into this game.

wiiwiieddie
wiiwiieddie

they dont really factor that not that many ds games arnt word spoken

Hungry_Hippo_5
Hungry_Hippo_5

Sigh at all the people who want KH3...wait for KH:BBS first :P And the official pronunciation of the title is "Kingdom Hearts: Three Five Eight Days Over 2".

PSFreak1
PSFreak1

y didnt they announce kh3???

purple_pride99
purple_pride99

I don't think I'll read to much into this. A lot of people already have the game and almost everyone seems to be responding well to it. I had no problem with any of the flaws in KH1 or 2. This game looks amazing, it really pushes the DS hardware to the max and the KH storyline is one of the best around. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

RDrayMan101
RDrayMan101

this game and final fantasy had better be worth the time they wasted making them instead of making KH3... i won't even bother playing them, i'll wait for kh3.