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Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Hands-On

We've never had to fight the heartless quite like this before in an action puzzle game.


Originally an episodic series made for mobile phones, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is a remake for the Nintendo DS. No date has been announced for a North America release yet, but we got to play it at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show. It's difficult to discern where we were in the game, but the events take place after Kingdom Hearts II. In our demo, we were placed in Wonderland with Alice and had to escape from the wicked Queen of Hearts.

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What's noticeably different in Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is the dialogue, which takes place in the top screen and is set up in such a way that Sora and the other characters basically function as talking portraits. There is some slight animation and the models look good, but it's different from the kind of interaction we're so used to watching where the characters move and talk in a setting. It makes it a bit obvious that this was initially a mobile game.

When we were free to roam the maze that the queen placed us in, it felt very much like any other Kingdom Hearts game except we were confined to a small area and all we really needed to do was hit the A button to attack the card soldiers to stun them. The goal wasn't to just beat on the soldiers, but to hit the two switches in the maze to reveal the keyhole to the world. Once that was sealed, we moved on to what was essentially an arcade rail shooter, where all we had to do was move Sora left and right while firing straight ahead at anything that came hurtling our way. He could jump to avoid blocks, but we couldn't control how fast Sora moved toward the finish line. A line on the bottom screen will tell you how far you were from your goal. This part of the game is divvied up into stages, and each stage has 10 waves of attack. At the end, there is a large dangly boss that juggles fiery pins and sends a wave of fire your way. Like an arcade game, a score is kept at the top left corner of the screen.

You need to get used to the constant change in perspective; not just when the gameplay changes, but even during the shooting segment. One minute, you'll be hovering along the ground and firing at everything that is coming toward you, but suddenly, the screen will rotate to the left or completely upside down, and you'll have to play that way. It's a little nauseating with the changes, and we're not really quite sure why it does that, though it makes it slightly more difficult to leap over chasms and dodge blocks.

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In the brief trailer we saw before the demo, we noticed that there were some side-scrolling platforming sections, as well as minigames. For those who have missed their favorite Disney locales, you'll travel once again to the Coliseum in Olympus, as well as Agrabah. We'll bring you more updates as soon as we get them, which will be in English hopefully. No date has been announced for the North American version, but the game is set to be released in Japan on October 7.

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