We shift our perspective to a newly born member of organization XIII, Roxas. A Nobody -born from Sora [who separated his own heart from his body to save Kairi]- who is learning about the life of being a member and his importance in his role. He is befriended by fellow member VIII, Axel, who showed him the works of organization XIII and eventually befriends Roxas. Along the way, they befriend another mysterious new member: number XIV, Xion (Shion). After finishing missions, they would hang out at the clock tower and have ice cream together like the closest friends they are, despite them having no hearts. However, events unfold where their fate may leave them shooting between their friendship and their existence.
Here is a question for us dedicated KH fans: which of the DS games is more tolerable? I ask this because many of us actually dislike the DS games (for now, not including 3DS since I think it is an entirely different setting). However, in terms of what we tolerate is subjective. This review will include both the game and the cinematic movie. I will, in fact, start with the actual game itself simply so I can compare and contrast.
The game itself is what most fans don't like compare to it's movie counterpart. The big one is the gameplay which is what keeps people from playing the game. On that end, I completely understand. Going to these certain missions and being repetitive is not often fun gameplay for most people. The leveling system is also not entirely fun since it requires new slots. Instead of gaining experience, you earn 1 slot per mission. I'll be honest, it is not a fun leveling system. That and the bosses can be INCREDIBLY tedious to fight. The combat is somewhat pretty repetitive. There is not much strategy to it, as far as I know since I is my second time playing it. There is also the struggle of extra content. It is harder for me to even try challenges simply because of the tedious combat and mission set up, leveling up included. KH2 succeeds I guess simply because they are story relevant and are unique. This game, however, just feels like looking at a pile of dishes you don't want to clean only it is optional. So, simply put, the gameplay is not that great and kinda boring.
Despite all that, I have reasons to come back to the game. Yes, the story is decent, but really it is the characters themselves. You play as Roxas again, only KH this time it is in perspective of the organization and it's the whole game and not just s prologue. It is a Roxas a Fan's dream come true. Learning about the eyes of the organization I think is interesting. It's like an inside job if you wanna consider working for O13. I also want to add that, in case you don't know, Axel, is my favorite my fav O13 member....let alone, my all time favorite KH character. Having more appearances of him is what draws me back to the game. These characters like Roxas and Axel go through such good development I think. Salem goes for the new character, Xion. TH secrets she discovers of herself makes her grow as a character and you feel for her throughout....at least for me. I even enjoyed some of the in depth dialogue throughout each world you visit in the game, despite the tedious missions. I am willing to go through bad bosses and tiring missions just to see more cutscenes and interactions with the characters.
Now I'd like to talk about the movie version in the HD collection. It is not a port of the game, but simply just HD work of the cutscenes.....at least some. They are incredibly good and well performed from the voice actors. However, I have to compare this like movie with a book. Tedious the game may be, but at least the cutscenes give more insight in their conversation as well as, surprisingly, major moments that affect the entire series. Point is, in the movie, a lot of scenes were displayed as just screenshots with story text added to it. I understand that most of the Disney cutscenes were not well displayed to be within time. But, other cutscenes that are purely just Kingdom Hearts, were taken out. For example, a good majority of action sequences were taken out or just shortened. Luckily, there was one incredibly important action scene that was not in the original PS3 remaster and was finally added to the PS4 version, so there was not much to complain about for that end. The rest, it may feel not picky, where I feel could still have the potential to be cutscenes of their own. One was a hint of events in a prequel (which honestly I am surprised was taken out due to it's importance). There is also the mystery surrounding a character that connects to Axel. That I feel is the most mysterious and has yet to be unfolded with the history of those characters and their goals. I wish they could explore more of it because I find it quite interesting (here's hoping KH3 covers that or just gonna stick with headcanons). Funny enough, the manga seems to touch upon that a lot better. It's not particular history of the characters, but the more of some in depth emotions.
I forgot to mention that there is a manga series for this title. As much as I enjoy the game, I think the manga is far more meaningful and well written; some comedic and a lot were emotional. If anything, I actually recommend reading the manga over the game. Since it does have action sequences, a lot of decent humor, and overall emotional throughout.
In conclusion, I actually enjoy this title in general. Will be giving scores for each medium of the title:
Game: 6/10 - for the tedious missions and not-so-fun bosses, but the interaction wi the characters are interesting (dialogue is 50/50)
Movie: 7.5/10 - The HD treatment was beautiful and the voice acting is pretty spot on. However, they had to sacrifice a good chunk of important scenes (the character I mentioned and a moment that references a prequel game). This would've gotten a 6.5 if they left out an incredibly important action sequence in the PS4 version. Otherwise, many action sequences were left out and I wish they displayed more of that in the movie.
Manga: 9.5/10 - I honestly feel this is the best source of the title. It has decent humor, neat action sequences, as well as some good emotional moments. Even the dialogue was well put together. Not to mention, the artwork is amazing. If I were to ask you to choose one to understand the name generating title, this is the one.
Overall, the title itself has a good 7.5 in general simply and mostly because I love the interactions and the development of the characters. I thought this title had a good story.
....but I mostly love this title more probably because Axel enslaved me with his flaming charm or something. I love Axel ?
P.S. This game also featured one of my absolute favorite songs.
The next DS eventually will be Re:Coded. But that will be covered in November after Birth By Sleep in October. I'll just flat out say that 358/2 Days is what I prefer over Re:Coded. Why? Stay tuned for the next couple of months to find out!
I was incredibly excited to do this piece. Maybe because I love Axel that drove me to draw this LOL But seriously, this is pretty simple to do. In case you guys don't know, I LOVE sunsets, especially with clouds. They are just colorful and beautiful. Maybe that's why I am drawn to the aesthetics of Twilight Town simply because I love the setting and laid back atmosphere. So, all the more reason I was excited to draw the background. As for drawing the characters, was great. I also noticed that because I do not draw Roxas as much, I accidentally made his head too small during the process. Luckily, I was able to adjust it. So far, the O13 outfits were the easiest to draw in terms of clothing (I love Nomura's art, but DANG his clothing design can be kinda messy because there is so much LOL). Honestly, between the three, ironically Axel was pretty difficult. If you are an artist and is a fan of the series and Axel, you know what I'm talking about. The hair and the angle for the face were difficult to pull off. But, I managed to catch it and I am happy that it is all worth it (since, again, I love Axel LOL)
Xion, Roxas, and Axel from Kingdom Hearts © Square Enix and Disney