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Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep review

A new classic that's not necessarily for everybody

All three are little more than stand-ins for your typical triangle-haied Final Fantasy/JRPG archetypes. And the only way I’d imagine you’d consider that truly worthwhile is once you learn that, outside of a single speaking appearance, FF characters continue to take a diminished role in the Kingdom Hearts series. Whatever, I’ve always considered their appearances pretty expendable, and often times wasted. It’s hard to argue that even while Kingdom Hearts is basically a FF shell universe, the actual characters from those games are far better served in stuff like Dissidiaanyway. And this is Disney’s game after all. Plus, Birth by Sleep has far bigger problems to deal with.

Above: Although I didn’t get to play it, Ad-hoc multiplayer allows up to six people to fight in death matches, survival mode, and play more of the optional minigames I thought were terrible

But getting back to the good, the combat system has been wonderfully overhauled into something the series can be proud of. Even if you don’t want to play as all of the other characters you can still call upon them and their abilities at almost any point using the D-Link system (as well as several other cartoon icons you encounter throughout the course of the game which I won’t spoil.) You’ve got an absolutely staggering number of customizable skills and magic that you can slot out in any order you see fit.

Deepening the melee further, just about every offensive and defensive skill can be leveled up to become more powerful, earn finishing bonuses, and then even melded together to create a seemingly infinite combination of altogether new commands and ranged lock-ons. Really cool shit, can’t say that enough.

Above: Spoiler… loading

Using the D-pad to cycle through them is hardly optimal while using the analog nub during the more chaotic fights, but at least it’s something you can sort of get used to. Other PSP failings won’t be as easy to ignore. Each hit charges a command meter that’ll transform your primary attack into an elemental whirlwind of pain, that is…

More info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionWhile series fans who’ve been waiting to play the first full-featured Kingdom Hearts in almost five years may find their loved returned tenfold, PSP owners who simply desire to play an A+ exclusive might not get what all the fuss is about.
Franchise nameKingdom Hearts
UK franchise nameKingdom Hearts
US censor rating"Everyone 10+"
UK censor rating"12+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)