Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Impression 1

The demo of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days puts the player in control of Roxas and was divided into two playable missions that took place in Twilight Town and Agrabah respectively. Each mission comes with its own brief cutscenes, objectives, and rewards.

It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be possible to learn or equip skills mid-mission in the final version based on the game’s text, so a lot of preparation needs to be done beforehand based on the mission description and tips. Players were unable to learn or equip skills between missions in the demo either, so we went in to a lot of these missions without anything more than what seemed like the starter keyblade. Defensive techniques such as blocking and dodge roll that were learned early on in the other Kingdom Hearts titles were probably absent from the demo as well, though it’s possible that we simply couldn’t figure it out due to some re-mapped controls.

As long as some of the buttons can be re-mapped to match the player’s preferred playstyle, the controls were decent enough for the most part, but veteran Kingdom Hearts fans will likely be disappointed by the loss of some useful features allowed by the extra buttons and analog sticks the PS2 had. The largest problems came from camera control and the targeting system. Without a stylus or use of a finger, the only way to control the camera is with the R button, and it just re-centers it behind Roxas. The game also has Roxas auto-target the closest enemy which isn’t always the one you want to attack, and there’s seemingly no lock-on feature to get around that problem. This can create a bit of frustration when combined with the aforementioned camera problems and an abundance of fast-moving flying enemies, at least in the demo.

The first mission was Twilight Town and sent Roxas and Axel to hunt down and defeat a Guardian boss enemy. It involved going through a lot of the tunnels of Twilight Town on the way to the boss while fighting off enemies and opening the occasional treasure chest. There was a little bit of room for exploration, but there were a lot of areas that were sealed off, so it was fairly minimal. Altogether, it was a decent mission, though it was very cookie-cutter. If not for the characters involved, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in one of dozens of other mission-based games out there.

The second and final mission, Agrabah, had Roxas track down and defeat a number of Fire Flowers by himself. This is where the problems with the demo became obvious. Right from the start, players are told that they should bring blizzard magic and the ability to guard, but the demo didn’t seem to allow either. Anyone familiar with Agrabah market stages from previous Kingdom Hearts titles can probably guess how frustrating it would be to play through them while surrounded by mages and plants that can shoot fireballs from a distance without good camera controls or any blizzard magic to counter with. To make things worse, the final area has an enemy mage that can create barriers around everything else. With only a weak keyblade to work with, this pretty much amounted to chasing the barrier mage all over the place while trying to keep the camera on it, knocking it out, then climbing all over that section of Agrabah and hitting the nearest fire plant a few times before repeating the process.

All in all, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was one of the worst demos I’ve ever played, and I really hope it isn’t reflective of the game as a whole. The Agrabah portion would probably be less painful with weapon upgrades, blizzard magic, and the ability to block and such, but I’m still not looking forward to re-playing that mission even with all of that. Ideally, the two stages selected for the demo were either chosen at random or just to show some mission variety rather than the cream of the crop chosen to get people interested in the game. As it stands, it left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth and makes me a little more hesitant to pick up the final version.

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