Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, PAX Impression

It seems like Square Enix brought to PAX pretty much the same demo for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days as it had at E3, though there were a few notable improvements.  You could actually pick up the DS and hold it, for one. 

So once again the curious demo players were presented with two mission options: Twilight Town and Agrabah.  In Twilight Town we get to wander around as Roxas with Axel for a partner, looking for a rogue guardian to destroy.  It definitely felt like a very early-game level.  Roxas pretty much had his basic keyblade attack and that was about it.  There was a magic spell available, but having to dig through menus, remember to hit the “X” button not down on the d-pad, and then fight the camera just to aim meant that I pretty much just ignored it.  Fortunately, the level was easy enough that I could hack and slash my way through it, though it really felt like Axel was doing all the heavy-lifting.  Not being able to move the camera as needed when the screen is filled with a bunch of teapots flitting about pretty much left me flailing around uselessly.  The feeling was even worse when the boss fight rolled around, as it was another flier, and a tough one, too.  Axel started whipping out a special attack or two, and I was stuck dodging like mad and plinking away with my little keyblade slashes.  Fortunately, the dialog hints at this being perhaps one of the very first few missions, so the disparity might not actually be all that weird.

Contrary to Twilight Town, the mission to Agrabah felt more like a mid-game level.  This time we go it alone to Agrabah with the objective of killing off 7 fire flowers.  This level felt like it had a few upgrades from the E3 demo version.  There actually was access to not only blizzard magic, but fire and lighting, too.  Of course, due to the menu-navigating and targeting difficulties I mentioned earlier, all of them were effectively useless.  Fortunately, Roxas could now dodge-roll with a press of the Y-button.  He also had a really neat mid-air move that has him flash forward a short space.  Given a high enough point to start from, it was possible to chain those flash-moves together and make it almost all the way across the area, though a considerable amount of altitude was lost in the process.  But perhaps the most useful little move was the Y-combo.  After executing 3 slashes in a row a little “Y-combo” prompt would pop up, kind of reminiscent of the triangle-button prompts from Kingdom Hearts II, and if you hit the button in time, Roxas would execute a rolling slash that would stun the enemy.  This was really useful against the fire-flowers, as that let me keep the thing stunned and reeling instead of shooting me in the face while I was trying to kill it.  The end of stage boss was again the little magician with the large book who shields the remaining 3 fire flowers.  Unfortunately, he was again a very slippery target to catch.  This is where the problem with the camera became irritating, as he had a penchant for spinning away and going behind me when I would try to attack.  Fortunately, jumping and using the flash-move had a little targeting on it, as it let me follow his movement a little.  But he was still a hard one to take down, and it didn’t help that the fire-flowers were pelting me in the back the whole time.

All in all, though, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days didn’t seem as bad an experience this time.  The flaws can really be narrowed down to two things: poor camera control and poor menu navigation.  Depending on how the actual release mitigates these points, 358/2 Days might be a decent buy, especially for those folks who need their Roxas & Axel fix.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.