Getting my hands on Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep was no easy task. Without getting too descriptive, I’ll just say that it was a stroke of luck, and a bit of ingenuity, because if one variable were to be off, I wouldn’t have this gem of a game to play and write about right now! I’ll be clear with you all; Birth By Sleep is one of the very best RPG’s for the PSP this year, hands down. Not many games have been able to make me come to this conclusion in under 4 hours, so this is a very worthy precedent.
Birth By Sleep follows Square Enix’s pattern of delaying the inevitable; releasing Kingdom Hearts 3. Although they’re not moving the story “forward,” this is the game alluded to in the secret video if you completed all everything in Kingdom Hearts 2. Remember those three mysterious armored people fighting? As ambiguous as that preview video was, players finally get some answers to what it all means here. Since this game is a prequel to the entire series, it tells the story of three Keyblade users before Sora comes along – Terra, Ventus and Aqua. I’m still getting to know each character, but a past Game Informer article established pretty spot on comparisons with Star Wars Episode I-III characters. Terra is a lot like Anakin Skywalker, Aqua mirrors Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ven is like Ahsoka Tano (if you watched the Clone Wars cartoon… I didn’t).
Terra, Ven and Aqua have their own storyline, and you choose one to play to completion. I found it interesting that although you’ll be effectively visiting each world three times, each character experiences a portion of it. For example, Terra visits the Castle of Dreams (Cinderella’s world) and watches as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother transforms her, glass slippers and all. He then escorts her to the royal ball, fighting Unversed (this game’s iteration of Heartless) along the way. After she dances with the Prince, she runs away as the clock strikes 12, just like the story. While Terra’s about to leave, Aqua appears to take over. Since I’m playing as Terra at the moment, I would be off towards the next world, while people playing as Aqua would be present for the next events in Cinderella. Eventually, Aqua will finish her portion, and Ven will come to finish it up. Each world and the events within them play out just like their respective Disney movies, and the player exists within it without ruining the original story. I think this is really well done. For the Disney fans that are also gamers, Kingdom Hearts’ very faithful usage of the Disney license is a treat.
I figured since Birth By Sleep was on a handheld system, the controls would be difficult, and I would have to be practicing some extreme hand-yoga to fight, but all of the movements and actions are positioned well for the PSP’s control scheme. Combat is fast paced, and fun to watch play out.
Birth By Sleep will be the first game I’ll be working on since Final Fantasy XIII, so I’m really excited to get back into the swing of playing games to review again. It’s been quite a long time between April and September, but nothing has come around till now to get my interest. If you have a PSP, like RPG’s, and Disney, what are you doing with yourself? Get out there and get this game!