Final Thoughts on Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep

These stats were from when I first cleared the game. I spent about 20 more hours getting through post-game material, and a more accurate statistics sheet would blow the information here out of the water!

As an owner of both a Nintendo DS and a PSP, I always have a number of portable games on tap to nestle into bed with, or to carry on the go. I love them both equally, but when I focus on a game on my DS for example, my PSP will be secluded in my desk, collecting dust for weeks, even months at a time. Over the past year however, the tide has definitely changed in favor of my PSP. My DS has already been entombed in it’s carrying case for at least six months, and when Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep took a residence in my game collection, it’s continued to remain there. The PSP has more often than not been the destination for half-assed ports, lackluster franchise revivals and games that just “weren’t as good as they could have been”, but this latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts series is sure to propel itself past any of those categories, as well as make any remaining naysayers of the PSP take a second look.

As I mentioned in my review, this game clearly showcases the power that the PSP is capable of. I thought there were very few things that Birth By Sleep failed to do on a grand scale; I was entertained from start to finish. Most importantly, there wasn’t at any point in my play through that I said to myself, “Oh, this is just a portable game,” and subconsciously lowered my expectations. In fact, there were a number of times where I said to myself, “This could definitely exist on a console!”

Overall, I appreciated the storyline, because it explains what was going on prior to Sora’s time, so to speak. Contrary to what a lot of other gamers are saying, I thought Terra, Ventus and Aqua were casted pretty well, and their voice actors did a good job projecting their respective characters personality, which helped me make a better connection with the three of them.

When I played as Terra, I felt the internal conflict he was dealing with between doing what was right and going along with what Master Xehanort guided him to do, and genuinely was upset with how things turned out for him in the end. Just like Anakin Skywalker before him, it seemed as if he had the potential to become very powerful, but it goes to show that evil can still work to ruin you, if you walk close enough to it.  Ventus’ youthful nature made it easier for him to interact with the Disney characters. Perhaps it was because he was the youngest of the group, which appealed to the kid inside all of us. We’ve all wanted to interact with the likes of Mickey Mouse, a Disney Princess, or be able to fly with Peter Pan at one point or another in our lives – and Ven made that childhood dream come true on screen. Aqua, whom I saved for last, was my favorite. I liked her the most, because she represented a pretty lacking demographic in the Kingdom Hearts universe until now: a strong feminine presence. Aqua could not only hold her own in combat, she had a strong personality and never played the damsel in distress card (cough Kairi). Of the three heroes, I would like to see what’s in store for her in future games.

Of course, the game expects you to watch the secret ending this time around. The regular ending left me hanging, but the extra scenes really set us up for the EVENTUAL release of Kingdom Hearts 3. At this point, I really want to just frown upon any more side stories, prequels or anything else, because it’s been five years since we’re played through Kingdom Hearts 2. I can’t imagine there has to be that much else to develop in the storyline, but we have Kingdom Hearts 3D and Re:Coded to play, when they get released.  For review purposes, I played the game on Standard Mode, meaning that in addition to beating the game, I had to collect every treasure chest, meld every ability, kill every monster at least once.. Are you asleep yet? Yeah. It certainly gives you something to do, but I got bored of completing each world with a 100% rating before I hit the halfway point in each storyline. Playing Standard Mode requires you to do many more “chores” to get the privilege of seeing the true ending, but luckily, if you play on Proud or Critical (Hard or Very Hard) Mode, you just have to clear the storyline. Whether you actually have the patience to complete this laundry list if you’re playing Standard Mode is up to you, but if that’s too time consuming like it was for me, Youtube can fill in the blanks!

Although I expected it, Birth By Sleep is also getting the Final Mix treatment. What’s worse is that news about Final Mix releasing in Japan (only, of course) happened to go around as soon as the States finally got the original game. For those who don’t know what Final Mix is, its basically a remixed edition of the game, with extra content like new boss fights, more cutscenes and the like. To me, it’s not worth justifying shelling out top dollar for largely the same game, but I immediately felt like we got the inferior game in comparison.

Overall, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep was a very successful game. The PSP is clearly getting into it’s later stages of life, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony were to reveal a successor to their handheld during next year’s E3 convention. The silver lining in this is that until then, the PSP games that we’ll be getting in the meantime are very likely to be using every ounce of power the PSP is able to offer, and if more games are as fully featured and well done as Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep keep coming down the pipe, I know I’ll be just fine.

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