Anyone who’s been itching for more Kingdom Hearts since number two was released nearly three years ago has had little to hope for since the announcement of the sequels/prequels for the DS, the PSP and mobile platforms. Tidbits of information have slowly leaked from Japan, none though that have revealed much other than whats been seen in official trailers.
Yet, with the Japanese release date of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS set for this February (thank you Game Informer), the information flood gates have given way faster than the levees during Katrina (aww, too soon?). Be ready to bask in all of its glory.For those unfamiliar with the DS title, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days takes place between Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. Allowing you to further explore the secrets of Organization XIII, you take on the role of Roxas and explore his story as he joins, participates, and leaves the mysterious group of people.
As you play as Roxas, you will traverse familiar areas to the Kingdom Hearts series, such as Twilight Town, Beast’s Castle and Wonderland, and in turn, will encounter some old faces; Aladdin, King Mickey, Riku, and Hercules make appearances among many others. Along with the returning characters, Square Enix introduces Xion, the fourteenth member of the organization. Not much is known about her, however, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Kairi, and proves to provide much of the story.
Delving back into the world of Disney, you’ll find that developer h.a.n.d has kept to a winning formula; the action adventure combat you’ve come to know and love has returned, with some tunning and tinkering for better functionality on the DS. AI controlled allies are surprisingly active and intuitive, a change from Donald and Goofy’s lacking ability.
To allow for this familiar feel, the touch screen is minimally used, a function better left not integrated in a game where action is fast and relatively deep. Although Square Enix and h.a.n.d do not utilize the DS’ pioneering ability, the addition of multiplayer is a more than adequate substitution. Supporting up to four players, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days offers you the choice to be one of the thirteen members of Organization XIII, all with their own unique weapon and skill sets. The multiplayer function will differ from the single player, where you’ll accomplish quests through a mission based system as well as offering a chat system where you’ll be able to write to your allies using touch screen. It is yet unknown whether multiplayer will require multiple copies, but with a game of this caliber, its a safe bet it will be a “mutli-card” multiplayer.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is looking very promising, and has great expectations to meet. After the success and praise the series has received, the first of three releases will hope to garner the same reception. And after looking at the four page spread from from the Japanese magazine VJump, translated by KHInsider.com, Square Enix and h.a.n.d are already giving me the shakes.