Kingdom Hearts : Birth by Sleep

Box ArtDate Completed: July 10th, 2013

The last Kingdom Hearts game I played was Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (which is my worst rated game ever) and I despised the experience so much that it took two years before I was ready to play a Kingdom Hearts game again.  I probably would have stayed away even longer except Kingdom Hearts : Birth By Sleep is the last PSP game that I have left to play.  Now that I’ve finished it I can retire my PSP.

I was prepared to hate this game from the very beginning.  My only goal was to finish the game as fast as possible and I didn’t want to put up with any of the tutorials, spend time leveling up my characters or learning how to use the melding system to create more powerful skills.  HowLongToBeat.com indicated that the game could take up to 66 hours to complete and I was not looking forward to sinking that much time into a game.  Since I hadn’t spent the time to play the game properly I was constantly too weak to win any battles.  I would have to replay boss battles dozens of times and I ended up wasting hours and that game probably took me longer than it would have otherwise because of it.

The game follows the exploits of three different main characters as they travel through various Disney themed worlds in search of the source of monsters called ‘The Unversed’ (Not to be confused with the Heartless or Nobodies).  Each character’s storyline must be played separately and after all three story lines are completed a final chapter becomes available.  This means you have to beat the game four separate times and watch four different endings before you’re done with the game.  Hardly a recipe for a speed run.

Each character visits the same worlds but they experience different parts of the story.  For example in Cinderella’s world one character helps the mice gather the materials to craft her ball gown, another character serves as a bodyguard to get her to the ball and the third character helps the Grand Duke locate Cinderella after the ball.  After completing each world you forge a ‘D-Link’ with a character which allows you to call on them to assist you in combat.  I took a certain pleasure calling Cinderella into battle with me.

Kingdom-Hearts-Birth-By-Sleep-kingdom-hearts-33930960-476-267

Cinderella, Warrior Princess

KH:BBS plays almost identically to the Kingdom Hearts games on the PS2.  You lock on to enemies using the L+R buttons and use the remaining buttons to whack at your foes with your unlikely weapon (a giant key).  The button combinations can be very uncomfortable to press due mostly to the size of the PSP, and the lack of a second analog stick.  I often cramped my hand after an extended game play session.

Abilities can be melded together to create more powerful abilities.  During a melding operation you can attach an extra component that will also grant you a new passive ability, such as more hit points or a faster attack speed.  The melding system is very involved so I recommend consulting an online FAQ for finding the best melds.  You have a limited number of ability slots so choosing powerful abilities is very important.

The overarching story is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series and it attempts to tie up many of the loose ends in the other games.  Unfortunately none of it makes a great deal of sense and only ended up confusing me more.  I’ve often wondered if it’s a translation issue, and that the game makes complete sense in its original Japanese, or if the game represents the mad ravings of a lunatic.  Either way, it’s a compelling sort of nonsense that is at least entertaining, if not entirely understandable.

There are tons of extras thrown in such as a networked arena mode, various mini games and collectables.  I didn’t find any of these to be particularly compelling, although some of them do yield up prizes and are worth at least a look.

By the time I got to the end of the game it had won me over.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m a little sad to see it go.

Pros

  • Three main characters with three different story lines.
  • Complex melding system.
  • Lots of extra content.

Cons

  • Takes a significant time investment to learn how to play.
  • Uncomfortable button mashing.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  35 hours
System: PSP
Genre: Action
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