Birth By Sleep is the third handheld Kingdom Hearts game to be released on yet another format, you have to feel sorry for fans of the KH series who don’t own at least 3 of the consoles these games have been released on. I say 3 even though it’s actually 4 but you can play GBA games on some DS’s. Birth By Sleep released on the PSP this time makes it the best looking handheld version of the game looking as good as it did on the PS2 and like the first two games everyone is voiced.
The story is set before the first Kingdom Hearts game on the PS2 and the story is split up into three separate characters Terra, Ven and Aqua. You will play through each of the three characters who have their own story which lasts about 8-10 hours each and will meet each other at certain areas of the game. The three stories work really well and fill in all the gaps left when playing one of the other characters. I chose to play Terra than Aqua and finally Ven and felt the story flowed excellent.
Birth By Sleep brings some new ideas to gameplay and combat controls, the X button remains the normal attack button and you can assign items to the Triangle button which can be controlled using the D-Pad. These items can be level up, molded into something new or created using the games mini game “Command Board” or bought at shop points in each world. As you progress through the game you acquire more and more spaces to add new attacks, items or healing potions, although easy to use I have come across a couple of bad points. First issue happens when in the heat of a battle, choosing through loads of options to find the one you need E.G. “Cure” can divert you from what’s happening and can leave you flustered or getting attacked and secondly if you do get hit as you press triangle it sometimes cancels that item and moves you swiftly onto the next one which means you could heal yourself when you don’t need to. All items assigned to the triangle button have an unlimited usage but you will have to wait for a bar to fill up before you can use the same item again.
The other major issue I have with BBS is the camera and auto lock function. The Autolock can be really fidgety to use sometimes as it locks onto enemies that you don’t want to or won’t change to the one’s you want. Sometimes it can be a major pain to cancel the lock on and the camera doesn’t always pan round when you are locked onto an enemy when running around them which means you can lose sight of what they are doing. On the flip side I have also been in a boss battle and the auto lock cancels itself and the camera pans around to face a wall so I can no longer see where the enemy is attacking from, this causes a problem when you are fighting fast attacking enemy that can attack from a distance.
Another added extra to BBS is the D-link function which replaces summons, the D-link replaces your normal command menu with one that’s made from one of the characters you have meet during your playthrough of the game, this is fun and handy at first but when you don’t have a cure item but eventually you will forget it’s even there. A more useful attack function is the “shoot lock” targeting system which can be used for long distant attacks by holding down both shoulder buttons, but this also has its flaws as sometimes it doesn’t lock on like it should and you could end up facing a wall instead of an enemy.
When the battle system is at its best the combat is as fun as the previous games and the new attacks do look amazing. Taking the bad points away the storyline is brilliant and matches the standard of the original games, you visit some fantastic Disney worlds such as Snow White, Cinderella & Deep Space where you will meet Stitch. The Coliseum is back but doesn’t add many tournaments; you will fight but its part of the storyline rather than an extra. I do like how Herc is his younger self.
There are a few mini games but they are fun for a few minutes before they get boring. One of which is a command board mini game using dice which can level up items you are holding and gain a few extras. These can be fun but go on for a bit long and you don’t really need to use it to progress in the game.
The game flows well and a very strong storyline with likable characters makes you forget about the games flaws. Having to watch the same clip again as you play through each of the characters is another small annoyance but can be forgiven when something new comes out of it at the end.
If you collect all of xehanort’s reports (which you should do) you will open up the last mission of the game and this is where the game presents its main challenge as most of the battles are pretty easy.