It’s been almost four years since there was a full blown Kingdom Hearts released on a console. Since that time, we have had small adaptations slowly explaining the whole story behind Keyblades and the people who wield them. Square Enix released, what is believed to be, the final iteration of these mini episodes. That is, until the main title makes its triumphant return to consoles.
Birth by Sleep is drastically different from any other versions in the series allowing players to dawn the role of three characters: Aqua, Terra, and Ventus. Ventus (Ven for short) looks like an exact clone of Roxas from Kingdom Hearts 2. The only thing that separates the two, are their abilities. For Aqua, her attacks are more magic based, while Terra is more physical. Ventus’s attacks seem to be mixed between the two. The game uses an overhauled battle system, allowing players to quickly summon allies or use more powerful attacks by scrolling upwards after each attack. Allowing a constant feeling of being engaged in battle and not worrying about which hot key, allows any gamer to use a potion or cast a spell. The one downside to the game is the summons. I have found that if you choose a summon that focuses on strictly offensive attacks, you won’t be able to heal yourself unless you cancel out of it. If you manage to cancel it and you only used a little of the gauge, you have to wait for it to refill completely before you can summon a better partner. These moments will decide whether you win or lose against bosses. The game does allow you to choose a default summoning character, just like the moves you use during battle. Sometimes it’s better to just grind it out on your own, then attempting a summon.
Graphicall,y Birth by Sleep uses the full power the PSP has to offer. With stunning cut-scenes and flashy attacks that simply don’t seem possible on a handheld device. Just like any handheld game, there are some frame rate issues. They usually occur when there are a lot of enemies on the screen. Enemies also tend to use their special ability to grow larger, thus exceeding the camera angles. Enemies and the environment itself are crisp and sharp. A great example would be inside the Snow White World, in the cave where the rocks sparkle ever so lightly when you pass by them, and go dark if you stand in front of them blocking the light.
The PSP has been ridiculed for having only one analog stick. After the release of Birth by Sleep, you can see why it doesn’t need a second one. Controlling the character via the analog stick, and looking left and right with the triggers, allow for quick turnarounds. Since the lock-on is enabled by pressing both triggers, you are more likely to lock on to a target instantly, which will save you time in the mini games. For those who are lucky enough to have a PSP with a UMD drive, it is only right to pick Birth by Sleep when it is released this September.