Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is an action role-playing game developed by h.a.n.d and published by Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios in 2009 for Nintendo DS as part of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
Why It Rocks
The backstory behind Organization XIII's motives is finally revealed.
The second portable Kingdom Hearts game after the GBA version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and the first matching the fidelity of the PS2 games.
Limit attacks return from Kingdom Hearts 2, and are implemented in a new way much more similar to the Limit Breaks introduced in Final Fantasy VII.
A co-op mode is included, allowing up to four players to play together in the newly introduced Mission Mode (allowing to play the full story in co-op mode). Completing missions grant you crowns that you can use to obtain items.
There is also a competitive mode, where players receive a score based on their performance and the player with the highest score wins.
Great soundtrack, despite the Nintendo DS' limited sound capabilities.
A new battle system, called the Panels' System, where you insert Panels to gain abilities or use magic.
A Challenge mode is present, allowing you to replay Missions with extra challenges (like beating the mission using only a limited number of healing items or beating a mission without taking damage). Beating Challenges grants you Emblems that you can use at the Moogle Shop to obtain special items. Obtaining all Emblems will unlock the Ultima Weapon, the strongest weapon in the game.
Every time you defeat Emblem Heartless, you gain Heart Points, which can be used to buy items.
The worlds are very large for the Nintendo DS' capabilities.
The first Kingdom Hearts game where you don't play as Sora, and also the first that allows you to play as many different characters in Mission Mode (the members of Organization XIII, plus other characters from other Kingdom Hearts games). Fully completing all main story missions allows you to play as Sora and Mickey in Mission Mode.
Great usage of the Nintendo DS' dual screens, with the map being shown on the lower screen. For instance, during cutscenes, you can see Roxas on the upper screen and Sora on the lower screen. This mechanic is also used for a boss battle against the Iron Guard Heartless.
The touch screen can be used as a second analog stick to move the camera. Like Kingdom Hearts 2, you can change the controls to match the control system used in the first Kingdom Hearts with slight modifications (you use the L and R buttons to control the camera and L+R to use shortcuts, while the X button is always used to cycle between commands).
The crafting system is changed from Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 and is accessed by talking to a Moogle in the World That Never Was.
Despite being a 3D game, the D-Pad works just right.
Balanced difficulty: not too easy, nor too hard.
A good variety of Missions: Heart gathering (where you need to gather a certain number of Heart Points), Hunting (where you need to hunt for a rare Heartless, generally a Boss), Collecting (where you have to collect a certain number of items), Survival (where you need to survive for a set period of time), Pot breaking (where you have to smash a certain number of pots, some of which will release powerful enemies) and Exploration (where you investigate a certain place). There are also some stealth sequences (where you generally need to chase a character without being spotted or get past someone who's guarding an area).
The CGI opening cutscene is great for the time and looks still impressive today for the Nintendo DS standards.
Roxas is able to work alongside the various members of Organization XIII.
Combines hack and slash with RPG elements.
One of the best jokes in the game is when Roxas allows Xion to use his keyblade and he picks up a stick.
Xion's "death" is regarded as one of the saddest scenes in the series.
While the Panels' mechanic is executed well, it has a downside: you need Panels for almost everything, from using items to level up, equipping weapons and armor and using magic. In this case, the number of times you can use magic depends from how much magic panels you have installed. You can use Ethers to restore your magic panels, though. For this, the game has been criticized by some people.
Unlike most other Kingdom Hearts games, this game has a much more story-driven structure (most likely to meet the DS' limitations). Despite this, the game gives you some room for exploration and the worlds are huge (see point 9).
Despite appearing in the cover art, Mickey only appears in one cutscene and plays zero role in the game's story.
New players may have a hard time following the story, since the latter requires you to have played Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
The version of this game included in the compilations Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 Remix contains only the cutscenes.
Due to the game's story-driven structure, grinding for crafting materials can be hard because an item you need could appear only in a specific mission.
The interaction with Disney characters has been greatly reduced in comparison to the other games in the series.
Unlike other handheld Kingdom Hearts games, you press the R button twice to lock on, which can be a problem if you have the camera control mapped to the L and R buttons. Also, like Kingdom Hearts 1, you can't move the camera while the lock on is activated.
You can't do recurring activities in the series, such as partaking in matches at the Olympus Coliseum (except in some missions), nor visit worlds like Hollow Bastion or Traverse Town.
Most of the bosses (with the exception of Xion) are either frustrating, too easy or boring (Ex:The Leechgrave, The Dustflier and The Ruler of the Sky)