I really made sure I finished KH: 358/2 Days before the new year started! I spent my New Year’s Eve waiting for the ball to drop by finishing this game that I got as a present way back in 2010.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days takes place after Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and before the start of Kingdom Hearts 2. You follow the main character Roxas during his work in Organization XIII. Like Sora, he can is a keyblade wielder as well. I started this game in summer 2010 while I was still in my first internship, during which I would spend my lunch breaks playing the game (but as ususal when school started I got distracted away from the game).
It’s definitely hard to write this review without spoilers, but I did my best to keep them out. Since I only worked through Story Mode, that’s all I really wrote about.
The game separates each level into a daily “mission” that Saix, one of the big cheeses of Organization XIII, commands you to do. At first I really liked having a mission each “day” because it felt like a to do list, but after literally doing 300+ missions and counting them down, I couldn’t wait to reach the end. Many tasks were fun, however, you can only have so much variety with such a large amount of missions. You have the option to only complete the required missions (demarked with a keyblade symbol next to them) and skip past the optional missions to achieve a cut scene that contributed to plot development. Of course the hardcore gamer in me could never let me do that.
At the end of each mission, depending on how well you completed it, you get a bunch of items for rewards. Munny is still the currency in the game, although heart points that you receive for defeating Heartless is another source of currency for synthesizing.
(screenshot from GamesRadar.com)
The battle system is pretty similar to the previous Kingdom Hearts. Your basic action game controls with shortcuts and items. You can access your “Limit” special attack after your HP depletes to a certain amount. Each use of a limit attack pushes the threshold to access it again to an even lower HP (prevents healing & spamming limits). Thank goodness for the Limits. I would have never defeated those bosses without it. You also get to team up with members of the Organization on certain missions, which definitely was fun.
(screenshot from DefunctGames.com)
The level up system is kinda eh. It’s called” The Panel System.” You need to install certain panels to power yourself up with items, abilities, magic, weapons, and one ring (I guess you can call this your defense item). You were limited to the number of panels you can install by the number of slots you have open (you gain “slot releases” to get more spaces as you complete more missions).
(screenshot from WingDamage.com)
I felt like it was super weird that levels were limited to how many panels you could earn, synthesize, or make. I guess it prevents level grinding. It was fun trying to puzzle the panels sufficiently together though. I found it interesting that “upgraded” panels had to be bought or synthesized and usually contained more link spaces. I thought it would be more efficient to instead leveling up old panels after those abilities or magic were used enough and evolve their shape and add more spaces. Maybe Square thought that was too easy.
The main characters in this story I would say are Roxas, Xion, and Axel because you watch as the three of them get very close to one another and form a great friendship.
(Screenshot from IGN.com)
Roxas is definitely not my favorite character in the world in this game, but I definitely don’t hate him either. He’s just a confused kid trying to figure things out and wants to protect the friends he’s come to care about.
At first I really didn’t like Xion as a character. I thought she was kind of a pointless character that Square wanted to throw in so they could have another girl character into the franchise. MAH BAD. It wasn’t like that at all. She definitely ends up being the major plot device and the KH storyline could not have moved on without her being there.
I still love Axel. He’s a cutie and in my opinion the most conflicted of the bunch.
Organization XIII still gangastas, and I love them for being such great villians.
Of course, what would a Kingdom Hearts game be without my eternal video game crush, Riku! Seriously if he wasn’t in this game, Kingdom Hearts II would not have happened …just saying. He’s still conflicted about the darkness and how it affects him, but by the end he’s convinced he needs to yield it to save Sora.
Despite the tedious and slow beginning, the build-up to the end of the game was superb. Most of the game was watching Roxas, Xion, and Axel interact with one another, which was interesting to watch because we never get to explore the feelings of these side characters.
But by day 320ish things started moving quickly plot-wise because characters start acting upon their feelings.
But shit got real by day 355.
And oh god the cut scene after 357 was a tear jerker.
In fact, the ending of the game brought me to (hypothetical) tears (if I had a heart). I’m not going to sugar coat this because it is true: there is no real “happy ending” for this game. But it was great because you get a sense that the game brought you “full circle.” The game shows you how you got to the beginning of KH II (I was so confused when I first played KH:II because I didn’t play CoM and couldn’t understand why I was a blonde boy doing summer jobs instead of kick ass Sora saving the world from Heartless).
Okay I hate to throw potential spoilers at you (though if they entice you to play/replay the game, I’m glad!) but really no wonder Sora is so emo in KHII compared to the first light hearted game.
Visual & Music
Visually, this is the first DS KH I have finished (the only other portable KH I have completed is KH: CoM on the GBA). I must say, I am still impressed how well the graphics look on the DS. As usual, Square does not fail with the visuals. Cut scenes looked spectacular. In game graphics were not to be ashamed of either. Voice acting was really good in my opinion (who would’ve thought that Jesse McCartney would be a good Roxas??).
The visuals you’ll have to see for yourself, but this is my favorite KH:358/2 Days song: “Vector to the Heavens” (I suggest not reading the comments for they probs have MAJOR spoilers). Music as usual sends chills through me. Absolutely love Square’s choice of music in their games. I always use their instrumental and orchestra versions of FF &KH for study music. Helps me get those A’s.
On a side note, at the end of the game you gain the ability to have a theatre and re-watch all the old scenes from the game.
Overall happy I started and completed the game. I would say it is frustrating and not worth the patience of a player not familiar with the KH series. DEFINITELY not recommended for first game to introduce into the series, but I suppose that’s obvious since this is really a “fill in the gaps of the story” type of game. Definitely a must play for an avid fan of the series, especially if you are trying to catch up with the story line.
Definitely a complex story as it has grown over the years, which has its positives and negatives. Great for the ambitious gamer who wants to delve further into unanswered questions & mysteries. Intimidating for the gamer who has bad memory who’s who (aka me). I’ve been playing KH for like 7 years now (HOLY CRAP) and since I don’t get to play the games one after another (and sometimes put one game down for months at a time), I have the need to re-wiki to remember how everything fits together (though it really does fit together beautifully when you piece it together).
The KH story has grown into a very complex, deep dark story, which can get confusing because everyone starts looking the same and you forget if you are fighting a Riku who’s given up to the darkness, Ansem, Xemnas, Xenhort, because it is THE SAME FACE. Same with you Roxas/Ventus/kid from Twilight Town. I’m onto pummel KH: Birth by Sleep for the PSP. I am still on my first story (which would be Terra). Apparently, it’s the origins of the Kingdom Hearts story & how that ass Xenhort was born. His evilness spans the ages.
I would still say KH: 358/2 Days is my least favorite of the series for three reasons though:
- Far too long and repetitive; there are interesting points of the story, but long intermediate lulls in between were tortuously tedious at times.
- The gameplay is mediocre. The bosses can be challenging when confronted the first time, but really I used the same strategy to bet them all. I was not a fan of the level up system either.
- The game makes you (the player) feel sad, which I suppose should set you up to feel conflicted who’s side you want to root for to “win”: Sora or Roxas. Even so, I miss the light-hearted feeling of the first game although it had a bittersweet ending.
Wow writing about video games lately really makes me miss my old blog at Xanga. I used to write a lot of video game reviews back in the day. The ones I miss mostly are the ones I wrote about Final Fantasy XIII and The World Ends with You. I used to write a few posts for Xanga’s their side “ish” site called Hardest Level which targeted the blog’s video game crowd. Sadly, I’ve deleted all my old blog and that video game site is pretty much shut down. You can check out what I wrote here (though all images have been deleted).