I got Kingdom Hearts BBS on the day it was released; I got it with a pack in with the PSP 3000, knowing how much I would probably be playing this game I wanted to play it on my TV, so I picked this up and a set of component cables. After playing through this game twice, I have to say this is probably the best Kingdom Hearts since the original.
Recommend this product?
Set 10 years before the original Kingdom Hearts this story, the worlds are protected by a small group of keyblade wielders called the Jedi err um the keyblade masters. 3 up and coming keyblade wielders named Ventus, Terra, and Aqua (note their names in Latin are the same has Sora, Riku, and Kairi in Japanese) are swept on a quest across the worlds when Master Xehanort goes missing. Add in a mask boy named Vanitas spreading monsters across the world called the unversed (no heartless in this game, the unversed will be the small little monsters that you will have to kill) and you have major trouble afoot.
The game plays out differently because the 3 characters are never in the same world at the same time. They are all looking for each other and hoping to convince each other to return home before one of them gets into trouble but they keep missing each other. This leads to interesting stories across the worlds and it makes the Disney world's fill a lot less filler. Take for example Snow White. Terra plays the role of the woods man hired by the queen to kill Snow White (all though he never plans to go through with it he does scare her though), Ventus guides her to the 7 dwarfs and accidentally helps the queen find Snow White, and Aqua retrieves the Prince to wake Snow White up. Add in that each character has reasons to distrust the other, especially Terra who his friends worry may be going to the dark side (or darkness), so when they hear from the villain what Terra has been up to it amps there mistrust. Also you won't see all the story on one play through, you will have to play through the game once with each character, and beat the game and collect all of Xeonhart reports with each character to unlock the real final boss and beat the game. Also there is a 10 minute videos called Blank Points that unlocks for beating proud mode, far from being a little teaser for the next KH games Blank Points helps fill in the blanks from BBS to the main series, has well has given the series a jumping off point to a KH 3 (all though it should be noted Re:coded also has a role to play in paving the way to).
With the enhanced power of the PSP KH BBS look closely matches its PS2 counter parts. That is if you put it on 16 bit color, and turn up the processing speed to full, otherwise the game is just a bit clunky on the frame rate end when you have a lot of enemies in one place. The game looked fine when I played it through the component cables with only a few areas where the lower resolution stood out, on the actual PSP screen it looked great throughout the game. The areas you visit are a site to behold with each one representing there movies quite well. The cut scenes are also done quite well and tell the story nicely.
The voices in this game are top notch. Starting with Leonard Nimoy who plays Xehanort, Xehanort is very much a Palpatine character, he is charming and manipulative but you can tell he's evil, but not in till the end of the game do you realize how evil he can be. He is the genesis of pretty much all of Sora's problems in the original KH games, and Nimoy pulls off this characters many emotional changes very well. For the 3 main characters Jason Dorings Terra is the weakest of the 3, many of his lines fall flat, which is a shame because he is the most interesting of the 3, and plays the Anakin Skywalker to Xehanorts Palpatine . Jesse Mcartany returns to play the Roxas look alike Ventus, and finally Willa Hollands Aqua has a unique and memorable voice to the first playable female protagonist in a KH games.
Since there are only 3 repeated worlds I am happy to say there are only 2 repeated stage themes. You will be hearing Hallow Bastion (Radiant Garden) theme and the Hercules Coliseum them again but the rest of the world's music is new. On the bad side the new world themes can be just has repetitive has the old ones. SE choosing Bibbity Bobbidy Boo has the theme song for Cinderella's was a poor choice because that one loops constantly, those 3 words may start making you puke rather than do magic next time you hear them.
Best battle system in a Kingdom Hearts game ever. It is still kingdom hearts so expect plenty of mashing on the X button to get things done but SE has taken it a lot deeper. The game requires building a deck, but unlike Chain Of Memories rather than cards it's the slights themselves. So for example Cure and Sonic Blade could go into a deck. Each time you use one of those attacks you have to wait for them to recharge, so there is no magic bar in the game. Adding even more depth to this element is you're now allowed to fuse your cards, for example a fire dash plus thunder surge will make Sonic Blade. You're also allowed to equip gems to these fusions and have new abilities come out, for example putting a fleeting crystal on a fusion that gives you a magic spell will give you a magic haste ability shorting all load times to the magic type cards. You can use these abilities by putting the new fusion attack into your deck, but they won't be yours to keep until you max out that move by killing enemies or by playing the rather monopoly inspired Command Board game. Also since the game is spread across 3 characters each character will have command cards they excel at. Terra who is strong, Ven who is fast, and Aqua who is the mage. Terra excels at attack type commands so attacks like Sonic Blade do a lot of damage when equip to him, but do little damage if you use them has Aqua, and vice versa when it comes to attacks like Firaga. Also each character can fuse cards unique to them; Terras Chaos Blade and Aquas Mega Flare ability are two such examples of that.
Also adding more into the fun is the command styles and finishes styles. Command styles are brief transformations that happen when you fill up the command bar using special moves and will gain a stronger attack and big finish at the end of these transformations. There are also some command styles that will only trigger when you're in a command style adding even more power and strategy on how you set up those decks. If you fill up the command bar using regular attacks you just do a finish move, but these do can be leveled up to become stronger by using the D links you forge. When you complete a world often you will forge a d-link with one of the character in them. Using the D-link allows you to completely restore your health and use these characters decks and special moves. Killing enemies while D-link will sometimes allow you to collect special gems that level up the D-link, leveling a D-link to level 3 allows you to pull off the characters strongest finishes while D-Link. Getting a bunch of D-links up to maximum will mean unlocking stronger finishes for your character.
And finally there are shot locks that can be collected and leveled up too. Shot locks take away from a focus gage and can be used to KO either large targets or a bunch of smaller targets. Pressing L and R shoulder buttons will give you a first person scope look that allows you to lock on to the characters you want to hit, releasing will allow you to hit them with a bunch of strong attacks.
So the gameplay gives you a lot of options expect to use them especially on bosses, the bosses can be brutally tough sometimes and expect some patter memorization. Also expect to block and counter for many a boss fight. Yes you will for the first time actually expect to block enemy attacks in order to defeat them. There are several boss fights that if you go in with Keyblade ah swinging you'll come out with your backside ah bleeden.
If there is one bad side to all the deep content in the game is that the game is short, or I should say 3 short RPG's combined into 1. And there are no new game plus or way to share what you got with one character over to the next. So grinding and unlocking Terra's best techniques and abilities won't matter squat when you decide to play through Ven's story line. Each game save is its own game and unconnected to each other. The game does save things like Xenhorts reports and cut scenes for a theater mode and to of course unlock the blank points.
KH BBS is probably the greatest KH game to come out since the original. It has a great story that fills in a lot of the blanks about the KH story line. Content wise this should very much be consider Kingdom Hearts 3 for the whiners out there. All in all there is only one fully repeat world and it's the coliseum, both Never Land and Radiant Garden are completely different from prior reincarnations. The cut scenes are all fully VA and SE pulled out all the stops on the talent. Don't skip this one because Sora, Donald, and Goofy only have bit parts.
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