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PSP Game Review

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep


Format: PSP
Square Enix
RRP: £29.99
5 021290 041547
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 10 September 2010

Many years before Sora was given a Keyblade, the worlds’ were overseen by the Keyblade Masters, who oversaw the training of new keymasters. Three such hopefuls are Terra, Ventus and Aqua, all with their various strengths and weaknesses. Under the tutelage of Master Eqargue the three attend their final test, the Mark of Mastery, a trial that Terra fails. In order to prove his worth he is given a quest to find Master Xehanort who disappeared at the same time. The three friends soon find that they are in a fight against evil and the darkness in their own hearts...

Along with its various Final Fantasy titles, the union of Square Enix and Disney have been producing the popular Kingdom Hearts RPG games for the last ten years. The previous two games originally appeared on the PS2, but Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a PSP exclusive, though sadly it is not available on the PSPGo. Mind you, I didn’t buy one, so I’m happy.

Anyone who has played either a FF or KH game will instantly be in their comfort zone with the overall control concept and the levelling up procedure. There are new bells and whistles to enjoy, including the new battle systems.

Having powered up the game you get a fairly lengthy preamble, which orientates you to the new characters before the game proper starts. Here you get to choose to play one of the three characters, Terra, full of raw strength, Aqua, a nimble and agile female and young Ventus who is a balance of the two. This isn’t an either/or choice as to get the whole story you will have to play the game through as each of the three characters. Although each of the characters will visit the same worlds, the quests that they undertake are different.

Graphically, the game is nothing short of spectacular for the PSP; however this comes at a cost. You can choose to dump up to nearly half a gig of the game onto a memory stick which helps loading times and even change the clock speed to 333 MHz, this speed up the game, but battery life is lowered. With the largest amount dumped to memory stick and all the config choices set to make the game look as good as it can be I got a battery life of about four hours, which is still pretty decent.

As your character moves from one Disney world to another, the other major characters you meet gives you a chance to create a D-link with them, this then allows you to temporally borrow their powers during combat. You also get improved weapons which you can associate various offensive/defensive moves, in differing combinations of physical and magical attributes.

The game has a multitude of ways of powering up your characters and gaining new abilities. The first is by defeating enemies which produces Mummy, which can be spent at the shops which exist on most of the worlds. You can play a dice game on the Command Board, which turns out to be a frustratingly fun way of gaining stuff. There is or course prizes to be had following the defeat of a boss and the possibility of mixing various magic and abilities to create new ones.

There are two worlds which also yield some good stuff when they are unlocked. Disney World consists of minigames for prizes and in the Mirage Arena up to six players can play wirelessly against each other for further prizes.

If you haven’t played a game which fuses Final Fantasy with Disney you don’t know what you’re missing, it might sound like an idea born of some dubious self medication, but it works. Fans of the series will discover that the game is not a cash in, but forms part of the overall story and provides some essential back-story to the Keyblade.

Overall, this is probably the best game on the PSP, at the moment, graphically lavish with an immersive story and enough game play to keep you going for many weeks, what’s not to like in this third instalment of Kingdom Hearts?


Charles Packer

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