Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (previously known as Kingdom Hearts 3D) is a game in the Kingdom Hearts series released on the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system. It was released on March 29, 2012 in Japan, July 31, 2012 in US and Canada, July 20, 2012 in Europe, and July 26th in Australia.
Following the destruction of Ansem and Xemnas at the hands of Sora and Riku, Xehanort is revived. In response, Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through a Mark of Mastery exam in order for them to become full-fledged Keyblade Masters and counter the coming return of Master Xehanort. As part of this trial, the two are separated from each other and sent to worlds previously destroyed by the Heartless that have since been restored, though now in a state of "deep sleep" which disconnects them from the other worlds.
These seven worlds are plagued by Dream Eaters — creatures born from darkness that seek out the sleeping worlds' Keyholes. Sora and Riku's given task is to reawaken the sleeping worlds by unlocking the seven Keyholes they find there and then return to the realm of light, recruiting benevolent "Spirit" Dream Eaters to guide them and battle the malevolent "Nightmare" Dream Eaters, after which they will be deemed Keyblade Masters.
During the exam, Sora and Riku cross paths with the resurrected "Ansem" and Xemnas, as well as a younger incarnation of Master Xehanort from an alternate past. The three bring Sora to the World That Never Was, where he learns of Organization XIII's true purpose—to serve as vessels for Master Xehanort to place pieces of his heart inside, thereby transforming them into clones of Xehanort. Sora is forced into a comatose state by the young Xehanort and his heart is swallowed by darkness, though it is protected by Ventus's suit of armor residing within him.
Riku goes to rescue Sora, only to be confronted by the young Xehanort, who unveils a new Organization XIII composed of the newly revived Master Xehanort and his eleven vessels, whom Xehanort plans to pit against seven Keyblade wielders and recreate the χ-blade. Master Xehanort tries to turn Sora into his last needed vessel, but Sora is rescued by Riku, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Lea—the revived human form of the original Organization's Axel—after which Xehanort and his other vessels retreat.
Sora's body is brought back to Yen Sid's tower, where Riku enters his body and releases Sora's heart from Ventus' armor, now possessed by a Nightmare. After Sora reawakens, only Riku is declared a Keyblade Master by Yen Sid, and Lea reveals himself to have become a Keyblade wielder. Undaunted by his failure, Sora embarks on a new journey by himself to train. While Sora travels to Traverse Town in order to meet all his Dream Eater friends, Ventus is shown still being at Castle Oblivion, but suddenly starts smiling a bit.
The unlockable secret ending for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is comprised of three scenes. In the first scene, Young Xehanort is seen standing alone on the beach in Destiny Islands. The second shows Aqua staring into the distance at the Dark Margin whilst smiling.
In the final segment, Donald and Goofy sit outside the Mysterious Tower and are met by Riku and a visitor whom they had not expected. Inside the tower, Yen Sid outlines to Mickey the history of the Keyblade War and the χ-blade, and the two speak about the seven lights, the Princesses of Heart. Yen Sid explains that there is no avoiding the gathering of the seven guardians of light to protect the seven pure lights, and thus a clash with the thirteen seekers of darkness is inevitable. Mickey arrives at the conclusion that only one more guardian of light is required to complete the total. At this point, Riku enters the tower with Kairi close behind.
The game is split into two scenarios, each fulfilled by one of the two protagonists: Sora and Riku. Unlike in previous games, however, the scenarios are not played separately, but are instead played concurrently in a linear fashion. This is achieved through the use of the drop system, and acts toward maintaining story continuity between Sora and Riku.
Whenever play as one character is taking place, the Drop Gauge counts down towards the drop time. Once thirty seconds remain, a time counter becomes visible, alerting the player of the impending drop. The drop can be avoided temporarily with the use of items such as the Drop-Me-Not and Drop-Me-Never, both of which restore 50% and 100% of the Drop Gauge respectively. Once a character has dropped, then play switches to the other character. The player can manually force a drop at times during gameplay.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance features both old and new means to act within the game. The Command Deck system originally introduced in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is reintroduced for the use of active commands. These must be installed and feature a cool-down timer once used. Passive commands, however, must be installed through the Dream Drop Distance abilities menu, and can be obtained only from Spirit Ability Links. Several new abilities are introduced in this game, including certain Deck Commands, Flowmotion, Reality Shift, and the Link System. Flowmotion is a new gameplay mechanic which provides ease of movement and a new method with which to strike at enemies. Reality Shift is a feature unique to each game world, with uses differing between each. Spirit Linking allows the protagonists to link with their Spirits to combat the enemy.
Whilst previous games have made use of means such as the Gummi Ship to access game worlds, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance introduced the Dive Mode gameplay system for the first time. This mini-game system is a free-fall into each game world where the protagonist must complete objectives, often having to defeat Nightmare Dream Eater bosses in addition to lesser enemies.
A new gameplay element introduced in this game is that of the Forecast. Unique to each world, it alters each time the player drops. The Forecast affects the enemy difficulty of that particular world, among other things.
A New Enemy
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance features the introduction of a new enemy to the Kingdom Hearts series. Dream Eaters, the embodiment of dreams in the Realm of Sleep, come in two varieties: Spirits and Nightmares. Nightmare Dream Eaters act as opposition to the protagonists throughout the game, and play a role in the story on multiple occasions as well as acting as world bosses. Nightmares range in size from the lithe Toximander to the gigantic Skelterwild. As in previous games, the Nightmares increase in strength as the protagonists advance from world to world in the Realm of Sleep.
The game is the major release in the Kingdom Hearts series following Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and it features both Sora and Riku as playable characters. Both feature new clothing designs which appear similar to their Kingdom Hearts attire. Utilizing the 3DS's high-spec graphics processing, the game has graphics that are on-par with those of the PS2 titles, as well as making use of the system's 3D technology. This would be used in instances such as "falling from high places" and "flying far distances". The development team at the time was said to be currently selecting worlds, and planned to use all-new Disney worlds, in addition to Traverse Town and other original worlds, one of which has been revealed to be based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame (although the world itself had already been featured in the non-canonical The Sceptre and the Kingdom).
Nomura stated that, with the parallel development of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, he would make sure to retain any game elements that couldn't be put into Final Fantasy Versus XIII for use in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Nomura also stated that the transition between playing as Sora and playing as Riku would be forced upon and sudden, and could occur whilst simply walking around. The game also has the keyword of "drop", as in something falling. The 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS will be used more for "going into the screen" rather than things popping out, as well.
In the July's issue of Weekly Famitsu, Nomura stated that the game would focus on the "hidden data" inside of Sora and that development of the game was 40-50% finished, with voice recording to begin soon after. A secret movie was confirmed, along with new characters that would appear in Traverse Town. Nomura also stated that the Xehanort Saga would end with Kingdom Hearts III and that there would be "answers" about Kingdom Hearts III in Dream Drop Distance.
A playable demo was available at the 2011 Tokyo Game Show, which revealed that Neku Sakuraba, the protagonist from The World Ends with You, would appear in the game, along with two new allies, the Komory Bat and the Meow Wow. Sora is seen with the Meow Wow and Kuma Panda Dream Eaters as his allies while Riku is seen with the Komory Bat and Yoggy Ram Dream Eaters as his allies. A new type of enemy known as Dream Eaters were also shown.
A December issue of V Jump revealed a new world based on Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, as well as Joshua and Beat from The World Ends with You set to be in Traverse Town alongside Neku Sakuraba.
On the new updated Square Enix website Square Enix revealed information about the Drop Gauge. When the Drop gauge empties, the player will switch from Sora to Riku or vice versa, depending on which character is in use at the time.
During Jump Festa 2012, a playable demo and an eight-minute trailer were shown. Axel, Lea, a young Master Xehanort, Vanitas, Roxas, Xion, Kairi, Naminé, Ventus, Rinzler, Maleficent, and Pete along with Joshua, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme from The World Ends with You were shown in the trailer. A world based off Tron: Legacy, called The Grid, was revealed, where like in Kingdom Hearts II, there will be a data form for both Sora and Riku. The Keyblade Graveyard was also shown.
On June 22, 2012, another playable and free demo was made available on the 3DS's Nintendo eShop.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance was well-received by fans of the game, more so in Japan than in other regions. It sold 250,000 units in Japan and 180,000 units in the United States of America immediately after its release. The game has won numerous awards, including "Best 3DS RPG" in RPG Land's Tokyo Game Show Awards and the "Most Valuable Game" award from the Nintendo Power magazine. Additionally, the game received ratings from many different magazines and game reviewers, with ratings generally lying between 7/10 and 8/10. Famitsu also rated the game as 38/40 and ranked it on the "most wanted" list of October 2011.
Criticisms of the game mainly focused on the plot, often labelling it as being too complex and difficult to follow easily. However, reviewers also praised the high quality of gameplay, boss fights, and relation of the plot to previous Kingdom Hearts games.
Worlds and Characters
The game mostly takes place in the World of Sleep, and all the Disney-based worlds are brand new to the series, creating the 7 Worlds of Sleep. The only Final Fantasy characters who appear in the game are the Moogles, but several characters from The World Ends with You appear in the game, replacing the traditional Final Fantasy cast.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series to not feature the Olympus Coliseum, in a flashback or otherwise. However, its theme "Road to a Hero" can be heard in Country of the Musketeers when Sora, Donald, and Goofy save Mickey from drowning.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series to be released in Australia and Europe before North America.
- Its implied Young Xehanort sent Ursula after Sora and Riku at the start of the test; though the information box calls her "Phantom" Ursula, implying she was a heart pulled from another time.
- Riku will be forcibly Dropped if he attempts to head to The Castle That Never Was if Sora hasn't fought Xemnas yet and been put in a coma; prevents any contradictions with the timeline.
- Any areas of Traverse Town that lead out of the first three districts to previous buildings and sub-areas are blocked with boxes.
- It's unknown why Young Xehanort was manipulating the Players in Traverse Town to find Sora; the Recusant's sigil should have lead him right to Sora.
- Riku can only explore the opera at Country of the Musketeers and has the most explorable areas in the dream version of The World That Never Was.
- If you max out you Dream Eater limit and carry them over to a new game, you get to skip the "how to make" tutorial and get your default first Dream Eater from you stock.
- Theme-wise, it makes more sense for the Knockout Punch Keyblade to have been earned in Traverse Town in episode one (Which shares Hockomonkey as a boss) Skull Noise fits more with the concluding second episode (Which focuses more on the characters).
Notes and references
- "E3 2010: Kingdom Hearts 3D First Look"
- "Kingdom Hearts 3D Connects to Kingdom Hearts III"
- Weekly Famitsu, November 17, 2010: Tetsuya Nomura: "Since it’s different than the Final Fantasy series which is founded on party play, the way the characters level up is different. Because there are various things that can and can’t be done, the things I can’t do in Final Fantasy Versus XIII I’m doing in Kingdom Hearts."
- Weekly Famitsu, January 26, 2011.
- "Kingdom Hearts 3D, Final Fantasy XI, Dissidia and More in Famitsu"
- Siliconera - Kingdom Hearts 3D Features Characters From The World Ends With You
- http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/07/17/kingdom-hearts-3d-dream-drop-distance-review IGN Review of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
- http://www.gamespot.com/kingdom-hearts-3d-dream-drop-distance/reviews/kingdom-hearts-3d-review-6388531/ GameSpot Review of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance