By Locke on July 3rd, 2012
OH MAN KINGDOM HEARTS. I missed out on Birth by Sleep until I moved back in with Ence. I owned a PSP back in the awkward years of the PSP where there were very few great titles and it pretty much became my MP3 player and mobile browser. I sold it shortly afterward, not realizing that in the PSP’s second year or so there would be a flood of awesome games that would come out. BBS was one of later ones, truly utilizing the format of the PSP and making a really solid experience.
I just finished the Terra story-line on Proud Mode last night. I almost always start a KH game on Proud Mode as a rule, seeing as how it pushes the player to become a better fighter to overcome obstacles rather than just leveling to become a monster. At first I found the Deck Command system of BBS to be a little awkward but after I realized that the Deck Commands were more about utility and combo crafting than the cards of Chain of Memories, I fell in love with it. Some parts were brutally hard, and for the first time in a while I had to learn animation queues as if I were playing a Megaman game in order to put down some of the more ridiculous baddies. The last boss alone had me pressing the Retry button over eighty times at least. After I figured out some of the last bosses attack patterns and how to make myself invulnerable to his more insidious techniques, I managed to whittle him down to a KO. That’s how boss-fights SHOULD be.
What I enjoyed at this difficulty is the manner of traps they set for gamers who are too used to just plowing through bosses. Attacking the last boss head on was stupid; you might get a hit in, but he’ll soon read you and put you in a stun-lock combo that ends with your death. Running away constantly will make him chase after you with close attacks that are difficult to dodge and edge you closer to that game over. I found rather quickly that this wasn’t an option considering that the camera had a tendency to focus on Terra rather than the enemy and would turn away from your foe if you moved too quickly. That meant I couldn’t see the projectiles coming at me. For many deaths I foolishly tried to dash away from the Dark Volley shots, only to be killed by the second wave.
An interesting thing happens when you use the dash command. You can dash twice, but after you do so, there’s a sort of mini cooldown between being able to dash or block. The choice between dashing and blocking became critical to my success in this boss-fight. I didn’t realize it until my better attempts against the boss that it was designed that way. Playing the game in a smart and careful fighting style rewarded me with openings, whereas attacking head-on and spamming abilities left me depleted of resources and left me open to attacks myself.
The KH series has continued to grow into a very focused design, combat has always been one of my favorite things about the series and this game hasn’t disappointed me yet. It’s come a long way from the more simple fighting system that made its debut in Kingdom Hearts. I’m really looking forward to the dynamic fight style in Dream Drop Distance.