Anything that gives me more Tron: Legacy is okay in my book.
The best thing I can say about my brief time with Kingdom Hearts 3D at PAX East 2012 is that it is aiming to be more than just a side story. Kingdom Hearts fans have been in this weird loop of reliving the first two games, which came out in 2002 and 2006. Finally, the story is progressing.
The only section we got to see was the Tron: Legacy area. Unfortunately, it was the Japanese build, so the brief story we did see was incomprehensible, but hey, we did see Kevin Flynn and Tron! Unlike other portable entries in the series, specifically on DS, the controls weren't hampered by the hardware. This felt like a Kingdom Hearts game and was natural to pick up. Apparently it does support the Circle Pad Pro for camera control.
Both Sora and Riku are playable, and they're tasked with completing the Mark of Mastery exam over the course of the game, in preparation for the eventual return of the big bad Master Xehanort.. Yen Sid, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy sit idly by watching the two attempt the test, meaning that Donald and Goofy aren't around as your sidekicks in this outing.
Instead, there is this sort-of Pok√©mon concept of developing different creatures, called Dream Eaters, are your partners. These creatures have Link abilities that charge up over time that you can use as special attacks against enemies. For example, a ball-like Dream Eater's Link ability involves Sora hopping on his back and stomping on enemies like a hippity hop.
The game's structure seems pretty peculiar, as it is broken up by "Drops." You play as Sora or Riku, and they have a Drop Gauge that depletes over time. When the gauge is empty, the world freezes (the conceit is that everyone sleeps) and then you switch to the other character. We couldn't get a grasp on how long these Drops would last, but it seems like it could be helpful for portable gaming. There doesn't seem to be any limit to it, so you can still take your sweet time. You'll just have to switch characters every so often.
The combat and area traversal is emboldened by Flow Motion, which is activated by running up a wall and pressing the Y button. After that, you jet around the area, using the environment to perform impressive attacks against larger groups of enemies. This also makes backtracking less of a chore, since you can use it to get through areas quickly. I wasn't able to get a full grasp on this in the demo, but I had a lot of fun seeing the mayhem I conjured with Flow Motion. I assume later levels will make you use it with strategy, but early on it seems to just be destructive chaos against enemies. While I didn't use it much in the demo, you can lock onto enemies while zipping through the air, so there's one way to control the carnage.
In case you're curious, here is a list of the worlds present in Kingdom Hearts 3D:
- Tron: Legacy
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers
- Traverse Town (complete with cameos from The World Ends With You characters!)
Kingdom Hearts 3D is coming to North America on July 31, having just come out in Japan at the end of March. As a lapsed Kingdom Hearts junkie, this demo and ensuing presentation made the wait that much worse. I am ready to explore new Kingdom Hearts worlds. I'm ready for the ridiculous story to make me get the numerous people with X in their name confused.