Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review for PSP

On: PSP

Turn back the pages of time in this earliest chapter of the Kingdom Hearts saga that explores the origins of the series.

Review verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep screenshot
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep screenshot

The first thing you'll need to get your head around is the Command Deck system. In many ways, this is just like the immortal materia system from Final Fantasy VII; you equip an ability (known as a command) and the more you use it, the more powerful it will become. Your deck is simply the selection of commands at your disposal, and can be edited as you wish. Commands can be found in chests and bought from shops along the way, and if you find one you're particularly fond of, you can swap it into your deck. Improving and editing your deck is surprisingly addictive, and you'll find yourself spending more and more time in the menus as the game progresses.

Another interesting addition to combat is the brand spanking new D-Link system. After becoming acquainted with certain characters in the game (which in Snow White's case, for example, involves saving her ass from man-eating trees), your hero is able to form a link with them in combat. This enables your hero to use the abilities dictated by that character's command deck. So, if your character doesn't happen to know any healing spells, you can use D-Link to use the abilities of a character that does. Pretty handy I think you'll agree.

By stringing together attacks of the right nature, you can also change your combat style. Throw a fire spell into the mix at the right time, for example, and you might activate the FireStorm style, which imbues your blade with that particular element. Experimenting with different command decks and working out which abilities provoke which command styles always manages to keep combat feeling fresh. In conjunction with D-Link and the option to combine two commands to create combination attacks, Birth by Sleep has one of the deepest real-time battle systems around.

Combat is great then, but it's hard to remain quite so complimentary about the narrative. While the story might make sense to those who've graduated with an A at Kingdom Hearts College, everybody else might find the plot slightly overwhelming. Just like Kingdom Hearts 2, it's somewhat convoluted, which I've always found quite jarring alongside the simplicity of the Disney plots. It's still digestible, though, and on the whole the voice acting is very good. The vocal talents of a certain Leonard Nimoy (Xehanort) are sure to delight many, and some of the original Disney actors have been brought in to really bring their characters to life.

It's been a good year for the PSP, especially for quirky RPG affairs such as this. I was ready to dismiss Birth by Sleep as being just another spin-off; a quick cash in on the Kingdom Hearts name, but I'm happy to have been proved wrong. In many ways, it actually outshines its console counterparts. Bar a few niggling control issues, the battle system could well be the best in the series yet, and at times I actually felt it looked better than its PS2 cousins. For those still enduring the long and painful road to KH3, Birth by Sleep is a fantastic stop along the way.

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3 Comments

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GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

A square necessity = genius
Posted 16:11 on 20 September 2010
Geraface's Avatar

Geraface

Good review, Jamin
Posted 08:29 on 20 September 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Bloody hate Mickey Mouse.

Irrelevant comment, sure, but he's such a dick.
As for the review, I genuinely enjoyed the read. I try to always read the PSP reviews., they're usually the lowest trafficking, so I do my part ;)

Nice one Jamin.
Posted 08:16 on 20 September 2010

Game Stats

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
8
Out of 10
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
  • Looks gorgeous on the PSP screen
  • Perhaps the best battle system yet
  • A solid 30 hours of gameplay
  • Plot still feels convoluted
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 10/09/2010
Platform: PSP
Developer: Square-Enix Co
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: Adventure
No. Players: 1-6
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 791 198
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