Square Enix strolled into PAX East this year with a couple 3DS games and Matt and I tried them out. The three games we tried were Final Fantasy Thearhythm, Kingdom Hearts 3DS: Dream Drop Distance and Heroes of Ruin. Matt tried out the big ticket item in Kingdom Hearts as I made my way towards Final Fantasy and Heroes of Ruin. Here are our thoughts on this closed door PAX preview!
Matt only played the one game briefly so I’ll put his first:
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Square enix was nice enough to let me have a hands-on demo of the new Kingdom Hearts game, “Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance“. The impression I got was that it was a pretty solid iteration of the series, but it still isn’t KH3. The gameplay is smooth, the camera and controls take a little getting used to, but once you get it, they work well. Storywise, the game is a direct continuation from the end of KH2. Mickey calls Sora and Riku for training to become true keyblade masters.Some of the main things I noticed about the game:
-Dream Drop System: Apparently, you can only play as Sora or Riku for 20 minutes, before your narcoleptic character falls asleep and you have to play as the other one. You can earn bonuses for your next character that last until that character falls asleep and the cycle begins anew. I couldn’t figure out why exactly they did this.
-New Buddies: Donald and Goofy are gone, replaced by companions that you can choose based on recipes obtained by defeating enemies.
Basically though, it seems like portable Kingdom Hearts. Nothing more, nothing less. It is set to release July 31st in North America.
The next two games I played, both of mine I liked a lot. I played Final Fantasy first, so here’s that:
Final Fantasy Theatrythm
Okay, not going to lie. I was going into this expecting to be pissed off and upset that they’re abusing the Final Fantasy tag. But, like always, Square Enix has somehow made this game extremly fun. Now, it’s not a game I’d rush the doors on release day for like I would for most Final Fantasy titles but I would kill to have a game like this while traveling or waiting in lines such as we’ve been doing at PAX.
Square Enix is very proud of their flagship franchise and they really wanted to make a game to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Making a new game so similar to their normal style just wouldn’t be very celebratory or unique so they wanted to go with a new concept. They told me they had always wanted to make a rhythm game and this was a golden opportunity to do so. That made my insides sad. I don’t want to see the franchise dragged through the mud and before I had my chance to play hands-on I was pretty sure that’s what was happening. I take it back. They have a pretty good game here.
Final Fantasy Theatrythm has a new art style which immediately grabs your attention. They said they wanted to appeal to the mass public but at the same time stay true to their hardcore fans, so expect a change in visuals for the characters. It does show real cut scenes from games such as Yuna and Tidus’ make out scene in the lake in FF10 in their actual, almost movie style graphics just like they had for console which was awesome just for the nostalgic value alone. It includes music from Final Fantasy 1-13 and allows you to use most of the main characters from each game. You have a party of 4, each with their own attributes and skills, that you can level up; but it seems like the only reason to change your party members is mostly for your own personal preference. There was no noticeable change when altering my party. For example Final Fantasy 10 is my favorite game of all time so I tried to get as many of them as possible for my group and it wasn’t any harder or easier.
There are three different stages with the third being a boss fight which requires you to score critical (perfectly timed) hits to do damage to the boss and hopefully, in the end of the song you will have done well enough to kill them. Or, if you’re pro as hell, instead of just beating them you can beat all the previous high scores on the Seymour boss battle and perfect the entire song and then get your name forever placed on top in a Square Enix 3DS system at the same time. That’s what I did. No big deal.
The gameplay is pretty unique with the implentation of stages and is done completely with the stylus. You will have a path that appears as you advance with a glowing spot showing where you currently are in the song or just pan across the screen much like Guitar Hero or Rock Band but horizontally. Colors will pop up to match the song, each having their own unique action for you to do. Red is just a tap on the bottom screen when the time comes. Green is a tap and hold. There is also arrows which require you to tap and drag into the direction shown on screen. It also had parts where your colors all become gold and if you hit all of them you turn into a chocabo and gain a speed boost (Pretty much star power).
Well, I’ll admit it. I had a lot of fun playing it. Fanboys like me may be upset at first because most of us feel they shouldn’t stray from their original gameplay but this one gets a pass. Give it a try. It may suprise you like it did for me. It will be available sometime in Summer 2012
Next up was Heroes of Ruin:
Heroes of Ruin was a game I was kind of thrown at because everyone kept saying “Heroes of Ruan” and because my nickname is “Ruan” I was pressured into demoing it. Joke’s on them. Heroes of Ruin has very simple controls using a,x or e for abilitues using b for basic attacks and health potions and energy (basically mana) being D-pad left or right respectively so it took me no time to pick up. It’s set to be 1-4 players and will have drop-in-drop-out multiplayer as well as voice chat(I demo’d it with only one other). The two classes we had to play were a white knight paladin type class as well as a rogue with dual wielding guns. There are no difficulties for this game. It’s just the one play though that’s the same for all levels of gamers which is something I don’t really like, but, it does scale based on how many people are in your game. So say if you’re with 3 other people and you try to stray off alone.. you’re dead. Like, no chance at all. 115% dead.
This game also incorporates a lot of puzzle solving that can be solved solo but is drastically easier with partners. The puzzles seemed to be similiar to the ones in Final Fantasy such as the Cloister of Trials in Final Fantasy 10. There are a lot of side quests. Maybe too much. For us we did every side quest before completing the zone so the boss was, and even as the dev told us, far easier than it should be. It may end up being a game where you can far out level/out gear your enemies but I saw too little to say for sure it will be like that throughout. It’s also loaded with elite enemies that have a randomly generated strength (we ran into stun immunity a lot).
The best part of the game for me was that there is a quick sell option if it’s an item useless to you and on top of that all items you sell will be put aside in a shop where anyone who joins your game can purchase them. So say an item drops and you don’t need it. You sell it. Normally it’s gone forever, but in Heroes of Ruin it’s stored aside in a special shop where anyone can buy from. We were told that there are so many items in the game that the chances are the player joining your game has probably seen or even will see very little of what’s in your shop which I love. Heroes of Ruin will be availible June 26th in North America
Kind of a longer post than I expected but eh, what can you do? The 3DS lineup for Square Enix is very solid this year and I’m really happy we got a chance to check them out. Honestly, all three are worth looking into. Save up, kids.