Visually, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep looks like the PlayStation 2 games with less textures. The combat system isn’t the same though, it’s better. I played a demo with Terra, the keyblade bearing hero who sort of resembles Zack Fair. Terra is quickly thrown into combat with blue unbirths. You can start swinging the keyblade by mashing the circle button, essentially repeatedly selecting fight from the familiar menu. As you land hits a combo counter tells you how you’re doing and a meter above the menu fills up. When it’s full Terra switches to Fatal Mode and gets a new set of slow, but more damaging keyblade strikes. Keep attacking and the meter fills up again which gives Terra access to a one use devastating aerial attack.
The neat feature about the combo system is you can also alter the command mode. If you finish charging the combo meter with a fire spell Terra switches into Fire Blazer mode and an aura of fire surrounds him when he attacks. Fill the command meter with an ice spell and Terra can freeze enemies. Closing with a lightning spell makes him more agile and gives him electrical attacks. The command system allows you imbue Terra with an element by picking spells. Since each spell has a refresh time there is a small amount of selection strategy. I liked the change since it shuffles the monotony of combat from the previous Kingdom Hearts games. You didn’t really need to use magic in Kingdom Hearts II, but in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep you’re going to alternate between spells and slashes.
At the end of Terra’s level there was a boss waiting for me in the castle. I fought against a large wooden creature with a spiked wheel spinning in the middle, it was like a the sewing machine of death or something. With the help of Terra’s commands I was able to take it down without a problem. The key was to air jump in, charge up the command meter, retreat when it shot out a beam, and while the boss was frozen in place hit it with blizzard to change into Terra’s ice mode. After the boss the demo was over and it left me wanting more. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is shaping up to be a polished PSP game.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.