There were two demos of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance to play at Tokyo Game Show. Riku’s was set in the Hunchback of Notre Dame world while Sora (decked out in a new costume) was in a familiar locale, Traverse Town. (Note: the menus look nothing like the trailer Square Enix released earlier this year.)
Sora calls out for Riku, but meets Neku Sakuraba from The World Ends With You instead. Neku jumps down from the roof a building and explains his situation. Just like the Nintendo DS game, he’s trapped in a game and shows Sora the timer on his hand. He needs a partner to play and Sora, kind as usual, offers to help. I thought this would be the perfect point to add Neku to Sora’s group. Surprisingly, Neku rejects Sora saying he’s weird. Determined to help, Sora chases after Neku.
Traverse Town had monsters to fight, but Sora had nothing to fear. At least for the demo, Sora was beefed up with powerful attacks like Final Break, which can cover half the screen. Players can switch special moves by pressing up or down on the d-pad. Attacks automatically change after you use a move and recharge overtime. The A button was for regular keyblade swipes, B made Sora jump, and Y was for the rotating command.
Donald and Goofy weren’t around, but Sora had computer controlled teammates. Monsters, actually. His partner characters in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance were a pink panda roughly the size of the pudgy heartless from the original Kingdom Hearts and a dog with a unicorn horn called a Wondanyan. These critters attack on their own and even fight their own kind. I watched as my panda pummeled another. No explanation was given on how or if you can capture more dream creatures. These two were just assigned to Sora’s party.
Each dream creature has a special attack called a Dual Link, which you can activate by pressing an icon on the touch screen. The panda grabs Sora and spins him around, kind of like that dual tech with Robo and Crono called Cyclone Sweep. The Wondanyan has an amusing team attack where Sora rides the monster and bounces around as if he was on a pogo stick. I crushed an enemy or two using this attack, but I suppose you can use this dual link to avoid enemies too. Dual Links have different recovery times, the panda’s recharges considerably faster than the Wondanyan. Dual Links are tied to creatures and they each have their own Dual Link meter.
A large boss was waiting at the end of the level, which tripped the camera up at times. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has a lock-on feature, but I found rotating the camera myself worked better. While locked on, the camera would sometimes zoom in too much or an object would get in the way. A few Final Break and panda cyclones later and the boss was defeated. The demo ended with the Wondanyan doing a little shimmy.
I played the game in 3D and like other Nintendo 3DS titles it seems like you’re looking into the world rather than seeing objects leap out of the screen. That may be for the better since fights in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance can get frantic.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance comes out for Japan in spring 2012.