Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep takes the much-loved franchise exclusively to PSP in a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts title. Birth by Sleep brings with it much of what fans loved from the original. But there’s some new stuff too, including new combat options and ways to get the best of them. But do they add anything? Find out in this part of our Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep review.
New to Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is the ability to customise your Command Deck. This is the deck situated in the bottom left of the screen displaying your combat abilities such as your different attacks and magic spells that you trigger by pressing triangle. Rather than being stuck with the same set you can mix and match each one to combine your favourite moves. With so many abilities on offer, and more to grab during the story the scope for combat is such that it rarely feels repetitive. And if it does, it’s easy to change once more, lending a fresh element to the gameplay.
The X button is the default attack in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, but press triangle to use your Command Deck abilities and you open the door to even more attacks. Continually using the Command Deck abilities fills up a command gauge, that when full unleashes a new Command Style – letting loose a more powerful attack able to be used in a flurry to wipe out enemies. Occasionally it can appear needlessly, but by and large it’s extremely helpful for when you’re low on energy and need an attack boost to get you out of a pickle. It’s extremely useful, and with each of the three playable characters getting their own Command Styles that can be upgraded to level 2 for even more there’s a lot more depth to the combat than meets the eye.
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Shotlock attacks in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep let you home your attack in on multiple enemies. It’s activated by holding the L and R buttons, before locating enemies in the viewfinder that appears, and pressing circle to activate magical blasts. In the beginning these moves are simple (such as Ventus’ Pulse Bomb), but progress and these become more complex. Some will require you to hit circle multiple times (such as Aquas Prism Rain), others once. It comes in particularly handy during some boss battles when getting too close, too often results in an early death.
Your characters abilities don’t stop within the confines of their own skill-set. Nope. By pressing right on the D-Pad in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep you can unlock the power of what’s called a Dimension Link, or D-Link for short. Doing so lets your character use another character’s abilities that you’ve met for a limited period. It’s awesome. As an example, while playing as Ventus we were able to use the abilities of Snow White (she appears in one of the levels), unleashing the power of a few of the Seven Dwarves – for example Sleepy makes enemies Sleep, while Grumpy’s power is a heavy strike to send enemies reeling.
All the abilities and above additions to Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep turn what could have been a repetitive RPG merely replicating what past Kingdom Hearts have done on a smaller console with an offering full of variety, in terms of combat. Add the ability to ‘meld’ attacks to turn three separate abilities into one powerful ability (Something long-time Square Enix fans may remember from classic SNES RPG Chrono Trigger) and there’s even more scope for variety – guaranteeing the chance to play the game in new ways each time.