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My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

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My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

Post by Claire on Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:25 am

This is mostly concerning the story, so there WILL BE SPOILERS. And remember, this review is solely based on opinion, I have no relations to Square Enix (C) or Disney Interactive (C).

To start off, I'm gonna reiterate by saying I'm a huge fan of the original and I've learned that sequels are usually bad news, but sometimes worth checking out, in this case, it's only worth playing if you enjoy the gameplay. The story got shot to shit, so I'll be heavily criticising this game, if you disagree, you know the rules on how to pass along the message.

I guess I'll begin with Xehanort. Needless to say, I can barely respect Ansem from KH1 with how much they're changing him, this is the main reason why I hate sequels. Every single character got changed in some way, but none so more than Ansem after the invention of Xehanort. In KH1, Ansem had a simple back story that made sense. After playing KHII, you find out that Ansem wasn't really Ansem, but a scientist that worked for Ansem and for some reason, stole his name. I bought that for a little while, then after BbS came out, I just plain gave up trying to follow it. Because now, Xehanort isn't actually Xehanort, but the spirit of a former Keyblade Master that took over the body of a guy that didn't relate to anyone important. So, now, we have a villain, who's not a villain, but an imposter, but not really an imposter, but a former hero who took over the body of a tainted youth...sigh. Thumbs down, Square, leave Xehanort alone.

Next, we have the three heroes. Again, after playing all the other sequels, the only guy you'd recognize is Ventus, who, for some reason, resembles Roxas. If you cared at all about Roxas(I did not), then that was enough motivation for you to play. And after playing Ventus' story, they explained nothing, I repeat, NOTHING AT ALL about the relationship between Roxas and Ventus, or even the relationship between Sora and Ventus. They even dug a deeper hole by creating Vanitas, a mysterious enigma who works underneath Xehanort, as it turns out, though, Vanitas is the dark part of Ven's heart, so you'd figure he'd look exactly like him underneath, but with a dark touch. But underneath the mask is not that of Ventus' face, but an altered version of Sora's of KHII. So, after explaining nothing or even REFERENCING the relationship between Sora and Ventus, they throw THIS into the mix. Are you freakin' kidding me?!
If two characters have had NOTHING to do with each other at all in the story up to a certain point, you cannot do this sort of thing without fucking something up in the dimension of how the story works. And after you finish Ven's story, it, yet again, explains nothing. So, after clearing everyone's story, you find a Final Episode, which still didn't make sense. Apparently, after Ven completed the link between himself and Vanitas, he lost his ability to hold his own heart, so he needed a host to help him recuperate. He chose Sora, who answered the call and allowed Ven to lease out the space in his own heart and lay dormant. So, the way I figure how they layed it out, is Ven's memories of Vanitas passed over to Sora's physical growth and made him appear just as Vanitas did. That's the only thing I can come up with. And after Sora released his heart, Ven's influence on his own heart created Roxas, who is the same in appearance as Ven, but Ven's memories have vanished and all that's left is an empty heart, which passed onto Roxas, making him a very unique Nobody. The more I try to think about this relationship and backstory of Ven/Roxas and Sora, the bigger my headache becomes. Any other theories are appreciated.

Next is Aqua, a character that really doesn't matter, or even pertain in any way to the original story, then again, who in this game does? Aqua is mainly there as a filler character, someone who only made minute influences on other characters and the story itself. And because she is such a minute character, I was expecting something terrible to happen to her from day 1. Unfortunately, this is a Disney game, so they can't just kill her off, she has to be alive, but incapacitated in some way. Square Enix is popular for making female support characters to be almost absolutely useless, therefore, you can't help but hate them. But, Aqua is different from most, she's more like Lightning in the way that she can defend herself and has a strong will. So, some people were happy to play Aqua, even though she didn't matter worth a damn to the story. I am guilty of this, but I still hate Aqua as she pertains to the story, simply because she wasn't important. now, when you away the fact that she's just...there, she is a pretty likable character, depending on how you look at it. Like I mentioned earlier, she is a strong character, but like most heroes, is easily led astray and tends to overreact. So it's a mix of feelings when it comes to Aqua.

Now, Terra. Not only can I not stand his position in the story, but I also can't stand his stability. Terra, like Aqua, didn't need any other reason to be there, other than to be taken over by Xehanort. So, he automatically gets a weak personality, he needs a window for Xehanort to peek through. Popular as Square is for making easily led characters, Terra takes the cake. He has no prospect of balance whatsoever, he either has to have one or the other, light or dark, as long as he has power. Power was the window for Xehanort, it's easy to manipulate a power hungry person, especially if they don't care what side they're on. It really is the personality I can't stand, which is why I usually like villains more than heroes, simply because a hero will believe anything, whilst a villain can say one thing and make them believe it. So, Terra is just a terrible character all in all, only there for one purpose, to be a puppet.

Now we got the supporting characters. Again, in a sequel, not important, but usually worth learning about to see what they come up with. First, we got Master Eraqus, the teacher of the three heroes and old colleague of Xehanort. A very impressive character, but not in a good way. This is Disney's take on how bad a person can lose it on the term, "One way or the other". In this story, Eraqus is a denizen of light, and he cannot fathom the thought of darkness in his heart or the hearts of those he cares about. A character some would respect, but I cannot stand. I am a firm believer of balance, there cannot be one without the other, something usually goes wrong when you have too much of something. And the thing that makes Eraqus incredibly weak to darkness, more so than a lot of the characters in this game is his inability to accept it. He even tries to eliminate someone he cared about just to keep them away from the darkness, and there is no greater way into darkness than killing someone. It is awesome to see a character in a story with an original personality, but I still can't respect Eraqus.

Next is Mickey and Yen Sid. This game is a pretty big reference to Fantasia just with these two characters, you get to see Mickey back when he is an apprentice and a screwup. But Mickey still has his shining moments, the only notable one in this game is at the end when he saves Aqua and Ven. It's sad to see Mickey become reduced to such a small position in KH, considering his involvement in 1 and II. He was only hinted at in 1, yet, pretty much everywhere you went people seemed to at least heard of him and they all respected him, making him a very powerful character. And in II, he was an all round badass, who ran everywhere saving everyone's ass and protecting anything and everything from Heartless. Now we see him in the learning stage, and, since it is a prequel, is all we can expect.
Yen Sid is also a powerful charcter for the same reason, he's the man who made Mickey, so he automatically demands respect. Yet, after meeting the character, you feel somewhat disappointed, because you build this great picture in your head and have it smashed somehow. The thing that destroyed my image of Yen Sid was his ability to know just about EVERYTHING, it seemed that he had an inexhaustible wealth of knowledge, that just seems impossible to even fathom to me. But, since it's a prequel, we get to see him in the learning stage, such as Mickey. So there are things that even he doesn't know, making him more likable and even relatable to me. Both very powerful support characters, but like everybody, have their own flaws.

Next is the Unversed, this game's version of the Heartless. I had always wondered how the Heartless came into view even after reading the reports in the first KH, it says that Ansem went down into the darkness of his castle and found shadows moving around, then he began creating heartless with a machine. So, he had something to go off of, but he created the army of heartless you fight in the original KHs. Which is why I got confused after playing BbS, because apparently, the Heartless weren't around at this point, nobody had even heard of them. Instead we have the Unversed, generally the same thing, except, they aren't after the Darkness in people's hearts, but their Negative feelings. Another thing that makes little sense, is that the Unversed weren't around for very long, either, so the darkness apparently had not manifested into anything before this story took place. I'm losing it with all the loopholes Square is coming up with in this game. Not only with Ansem, but the monsters that are EVERYWHERE in KH1 and II, apparently weren't around for very long, and according to Ansem, they manifested on their own, but had no reason to until Ansem came snooping around the darkness.
Anyway, the Unversed apparently are exactly the same, but with differences, so, when I first heard about them, I got to thinking, since the Heartless were related to Ansem, I figured that the Unversed were related to Xehanort somehow. Apparently, I was right, except I was off by a little. The way they explain it, is when you seperate a person's darkness from their body, the negative energy that is seperated with it manifests into a creature called Unversed, which feeds on negative energy. Makes sense, but here's a lame question, wouldn't the positive energy manifest as well? Apparently Square could not come up with anything to do with the positive energy and in KH, you need an enemy to get EXP off of, etc., but positive energy would make something that would counteract the Unversed and essentially eliminate the use of the three heroes. So, we just ignore it and hope no one notices, right? They were very clever in hiding it by just leaving the Light inside Ventus, so I can't complain that they at least tried to cover it up.

Next is the references. KH is popular for the references of Square Enix' Final Fantasy series, mostly the names of most items and enemies, as well as the characters being in the game themselves. Now, with the sequels to KH coming out, they're beginning to reference the other KHs, and even future titles concerning secret bosses. Some of these references are supposed to explain things, but some explanations come out of NOWHERE, and they're sometimes about stuff we really didn't care about. BbS even explains where Castle Oblivion came from, I never cared for a second where Castle Oblivion came from, it was in the realm of darkness, so that alone would've explained it. Another reference is how Pete and Malificent came to work together, which is hinted at in II, he was banished to another dimension a 'long time ago' by King Mickey. Instead, he is banished by Queen Minnie only a few years before KHII took place. Another loophole Square came up with that made sense at first, then they changed it.
The biggest references that I happen to like because America can't get in on it (-.-), is the future references they make with secret bosses in the Final Mix versions of the KH series. In KH Final Mix, they had Xemnas as a secret boss which referenced his position in KHII. In KH II Final Mix, Terra was the secret boss, among the Organization XIII bosses we didn't fight in II, which referenced his position in BbS, and also referenced what would happen to him and his relation to Xehanort for those who speak Japanese. In Birth by Sleep...we get the Mysterious Figure, an unknown enigma that wears an Organization XIII cloak which shrouds his face. So, after learning that Org. XIII is actually Org. XIV in 358/2 Days, it is now plausible that it is now in fact, Org. XV. His fighting style and weapon does not match any of the other members and he is male, so it cannot be Xion, his weapon slightly resembles Xemnas, but the symbol, shape and even color of it is different, he also has tricks that Xemnas didn't. Xemnas WAS able to clone himself, but was limited to one clone, he didn't, however, have the ability to go invisible or clone spells of his enemies. I have a theory as to who it is, but I don't think it's right. The Mysterious Figure is the remnant of Xehanort's Will, and when he crossed over to Terra's body, their wills converged, creating something new, powerful and dangerous. That is only a theory, I have no proof, but since this battle takes place after the story, it's all I have.

Lastly, the gameplay. Aside from a handful of awesome VAs, this was the only highpoint of the game. Square is fantastic at creating original battle systems for each game, yet they are similar to previous titles. The Kingdom Hearts series follows the same general system for each an every title, but with differences in each one. The original had a simple real time battle system with a menu for your commands, attacks, spells, etc. KHII was the same, yet with many more exploits that made battles incredibly easier, Reaction Commands, Drive Form Boosts and longer combos. BbS was a mix of Chain of Memories and KH1 & II, where you have a deck of commands that you are allowed to customize along with real time, button mashing combat. The original side to this system is how you can access the game's version of Drive Forms. Drive Forms are accessed depending on how you set up your Command Deck, if you use one attack of a certain Element or Attack Type (Surge, Reprisal, Edge, etc.). Drive Forms give you specific skills and elemental edges. You can also continue to use your commands and access yet another Drive Form which are non-elemental, extremely powerful forms.
Another original, is the difference of battle styles of the three heroes. It becomes a Tier List system at this point, each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Terra is the tank of the group, gets high HP, defense and strength early on, yet is extremely slow in his combos, and has many open spots for attack, hence the defense. Ventus is the light fighter and a mix of Aqua and Terra, has higher magic than Terra, higher attack than Aqua, and faster, lighter combos than both, downside is he has no dominant status and slightly low defense. Aqua is a mage, Very high magic early on, decent combo speed, and can block any attack from all sides with Barrier. Downside is her strength is very low depending on the Keyblade equipped, and her defense is somewhat lower than the other two.

All in all, this game is 50-50, terrific battle system, yet story is low quality. This review is strictly opinion based, anybody taking offense should remember that.

Any and all comments are welcome.


Last edited by Alucard on Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:12 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : filling in blanks)

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Re: My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

Post by Claire on Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:20 am

Okay, I have some changes to make, watched the secret ending and got some critique from my friend, who is much more intuitive with the stories of games than I am, so I'm gonna change this up.

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Re: My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

Post by BLEH on Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:13 am

watched a video on youtube that had a theory about the next game Reconnect. Kingdom Hearts..... the guy actually thinks a similar thing about Ven and Roxas.... as in they're kinda the same person
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Re: My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

Post by Zane the pure on Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:32 pm

Well I'm glad you value my opinion good sir, the secret ending does kinda clear stuff up a bit, but there is a lot of whogivesacrap in there as well...

(If you weren't refering to me earlier... i feel a little awkward)

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Re: My Final Review of Birth by Sleep (spoilers)

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