Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review

By on October 4, 2010

A wonderful prequel to one of the best series produced by Square Enix.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

When the original Kingdom Hearts was first announced back in E3 2001 everyone was freaking out. I mean seriously, combining Disney characters with Final Fantasy characters to produce this crazy super universe was such a risky idea that people had serious doubts about it working. To top that off, the main weapon of the game was a giant key which made me have serious thoughts on whether Testsuya Nomura lost it while working on Final Fantasy X. However to everyone’s surprise ,that idea sparked a great series of games that went on to become one of the most  unique JRPGs on the planet.

Birth By Sleep is a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts game and provides a massive back-story to the events that occurred in original title. I highly recommend having played at least both Kingdom Hearts I&II or planning on doing so right after finishing the game in order to fully enjoy the beauty of the story.

The story follows three keyblade wielders: Terra, Ventus, and Aqua in their quest to stop a group of creatures called the unversed from wrecking havoc onto the world. In order to accomplish their goal, they travel to different worlds that include a mixture of famous Disney productions. During your travels from one world to another, you will encounter characters from both the Final Fantasy and Disney universes.

The game  breaks down the story into 3 parts, each following one of the 3 main characters in the game. This basically means that once you start the game you get to choose which character to play the game with for that save file. I was hesitant at first as to how diverse each main character is in comparison with the others. However after finishing the game with all three I am amazed at how diverse each of the characters are in terms of both story and gameplay.

The gameplay of Birth By Sleep is its biggest strong point next to its rich story. The battle system stays true with the original Kingdom Hearts formula but provides some refinements that makes it arguably the best in the series. The controls are simple, you tap the X button for a normal attack,  O button to jump, square to evade, and the triangle button to choose a command from the command menu . The Command menu is where all the items /magic/skills are placed, and can be customized according to your own preference. The commands themselves can be leveled up as you use them through the game and can later be merged to create different and more power commands. Once you have used up a command in battle, it goes down the list and takes a while for it to be usable again. The stronger a command is the longer it takes to recover which introduces the element of knowing which command to use at what time. This provides a new sense of depth that other games in the series lacked quite a bit.

The game introduces something called a command style which is similar to the “Drive Form” from Kingdom Hearts II. During the command style mode you will be unleashing  a series of devastating attacks that deal a lot more damage than your usual moves. In order to enter a style you must fill a bar located under the command menu by hacking and slashing enemies. Once the bar is filled you can enter a command style by executing  a command that attributes to a certain elemental attack. For example, if you used blizzard then your character will go into the “Diamond Frost” command style.

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The Scorecard
The best in the series, Birth by Sleep added a lot of depth not found in previous entries.
While the game does have fantastic character models, it does lack detailed environments.
Great voice acting, but using previous entries’ soundtrack almost exclusively adds a sense of repetition.
The game is a complete Kingdom Hearts experience on a portable platform that boasts at least 30+ hours of gameplay.
From visiting Disney worlds to interacting with Final Fantasy characters, this game is very unique compared to anything you can find out there.
With a great story, gameplay, and execution Birth by Sleep is easily one of the best RPGs on the platform.


A young zergling from Bahrain dreaming of one day magically morphing into an ultralisk. 20 years old, 2nd year of university, and a lover of all types of games specially RPGs and RTSs.

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  • rabie1

    Good read Abdulla! Looking forward to more reviews and articles from you :)

  • Ali Kazerooni

    Awesome 3bood!

  • in3r0

    A very good article,
    I've played KH:BBS and let me tell you something, IT'S AWESOME!
    Super Gameplay (I really liked the Arena minigames and the command board), super fun but i thought the Japanese voice actors suited the characters more xD.
    I really recommend playing this :D .

  • HeartOfWesternJungle

    This was such a good review… that I became wet… Abood… do me.. yo-yo master. =3

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