Before going on to read the rest of this review, please understand that this game will be a boring and confusing game without having completed previous Kingdom Hearts games.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is an important part of the Kingdom Hearts story line that is a great and easy game to play with a captivating narrative. Birth by Sleep is set 10 years prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts and focuses on the trio of apprentice keyblade wielders Ventus, Aqua, and Terra. The story starts with Terra and Aqua taking an exam for the Mark of Mastery, with Aqua being the only victor. The reasoning for Terra's failure is the abundance of darkness he possesses. The 30-hour story dramatically picks up on this, making the player choose to play as each one of the trio individually in whatever order they please. This story is gorgeously played out and was not slow or hard to play at any point in the game.
The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is thoroughly smooth and takes advantage of the PSP's single joystick. The main concept is to attack the Heartless by using simple attacks and spells while dodging their attacks at the same time. One main complaint is that smaller battles that just include minor Heartless start to feel repetitive 15 hours in. This being said, the small battles are evenly broken up by larger scale boss battles designed for the worlds and environments surrounding them. These 12 worlds are mostly derived from classical Disney stories such as Cinderella, Hercules, and Peter Pan, with many original worlds such as The Land of Departure and The Mysterious Tower. This collection of worlds blend together to make a great game. The customization in Birth by Sleep is a necessity for progressing through the story and provides enough variety so that you and your friend may go through the game in entirely different routes, using different tactics that were built upon with items that take advantage of certain traits. The co-op section of gameplay for Birth by Sleep became a surprisingly great aspect to this already excellent game. This co-op may not be as expansive as the rest of the game but does provide a solid 10 hours of enjoyable gameplay.
The characters are one of the main strong points of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Ventus, Aqua, and Terra all have dynamic and impactful personalities along with a spectacular supporting cast of Disney characters and original characters. Ventus, Aqua, and Terra truly form a strong bond that they begin to cherish as a relationship between siblings. The main antagonist, Master Xehanort, gives a great feel of animosity and pure evil that truly expands on the ever growing atmosphere of Birth by Sleep. The American voice acting for Kingdom Hearts is always excellent and lives up to the expectations with lead roles done by Jesse McCartney as Ventus, Willa Holland as Aqua, and Jason Dohring as Terra.
The dialogue in the game is appropriate to the context of the story and pieces together smoothly. Other then a few cheesy lines spoken by the three main characters about trust or friendship, there truly is not much to be discussed about in terms of dialogue.
The replay ability is at a high for Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep because of the gorgeous graphics for PSP standards, great gameplay that only rarely gets somewhat repetitive, relatable characters, and a captivating story. Going back to visit worlds of your favorite Disney characters is always a fun way to spend time while in the midst of the great adventure that unfolds as the story progresses.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a great benchmark of the standard of quality that Square Enix has implemented with the Kingdom Hearts franchise. It shines light on the potential for the PSP while giving a clear narrative and smooth gameplay. Birth by Sleep takes advantage of the PSP's single joystick and implements solid gameplay and dynamic characters to create lasting replay appeal. The great supporting cast and impressive colorful worlds mixed with the pure evil antagonists and oppressive original Kingdom Hearts environments cause Birth by Sleep to be a console-selling game, and with PSP's being at an all-time low in price, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a must-buy game.