Long awaited by Kingdom Hearts fans, Birth by Sleep is set ten years before the events of Kingdom Hearts and stars Terra, a young Keyblade Master and his friends Aqua and Ven as they fight for freedom. Shown for the first time at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, this game features near-PS2 quality graphics, impressive gameplay and elaboration on the already fascinating story from the previous Kingdom Hearts iterations.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts game. The story's main focus is the Keyblade masters who came before Sora, as seen in the secret endings in Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.
The Keyblade masters Terra, Aqua and Ven, who at the time are Keyblade apprentices, are searching for their missing Keyblade master, Master Xehanort, whose disappearance along with his apprentice indicates a great disaster. This Xehanort is not the Xehanort from the later games in the series, although there is a connection.
Although his motives for doing so are unknown, Master Xehanort and his apprentice are working with Maleficent to find the Princess of Heart. It is likely that he wants access to Kingdom Hearts, as this is Maleficent's reason for doing the same thing in the original Kingdom Hearts.
Since Terra worked with Ventus, Xehanort wanted Terra as his vessel.
Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix Secret Ending
The bonus ending to Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix features a preview of Birth by Sleep. Ven, Aqua, and Terra are seen battling Master Xehanort and his apprentice. Xehanort can be seen manipulating the elements: freezing Terra's arm with a blizzard attack, summoning a large rock cliff, and creating a tornado of Keyblades. As a Keyblade master, Xehanort can summon his own Keyblade as well.
Xeharnort's apprentice, Vanitas is also present during this battle. His armor bears a uncanny resemblance to Riku's Heartless uniform in Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories. Xeharnort's apprentice fights Ven and Terra who manage to knock off his helmet, though his face is not revealed in the video.
Due to the PSP having similar controls to the PlayStation 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep offers gameplay, graphics, and a console-like experience more similar to its PS2 predecessors than previous Kingdom Hearts spin-off titles, such as Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and the cell phone Kingdom Hearts games.
The presentation is the same, with health and magic gauges on the bottom right hand corner of the screen and the familiar command menu on the bottom left of the screen, with the control scheme being mostly the same: X for primary actions (e.g. attack), Circle to jump, Triangle to execute "action commands" or magic, and Square to guard or dodge.
As stated by Tetsuya Nomura, the game features three different playable scenarios (one for Ven, one for Terra and one for Aqua), these, while able to be played independently, have a chronological order (Terra, Ven, Aqua) as well as a fourth "Final" episode, which forms the overall story arc.
Each of the three playable characters features a slightly different feel, focusing on the various aspects of combat (basic attacks, action commands, and magic). These abilities can be augmented in various ways, from the acquirable "key-blade" weapons, various action commands, and magic spells. More abilities and action commands can be gained through leveling up both the characters themselves and their action commands through combat experience.
Terra is a primarily weapon focused character, able to deal heavy physical damage through basic attacks or action commands, he hits noticeably faster and harder than the characters from previous games, and also has access to the most physically powerful weapons. Ven is the most similar to the previous heroes of the Kingdom Hearts games, he preforms aptly in magic and melee, and has access to slightly more agile defense skills than Terra. Aqua is a more powerful magic user, replacing her guard with a barrier which can repel attacks that would be otherwise unblockable, and has access to key-blades which enhance her magical ability.
This installment in the Kingdom Hearts series introduces a wide array of new game play features, all of which add an interesting dimension to the game's progression.
The first of these is the aforementioned "Action Commands" and "Magic". These abilities can be equipped (up to 8 slots, some skills use 2 or 3), leveled up, and used in combat to great effect. Most action commands involve some sort of attack against foes, but magic can damage or weaken enemies, heal the player character and their allies, or provide some other combat advantage. Each of these commands gains "CP" as the player fights enemies, eventually leveling up and increasing in power (To a predetermined maximum level per skill). Commands can also be "melded" together, forming more powerful commands through various combinations.
Another notable feature about command melding is the ability to augment each meld with a type of crystal. Depending on the chosen crystal, the resultant ability will grant the character a special ability, which provides a passive bonus to their strength or ability. Some examples would be increased HP, reduced damage from fire, more hits per combo, or the ability to survive a lethal hit with 1 hp remaining. When a character first gains these abilities, they require the command which they are attached to to stay equipped, but if they max out that command's level, the ability becomes a permanent character trait. This allows them to meld and level commands to eventually become much stronger.
The game also features a system called D-Link, or Dimensional Link. As the player progresses through the story, they will form bonds with characters and they will form a "d-link" with the main character, allowing them to call upon some of their power and abilities in combat. When they activate a D-Link, the active action commands change into several chosen to fit the target character (Physical attacks for Terra, Magic for Aqua, for example.) This will also alter their "Finish" command into one befitting the D-Linked character, which is elaborated below.
More directly related to combat are the new "Finish" and "Command Style" features. The "Finish" command is essentially a powerful strike which can be activated after hitting the enemy enough times with basic attacks. "Command Styles" are various forms which the character can enter after executing a certain type of ability in quick succession. For example, if Terra were to activate several melee action commands, he would enter the "Rock Breaker" command style, granting him very powerful melee strikes. However, if he were to use several Thunder spells, he would enter "Thundershock" - granting him electricity based strikes culminating in a massive electrical burst. Each of the command styles features it's own "Finish" command, which is often a devastating area attack.
Finish attacks are not limited to command styles, however. As the player progresses through the game, their character can unlock more and more powerful Finish commands as they preform a variety of tasks (Walk a certain number of steps, kill a certain number of enemies). These advanced commands range from straight increased power, to other bonus effects such as healing them or granting extra money.
Another useful feature in combat is the "Focus" command. By holding down the L and R buttons, the player cause their character to enter a "Focus" state, in which they can lock-on to various foes and when released (or maxed lock on), unleash a devastating chain attack against them. Preforming a maxed lock on attack also allows for a follow up quick-time event which deals even more damage. Various Focus commands can be found, bought, or produced through melding as the game progresses.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep features the following worlds:
- Deep Space: A "Lilo & Stitch" world that focuses on Experiment 626's ( Stitch) escape from the space council. This includes characters like Jumba, Gantu and Experiment 221 ("Sparky").
- Castle of Dreams: A "Cinderella" world that focuses on Cinderella going to the ball, getting out in time, and a nasty fight with a possessed pumpkin carriage. It includes Cinderella, The Prince, Jaq and Maleficent. Note: The events in this world happen before Maleficent kidnaps Cinderella as one of the seven princesses of heart.
- Dwarf Woodland: A "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" world. Little has been shown on this world but trailers have shown the main characters interacting with Snow White. The world's name hasn't been released.
- Neverland: A "Peter Pan" world. This world's reveal has been very hidden until recently all that is known on this world is that Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell will appear.
- Enchanted Domination: A "Sleeping Beauty" world which focuses on Aurora/ Rose's (Sleeping Beauty) rescue from Maleficent and the Thorny path onto the castle. Aurora/Rose, Maleficent, Prince Philip, the 3 fairy god mothers(Flora, Merryweather, Fauna) are characters in this world. Note: The events in this world happen before Maleficent kidnaps Cinderella as one of the seven princesses of heart.
- Olympus Coliseum: A "Hercules" world that is based on the time Hercules is being trained by Phil. Also it has been revealed is that a young version Zack Fair will be appearing on this world.
- Disney Town: A "Mickey Mouse" world. On the trailer there was some interaction between the game's main characters and King Mickey, Queen Minnie, Goofy and Donald. Plus Merlin and a nice Pete appears called Captain Justice.
- Destiny Islands: An original Kingdom Hearts world. All that has been revealed on this world is that our main characters are seen talking on the island while a young Riku and a young Sora are playing on the beach with wooden swords.
- Radiant Garden: An original Kingdom Hearts world. The original story line focuses a lot on many of the characters being set in Radiant Garden (Also known as Hollow Bastion). Master Xehanort, who is thought to be the game's antagonist, and Ansem the Wise's others five assistants: Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, Ienzo are characters who appeared in the world. It has been officially shown that Kairi will appear on this world. Speculation shows that this might explain how Kairi arrived on Destiny Islands.
- Mysterious Tower:Where the King Mickey trains with his Master Yen Sid.
- Keyblade Graveyard: Where the keyblade war occurred long time ago. And this is the place where they fight Xehanort and Vanitas.
- Land of Departure: Where Terra, Aqua and Ventus train with their Master Eraqus. In the Final Episode(using Aqua as a character), Aqua uses Eraqus's keyblade to unlock the secrets behind that place. And because of that, it became Castle Oblivion and later on, the Organization XIII tries to discover the secrets of it.
Other worlds have thought to appear such as Twilight Town, another original Kingdom Hearts world, Atlantica and a "Pinocchio" world. The reason for a "Pinocchio" world is because this world was set to appear in KH: 358/ 2 Days but was canceled in the Japanese game. The reason the Atlantica world is speculated to appear is because in previous KH games King Triton seems aware of Keyblade events.
The Unversed are the creatures that Ven, Terra and Aqua battle during the game.
They are the creatures that created from the negative feelings, emotions and thoughts when Xehanort separated the pure darkness( Vanitas) from Ventus.
And besides, they could potentially have a connection between Heartless and possibly Nobodies, as the Heartless and Nobodies would only appear after the World was rid of the Unversed (which occurred sometime between this game and the first Kingdom Hearts game).
While the PSP version of Birth by Sleep's Final Mix was exclusive to Japan, it will be included in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix (alongside Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and remade cutscenes from Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded) for Playstation 3, which will be released in the west as well as Japan.
The Western Changes
Part of the reason for a Final Mix release of the game was that several changes were made to the game when it was released in North America and Europe that were not in the original Japanese release and these changes remain in this version.
- The hardest difficulty named "Critical Mode" was added. This mode also included an additional optional ability called "Zero EXP", which when equipped would prevent the player from gaining experience points.
- A Sticker Album side quest was added. Crown items can now be found throughout the worlds. These contain stickers that the player can paste in a picture in the Journal. The more stickers they paste the more items can be unlocked.
- The Skull Board, based on Neverland, was now an additional Command Board level.
- Players can forge a D-Link with Pete. This can be gotten via the Command Board.
- Rumble Racing has a new track named "Castle Circuit".
- The theme to "Destiny Islands" was added to the Ice Cream Beat minigame.
- The commands "Unison Rush" and "Voltage Stack" were added. These commands are team-up commands best used when playing the Mirage Arena with other players.
- In the original release, players could not return to Land of Departure after a certain late game event. In the western versions, most of Land of Departure can be revisited after this event.
- While the battle with Vanitas' Lingering Spirit was in the original release, obtaining the "Void Gear" Keyblade upon beating him is new.
- After beating Vanitas' Lingering Spirit, returning to the Land of Departure will allow one to fight a new unknown boss. Another Keyblade, named "No Name" can also be obtained by beating this boss.
The Final Mix Changes
On top of all of that the Final Mix also has some additional changes exclusive to this version.
- As with previous Final Mixes in the series, the enemies, in this case the Unversed, have different colored bodys then in the other versions.
- Rewards obtained through the Sticker Album are different from the western releases. Also, the point values required are different as well.
- The Rhythm Mixer Command Style was added. Upon activation it requires the player to press buttons to a beat in order to be effective.
- Unversed Missions were added to every world except Land of Departure. These missions require the player to accomplish certain goals that are usually not just to beat the Unversed.
- By getting the highest ranking in certain Unversed missions, the player will receive Illusion commands. These commands allow the player to mimic certain Unversed found in the game.
- Three new boss battles were added to the Mirage Arena (and therefore are not canon). Monstro (from the movie Pinocchio), Armor of the Master who is a variant on Master Eraqus, and No Heart who is a variant on Master Xehanort. In the latter's case, defeating him will give the player the "Royal Radiance" Keyblade.
- An additional playable episode, starring Aqua that takes place after the end of Final Episode (but not the original game's secret ending) is unlockable. In the episode, players traverse the Realm of Darkness, and therefore get an opportunity to battle Heartless (not seen in any other part of the game). The final boss of this episode is a brand new Heartless.
- Beating this episode will unlock a new secret ending that like secret endings before is a teaser of future Kingdom Hearts games.
|2.||The Key of Light||2:28|
|3.||The Promised Beginning||3:06|
|6.||Tears of the Light||3:19|
|10.||The Secret Whispers||3:26|
|13.||Drops of Poison||2:27|
|19.||Dice and Shine||2:04|
|21.||The Silent Forest||2:48|
|22.||The Rustling Forest||2:12|
|25.||Enter the Darkness||4:44|
|2.||Mickey Mouse March||2:07|
|3.||Up Down Adventure||2:53|
|4.||Hero or Heel?||1:31|
|5.||It's a Small World||2:24|
|7.||Fresh Fruits Balls||2:26|
|8.||Go! Go! Rumble Racer||2:33|
|10.||Cheers for the Brave||2:17|
|11.||A Date with Fate||2:18|
|14.||Daydream upon Neverland||3:13|
|16.||Keyblade Graveyard Horizon||2:55|
|18.||The Key of Darkness||2:37|
|19.||Rage Awakened -The Origin-||3:32|
|23.||Enter the Void||5:07|
|25.||Birth by Sleep -A Link to the Future-||7:30|
"Keyblade Graveyard Horizon" and "Dismiss" were re-orchestrated using live instruments for the game's inclusion in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix.
Final Mix Disc
|2.||Monstrous Monstro -Arena Ver.-||2:08|
|3.||Night in the Dark Dream||3:22|
|4.||Night of Tragedy||1:58|
|5.||Hunter of the Dark||2:50|
|6.||Master, Tell Me the Truth||3:00|
A followup episode titled 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage – is included in Kingdom Hearts HD II.8: Final Chapter Prologue for the Playstation 4. It picks up immediately after the secret episode in Birth by Sleep Final Mix and follows Aqua as she continues to traverse the Realm of Darkness. Its story also ties directly into Kingdom Hearts III. It takes about 3-4 hours to complete and is made in the engine that Kingdom Hearts III is being made in (Unreal Engine 4).