The Kingdom Hearts universe may be strange in general, but it's no stranger to me. As a fan of the series, I've been waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, which is set to release on July 31, 2012. It's time to go back to school, as Sora and Riku take on the Mark of Mastery exam. While their stories will land them both in the same sleeping worlds, how each approaches their individualized tasks gives the players two ways to play in a rich world featuring the classics of Disney.
The E3 demo landed us in the Three Musketeers' realm, where Mickey is actually taking on the role of a "Mouseketeer," of course. Rounding out the trio is Goofy and Donald, though neither appear to remember Sora, a lapse which distresses him. Aiding Mickey in routing out the evils threatening the trio is only the first step of Sora's trip into the Musketeers' world. Sora plays exactly as he has from previous Kingdom Hearts games, with basic attacks (controlled with the A button) alongside jumps (the B button) and special attacks (the X button). Sora can also temporarily join forces with a Spirit to raise his power or change his attacks; the spirit I chose allowed me to bounce around the field like a hyper ball, gleefully squishing any enemies I came upon.
Riku's adventure in the same land begins with a more suspicious tone. Upon spotting Pete, Goofy's frequent neighbor and nemesis, Riku decides the best way to deal with the querelous man is to follow him and make sure he stays out of trouble. His path, unfortunately, is fraught with combat, and much like Sora he will charge up power to summon a Spirit. Riku absorbs his spirits which gives him increased abilities such as faster movement, greater attack power, or more. Riku's magic is also darker than Sora's, though that difference should come as no surprise to series fans.
Overall, Dream Drop Distance feels like another title in the Kingdom Hearts series -- and that's not a complaint, but a complement. Fans of the series will be very pleased with the test to become true Keyblade Masters when it becomes available next month.