Dengeki Online posted an article on their impressions on the three upcoming Kingdom Hearts games. We hope you enjoy it.
Credit for the translations goes to bittermeats from KH Insider

DENGEKI ARTICLE ON PANASONIC EVENT

DENGEKI ONLINE – On November 12th, an event introducing new mobile phone products was held at Panasonic in Tokyo. Since there were demos of the three new Kingdom Hearts titles exhibited at the event, here are the impression reports.

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The three RPG titles were exhibited at the event: Kingdom Hearts Coded beginning service in spring 2009, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Three Five Eight Over Two Days) releasing February 2009 for the Nintendo DS, and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep releasing 2009 for PSP. Out of them, Coded will come preinstalled on the “docomo PRIME series P-01A” (below, P-01A) releasing this November from NTT DoCoMo.

On the preinstallation, you can begin by playing the short story mainly involving battles “Olympus Coliseum -Side Episode-” where Hercules appears. This seems to be an original episode that won’t be available for download after the service starts and the main chapters become available. By upgrading it more, you can enjoy various features of the original story in the “Traverse Town-Special Edit Version-” feature where you can enjoy cut scenes from the series.

This time I played with the “Traverse Town -Special Edit Version-” feature, as well as 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep. For those people looking forward to the releases and are a little worried about the titles, please by all means check out my demo impressions.

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This title is compatible with the Docomo PRIME Series P-01A and other related systems. Also, the series portal site with Kingdom Hearts Mobile is planned to open before the 2008 year ends. The service plan is to distribute one new episode every month after the service begins.

The story surrounds a page written in Jiminy’s Journal, the place where Jiminy Cricket wrote down the records of all their travels. It unfolds as the journal is converted into data and the traced worlds are exhibited as stages. Awakening in this data world, a Sora made up of data becomes the main character as a new journey begins.

Since you hold the wide open style mobile horizontally to play, you use the arrow keys located on the left side to move and can perform actions using the 6, 9, 0, and * keys on the right side. Because I’m the kinda person who generally plays only RPG and SLG on the mobile phone, I honestly thought considering the number of buttons, “Kingdom Hearts is an action packed RPG, but can you play it properly with this kind of complicatedness?”

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I photographed the P-01A pamphlet. This is how the person playing the game holds the mobile phone. The letters are displayed correctly when held horizontally because of the new 2WAY key the P-01A features.

In conclusion, I’m sorry. Since as I explained you move using your left hand and operate the button commands using your right hand, it’s very much like playing with a game controller. The game itself has a very conventional Kingdom Hearts feel to it too. Basically, in spite of relentlessly using “Attack” and “Examine” with the 0 key, it advances at a good tempo. Of course the map has various gimmicks prepared. With action oriented puzzles that make full use of the jump function with the * key, the element of puzzle solving is good as well.

Additionally, the 6 key does the Guard function and the 9 key does the Dodge Roll function. Besides, if you make full use of the jump function, you can enjoy a feature not conventional to most mobile phone RPGs. Furthermore, when you are continually attacking an enemy, an “!” will appear over their heads. Then directional arrows appear at the bottom of the screen and you input the the correct keys according to time and sequence. A new element of acquiring items is introduced; if you do the commands correctly and consecutively, depending on the number of combos you achieve, you get items.

Moreover since the P-01A’s 3.1 inch wide screen has adopted VGA liquid crystal technology, it truly has the finest digital grain display screens of any other gaming mobile phone. The images below show this title making use of those capabilities.

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These kinds of graphics were not really thought about for mobile phone games previously. In closing, general RPG consumers who play it will find the game worthwhile.

I felt the impression I had after playing it was along the lines of: “Already there is hardly any difference between mobile phone games and regular games.” Still, it is not on a game console and I felt dissatisfaction waiting for the loading and what not, but overall the result is a genuine Kingdom Hearts title.

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Along with the 14th member of Organization XIII who didn’t appear in Kingdom Hearts II, this title draws around the times of Roxas in Organization XIII. The main character is Roxas, and in this demo version you could choose from the stories of him being accompanied by Axel, by Xaldin, or by Xigbar. Because of the impressive scene where the characters sit on top of the clock tower staring at the stetting sun together as shown on the official website, I chose to go along with Axel. Here’s the report.

As for the story, a scene is shown displaying that Roxas is still a beginner in this mission, and Axel is coming along to help protect him. The controls go like: Decide/Examine with the A button, Jump with B, change menu options with X, use Reflect Guard with Y, and Dodge Roll with the control pad. After all, you basically press the A button to play, it’s the same user friendly specifications of a Kingdom Hearts game.

During the battles, I approached the target enemies and selected Attack, Attack, Attack… the basic combos. For difficult enemies, I’d select Magic and use attacks like Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder and then recover HP from a Potion in the Item command. Because the number of times you can use a Magic attack is limited, you have to use them carefully. By the time I got to the last boss round, I was out of Magic attacks…

By the way, the Magic and Item commands can be registered in the short cut menu. Just hold L and press your option (A, B, X, or Y) to exercise it.

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Axel is a lot like an older brother Roxas can rely on, not just in the cutscenes but also in battle. After fighting the boss the two chat a little, saying compliments like “That was a clever trick back there!”; such comments warm my heart.

In addition, the map is full of tricks, so you must use jump as well as your head to proceed through the action and puzzle oriented levels. So even though it’s on the Nintendo DS, the game style has not changed. Coded is similar, the Kingdom Hearts qualities are recognizable everywhere. For people who’ve played the past series, it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to become familar with them.

But it’s also easy for a beginner to play the Kingdom Hearts style too. It’s only hard if you don’t make full use of the action techniques and Magic commands when fighting a boss enemy. I had to fight against a Guard Armor, an enemy with superior defense as its name implies. Even if I attack it, it leaves no open space for me to inflict damage. But if I use Reflect Guard when it attacks me, it’s posture breaks and leaves a chance for attack. Thats how I defeated it with the help of Axel. Thank you Axel! I would have been defeated if I had fought it alone!

After the boss battle, Axel says he’ll give Roxas an award and the two head to the top of the clock tower. The two of them sit eating ice cream and watching the sunset, and the feeling of heartwarming conversations is gone. The stories of Kingdom Hearts are warm but a little heartbreaking, and I think many people like that about it. But even within the limits of the demo version, I don’t feel those connotations were betrayed.

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At last, I played Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep the longest and here’s the report. This title draws on the furthest back in time of the series. Because it focuses on the viewpoints of 3 new main characters, each of their 3 scenarios can be thoroughly enjoyed. In the demo version I could play from two scenarios; the level playing as Ventus took place in Cinderella’s world and the level playing as Terra in Sleeping Beauty’s world.

This time all three of the titles I played had action packed battles, but personally I thought this title’s battle action was the most refreshing. The operations went like: Attack with the O button, Jump with X, Evade with Square or hold it to Guard, and Triangle to select a command from your deck. At a glance it seems to resemble the other Kingdom Hearts games.

Here are the interesting parts, an evasive action technique and the command deck. The command deck contains magic like Thundaga and Cure, as well as various special attacks that are set beforehand such as the Rush techniques. During battle, you use the directional control pad to switch to the attack (or possibly cure) you like and execute with the triangle button. Rather than consume MP, as the gauge accumulates over time, you can select different techniques again and again. To me, it has a sense of how Materia was used in Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII.

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The other is the evasive action technique, it’s not Dodge Roll, its a high speed movement like a dash performed by executing a combo. I find its very important during battles. The dash like evasive action can also be used while jumping, by making full use of the space it creates a truly 3D battle system.

Furthermore, as for the characteristics of the battles, the Command Gauge increases as you fight and the Command Style changes. Normally you can just select Attack, but when the Command Style changes the kind of attack you inflict on an enemy changes too. The various last techniques called Finish will change as well. The Finish technique will end a combo with a sweepingly powerful attack. Therefore in the boss battles, you aim to deliver Finish attacks at the enemy’s weak spots. It’s difficult and very fun!

With an aggressive system that can unleash a lot of strong attacks and a high speed evasive technique, I was able to enjoy a high speed battle that was totally by any means inferior to other action games. But the characteristics of Kingdom Hearts came through as well with the beginner friendly combos that come from hitting one button over and over. Though the fun flashy action sequences appear to have evolved, people who think “at any rate the action is weak because its button mashing” so far may play it without changing their minds. Still, it’s slightly difficult to compare it to the other two titles being introduced.

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By the way, I wrote in the beginning that I was able to play as Ventus and as Terra. In this title the skills prepared are different for each character. Even using the regular attacks is different for each of them, as well as a new attack method being introduced called the Shoot Lock system. If you hold the L and R buttons for a fews seconds at the same time, you can target enemies. When the targets become red, you can unleash the attack. The character then fires at them using their unique skills.

In the demo version I played this time, Ventus would dash and attack the enemies with the keyblade while Terra would fire some sort of long distant bullet at the enemies. The Shoot Lock technique uses the Focus Gauge and points for it can be restored by picking up after an enemy is defeated.

I’ve introduced the various battle elements as I have experienced them, but there is in fact more. During a battle, there are times when you’ll be prompted to press a button (it’s quite severe). If you push the corresponding button, you are able to continue the succession of attacks and end it with a strong flashy blow. The same goes for the Finish technique, so staying aware during the battles is a good idea.

This has become very long, but I felt the greatest characteristic of this title was the range of action packed gameplay I experienced while playing it this time. Considering that all 3 characters have unique battle systems and scenarios, it’ll be very enjoyable. The release date for this one is still so far, but the more information comes out about it the more I think it will continue to exceed our expectations.