Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has Jeff Bridges. Boom. End of preview.
Fine, I'll tell you more about the rest of the game.
As you may have heard previously, Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS features many new Disney worlds to explore, including The Grid from Tron: Legacy. During my hands-on at PAX, I was able to play a build set in The Grid, to get a feel for the new battle mechanics, and to meet Sora and Riku's newest allies.
According to the story, Sora and Riku must pass through a series of trials before they can become true Keyblade Masters. They must save the various Disney worlds from the threat of the Dream Eaters, the newest antagonists replacing the Heartless and Nobodies from the previous entries.
There are two types of Dream Eaters: Nightmares and Spirits. Obviously, Nightmares are the baddies, whereas Spirits are your friends. In fact, Spirits serve as your AI partners in this game, replacing Donald and Goofy, as well as introducing a Pokémon-esque monster raising twist. I was really disappointed to see these freaky little pinkish blobs tailing behind me through my adventure, but hopefully, the dynamic duo pop up later down the road.
So here I am on The Grid, smacking foes with my Keyblade and collecting experience orbs. The fighting is pretty similar to previous titles in the series, with the exception of a new technique that allows you to quickly dash through the air, stick to a wall, then rebound down a different direction. This ability helps speed up the flow of the game and opens up new aerial offensive maneuvers, but the handling takes a little getting used to -- while zooming around, movement is a little finicky.
For my demo, I only got to play as Sora. Apparently, both Sora and Riku are off on their own separate but linked adventures, but you can only play as one at a time. A timer in the bottom corner of the screen lets you know how much longer before your current session ends, after which you'll immediately start playing as the other character. Points you accrue during one play session can be spent to enhance the abilities of the other player for the duration of his session. Once that session is finished, you'll return right back to where you left off with the first guy. It sounds a bit confusing, but think of it as a single person shuttling two cars down the highway.
Now let's talk about Jeff Bridges.
The characters from the movie -- Kevin and Sam Flynn, Quorra, CLU, Rinzler a.k.a. Tron -- are all here in surprisingly great detail. There is an element of exaggeration in their features, but the character models are pretty damn impressive. This was a Japanese build, so the voices weren't in English. I don't think Jeff Bridge's Japanese VA fit him all that well -- Jeff is very mellow and chill, but this dude was very gruff and deep. It was so bizarre, but really cool at the same time.
Whatever, though. You get to fight alongside El Duderino himself! And with CLU, you get younger Jeff Bridges absolutely free!
Speaking of the voice cast, the English one hasn't been formally announced yet, but Haley Joel Osment is definitely coming back. I don't know how that will work, given that the guy is in his 20s and probably doesn't sound like a squeaky, bright-eyed youth with high hopes and aspirations anymore. I guess that's what sound editing is for.
Kingdom Hearts 3D is set for a July 31 launch date in the US. Play it because Jeff Bridges.
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3:00 PM on 12.15.2014