I’m going to make these posts a bimonthly feature. They’ll go up every other Sunday, to fit with CIB Sunday on Twitter. CIB stands for complete-in-box, and it’s commonly used to describe video games. If a game includes the cartridge, case, instruction booklet, and everything else it originally came with, it is considered to be CIB.
In this spin-off of the Kingdom Hearts series, you play as a young Organization XIII member, Roxas, as he goes about his routine duties in the group. Meanwhile, Sora is in the midst of a deep sleep to repair his lost memories. Their individual stories end up intertwining in the most bittersweet of ways, creating memories of people and events that will never be forgotten.
By the time I played Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, I’d already played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2 as well. I was already absolutely obsessed with the series, and I looked forward to every new release. So, of course, I picked up 358/2 Days as soon as I could. And I’ve never regretted that decision.
Kingdom Hearts is the type of series that manages to inspire hope, kindness, and positivity, even when you’re an adult. There truly is a magic to these games, one that implants itself deep into your heart and never completely fades. As a child, I remember being so mystified by the wholesome innocence of these games, and their prevailing message of hope. For me, 358/2 Days was no different.
Roxas is a wonderful character, one that I enjoyed learning about as I progressed through the game. He’s a young boy, trying to figure out the world around him, and why he’s in the Organization to begin with. Along the way, we’re introduced to two other characters who quickly become close friends with Roxas, Axel and Xion. These two are also members of Organization XIII. As the story progresses, Roxas is met with a difficult internal conflict: stay loyal to the Organization or to his friends.
The relationship between Roxas, Axel, and Xion is the driving force of 358/2 Days, and for good reason. They make for unique, complex, and interesting characters, all with their own personalities and quirks. Moreover, their interactions with one another are heartwarming to watch unfold, and at times, gut wrenching. This careful balance makes for a masterfully told story with unforgettable characters. And these factors result in a conclusion that is incredibly bittersweet, one that even brought me to tears.
Sure, I could talk about the gameplay and combat of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, because those aspects are also solid. But the characters and story are what really shine here. They elevate an action-adventure game and take it to another level, turning it into something very special.
I believe it’s a testament that this video game still sticks with me so deeply today. When I first played it, I was around 11 or 12 years old. At the age of 22, I still have such fond memories of 358/2 Days and its amazing story. And although I haven’t played the game for years, I’m pretty sure the few final cutscenes would make me sob like a child. Just like on my very first playthrough.
To help reinforce the beautifully woven story, is a soft, melodic soundtrack filled to the brim with emotion. The music is gorgeous, and it fits incredibly well with the tone of certain scenes. Tracks can go from being fast and suspenseful to melancholic as the story changes. Listening to specific songs from 358/2 Days brings back many of the memories I retained from the game, often leaving me with bittersweet feelings. “Dearly Beloved” is in most of the Kingdom Hearts games, but the 358/2 Days version really gets me. That song is just so sad, but sweet at the same time.
Like the rest of the series, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days also includes Disney and its characters as a main feature. This title contains iconic locations like Agrabah (Aladdin), Halloween Town (The Nightmare Before Christmas), and Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland). This of course means that there are Disney characters to meet and adventure with, too. The inclusion of these aspects lends even more magic to 358/2 Days, giving it a truly original air of nostalgia. Even when things become more heavy in the story, you can still visit your favorite Disney characters and worlds to cool off.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is a wonderful addition to the long-running series, and it’s certainly worthy of a full playthrough. Boasting a masterful story, loveable characters, a fitting soundtrack, and loads of nostalgic charm, this game makes for a lasting gaming experience. It surely is a game you won’t forget, due to its many merits and positive points. If you haven’t added 358/2 Days to your Nintendo DS library yet, then there’s no better time than the present!
If you’d like to get your own copy of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, you can do so here on Amazon!
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