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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

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is an action role-playing game
Action role-playing game
Action role-playing games form a loosely defined sub-genre of role-playing video games that incorporate elements of action or action-adventure games, emphasizing real-time action where the player has direct control over characters, instead of turn-based or menu-based combat...

 developed
Video game developer
A video game developer is a software developer that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, or may develop for a variety of systems, including personal computers.Most developers also...

 and published
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

 by Square Enix
Square Enix
is a Japanese video game and publishing company best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, and the action-RPG Kingdom Hearts series...

 and Disney for the PlayStation Portable
PlayStation Portable
The is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Corporation Development of the console was announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on , 2004, at a Sony press conference before E3 2004...

, serving as the sixth installment in the Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts
is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 video game console. The first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, it is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and The Walt Disney Company. The game combines characters and settings from Disney...

series. The game was released on UMD
Universal Media Disc
The Universal Media Disc is an optical disc medium developed by Sony for use on their PlayStation Portable handheld gaming and multimedia platform...

 in Japan on January 9, 2010, in North America on September 7, 2010 and in Europe on September 10, 2010. (However, it has not been released digitally on the Playstation Network.) It was also released with a limited edition PSP-3000 as a bundle in Japan featuring designs from the Kingdom Hearts series on its back. An international version
International version
In video games, an international version is a relocalized version of a previously released title in its native territory that has gained additional features and contents in foreign releases...

 of the game titled Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix was released in Japan in January 2011 featuring the changes made in the overseas versions.

The game also utilizes an overhauled battle system different from previous games in the series with new elements such as the Command Board, Command System and Dimension Links added in. The game is a prequel
Prequel
A prequel is a work that supplements a previously completed one, and has an earlier time setting.The widely recognized term was a 20th-century neologism, and a portmanteau from pre- and sequel...

 to the original Kingdom Hearts, taking place ten years before. The game centers on the journeys of Terra
Terra (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. He was introduced in the 2010 video game prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the three main characters...

, Aqua
Aqua (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameo appearances in the game Kingdom Hearts II, Aqua was introduced as one of the three main characters from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, a prequel of the series released in 2010...

, and Ventus
Ventus (Kingdom Hearts)
, commonly nicknamed , is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameos in Kingdom Hearts II and other related titles, Ventus was introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the three main characters...

, characters briefly featured in Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts II
is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix and published by Buena Vista Games and Square Enix in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console...

, in their quest to locate the missing Master Xehanort and protect the worlds from creatures known as the Unversed.

Development of the game began in June 2005 with parts of the game Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix meant to bring clues of Birth by Sleep. Nomura has referred to the game as "Episode 0" saying that the game is on the same scale and plays as big an importance as Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. The game has been well-received, selling a large number of units in Japan shortly after its release, and receiving positive comments by video game publications.

Gameplay



Birth by Sleep is an action roleplaying game. This game allows players to customize their "decks" by choosing which techniques and abilities to display.

Another new gameplay aspect is the Command System; when the command gauge is filled and requirements have been fulfilled, the Command Style of the character will change. When the gauge fills up and the requirements have been fulfilled for the second time, the character will change to an even higher level Command Style.

A new feature of the game is the Command Board, which appears whenever the player completes a world, and can be accessed from save points and the world map once unlocked. Each world has its own unique Command Board with its own tricks and mechanisms. The Command Board plays like a regular board game where a dice is thrown and the player moves, each space having its own unique effect on the player. Various Disney characters from throughout the game also appear on their respective Command Board to either aid or hinder the player. Special panels in the board game can trigger "special events" when landed on by the player.

There are two levels of Command Styles, the Level One Command Styles, which change your basic attack command with the "Surge" command, which racks up powerful combos depending on what Command Style is activated. When additional commands are activated within the Level One Command Style, and if requirements are fulfilled, it activates a Level Two Command Style, which then changes your "Surge" command with an even more powerful "Storm" command. Each Command Styles have unique finishers by the end of the combo.

The game does not utilize a Magic Points (MP) system for spells or magic casting, unlike in previous games in the series. Instead it uses a new system known as "Focus" which is displayed in a gauge on the interface, involving targeting spells using what is known as the "ShotLock Mode". It also involves the characters casting spells in a first person
First person (video games)
In video games, first person refers to a graphical perspective rendered from the viewpoint of the player character. In many cases, this may be the viewpoint from the cockpit of a vehicle. Many different genres have made use of first-person perspectives, ranging from adventure games to flight...

 mode, where each character is able to cast their own unique magic attacks.

Another new aspect of the game is the Dimension Link (D-Link) which can be used to summon allies to lend their power to aid the player from different worlds. Companions such as Experiment 626 who have been left behind in previous worlds can be called upon once again to temporarily aid the player in his or her, by providing them with an entirely new range of attacks in their command decks replacing the usual ones. At the end, a new powerful finishing move is activated to take out enemies. Each ally used will have a unique set of attacks and finishing moves. Each finishing move has two levels which can render a finishing move more powerful than before, similar to that of the Command System. The D-Link can be activated by pressing right on the directional pad to access the D-Link menu, followed by selecting the chosen ally namely, Experiment 626, Aqua, Ventus, Terra, and several others.

Scenarios


The game is divided into three separate scenarios, with each scenario surrounding the story of the three main characters: Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. Each scenario is related to the other. The gameplay of each scenario differs based on the personalities and abilities of each character such as power, speed and magic: Terra is the most powerful in terms of physical damage, Ventus is the fastest character, and Aqua specializes in magic. Players are able to choose which of the three scenarios near the beginning of the game and will be able to switch to another scenario midway through. The scenario's recommended order of play by Nomura is Terra, followed by Ventus, and lastly Aqua, allowing the player to best understand the story. In addition, the three scenarios are very different and only share the same story-line for the first ten minutes of the story.

Multiplayer


The game supports up to six players at a time in four new multiplayer modes. Players control one of the three main characters suited in armor in a world known as the Mirage Arena. In Versus, players fight against each other in a deathmatch style game, while in Arena players fight co-operatively in a "Survival Mode" style of gameplay against wave after wave of Unversed. In Rumble Racing, players race against each other competitively on their Keyblade vehicles which can also be used to attack rivals. In Command Board, players play a board game on the in-game Command Board mechanic to reach the end first like in traditional board games. Setting records in the Mirage Arena earns players medals which can be exchanged for rare items in-game. Only Ad-Hoc wireless multiplayer is allowed.

Setting


Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the first Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts
is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 video game console. The first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, it is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and The Walt Disney Company. The game combines characters and settings from Disney...

game, taking place ten years prior. Like the other games in the series, the player progresses through a collection of various worlds, based on various locales from the Disney animated features canon: Dwarf Woodlands from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937 film)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a 1937 American animated film based on Snow White, a German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. It was the first full-length cel-animated feature in motion picture history, as well as the first animated feature film produced in America, the first produced in full...

; Enchanted Dominion from Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty (1959 film)
Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the fairy tale "La Belle au bois dormant" by Charles Perrault...

; Castle of Dreams from Cinderella
Cinderella (1950 film)
Cinderella is a 1950 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the fairy tale "Cendrillon" by Charles Perrault. Twelfth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film had a limited release on February 15, 1950 by RKO Radio Pictures. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi,...

; Olympus Coliseum from Hercules
Hercules (1997 film)
Hercules is a 1997 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker...

; Deep Space from Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch
This article is about the movie. For the television series, see Lilo & Stitch: The Series.Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released on June 21, 2002...

; Neverland from Peter Pan
Peter Pan (1953 film)
Peter Pan is a 1953 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by J. M. Barrie. It is the fourteenth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and was originally released on February 5, 1953 by RKO Pictures...

(featuring for the first time most of the main island setting new to the series rather than Captain Hook
Captain Hook
Captain James Hook is the main antagonist of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and its various adaptations. The character is a villainous pirate captain of the Jolly Roger brig, and lord of the pirate village/harbour in Neverland, where he is widely feared. Most...

's pirate ship and Big Ben from the first game and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
is an action roleplaying game developed and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS with assistance from h.a.n.d. It is the fifth installment in the best-selling Kingdom Hearts series, and serves as an interquel beginning near the end of the first game, Kingdom Hearts, and covering the period...

); and Mysterious Tower from Fantasia
Fantasia (film)
Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. The third feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are...

. The game also features various new worlds specially created for the series by Square Enix
Square Enix
is a Japanese video game and publishing company best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, and the action-RPG Kingdom Hearts series...

 such as the Land of Departure and Radiant Garden. Disney Town, which is the town that surrounds the castle grounds of Disney Castle, serves as the game's minigame world. Worlds such as Destiny Islands and Castle Oblivion also appear in the form of cutscenes, while the 100 Acre Wood from the Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh (Disney)
Winnie the Pooh is an American Walt Disney Company franchise, based on animated fictional characters who have been featured as part of the Disney character line-up. The Winnie the Pooh franchise is based on A. A...

franchise, which had appeared in most other games of the series, only appears as a Command Board in Birth by Sleep. The staff first chose the worlds based on the game's scenario, leading to the inclusion of Princesses' worlds. They then added the worlds of Neverland and Deep Space to add variety to the game, while Olympus Coliseum was selected to reflect the game's earlier setting compared to the original Kingdom Hearts.

Characters



The three main characters are Terra
Terra (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. He was introduced in the 2010 video game prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the three main characters...

, Aqua
Aqua (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameo appearances in the game Kingdom Hearts II, Aqua was introduced as one of the three main characters from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, a prequel of the series released in 2010...

, and Ventus
Ventus (Kingdom Hearts)
, commonly nicknamed , is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameos in Kingdom Hearts II and other related titles, Ventus was introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the three main characters...

—called Ven for short—a trio of close friends and apprentice Keyblade-wielders under Master Eraqus who aspire to become Masters themselves. Another Keyblade Master, Xehanort, and his mysterious apprentice, Vanitas, serve as the game's antagonists. Other characters from the previous games return, such as Sora
Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Square Enix's best-selling Kingdom Hearts series. Introduced in the series' first game in 2002, Sora is a cheerful teenager who originates from Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since early childhood. When they plan to...

, Riku, and Kairi, though they are younger than their original incarnations and given less prominent roles. A number of characters who later come to form Organization XIII
Organization XIII
is a fictional group of characters featured in Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios' Kingdom Hearts video game series. The group comprises thirteen beings without hearts called NobodiesIn the video game series' setting, beings comprise a body, heart and soul, known as a 'Whole'. When a heart...

 also appear, particularly the first five apprentices of Ansem the Wise (Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo) as well as Lea and Isa, who were previously unaffiliated with the former five. As with the Heartless in Kingdom Hearts and the Nobodies in Kingdom Hearts II, Birth by Sleep introduces a new type of enemy: the Unversed, fledgling emotions that are "not well-versed in their own existences" and feed on negativity.

As with the other games in the series, Birth by Sleep features an extensive cast of Disney characters. The most prominent of these characters is King Mickey, who serves as a student under the sorcerer Yen Sid at this point in the series chronology. Donald Duck and Goofy, who served the main protagonist Sora in most other games, appear in smaller roles. Most other Disney characters remain in their respective worlds regardless of their overall importance to the story in previous installments, such as Maleficent and Pete, who served as major antagonists between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, and a number of the Princesses of Heart. Some characters (such as Experiment 626, Prince Phillip, and King Mickey) occasionally fight alongside the player characters in battles as partners similar to the other games, providing assistance and performing combos to help the player proceed. However, they do not follow the player around constantly like Donald and Goofy in the other games. Unlike the other major installments, which also featured casts of various characters throughout the Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy
is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and is developed and owned by Square Enix . The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science-fantasy role-playing video games , but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise...

series, Birth by Sleep only features two of these characters: Zack
Zack Fair
is a fictional character from the Final Fantasy series by Square Enix. He first appeared as a non-player character in the role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. In the story, Zack is a late member from the paramilitary organization SOLDIER developed by the megacorporation Shinra Electric Power Company...

 from Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII
is a role-playing video game developed by Square and published by Sony Computer Entertainment as the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was originally released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation and was re-released in 1998 for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers and in 2009...

, and Moogles, from several of the Final Fantasy games. As Birth by Sleep is a prequel of the first Kingdom Hearts title, the staff decided to add Zack to the title as he is protagonist from the Final Fantasy prequel, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable. First released in 2007, the game is a prequel to the video game Final Fantasy VII and is also the sixth installment in metaseries Compilation of Final Fantasy VII which includes products related to the game...

.

Story


The story begins in the Land of Departure, where Terra and Aqua take an exam to achieve the Mark of Mastery, allowing them to become Keyblade Masters. However, only Aqua passes while Terra fails due to the abundant darkness in his heart. Shortly after the test, Master Xehanort disappears, and a horde of mysterious creatures called the Unversed begin to appear throughout the worlds. Master Eraqus learns from Yen Sid that the Princesses of Heart are in danger from the Unversed, and orders Terra and Aqua to destroy the Unversed and find Xehanort. Ventus is driven into following Terra against Eraqus's wishes by Vanitas, Xehanort's apprentice, and Aqua is ordered to watch over Terra and bring Ventus back to the Land of Departure.

Upon arriving in several worlds, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus encounter various Disney characters, fighting off Unversed along the way. One of the characters they meet is Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...

, the apprentice of Yen Sid, who is also on a mission to destroy the Unversed, albeit against Yen Sid's wishes. Terra attracts the attention of several Disney villains, who offer him the whereabouts of Xehanort in exchange for assistance in their own agendas. Upon finding Xehanort, Terra is instructed by him to destroy Vanitas, who is revealed to be the source of the Unversed, created from the darkness of Ventus's heart. The three friends briefly reunite at Radiant Garden where Aqua and Ventus confront Terra about his actions, but he dismisses them and leaves to continue Xehanort's mission.

Ventus comes across Xehanort, who reveals his intentions to use Ventus's heart and fuse it with the heart of his other half, Vanitas, to create an all-powerful Keyblade known as the χ-blade. He sends him to the Land of Departure to confront Eraqus, saying he knows the truth about him. Eraqus tries to kill Ven to prevent Xehanort's plans from succeeding, but Terra, who has also been sent to the Land of Departure by Xehanort, faces Eraqus to protect Ven. Upon his defeat, Eraqus is vanquished by Xehanort, who covers the Land of Departure in darkness and tells Terra to go to a world known as the Keyblade Graveyard. Ven is similarly instructed to do the same by Vanitas, as is Aqua by Yen Sid after he informs her of Eraqus's death.

Terra, Aqua, and Ventus gather at the Keyblade Graveyard, where Xehanort appears with Vanitas and reveals his plan to use the χ-blade to unlock Kingdom Hearts and unleash the secrets of the Keyblade War onto the various worlds. Terra's heart is swallowed by darkness in the ensuing battle, allowing Xehanort to take over his body, but Terra's mind remains within his discarded suit of armor, which comes to life and defeats Xehanort. Meanwhile, Ventus is forced to fuse with Vanitas to create the χ-blade and battles Aqua alongside Mickey while he engages Vanitas in a metaphysical battle within his mind. Aqua shatters the χ-blade as Ventus destroys Vanitas from within, though Ventus loses his heart and falls into a deep sleep as a result.

Upon learning that Ventus will not awaken until his heart returns, Aqua brings his body to the ruins
Ruins
Ruins are the remains of human-made architecture: structures that were once complete, as time went by, have fallen into a state of partial or complete disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction...

 of Land of Departure, where she seals the world's keyhole and transforms it into Castle Oblivion to ensure Ventus will not be disturbed. Aqua then goes to Radiant Garden where she fights Xehanort, who still possesses Terra's body. The battle rages until Terra's presence manifests, resulting in Xehanort unlocking his own heart and falling into the Realm of Darkness. Aqua saves Terra but becomes trapped in the Realm of Darkness in the process. Xehanort, who loses his memories, is discovered and taken in by Ansem the Wise, ruler of Radiant Garden, as his apprentice. Ven's heart then reconnects to the young Sora's and is able to rest within his heart.

In the game's secret ending, which takes place after the events of Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts II
is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix and published by Buena Vista Games and Square Enix in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console...

, Aqua comes across Ansem the Wise in the Realm of Darkness and learns from him about Sora, who has the power to save those connected to his heart, including Terra, Ventus, and Aqua herself. Sora, having learned of their fates from King Mickey, decides to undertake another quest in order to find and save them.

Development


Development of the game began in June 2005 and was originally intended for the PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 with Sora
Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Square Enix's best-selling Kingdom Hearts series. Introduced in the series' first game in 2002, Sora is a cheerful teenager who originates from Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since early childhood. When they plan to...

 as the prototype protagonist of the game. Birth by Sleep was developed by Square Enix's fifth Product Development Division, based in Osaka
Osaka
is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

, the same team behind Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and uses the same graphical engine as both Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable. First released in 2007, the game is a prequel to the video game Final Fantasy VII and is also the sixth installment in metaseries Compilation of Final Fantasy VII which includes products related to the game...

and Dissidia: Final Fantasy
Dissidia: Final Fantasy
is an action RPG/fighting game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable as part of the campaign of the Final Fantasy series 20th anniversary. Information on the game was first released during the "Square Enix Party" event of May 2008...

. During development of Kingdom Hearts II, the Osaka-based team had requested to be involved in a spin-off if one were to be made. Development of the game began before the release of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+. The plot was completed, but development was halted six months after it began due to development of Re:Chain of Memories. The development team changed the platform to the PlayStation Portable
PlayStation Portable
The is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Corporation Development of the console was announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on , 2004, at a Sony press conference before E3 2004...

 so as to make use of the PSP's functions such as co-operative and competitive multiplayer gameplay. The title of the game is based on II Final Mixs secret ending, "Birth by Sleep", a title which director Tetsuya Nomura
Tetsuya Nomura
is a Japanese video game director and character designer working for Square Enix , best known for his work on both the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series.-Time before Square:Nomura was born in Kōchi, Japan...

 developed as he wanted a phrase having "by" as well as to use an English title like previous games. Nomura has referred to the game as "Episode 0" saying that the game is on the same scale and plays as big an importance as Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.

Birth by Sleep was directed by Nomura and co-directed by Tai Yasue. In 2007, Nomura mentioned a desire to create a spin-off Kingdom Hearts game on a mobile platform and for it to feature gameplay slightly different than other titles in the series. It was announced alongside Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
is an action roleplaying game developed and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS with assistance from h.a.n.d. It is the fifth installment in the best-selling Kingdom Hearts series, and serves as an interquel beginning near the end of the first game, Kingdom Hearts, and covering the period...

and Kingdom Hearts coded
Kingdom Hearts coded
is an episodic puzzle video game developed and published by Square Enix, in collaboration with the Walt Disney Internet Group for mobile phones. It is the fourth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series and is set after the events of the Kingdom Hearts II. The story focuses on a message written in...

at the Tokyo Game Show
Tokyo Game Show
The , commonly known as TGS, is a video game expo / convention held annually in the Makuhari Messe, in Chiba, Japan. It is presented by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association and the Nikkei Business Publications, Inc...

 on September 20, 2007, where a trailer was shown in a photo-prohibited theater. New trailers were shown at the 2008 Jump Festa in December 2007 and the DKΣ3713 Private party in August 2008—a playable demo was also available at DKΣ3713.

The June 5, 2009 issue of Famitsu
Famitsu
is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Enterbrain, Inc. and Tokuma. Currently, there are five Famitsū magazines: Shūkan Famitsū, Famitsū PS3 + PSP, Famitsū Xbox 360, Famitsū Wii+DS, and Famitsū Wave DVD...

covered an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, where he said that the game was, at the time, at the voice recording stage. It also speculated that the game would be showcased at Tokyo Game Show 2009. In August 2009, new Famitsu scans revealed a revamped User Interface (having been revamped twice before) as well as new worlds after a lack of news for close to a year. It was also revealed that the official names for the new enemies were the Unversed. Nomura also confirmed in an interview that Birth by Sleep would contain a secret ending like in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II for the next game
Kingdom Hearts 3D
, is an upcoming game developed and published by Square Enix exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, revealed at E3 2010. It is being created by the same development team that worked on Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, currently part of Square Enix's 1st Production Department. The game will be an entirely...

 in the Kingdom Hearts series, which he confirmed to be a main game and the one which Nomura stated would link up Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days and coded. He also confirmed that a Birth by Sleep demo would indeed be playable at the 2009 Tokyo Games Show together with a new trailer.

In early October 2009, Square Enix released their Tokyo Game Show 2009 trailer to the public on the official website. Nomura revealed that the concept of the Command Board originated from when he was in elementary school as at that time he was very fascinated with board games and even made his own; hence he wanted to incorporate a fun board game into the game. He also revealed that the name Eraqus came from an anagram of Square, and said that both Master Eraqus and Vanitas would be voiced by voice actors who are very difficult to hire. The official release date was also confirmed as being January 9, 2010.

In late October 2009, Nomura updated the official Kingdom Hearts blog, "Message from the Kingdom", with a status report about Birth by Sleep. He revealed that he was currently designing the cover art for Birth by Sleep as well as editing the staff rolls due to there being three main characters in Birth by Sleep. He also revealed that they were editing the new opening movie for the game, though he did not mention if a new opening song would be used or a previous one would be re-used like with 358/2 Days. He also noted that they were also editing the promotional video and commercials for the game at the time. As with coded and 358/2 Days, Yoko Shimomura
Yoko Shimomura
is a Japanese video game composer. She has been described as "the most famous female video game music composer in the world". She has worked in the video game music industry since graduating from Osaka College of Music in 1988...

, the series' main composer, composed the most prominent themes, while the rest was created by other composers. Like Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, Birth by Sleep uses Hikaru Utada's theme song "Hikari
Hikari (song)
is Hikaru Utada's 10th Japanese-language single , and is also her 3rd single on the Deep River album. Its release date was March 20, 2002...

" for the Japanese version and its English version, "Simple and Clean", in the overseas releases.

The game made its final public appearance before its Japanese release at Jump Festa
Jump Festa
is an annual party or exposition in Japan, all about anime and manga, sponsored by Shueisha, creators of the various Jump anthologies. New movies, manga, games, and merchandise are introduced during this event...

 2010 on December 19, 2009 where a playable demo as well as new footage from the game were present and shown. The trailer shown during the event was finally unveiled to the public on December 28, 2009 as part of an update to the official site. Like previous console titles in the series, the game contains a secret movie at the end, which had been described as being more like a "true ending" rather than a teaser for the future like previous ones. Development of the movie began in October where Nomura noted in the blog that the game would contain a teaser to the next major Kingdom Hearts game similar to the teasers Deep Dive and Birth by Sleep.

Localization


On March 16, 2010, Square Enix
Square Enix
is a Japanese video game and publishing company best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, and the action-RPG Kingdom Hearts series...

 announced the English version of Birth By Sleep, which was released on September 7, 2010 in North America, and on September 10, 2010 in Europe. The overseas version of the game contains some adjustments from the original version, such as a new difficulty setting called Critical Mode, and additional songs for the Ice Cream Beat minigame. A new boss known only as the Unknown appears in the overseas versions, as well as a new gameplay element called "Crown Stickers", which act much the same way as the Puzzle Pieces from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. The game also has an all-star voice-acting cast of returning members such as Jesse McCartney
Jesse McCartney
Jesse McCartney is an American singer-songwriter, actor and voice actor. McCartney achieved fame in the late 1990s on the daytime drama All My Children as JR Chandler. He later joined boy band Dream Street, and eventually branched out into a solo musical career...

 and James Woods
James Woods
James Howard Woods is an American film, stage and television actor. Woods is known for starring in critically acclaimed films such as Once Upon a Time in America, Salvador, Nixon, Ghosts of Mississippi, Casino, and in the television legal drama Shark. He has won three Emmy Awards, and has gained...

 as well as numerous new actors such as Willa Holland
Willa Holland
Willa Joanna Chance Holland is an American actress and fashion model. She is best known for her role as Kaitlin Cooper, Marissa Cooper's devious younger sister, on the television series The O.C.. She also appeared as Agnes Andrews on The CW series Gossip Girl...

, Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Simon Nimoy is an American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer. Nimoy's most famous role is that of Spock in the original Star Trek series , multiple films, television and video game sequels....

, and Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill
Mark Richard Hamill is an American actor, voice artist, producer, director, and writer, best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy of Star Wars. More recently, he has received acclaim for his voice work, in such roles as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, Firelord...

.

Final Mix


In early 2010, Nomura was asked in an interview if Square Enix would release an international
International version
In video games, an international version is a relocalized version of a previously released title in its native territory that has gained additional features and contents in foreign releases...

 Final Mix of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep to which he replied he would like to as he enjoyed the work from the English voice casting done in the previous games. However, he stated that one of the main reasons for the popularity of the Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts II was because it was released alongside the PlayStation 2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, so he and the staff would think on it more. In September 2010, Square Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix would be released on January 20, 2011 in Japan. Like all Final Mix releases, it combines English audio with Japanese game text and subtitles, and includes all additional features implemented in the Western versions as well as brand new content, such as a new playable secret episode. Alongside The 3rd Birthday
The 3rd Birthday
is an action role-playing game develpoed HexaDrive and published by Square Enix. The game was made for the PlayStation Portable and marks the third entry in the Parasite Eve series...

, Final Mix includes a code that allows players to obtain downloadable content for Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
is a 2011 fighting game published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable as part of the Final Fantasy series. It was developed by the company's 1st Production Department...

, with Final Mix featuring the character Cloud Strife
Cloud Strife
is a fictional character and the main protagonist in Square's role-playing game Final Fantasy VII and several of its sequels and spin-offs. His original design was created by Final Fantasy VII character designer Tetsuya Nomura...

 costume from the original Kingdom Hearts.

Reception



The game sold very well during its first two days of release with over 500,000 copies of the game sold in Japan. As of February 14, 2010 the game has sold a total of 800,551 copies of the game solely in Japan. Sales in North America and Europe have also been good, with the game taking high places in various categories. In October 2010, it was listed as the sixth bestselling video game in the United States by the NPD Group
NPD Group
The NPD Group, Inc. is a leading North American market research company. The NPD Group consistently ranks among the top 25 market research companies in the independent Honomichl Top 50 report, which the media and the research industry acknowledge as a credible source of information on the market...

.

Prior to the game's release, IGN
IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 expressed their excitement at the release of the game in 2010 having played the demo. 1UP.com
1UP.com
1UP.com is a video game website owned by IGN Entertainment, a division of News Corporation. Previously, the site was owned by Ziff Davis before being sold to UGO Entertainment in 2009....

 echoed similar statements, praising the visuals and stating it "plays better" than the previous Kingdom Hearts games. They had some complaints regarding to Ven's demo due to constant jumping. They further stated that Ven's demo gave them an idea of "how the game is going to feel", and predicted the game would improve the series. 1UP also put it on their article "Top 10 PSP Games of 2010", while Gamasutra
Gamasutra
Gamasutra is a website founded in 1997 for video game developers. It is owned and operated by UBM TechWeb , a division of United Business Media, and acts as the online sister publication to the print magazine Game Developer...

 put it in their "The Most Anticipated Games Of 2010" and "The Most-Awaited Games Of 2009: PlayStation Portable" articles. IGN featured it as nominated of 2010's "Best of E3 Award" in the category Best PSP Games. GameTrailers
GameTrailers
GameTrailers is a media website that specializes in video game related content. It provides free access to original programming , game trailers and recorded game play. Along with standard definition , many of the video clips are offered in a higher resolution .Users can upload videos, create...

 also had praise for the new title and gave it a nomination for Best PSP Game of E3 2010.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep has received positive reviews from gaming publishers. The game's average score is of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic
Metacritic
Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

 and GameRankings. The game has been highly praised by Japanese gaming magazine, Famitsu
Famitsu
is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Enterbrain, Inc. and Tokuma. Currently, there are five Famitsū magazines: Shūkan Famitsū, Famitsū PS3 + PSP, Famitsū Xbox 360, Famitsū Wii+DS, and Famitsū Wave DVD...

, which gave a score of 10/9/9/9 for a total of 37 out of 40. It praised the game's graphics and music, calling them "superb", as well as praising the wide variety of customization available to the players due to the three unique playable characters. It also praised the design of boss battles, calling them "lively and exciting". English websites have also given praise to the game with GameZone
GameZone
GameZone is an American multiplatform video game website. GameZone's daily coverage includes reviews, previews, news, hints & cheats, and editorials. Additionally, GameZone offers downloads, a child-targeted website and in association with GameStop, hosts GZGameShop, an online retailer...

 calling it "amazing title that every KH fan must play", finding it the best portable game from the series. RPGamer
RPGamer
RPGamer is a media and news website dedicated to covering computer and video game RPGs. Its coverage includes North American game news, European game news, Asian game news, gaming industry news, game reviews, game previews, hands-on game impressions, gaming conventions, game merchandise, release...

 praised the "evolution" from the gameplay ever since the series' start. PlayStation: The Official Magazine
PlayStation: The Official Magazine
PlayStation: The Official Magazine is a magazine originally known as PlayStation Magazine . After Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine was canceled, Sony Computer Entertainment announced on October 1, 2007 that PSM would become "PlayStation: The Official Magazine"...

(PSM) agreed calling the fighting system "one of the deepest, most rewarding" ones from the PSP. IGN called its battle system "unique", labelling it as the best one from all the series and having a campaign story. 1UP praised the differences between the protagonists' fighting styles with PSN comparing them with different classes of RPG characters. A common complaint has been the game's loading times, which tended to be very long depending on the PlayStation Portable's memory. Reviewers also called the game's worlds "hollow due to the lack of interaction, and also criticized the game's camera which sometimes made fights confusing. Visuals were also well received for being similar to the ones from PlayStation 2's games with praise on the design of the worlds, although a lack of details was also noted.

Sites have also praised the game's story, for its accessibility as a result of being a prequel, or that it did not bear elements from previous games that tended to confuse gamers such as the characters' identities. Critics also appreciated how the story is told from three different perspectives, which helped to give different point of views as well as expand the time the game can be played. Nevertheless, some character traits were criticized such as the similarities between Terra, Ventus and Aqua to Riku, Sora and Kairi, respectively. While Eurogamer
Eurogamer
Eurogamer is a Brighton-based website focused on video games news, reviews, previews and interviews. It is operated by Eurogamer Network Ltd., which was formed in 1999 by brothers Rupert and Nick Loman. Eurogamer has grown to become one of the most important European-based websites focused on...

 cited that the three characters had little impact to the Disney worlds' storyline, Terra's role was praised by critics for having a different style from the other storylines shown in previous games. Although the lack of Final Fantasy characters got mixed opinions, PSM thought that it helped to expand the exploration of Disney worlds, while Zack's role was found suitable by GameZone. The English casting for Birth by Sleep also received positive comments with GameTrailers
GameTrailers
GameTrailers is a media website that specializes in video game related content. It provides free access to original programming , game trailers and recorded game play. Along with standard definition , many of the video clips are offered in a higher resolution .Users can upload videos, create...

 calling it "features one of the few good English dubs in recent memory", remarking Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Simon Nimoy is an American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer. Nimoy's most famous role is that of Spock in the original Star Trek series , multiple films, television and video game sequels....

's performance. GameSpot
GameSpot
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information. The site was launched in May 1, 1996 by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purchased by ZDNet, a brand which was later purchased by CNET Networks. CBS Interactive, which...

 stated that Ventus' and Aqua's voice actor to have done a good job voicing them, but criticized Terra's as one of the worst ones from the game, most notably, when compared with other well-received actors.

IGN featured it in their "Game of the Month" from September 2010 in the PSP category. In November 2011, Sony announced Birth by Sleep would receive the "Gold Prize" for selling over 500,000 units in Japan.

Related media


An Ultimania
Ultimania
This is a list of companion books relating to games developed and published by Square Enix. Starting with Final Fantasy III, Square began publishing guide books for its games which traditionally include additional content such as developer interviews and expanded plot and setting information...

 guidebook of the game was released on March 25, 2010. Like previous games, a light novel
Light novel
A is a style of Japanese novel primarily targeting junior high and high school students . The term "light novel" is a wasei-eigo, or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. Light novels are often called or for short...

of Birth by Sleep has been written by Tomoko Kanemaki and illustrated by Shiro Amano. Its first volume, "Something Strange" was published by Square Enix on December 24, 2010, and the second - "Best Friends" - on February 24, 2011, and the third and final volume, "To the Future", on May 26, 2011. Additionally, the tracks featured in the game have been released as part of a soundtrack of three CDs including the ones from Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days and coded.

External links