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Does DDD actually have the best story-telling in the franchise?



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Clue.Less

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Or "Thoughts on how game mechanics and story-telling are organically related in Dream Drop Distance:)

Or "Gushing about the Drop System" :D

That was a click-bait title. I actually don't care which game has the best or worst story-telling. I just thought DDD needed more love and appreciation.

SoraDDDGottaWakeUp.jpg

I should preface this by saying that I’m one of those PS2 KH fans who refused to buy new consoles and waited for the PS4 re-releases to play through the whole series, which I did a couple months ago. So I’ve only played the games that are playable on the PS4 and I'm trying to get a sense of the other games on YouTube, which is not ideal.

Anyway, going through the whole series in sequence and in just a few weeks, I was mind-blown by Dream Drop Distance. The story/journey was emotionally fulfilling and gripping and creatively inspiring however annoying and faulty the plot was at times. To me it felt like a perfected form of some gameplay and story-telling ideas developed in the previous installments mixed with some design experimentation. I want to focus on story-telling, because of how much hate it gets. Here’s how I see it:

RikuSDGCoMStairs.jpg

  • KH1: You play Sora from start to finish, and get occasional cut scenes that show what Riku and the antagonists are up to in the meantime.
  • CoM: Sora’s storyline from start to finish with cut scenes to what the antagonists are up to. Then you unlock Riku’s storyline, and it's playable. Nice.
  • KH2: Who the hell is Roxas? Then back to playable Sora with occasional cuts to the antagonists and what Kairi is up to. And at the very end you get Sora and Riku as a team, with 10 seconds of playable Riku to keep you on your toes.
  • Coded: haven’t played it.
  • Days: haven’t played it, just watched the PS4 movie; currently trying to figure out how it works in terms of POV switching (pacing and player’s choices).
  • BBS: You play through one character’s storyline/POV from start to finish, then the next, and the full story is all these arcs combined in your memory. What I found beautiful and new in BBS was how each part of the Disney worlds and Disney storylines matched the playable character’s personality and struggles (like Terra interacting with the villains, Ven interacting with the mice and dwarfs, playable girl 💕 getting all the princess-saving bits 💕). I wonder how it would have felt if we’d been able to switch from one storyline to the other freely, at any point of the character arcs?
  • DDD: Two playable characters in a way that's thematically similar to CoM (Sora and Riku moving through the same space in parallel—separate—journeys, never meeting) and BBS (in the way the Disney worlds are written: the protagonists go through the same worlds and yet their experiences are very different) except the game prevents you from going to the end of the story with Sora or Riku first, then with the other; the two have to move along at the same pace (so it’s like KH1, except everything is playable) + typical cut scenes to "other relevant plot stuff and people" (Lea, and MDG at Yen Sid's; and flashbacks to before the start of the journey), and everything and everyone eventually comes together for the big reveal.
So then the challenge in DDD, as Nomura said in the KH3D Ultimania interview, was how to deliver two simultaneous playable POVs, to make it feel like one whole story and not just two separate journeys, and then, to what extent should the player be able to control the pace of that journey and the switching back and forth?

What I found particularly inspiring and brilliant was how they ended up turning an editing technique (aka a story-telling device) into a game mechanic (the Drop System), in a way that—at least in the way I played it—had a tremendous payoff when I reached The World That Never Was.

From what I’ve read, people usually comment on general KH plot and flaws when discussing story-telling in DDD, and how annoying the Drop System is as a game mechanic, and what’s the point of having it, if there are ways to circumvent it? But I haven’t seen anyone comment on how a game feature could shape the story-telling in such a deep (and poetic?) way.

The introduction of the Drop feature in Traverse Town had me pause and think about how I wanted to experience the game, since I had options (options! \o/). I could find ways to play through each world relatively linearly with one character then the next if I really wanted to—which is how Gamer’s Little Playground chose to edit the five hours of cut scenes, but I feel like we lose so much of the experience in the process—; I could have Sora and Riku take separate paths and explore different worlds at the same given time; I could include cheating the Drop system in my strategies, or I could submit to it; in any case, I had to figure out ways to make the forced switches as little uncomfortable as possible, to avoid unexpected Drops in the middle of boss fights ( ;) ), and to make sure I was able to remember where I was and what I was doing when I came back to.

How is this not cruel and brilliant, in the context of the plot?

This is an installment that takes place in Dream worlds, the constant shifts are confusing and migraine-inducing but they are also powerfully effective to make you experience the characters’ disorientation as Riku gradually realizes something is not right, but he can only keep moving and see what happens, and Sora keeps encountering black coats from various pasts who do their best to make him lose his mind. Also it really makes you feel the boys’ struggle to exercise some measure of control on a course of events that is clearly beyond their control.

So I chose to see how the story would play out if I lazily followed the pace set by the depleting gauge (never used a Drop-me-not) and roughly kept Sora and Riku on the same "timelines" in the same worlds:
  • I LOVED how watching similar scenes back to back in the Disney worlds highlighted differences between Riku and Sora. Dropping back and forth during the Grid world especially, added hilarious contrasts (how Riku and Sora react to the approaching patrol at the beginning of the world) and a bit of suspense and separation-frustration to a subplot that I didn’t particularly care about in itself. The interactions with Quasimodo and Esmeralda were also very well-written and moving in my opinion (Riku actually develops something deeper with these characters than Sora does).
  • When it became increasingly frustrating that they were going to be apart for the whole game AGAIN, I became overly invested in using the Drop system as a symbolic-but-actually-very-concrete link between Sora and Riku. I loved that you could throw bonuses and abilities to your friend across the distance and I made a ridiculous point of having the Drop occur right before each boss, after having used every second of the allotted time to collect as many drops as I could to HELP MY FRIEND IN HIS FIGHT. “He’s here with me,” dammit. 😂
  • THE WORLD THAT NEVER WAS: Forced Dropping brought the experience of that part of the story to a whole new level. I could feel a race against time and unescapable doom like I’d never felt it before.
    Spoiler Spoiler Show
    This kind of cross-cutting in an action movie usually only lasts a few minutes, but here (because I was also aiming for trophies) I was kept in heart-pounding suspense for literal hours.
  • And then,
    Spoiler Spoiler Show

I have so much more to say about this game that I found wonderful (level-design, flow motion, dream architecture—those moving buildings were absolutely terrifying when you think about it) and there is a number of things I didn’t like of course (having to interrupt “Sacred Distance” to hear the fkapzhiqfnqbfqiuef Dream Eaters menu music), but I wanted to share these specific thoughts and ask you guys about how you experienced the game and story, particularly in how it delivered the theme of being separated from your friends and trying to reunite with them, which is the quintessential KH story.

There’s already a very interesting thread on how the KH3D plot is told (thank you so much @Grono for opening up this discussion), and I have to say, I've have had enough of the flood of complaints about time-travel (DDD to me was a powerful character-development story—the Xehanort aspect was like 10% of the story content? there's so much more to DDD than that); that's not the "story-telling" I want to discuss in this thread.

How did you deal with the forced Drops? How did it make you feel? How annoying (or fun? interesting?) was it in terms of flow and continuity? Did you approach things differently if you’ve played it several times? Is the experience different on a hand-held console while commuting and on the PS4 with plenty of time?

Do you like switching between characters during a game or do you prefer the BBS story-telling? Do you want to choose when to switch or do you want the director to set the pace (like in FFVIIR, or even KH3 to some extent, if the playable Riku/Aqua moments were extended)?

Are there games that handled the POV switch (or suspenseful cross-cutting) better than DDD or BBS in your experience? My bets and hopes are on Arkane’s Deathloop.

How does character switching work in Days?

In my opinion, when the story of a game can be told in a cut scene compilation, it’s bad narrative design. There are so many well-written books, movies and shows that you can enjoy passively, I want something different for video games. Story and gameplay shouldn't be separate. Nomura wanted the Drop System to provide an extra thrill, and it worked for me, particularly in The World That Never Was. It made artistic sense in this game which was a build-up to KH3, a nightmarish mind-trap for Sora, and an exploration of Riku’s role in relation to Sora. I don't want it back, but I am very happy it was imagined and made. I want Nomura to come up with something new and intriguing for the future.

KH3SecretEnding_Edited_Moment.jpg
 
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Dast

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I think that the Drop system worked well for the game and I preferred it to having separate save files for each character like BBS where you had to work harder to imagine the three journeys as part of one whole story.

I liked the little ways Sora and Riku were able to effect each other's worlds and it was nice touch that it gave an explanation as to how the two sides weren't running side by side chronologically so the non-sensical interactions made a sort of sense.

I really enjoyed the story-telling in DDD and am glad some other people feel the same. It's funny because just this morning I was considering writing a thread asking why everyone seemed to hate this game so much when I really enjoyed it too (like you I have only played everything post-KH2 on the PS4).
 

Clue.Less

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I think that the Drop system worked well for the game and I preferred it to having separate save files for each character like BBS where you had to work harder to imagine the three journeys as part of one whole story.

I liked the little ways Sora and Riku were able to effect each other's worlds and it was nice touch that it gave an explanation as to how the two sides weren't running side by side chronologically so the non-sensical interactions made a sort of sense.

I really enjoyed the story-telling in DDD and am glad some other people feel the same. It's funny because just this morning I was considering writing a thread asking why everyone seemed to hate this game so much when I really enjoyed it too (like you I have only played everything post-KH2 on the PS4).
Yea, I loved the intention in BBS but I had a hard time piecing it together at times. In DDD, the set up could have been improved (see the thread I referenced) but once you understand they aren't in fact in the same worlds AND time flows differently, you sort of don't need the journey(s) to make sense beyond the poetic and emotional implications; but then it also makes sense anyway. Getting lost and finding your own bearings is a plot point / central theme in DDD, so I was happy going along for the crazy ride. And it's so nice when they do find small ways to effect each other's worlds somehow.

I'm glad other people like this game too! Do start a thread asking about all the little things that are great in DDD instead.^^


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Ok, that makes sense
;) ;) ;)
 

Face My Fears

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I hated the drop system so much. I would be in a boss fight and it would drop me to someone else. I haven't played DDD in a while but I just remember doing the full story of one character, then doing the other because the random drops during the game was so annoying. I would intentionally drop back to the character that I was to finish their story, then complete the other one. Maybe if it wasn't a stupid timer I wouldn't have despised it. Like if reaching a certain point in Sora's story would then trigger me to use Riku until I reached a certain part in his.
 

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  • BBS: You play through one character’s storyline/POV from start to finish, then the next, and the full story is all these arcs combined in your memory. What I found beautiful and new in BBS was how each part of the Disney worlds and Disney storylines matched the playable character’s personality and struggles (like Terra interacting with the villains, Ven interacting with the mice and dwarfs, playable girl 💕 getting all the princess-saving bits 💕). I wonder how it would have felt if we’d been able to switch from one storyline to the other freely, at any point of the character arcs?
Well Actually:^) Terra meets the least Disney characters and Aqua meets the most while Ventus is balanced between the two, Ventus in a Disney world meets the main Characters the Main Villains and the side characters, but he also has the best interactions with the Disney characters cause they actually talk with him and form a bond compared to terra and Aqua which from what I saw most of the time they just go in a world meet the disney characters and say few words then they leave, Ventus on the other Hand creates bond with every Disney world he visits it’s just like Sora story in a way.
 

Clue.Less

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I hated the drop system so much. I would be in a boss fight and it would drop me to someone else.
Did you find it annoying from the start, because it broke the flow of the story at random times, or did you hate it after your first boss incident? Is it trickier to not Drop in the middle of a boss fight on Critical mode since you deal less damage?

I only played Standard and used most of my bonuses to buy more time to the other character, so it always felt pretty comfortable, never had issues with boss fights, and the pacing from scene to scene was nice. And I would intentionally Drop, or do some grinding until the end of the timer, when it made sense to me in terms of story beats or level exploration (or right before boss fights).

Then in The World That Never Was I'd deliberately push the characters into sticky situations with brutal random Drops and waking up in the middle of swarms of monsters and having to run the hell away because you can’t fight back right away. I thought it was fun...

Maybe if it wasn't a stupid timer I wouldn't have despised it. Like if reaching a certain point in Sora's story would then trigger me to use Riku until I reached a certain part in his.
That would probably have made the story less jagged I suppose. But then you wouldn’t be able to choose when to switch characters.

I had a fantasy of the Drops occurring when you walk through a door or change maps in the level, like in KH1 when each time Sora pushes a door in Traverse Town you get a short cut-scene of Donald and Goofy entering the area he's just left through a different door, but they don't cross paths until the end of the "chapter". I'd like some randomness or element of surprise, too, though. I’m all for dreamy confusion and unexpected “occasional crossovers”.
 

Face My Fears

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Did you find it annoying from the start, because it broke the flow of the story at random times, or did you hate it after your first boss incident? Is it trickier to not Drop in the middle of a boss fight on Critical mode since you deal less damage?

I only played Standard and used most of my bonuses to buy more time to the other character, so it always felt pretty comfortable, never had issues with boss fights, and the pacing from scene to scene was nice. And I would intentionally Drop, or do some grinding until the end of the timer, when it made sense to me in terms of story beats or level exploration (or right before boss fights).

Then in The World That Never Was I'd deliberately push the characters into sticky situations with brutal random Drops and waking up in the middle of swarms of monsters and having to run the hell away because you can’t fight back right away. I thought it was fun...


That would probably have made the story less jagged I suppose. But then you wouldn’t be able to choose when to switch characters.

I had a fantasy of the Drops occurring when you walk through a door or change maps in the level, like in KH1 when each time Sora pushes a door in Traverse Town you get a short cut-scene of Donald and Goofy entering the area he's just left through a different door, but they don't cross paths until the end of the "chapter". I'd like some randomness or element of surprise, too, though. I’m all for dreamy confusion and unexpected “occasional crossovers”.
I found the Drop system annoying from the start. They should leave the option to switch between Sora/Riku, but having it timed and forced upon you is what I hated. I wouldn't mind if you reach a certain point as a character, then you were forced to switch. But being forced to switch during a boss fight is just dumb.
 

Dast

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I found the Drop system annoying from the start. They should leave the option to switch between Sora/Riku, but having it timed and forced upon you is what I hated. I wouldn't mind if you reach a certain point as a character, then you were forced to switch. But being forced to switch during a boss fight is just dumb.
In general I liked that you would drop during gameplay and be kept on your toes but I agree being switched during boss fights was very annoying and I think they should have made it so you wouldn't drop until you had actually finished the battle.
 

ShardofTruth

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How did you deal with the forced Drops? How did it make you feel? How annoying (or fun? interesting?) was it in terms of flow and continuity? Did you approach things differently if you’ve played it several times? Is the experience different on a hand-held console while commuting and on the PS4 with plenty of time?
I didn't really mind the drops much, there are some bad situations where it could happen (e.g. boss fights) but on the whole it wasn't a deal breaker to me.
What I really, really don't like about this game is how we are forced through the shallow Disney stories two times with only slight differences. I don't think these stories were really any better in BBS, but at least you had some progression playing them with all three characters. DDD is just repeats them for each character, so instead we have two slightly different abridged versions which become absolutely nonsensical at times because of it. The only Disney worlds were this worked was Symphony of Sorcery and kind of in Pranksters Paradise, because here we get completly separate areas and a completely different segment of the plot.
 

NoWay

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I have never understood why everyone has got a problem with the Drop system. I mean the game literally gives you an item to delay the drop from the beginning. I always drop when I want to play the other character. And before the boss fight I always use the item 2 times just to be sure. (I don’t know the name in English because I play the games in German).

I mean you can literally control when to drop (except of the two obligatory drops in Traverse Town in the beginning).
 

Keyblade07

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I have never understood why everyone has got a problem with the Drop system. I mean the game literally gives you an item to delay the drop from the beginning. I always drop when I want to play the other character. And before the boss fight I always use the item 2 times just to be sure. (I don’t know the name in English because I play the games in German).

I mean you can literally control when to drop (except of the two obligatory drops in Traverse Town in the beginning).
I don’t hate it that much, but I do hate it when I drop in the middle of a boss fight specially when I dealt soo much damage.
 

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I don’t hate it that much, but I do hate it when I drop in the middle of a boss fight specially when I dealt soo much damage.
But why don’t you use the item Drop-Me-Not? (I hope it’s the correct name)
This solves the problem. I always use this before beginning a boss fight in DDD..
 

Keyblade07

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But why don’t you use the item Drop-Me-Not? (I hope it’s the correct name)
This solves the problem. I always use this before beginning a boss fight in DDD..
because we are humans😂 we forget, and not everyone knows about the “drop me not” when they first play the game.
 

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I think 3DS was definitely a fun title with some cool exploits in the plot and all (the prospect of 13 Xehanorts (which 3 burned me in [I wanted Kid Xehanort, Pre-Teen Xehanort, Angsty-Teen Xehanort (got), Awkward Early Adult Xehanort etc.]) as well as the whole Mark of Mastery Exam and interacting with some past characters from past titles). And Flowmotion was a lot of fun to play with in and out of battle (I mean, what do you do when you're out of ideas for a new game? Add parkour and Pokemon [that part I didn't enjoy, they didn't feel like genuine party members]). But there were some problems with it that while you COULD explain the plot through a wiki or a DM with someone on a forum, there were too many things that just didn't make sense to even a seasoned player at first, like Sora & Riku being in the RoS, and then popping up in the real world with their RoS clothes on (I know I had to look that one up). Also, how Riku interacted with Sora reality despite being in his dream (the whole explanation being that RoS is cooky and unstable in terms of reality, but I feel they could have done better). In my opinion, and given that it's only because it's new gen. KH3 is the best in terms of battle gameplay (it needs a few tweaks but it incorporated a lot of fan favourites [including flowmotion and Dream Eater Link]). For story, I gotta go with KH2; it was complicated at first, but then it all slowly came together, despite some obvious questions, but that's what made us look forward to the next one. The WORST gameplay by far was CoM, and the worst plot was Coded.
 

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I don't mind character switches, although I think I'd have enjoyed deciding exactly when I would go over when I went over to the other character. I'd almost say I prefer to play one character's whole playthrough first and then the other's second, but that's not really true. BbS was such a slog, even though three characters sounded really fun in theory. Riku's side of CoM was similarly boring--but that was mostly because nothing happened in the worlds he went to... No, I think 3D did it much better than BbS by having you switch off instead of starting over and re-playing a game a second time with a different character because there's less distance. By that I mean, you get to see all the scenes that happen in a world close together even if it is with two different characters, whereas in BbS, by the time you play the third character's scenario, it's hard to even remember the events from the scenario of the first character you played as clearly.
 

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The Drop system is only an issue in Traverse Town when you begin. Afterward you can easily buy Drop-Me-Nots for a reasonable price.
Fun fact in takes less than 1 minute to go to the menu, add the item, exit, use it, go back and replace it for another command. I know because I timed it on both my first generation 3DS and decrepit PS4. Like any game, you can play it however you want but its kinda silly to rip on the game when it provides the tools necessary to avoid a core mechanic.

I mean most players save and stock up before boss fights? Why not use a Drop-Me-Not?
 

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I didn't care for the auto switching. Personally, I pretty much always chose when I wanted to switch so I think I only got switched mid boss battle once (screw that floating flower ape thing)

The problem I have with DDD is the same one I have with BbS. Why make them go to all the same worlds? Would it not be easier to maybe have them share 1 or two worlds and then the rest of the are separate?

DDD worked in a weird excuse for the same worlds (Riku being Sora's dream eater in Sora's dream), one of the many excuses I feel like the game didn't need. What bothers me THE most about DDD is the unnecessary time travel. I'll never get over it.

We've had examples of time travel in the series before. Strange doors that traverse time and can affect the future. Why notttt stick with that? Why did Nomura draw up this weirdo "Ok so you gotta leave your body behind and then use clones to store your heart but eventually you have to go back in time anyway and you'll forget everything, but also you can't even change the past or future so the time travel is pretty irrelevant and yet it obviously DOES affect the timeline no matter how much we say it doesn't so there's that."

Just write up this cool plot where Xehanort/Xemnas/Ansem or whoever found or created this super cool fantasy doors of doom that he can control to move him backward and forward in time, just like the Timeless River doors? There can still be weird data scifi elements with that. Could work great with the whole book and data concept too. Sticks with the themes of doors. Sora and team could even revisit pst events from a new perspective! (and not in a CoD or Coded way where it's a rerun of past events) Sora and team trying to trace where the doors are to destroy/lock them? Maleficent trying to butt in and mess things up? What an awesome subplot --> main plot transition that would've been (just like Pooh's book is to the whole data worlds situation)

Why go through the trouble of bringing back your old selves, just make more clones, let them develop an identity, and go from there? I mean, I know Xion broke her leash multiple times but you still tried to use her in the end anyway soooo?

I know many people place BbS as the start of convoluted plot, but for me, it starts with DDD. Not necessarily because of how the plot presents itself (splitting the story between two people), but because of unnecessary story elements when they could've just used already existing ones. I can't think of anything in Birth by Sleep that was a brand new concept/idea except the idea of "Keyblade school", keyblade armor, Vanitas, and Old fart Xehanort as the true main villain. And none of those elements require deep thought, they're just supplementing things we already know (except Vanitas maybe?)

To this day I still struggle with Nomura's rules of time travel. I've accepted that KH is "soft magic", but it bothers me that he spends long cutscenes trying to explain how things work and then one game later those rules don't even matter or become even more complicated.
 

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What I really, really don't like about this game is how we are forced through the shallow Disney stories two times with only slight differences. I don't think these stories were really any better in BBS, but at least you had some progression playing them with all three characters. DDD is just repeats them for each character, so instead we have two slightly different abridged versions which become absolutely nonsensical at times because of it. The only Disney worlds were this worked was Symphony of Sorcery and kind of in Pranksters Paradise, because here we get completly separate areas and a completely different segment of the plot.
This is what really gets me thinking about story-telling and why I was curious to see how the narrative would make sense if I let the game dictate the switches. City of Bells was confusing to me because it was hard to remember where Phoebus was at in the subplot. If/when I play DDD again I want to try sending them to different worlds (is it possible? I think it is) to see if it makes the subplots easier to follow.

I agree that Symphony of Sorcery and Pranksters Paradise worked the best. I found Sora's Pranksters Paradise part watered down compared to the Disney original :( but the choices of segments they made in relation to both their characters were very good and beautiful. I wish all worlds had worked as well as they were all written with the same intent.

I did find the abridged Hunchback of Notre-Dame storylines to be quite interesting both psychologically and as commentaries on the source material. Just take the different ways in which Frollo dies at the end of each version—in Sora's arc, Frollo dies because the gargoyle breaks under him as he tries to kill Quasimodo (aka accidental death as fateful punishment, and the good guys are like "phew that was close"), in Riku's arc it's a little more metaphorical/philosophical/abstract as his destructive intent (aka darkness) consumes him and he falls backwards into the fire without seeming to notice or care (aka taking the wrong path brings about your own destruction and the good guy is a witness who understands the moral lesson) and I don't think Quasimodo is even present in the scene? Both takes are part of the original story but they've picked them apart to match Sora and Riku's different story styles. Also, those subplots are mini-versions of the overall plot that set the tone and message really well. I mean, it shows how they don't just throw a ready-made Disney subplot into the main story without tailoring it so it contributes to the game's story.

But there were some problems with it that while you COULD explain the plot through a wiki or a DM with someone on a forum, there were too many things that just didn't make sense to even a seasoned player at first, like Sora & Riku being in the RoS, and then popping up in the real world with their RoS clothes on (I know I had to look that one up). Also, how Riku interacted with Sora reality despite being in his dream (the whole explanation being that RoS is cooky and unstable in terms of reality, but I feel they could have done better).
Yes, the plot was so complex, they should have spent more time walking us through it IN the game. Especially the entering the Realm of Sleep part and why the f*** were there two separate versions? I still don't understand WHERE they are...

Did Riku really interact with Sora's reality that much? I only remember it happening in Traverse Town (where they use a portal), Symphony of Sorcery (where it's something like hearts tuned to each other) and The world that never was (Sleeping Sora hear's Riku's voice because he's right there next to him).

I don't mind character switches, although I think I'd have enjoyed deciding exactly when I would go over when I went over to the other character. I'd almost say I prefer to play one character's whole playthrough first and then the other's second, but that's not really true. BbS was such a slog, even though three characters sounded really fun in theory. Riku's side of CoM was similarly boring--but that was mostly because nothing happened in the worlds he went to... No, I think 3D did it much better than BbS by having you switch off instead of starting over and re-playing a game a second time with a different character because there's less distance. By that I mean, you get to see all the scenes that happen in a world close together even if it is with two different characters, whereas in BbS, by the time you play the third character's scenario, it's hard to even remember the events from the scenario of the first character you played as clearly.
Yes to all this. Also, "really fun in theory" 'but hit-or-miss in the execution' is how I would describe their narrative intentions in BBS and DDD, more so in BBS than in DDD, but still. I love what they were trying to do, but the final product didn't quite work from the user's perspective.

Like any game, you can play it however you want but its kinda silly to rip on the game when it provides the tools necessary to avoid a core mechanic.

I mean most players save and stock up before boss fights? Why not use a Drop-Me-Not?
There are so many ways to avoid dropping in the middle of a boss fight... there's real room to choose how to play, when to drop, etc. They're just toying with you if you try to run head first into danger. (I got the same feeling with FFVIIR, by the way: replenish your HP/MP bars at all times or you'll learn to the hard way XD)

How is this more outrageous than regular game overs? Or in platform games when you have to get the hell out of a level within a time limit?

In general I liked that you would drop during gameplay and be kept on your toes but I agree being switched during boss fights was very annoying and I think they should have made it so you wouldn't drop until you had actually finished the battle.
When you sleep, reality doesn't usually wait for you to finish your dream before waking you up. It wouldn't make sense to make an exception to the mechanic for boss fights. I like that the game makes it a little bit of a struggle to make sure you don't switch before you've finished whatever it is you were doing, kind of like when you are chasing a dream.

I didn't care for the auto switching. Personally, I pretty much always chose when I wanted to switch so I think I only got switched mid boss battle once (screw that floating flower ape thing)
Hahaha. I share the sentiment... about the f***ing musical bird in my case.

The problem I have with DDD is the same one I have with BbS. Why make them go to all the same worlds? Would it not be easier to maybe have them share 1 or two worlds and then the rest of the are separate?
I like to see different characters' perspectives and experiences in the same worlds (I wish they'd done more to show us Riku's KH1 experience in Hollow Bastion as he revisits his memories of the place in CoM, I loved seeing he had a room there. To me, the Monstro part in DDD was the CoM Monstro part done well, as it really brings up Riku's KH1 actions and give him an opportunity to make things right.) but having them go to ALL the same worlds in BBS is part of why it didn't work in the end, I think. There wasn't enough flexibility and it increased their odds of inconsistencies as everything had to make perfect chronological sense (in DDD they didn't have to). The whole thing felt forced at times. Make Disney Town optional for Aqua (make Disney Town optional, period...), and Ven can miss out on the intergalactic spaceship so the sequence of events would be less tricky to follow.

Maybe in future games they'll have Riku and Kairi visit separate worlds?
 

Clue.Less

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Just write up this cool plot where Xehanort/Xemnas/Ansem or whoever found or created this super cool fantasy doors of doom that he can control to move him backward and forward in time, just like the Timeless River doors?
Your whole take on the time-travel BS is interesting! (Although I like the concept of vessels more than doors for time-travel because it spins the themes of deja-vu, intuition, and also how hearts and bodies are things you can take apart and put back together in the KH universe). What I didn't like is that it felt like a half-baked Harry Potter Horcrux rip off.) I need to think about it and maybe change my mind!

In terms of how it was introduced in DDD, it felt so anecdotical that I view it as some KH numbered-games plot thrown at the end and I don't really pay attention to it. I summed it up as "bad guys want to kidnap and use Sora again, I don't care why". It doesn't affect my experience of that particular game, which is all about Riku's growth.
 
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