The word “spinoff” never fitted very well in the world of Kingdom Hearts — only three games in the series have big numbers at the end of their titles, but that doesn’t mean the rest can be skipped. Every story, no matter how insignificant it may seem, must be experienced in some way in order to fully understand the franchise’s narrative. That only makes it more frustrating than one of the most compelling Kingdom Hearts Stories is currently only accessible in its worst form.
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 daysan entry is made between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, was originally released on the Nintendo DS. The game follows the story of Roxas, the series protagonist of Sora’s “Nobody”, which basically means a clone without a heart. Roxas is one of the most interesting characters in Kingdom Hearts Kanon, born during Sora’s minute-long stay as a Heartless near the end of Kingdom Hearts. Since Sora is one of the few people in the game’s world to revert to his human form after becoming a Heartless, Roxas isn’t really meant to exist. No one is already a little existentially confused, but Roxas’ place in the universe is uniquely chaotic.
358/2 days is a deeply immersive video game that weaves together a narrative that explores Roxa’s emotional journey into the person he eventually becomes Kingdom Hearts 2. Like everyone Kingdom Hearts In the game, it sees its hero bouncing between various Disney properties, and uses those excursions to explore some deeply existential questions about humanity. 358/2 days however, is not a deeply compelling film.
That Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Disc released for PlayStation 3 contains the currently most accessible version of 358/2 days: A nearly three-hour long film that includes some of the key cutscenes from the original DS game. It’s, in simple terms, an absolute mess. The pace of the original 358/2 days is dependent on lengthy game-oriented missions that simply aren’t present in the movie. Most of the missions have been broken down into short interludes of three or four sentences that take about ten seconds to read. The result of this decision is an incredibly slow experience.
events in 358/2 days Movie just happens. With much of the action taking place during conspicuous missing gameplay sequences, it’s difficult to draw a line between the events of the title. Characters leave the story and then immediately reappear in sequences clearly intended to bring relief to the audience, but leave viewers scratching their heads instead. It’s amazing, and not just in a creative, charming way Kingdom Hearts is mostly confusing.
Video games are not structurally intended to be films. There’s a reason film adaptations of video games have been so widely maligned in the past, and there’s a reason it is Aladdin on the Sega Genesis isn’t quite as popular as Aladdin on VHS. They’re different mediums with different strengths, and nowhere is that more evident than in the deeply unsatisfying narrative experience that’s watching Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 days.