The Kingdom Hearts series has what many thought would be a ridiculous premise; A crossover mash-up of Disney characters and those of Final Fantasy. It is in some ways very ridiculous, but it works if the player just lets it play out. Birth By Sleep is the prequel entry in the series, taking place 10 years prior to the first game. It follows the 3 main protagonists in separate, but concurrent journeys going through different Disney worlds to battle the forces of darkness which manifests as varying monsters called the Unversed.
The combat is smooth action with a touch of RPG leveling that is very satisfying at times, but may be a little daunting for new players as there are a myriad of options and menus to navigate to make the combat effective. There is the command deck that must be stocked with commands akin to the card system of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (slightly streamlined), the action commands that are used outside of battle and the shotlock command which can only be used with the focus gauge. Players have up to 3 decks that can be modified to suit different situations. All these commands also themselves level up and can be melded together to form new commands and modified with crystals to give various equip-able abilities. There is also the Dimension Link which allows players to use the commands of various characters they encounter along their journey as well as the command board which is a minigame that lets players level up their commands in a monopoly-type board game. It's a lot to take in, but with practice the battles become even more exciting and engaging.
Cons are a somewhat easy difficulty even on the harder settings since it is very easy to spam all the options listed above until they recharge which works even on bosses. This entry hardly features any Final Fantasy characters and despite 3 different character stories to go through, is rather short. But a lot is packed into such a small portable package with some excellent animation and voice work (mostly) as I suppose it should be given Disney is an animation studio. The multiplayer is ad-hoc wireless only, but has both competitive and co-op modes and can support up to six players. A wonderful entry in the series that shows the series' progression and yet is still familiar.
Available for PSP on both UMD and PSN.
4 spoilers given away in the opening animation out of 5