358/2 Days is an interquel that begins around the time of the first game’s end, runs parallel with KH: Chain of Memories, and ends a short time before the beginning of KH II. It’s advisable to have played both KH and KH II if you’re to have any hope of following the half-assed story. If you bypass the others and pick this as your first KH experience you’ll be very, very confused. I've played both of them more than once and I was still confused.
Tetsuya Nomura was quoted as saying that if you want to know what the 358/2 means, you’ll need to finish the game. I did, and I still don’t know what it means. Finishing the game didn't answer many questions, it raised more. KH was already a convoluted mess, it didn't need this shit.
The biggest problem with the game is that it’s about Roxas. No one cares about Roxas. I'm aware that he’s supposed to be defined by his lack of personality, but that doesn't give the player anything to connect with. Being Roxas is as dull as licking magnolia paint... in the dark.
You’ll visit familiar worlds and see familiar faces, but once there missions are tedious. Kill Heartless. Collect hearts. Kill Heartless. Collect hearts.
Happily, there are some positives. The gameplay is polished and the controls are responsive. There are a lot of different moves mapped to the DS’s limited number of buttons. There’s even some doubling-up, so it’ll take a while to be able to effectively replenish your Limit (powerful attack), use items or cast magic if you haven’t got what you need assigned to a short-cut.
There’s something called a Panel System that lets you customise your weapon, armour, magic, items, abilities and character level if you have the appropriate slot filler. During missions you can use only the items, spells, etc, that you equipped on your panels prior to setting out. You’ll have to think carefully about what to position where, because things are shaped like Tetris blocks.
As you progress your panel will get larger enabling more items to be attached. It’s an interesting if occasionally frustrating system.
I'm constantly amazed at the visual splendour that devs like Ninty and Square are able to squeeze into such a small screen; it really is beautiful to look at, but I see no reason why it was exclusive to the DS. I didn't use the stylus once. It could easily have been ported to the PSP.
One tip: Before you go for the final boss battle, make sure you've plenty of battery power, because it’ll be a long time before you can save your game.
2½ ice creams out of 5