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Kingdom Hearts 3D: The best entry in the series for years

Why Dream Drop Distance should be on your radar...

The new issue of Nintendo Gamer is on sale now.

Happy Anniversary, Kingdom Hearts! We got you... er... some of those sea-salt ice creams you're always making people eat, and a giant keyring for your many keyblades. Inreturn we're getting a fully-fledged side-spin-off-sequel - not a bad trade-off, considering the last outing was a pointless remake of a mobile phone game.

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Dream Drop Distance sees keyblade-wielders Sora and Riku (the Luke and Anakin of KH's convoluted universe) finally embarking upon their Jedi training - sorry, their keyblade mastery exams. Until now, they've been waving them about willy nilly, and all they have to show for it is saving the world/s from annihilation several times. Enter Yen Sid (the dude from Fantasia), who promises to mould them into keyblade savants, just like he did with their increasingly bald nemesis, Ansem.

Oops. It seems, much like the Force, the power of the keyblade has a dark side as well. Ansem/Xehanort/whatever he's calling himself these days uses his giant key for evil - perhaps he opens bank vaults or fastens front doors without consent - and considering the direction the story seems to be heading, we wouldn't be surprised to find teen renegade Riku drifting the same way.

In the meantime, he's on the side of good, helping Sora defeat the weird Dream Eaters that have begun to spring up around the multiverse. These '90s rave-themed animals come in good and evil forms, the former acting as the pair's AI allies throughout.

We've banged on about the Dream Eaters in exhausting detail before, but they really are the heart of Kingdom's combat. This being a handheld Square Enix title, you will of course be able to customise their appearance and rub their neon bellies for good luck, but their main use is in providing ultra-damaging Link attacks during battle. We teamed up with a sort of bear-thing to bounce on other Dream Eaters; we did a rhythm-based dance routine with a kaleidoscopic unicorn; we even combined the two and had a go on a giant space-hopper as a reward.

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FIELD OF DREAMS

These team-up attacks are essential to the flow of combat, not just because they're brilliantly ridiculous to witness - for all its convoluted emo nonsense, or perhaps because of it, Kingdom Hearts is a gloriouslymad series - but because hitting them to death with your keyblade takes an age. It's also a very good way to get killed; the duller the attack, the less damage it dishes out.

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