Disney and Square Enix designers must be high-fiving each other for taking a risk ten years ago and going ahead with one of the most insane mash-ups of video game worlds in history.
We have no idea why throwing Mickey Mouse et al into a Final Fantasy environment works so well, but we commend the Kingdom Hearts team for taking the initial risk - especially in an industry that plays it safe most of the time.
Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] continues the saga, throwing even more innovation into the mix with some gorgeous ideas that manage to embody what the Kingdom Hearts series has given us over the last decade.
See if this Flow-ts your boat
Series favourites Sora and Riku once again take centre stage, although they're now in different dimensions. Each must work his way through seven worlds, solving parallel problems and stitching the universe back up at the seams.
With Keyblade in hand, the duo must blast their way through these worlds, smashing evil Dream-Eaters in the face and solving mysteries while bumping into a variety of classic Disney and Square Enix characters along the way.
The usual hack 'n' slash battling has been given a new injection of life in the form of Flowmotion, a rather wonderful combo system.
Run against a wall, against a lamppost, or around one of the larger enemies and Flowmotion will activate, putting the game into slow-motion and allowing you to pull off some gratifyingly slick attacks.
This not only feels great but it streamlines the somewhat generic battling wonderfully. Taking down the larger enemies in particular is great, as you spin around them a few times before launching them against a nearby wall.
Drop it like it's hot
Another great and innovative addition is the Drop system. A Drop bar in the corner of the screen very slowly depletes, and once it's empty your character is suspended in a dream state.
The action then flips over to the other character and his storyline, essentially forcing you to play through both stories simultaneously rather than focusing on just one.
At first it can be a little annoying - especially when you're Dropped just as you're about to complete a long and arduous boss battle. However, once you get into the flow of Dropping and realise that you can Drop yourself if you think it's necessary, you come to understand how clever the system is.
In fact, much of [Dream Drop Distance] is about keeping the variety fresh. Special abilities, for example, need to cool down after you've used them, forcing you to try lots of different moves rather than sticking with tried-and-tested ones.
Back to reality
It's a very good thing that this enforcement is in place, too, as there's so much content to explore that it would be a shame not to see it all.
Reality Shift mode uses the touchscreen every now and again to manipulate objects on the screen, while a whole collectible card game and an AR Nintendogs-style game are packed into this meaty title. You're going to need many, many hours to see it all the way through.
It's a bit cheeky that you're forced to essentially play through the same content twice over - once with each character. Watching how each storyline slots into the other is fun, but battling the same enemies and the same bosses is can get tedious.
The action itself is also very repetitive, thanks to the sheer number of random encounters with the same enemies over and over and over again.
Even the lovely Flowmotion system can't stop the going from becoming very samey and dull after several hours of button-mashing. A camera that apparently chooses the worst possible place to view the action from doesn't help.
But the niggles are forgiveable. Whether or not you're a Kingdom Hearts veteran, [Dream Drop Distance] is a superb, boundary-pushing title that deserves your time and money.