Hands On: Kingdom of Hearts Birth by Sleep

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There was plenty to satisfy Square Enix fans at the company's "DKΣ3713" event over the weekend in Tokyo. Among the titles we got a chance to see and try was "Kingdom of Hearts; Birth by Sleep," the latest in the Square/Disney joint series that is due out on the PlayStation Portable in Japan in 2009.

The fast-paced battle game sees characters building up their strength through successive encounters to enter new battle modes that inevitably enable them to do even more damage to the opposition.

Kicking off with Terra and as he slashed opponents a power bar slowly built up from zero. When it reached full the attack mode switched and his blade became a little more dangerous for the bad guys. Initially I started on fatal mode but soon stepped up to rock breaker. The attack modes continue through at least four levels -- fire blazer was next followed by star burst.

During these modes you can engage shoot-lock, a new battle system that locks onto all of the opponents on-screen and essentially means their remaining time in the game is short.

Another character, Ventus, had his own attack modes: speed rave, thunder bolt and cyclone; and the innovative ability to render aggressive and dangerous opponents weightless so they floated above the battlefield and were easier to attack without getting killed yourself. The same shoot lock mode exists throughout the game.

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