Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a parallel game connected to Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories that was released on the Nintendo DS. It serves as a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 2 that also contains Roxas’s origins and his time in Organization XIII. In the compilations for Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, the story for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is retold with the cutscenes compiled together and made as a three-hour film of the story. This is mostly due to the difficulty of adapting a Nintendo DS game for PlayStation.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days takes place over the eponymous name of the game. Roxas is the newest member of Organization XIII and rarely speaks in the first few days in the game. He is the chosen keyblade wielder of the Organization and therefore one of their key members. Over time, Roxas finds himself taking part in more missions with the Organization, where they are collecting hearts from the Heartless in the same worlds that appear in Kingdom Hearts.
A few days after Roxas joins the Organization, they receive another addition to their group: Xion. Xion, like Roxas, doesn’t speak much as a new Nobody and so Roxas doesn’t pay any heed to her at first. In this time, he’s busy befriending his fellow co-worker: Axel. Axel makes it his goal to take Roxas for sea salt ice-cream in Twilight Town after each mission, and Roxas continues this even when Axel is sent on a mission to Castle Oblivion with the other half of the Organization where Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories is taking place.
In the meantime, Roxas is assigned to lead missions with Xion. The two of them eventually bond, with Xion becoming a friend of Roxas and joining him eating sea salt ice-cream in Twilight Town and hopes that Axel will join them. In the meantime, Roxas fears that Axel has been killed in Castle Oblivion with the rest of the team and begins to have bizarre dreams about a girl and a beach. Then, he’s left to explore solo missions on his own.
Essentially, this is a story of Roxas’s time in Organization XIII with Axel and Xion, and the plight of Nobodies in the Kingdom Hearts series. It also connects to how Roxas has lost his memories of the Organization during Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts 2 and develops his backstory some more. As well as providing this, it’s also a significant link to Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, with Ventus, one of the primary protagonists, introduced briefly during the game as he is viewed by Xigbar when he battles Xion on a mission with Axel.
Despite running parallel to Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days doesn’t have the same battle system. In fact, it actually seems to be weaker in terms of gameplay than Chain of Memories.
The original Chain of Memories struck me as more of a platform game, whilst Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is the type of game where it is mission based. You can’t explore any of the worlds outside of missions, and you can’t explore the Organization XIII headquarters either. You are left to battle the Heartless in the different worlds.
The attacks need to be organised through panels, which need to be organised depending on abilities and the number of panels you have unlocked at different points. All of these are modified depending on the type of battles you need to unlock at different missions that the Organization assigns for you. In Roxas’s diary, you’ll find different aspects of a Heartless or Nobody’s weakness, and these are useful for assigning your panels.
Along with story mode, you can also replay any missions in Mission Mode, which can even be played via multiplayer should the other parties have Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.