Wednesday, August 01, 2012

In-Depth Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance: Mark of Mastery Edition

Note: This is a review for the edition’s extra contents and not the game itself.

            After what seems like a long collector’s edition dry spell, a new collector aimed edition has been released for the latest Kingdom Hearts title. In all honesty, I wasn’t going to review this set. I wasn’t even going to purchase it. However, after seeing prices on Amazon and Ebay skyrocketing for this modestly priced edition, I felt it necessary to type out an objective opinion for those considering spending an obscene amount of money to purchase the Mark of Mastery Edition from secondary sellers.

What’s Included:
1) Display box
2) Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance
3) 5 AR cards
4) 12 Art Cards
5) Kingdom Hearts Protector Case for 3DS

The Display Box:

            This edition’s box is covered up by a nice and functional slipcase. The slip has a fairly classy design on the front and comes with standard game information on the back. It is made from a glossy card stock and basically does what it needs to do. It looks good, protects the inner box, and informs the customer of the included items. 

            Underneath the slipcase is the actual box that holds the edition’s contents. My first impression of it was that it felt rather cheap. It is made of two halves that are jointed at one end so that the box can open up like a book.  The aforementioned impression of cheapness comes from the way the two halves of the box are joined. They are both glued to a strip of cardboard that has the same pattern as the outside of the box. That’s pretty standard, but the halves are not aligned properly and the actual piece of cardboard that they’re joined to was glued improperly so that a fold is present. 

Nice and lopsided

Still lopsided

And an ugly fold

            Though you can’t see it, magnets hold the two halves of the box together. The inside of the box holds the contents well and there seems to be no danger of them coming dislodged and sliding around. The contents are held into place by some very cheap looking/feeling cardboard. Underneath the cardboard are two nice Kingdom Hearts images. It’s almost as if the makers of this box want you to keep the box, but to throw out the included cardboard spacers. I can’t see too many people doing that. 

Held nicely in place

By ugly white spacers

Covering nice artwork

            The fact that the display box looks bad may not be the biggest problem ever, but it’s not a good sign. Obviously, Square wasn’t prepared to spend the kind of money that it would take to include a box as fancy as the one for Uncharted 3 or Soul Calibur V, but they didn’t really have to. They could have put the money they spent on the failed box design towards including more Kingdom Hearts Goodies. Editions like the ones from Little Big Planet 2, Infamous 2, Mortal Kombat Tournament, and others have done well without needing fancy displays.

5 AR Cards:

            The AR cards are, visually, quite strange. Their main use is as a means to unlock digital content within the game. As such, their visual appearance really doesn’t matter. Their most important job is to look like something that the 3DS’s camera can easily identify. So, really, the way they look should be irrelevant. That said, they look like they were designed for use with a black light. 

Probably awesome under a blacklight.
            Considering the fact that Square could have simply given us number codes, or QR Codes, or Bar Codes to unlock this content, it’s nice that they bothered to print out these cool but strange cards instead.
            (Digital Content Review will be added once used in-game)

12 Art Cards:

            The 12 art cards are kept inside a neat little cardboard sleeve. The cards are about the size of your standard postcard. They are printed with a slight gloss on one side and with the Kingdom Hearts argyle pattern on the back. Each card represents the cover art for a specific Kingdom Hearts title and Square has been nice enough to remove all of the other stuff that is usually plastered on the front of the included game covers. It’s a cool way to show respect to the original compositions of the series’ cover art. It’s also a cool way for non-Japanese gamers to see the art for games not released in their region.  

For scale only (individual pics at the end)

The backs

            And yet, as nice as this inclusion is, it’s hard to forgive the fact that they feel just like postcards. Maybe it would’ve been better to use higher quality card stock or to have used a better printing technique or simply to have included fewer pieces at a larger size. The Art postcards are another case of this set trying to make something really special but, seemingly, not having the budget to do it properly.

Kingdom Hearts Protector Case for 3DS:

            This one really baffles. Included in this set is a plastic Kingdom Hearts branded clear case for the 3DS. The first problem with this inclusion is that it is a case for the soon to be obsolete regular-sized 3DS. I’m not saying it’s a terrible idea to include a case, but it’s also not a great idea. Why did Square think the best use of their budget would be to include something that not all Kingdom Hearts fans/customers would even be able to use? 

Nice, but conceptually a mess
            The second problem with this case is that Kingdom Hearts is compatible with the Circle Pad Pro. Many gamers will be using the CCP and, therefore, won’t be able to make full use of the included case. Now, it is nice that the case comes in two parts so that CCP users can still take advantage of the branded top part when playing, but it still makes me wonder why they included a case in the first place.
            The third problem with the case is that the Kingdom Hearts design is printed in black against a clear material. For those gamers who purchased a black 3DS (and that’s a whole lot of gamers), this clear case will make it very hard for them to show off their love for Kingdom Hearts. It will still protect the 3DS from scratches, I guess, but I don’t think that was the main reason for including it in this edition.  

Why print it in black?

This photo was taken in a light box. The design doesn't actually stand out this much.

Half of a protector for CCP users.

            So, if you have a non-black 3DS and don’t plan on using the Circle Pad Pro or upgrading to the larger 3DS, then the protector case is definitely a cool final addition to the Mark of Mastery set. If not, then, like me, you’ll be left scratching your head. Again, it’s not a terrible inclusion, but with so many potential problems, why didn’t Square just scrap the protector case idea and include something else?


            To start with, it’s a good idea to remember that this is what I consider to be a budget Limited Edition. These are editions that want to give you that little something extra but don’t want you to break the bank. The mark up on this Edition is 15 bucks. In order to figure an overall impression, you have to consider if what you get is worth the extra 15 dollars. I would say, that if you have a non-black 3DS, don’t plan on using the Circle Pad Pro, don’t want to upgrade your 3DS, and need a case for it, then this set is easily worth the 15 bucks. If you are not one of those people, though, the rest of the contents and the lackluster display quality of the Mark of Mastery Edition are not worth the price of admission.
            Looking at the quality of something like the Soul Calibur V set (a 20 dollar mark up), it’s hard to tell if Square just went the cheap route or if 5 dollars really goes a long way. In any case, this budget edition feels like a budget edition and that, alone, should be reason enough to avoid it (unless you can make use of the case). Do yourself a favor, if you are one of those people considering ordering this at a huge mark up, don’t. If you can get it at the regular price and are a huge fan, there are worse things you could spend your money on.
            Overall, the Mark of Mastery Edition is a modest attempt at a modest price with modest results.

 Keep scrolling down for more pictures. My next Review will most likely be Darksiders II! See you then.


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