Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has been a highly anticipated game by many Kingdom Hearts enthusiasts such as myself. Aside from being a game for the Nintendo 3DS, I thought that this game was a continuation of Kingdom Hearts 2 due to its name. The game is actually said to be a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 3 with its gameplay and plot previewing the next installment. Its soundtrack is the first in the Kingdom Hearts series to be a collaboration between composers. I was excited by the idea of a collaboration; it gives soundtrack multiple approaches to the same idea or the same theme for the game, much like Mass Effect, God of War, or Final Fantasy X have done. So how did Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance OST cope with three composers? Find out after the jump!
The first disc starts with “Dearly Beloved,” composed by Yoko Shimomura, which is a soft, beautiful, orchestral piece. It’s filled with a piano twinkling in the air accompanied by violins playing in harmony. The rhythm was soft, and it’s presented with a ‘magical’ introduction. But then “Storm Diver,” composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito, began with a loud discourse from “Dearly Beloved.” In “Storm Diver,” orchestral samples play in fast rhythm, and I felt the soundtrack changing course.
Takeharu Ishimoto composed “TWISTER -KINGDOM MIX-,” it started out as a cool pop tune, I really got into it. But as the track progressed, I begin to hear English lyrics. A line from the lyrics “…Crystal, blisters, it’s all over now…” had me question the validity of the poetry being sung. Maybe Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance OST is compensating for not having Utada Hikaru as some previous Kingdom Hearts installments have had. I liked “TWISTER -KINGDOM MIX-,” I just didn’t like the lyrics. Three tracks in and I already miss Yoko Shimomura. Lucky for me, Ms. Shimomura composed more than 60% of the album.
“Traverse in Trance” brought back the soothing, beautiful composition of Ms. Shimomura, along with “Hand to Hand” and “Dream Eaters.” I especially loved the vocals in “Dream Eaters,” they added a sweet touch to its melody. “The World of Dream Drops” and “Sweet Spirits” had in it some beautiful melodies as well, while “Ever After” soloed a melancholy violin. “Le Sanctuaire” and “La Cloche” also by Ms. Shimomura, had a darker fighting tone but managed to be quite enjoyable as well. Ms. Shimomura has a firm grasp on how to make music sound good.
“CALLING -KINGDOM MIX-” a techno mix, contained lyrics no better than the ones in “TWISTER -KINGDOM MIX-.” Something sounded wrong in this track, as if the vocals were not working in harmony with the bass, often clashing in notes. It sounded awkward. The track “SOMEDAY -KINGDOM MIX-” also contained vocals, with lyrics still no better than the previous two vocal tracks, and with silly lyrics such as “… go home and kiss your mommy…” actually made me laugh out loud. It was just so nonsensical, it came out of nowhere. Maybe there is some sub-plot about running home to mother. Either way, I felt the first disc was not off to a good start as there were too many tracks I just want to skip over.
“Access the Grid,” “Digital Domination” by Mr. Ishimoto on the second disc sounded great. The tracks had a nice electronic synth pad creating a techno atmosphere, but it felt like background arpeggiators were doing most of the melodic work, making the tracks sound stagnant. I still enjoyed them. “Keyblade Cycle” was motnatnous, nothing really happened in the track. A small synth pad repeated for about a minute and a half until the track changed into a dance tune, and I enjoyed that part. But then it was over, repeating to the beginning.
“Gigabyte Mantis” was perhaps my favorite track that Mr. Sekito composed. It was catchy and I enjoyed the techno melody. There were also a few more fun orchestral tracks such as “The Fun Fair,” “All for One,” and “Prankster’s Party” by Ms. Shimomura. “Broken Reality,” “The Nightmare,” and “Rinzler Recompiled” being my favorite from the three, were darker in tone but were neat and well done compositions. The second disc, filled with techno, dance, and fun-jumpy tracks, was a better fit for the Kingdom Hearts 3D world.
The third disc felt like a tribute to orchestral music, and Ms. Shimomura delivered. Mostly all the tracks on the third disc were composed by her with exceptions to classics from Beethoven, Tchaikovsky filling the rest of the disc. “L’Oscurità dell’Ignoto” starts with a bang, composed of excellent organ work with a violin melody accompanied at high speeds. Other tracks had more darkened tones, like “L’Eminenza Oscura,” and “Xehanort -The Early Years-,” while “L’Impeto Oscuro” was a more fast paced, really fun fighting track.
I liked that “My Heart’s Descent” reused its melody in “The Eye of Darkness” and the tracks really complement each other with “My Heart’s Descent” being soft, choir-like, while “The Eye of Darkness” had rhythmic horns and bells, both playing the same main melody. Finally, a nine minute composition was underway in “Dream Drop Distance -The Next Awakening-“revisiting the range of emotions covered through the entire album. It’s a great ending by Ms. Shimomura. I’ve truly become a fan.
For some of us, it’s easy to tell when a composer is into their artwork, and when a composer rushed their art, filling in between the lines, perhaps to get a paycheck, perhaps to meet a deadline. In any event, I think it’s fair to say that Yoko Shimomura had some incredible compositions and she should be considered a valuable asset to the Square-Enix sound team. While Takeharu Ishimoto’s and Tsuyoshi Sekito’s compositions were mediocre in comparison, almost feeling as though their compositions were filling in.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance OST can be purchased on YesAsia  for $48.49 or CDJapan  for $44.93. I consider this soundtrack a purchase for hardcore collector. If Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance really is a preview of what’s to come in Kingdom Hearts 3, I recommend saving your money for the upcoming installment. I’m also hoping Ms. Shimomura is given a bigger budget for Kingdom Hearts 3 to compose with and I look forward to hearing more compositions by her. I’d be curious to hear how our readers feel about this soundtrack. Would you recommend it? And if so, why?