We had the chance to go hands on today with the multiplayer mode of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for the PSP. Taking on the role of one of the three main characters, Ventrus, I proceeded to wail on some Heartless in grand KH fashion, with help from Alex Machuca (as Aqua) and someone from another publication as Terra.
The first thing I noticed about the game was how naturally I picked it up--the controls are so similar to the console versions that I could just naturally play with almost no learning curve. The circle button jumps, X attacks, and Square performs an evasive roll. The biggest difference, and the one that took some getting used to, was that the Triangle button is used for Magic attacks. This was necessary, since the shoulder buttons are used for camera control. However, it is disconcerting if you are used to using Triangle for Reaction Commands from KH2. Also, individual magic attacks must recharge after each use, so the attack performed by pressing Triangle is constantly changing, adding another layer of confusion.
That sounds like a bigger issue than it was, though--the combat system felt like an old friend after a minute. We played three rounds, fending off wave after wave of Heartless together. It was quite satisfying to pull off cooperative moves, with one person knocking a foe into the air and a teammate sending him flying fifty feet with magic.
It was difficult to hear the game's music in the crowded LA Convention Centre, but the visuals were quite impressive--easily among the best on the PSP. It maintains the series trademark cartoon style, seems to run at 60 fps, and we did not notice a single dropped frame even with tons of magic and enemies everywhere. The large room the battle was set in was all white, black, and blue, reminding us of The World That Never Was from Kingdom Hearts 2. The animations were smooth, and while they didn't have as many polygons as their PS2 counterparts, the character models were still detailed enough to recognize faces from a fair distance away.
All in all, the multiplayer looks to be an intriguing addition to Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.