Square Enix is no stranger to music rhythm games, with its own multi-release Theatrhythm series for Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, as well as the Taito-published Groove Coaster. So it makes plenty of sense that this would reach Kingdom Hearts eventually, as it’s one of Square Enix’s biggest series.

Enter Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. A preview period just ended and a public demo came out on the other side. And it’s an interesting game! As evidenced by the little cutesy, doll-like versions of the Kingdom Hearts crew on the loading screens, Melody of Memory does seem to share DNA with the Theatrhythm series. That said, not only is it different in many ways, it’s all in 3D.

Basically what that means is the whole perspective is different, with Sora and his homies running away from the screen through the command prompts rather than left or right. It’s also trying to adapt a more combat-oriented gameplay style (and it isn’t touch-based), so the controls (we’re using Switch here) take a little getting used to.

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory Controls Guide

Your main focus will be landing basic attacks, and the indicator is the traditional, yellow Kingdom Hearts targeting indicator. For those you can either press A, L, or R regardless of who the enemy is headed towards.

While the buttons are character-agnostic, when two or more enemies come up at the same time, you simply need to respond with the appropriate number of buttons.

In some situations it might be easier to assign a button per character yourself as you adjust, but just using A for everyone until you need the bumpers works just as well. In some cases you’ll need to jump, either to avoid a projectile or hit a flying enemy. You’ll see this indicated by a set of red arrows (dodge) or blue arrows (jump attack).

If you come across a blue crystal on the track, the indicator will be a green triangle. That’s your signal to press X instead of A, which makes the crew use some magic to fit the situation. Finally, at least in terms of the basic controls, you’ll see a track of green musical notes hovering in the air.

This is your “hold” indicator, and Sora will float as long as you hold the jump button. You’ll also have to steer with the analogue stick to collect the notes (the dpad will not work). All you have to do is make sure you’re ready for what’s next - there isn’t strict timing on when you drop back down.

Related: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory Debuts This November, New Gameplay Revealed

Those are the basic controls, but there are variations. In the song selection menu you can choose a difficulty option with the shoulder buttons, and change your “style” by pressing X. “Basic” refers to the standard setup as described above. “One Button” is for more casual play, letting you just press a single button for whatever comes up on the track.

Finally “Performer” is an extra challenge mode, which adds new indicators for specific buttons on the track. Even if you choose this mode, you won’t be penalized for missing the additional prompts.

In order to pass a song, all you have to do is survive. Each time you mess up you’ll take some damage, so you can watch your HP to see what your standing is. You can also shoot for higher scores by getting “Excellent” on your timing, with the text changing from yellow to rainbow if your timing is 100% spot-on.

But if you’re just trying to play through the stages, HP is the most important thing to pay attention to. There is another control setting buried in the options mode that could be relevant as well. In “Field Battle” stages, you’ll be using the face buttons for those prompts. In the options, you can access “Directional Buttons Settings” to activate the dpad as additional buttons.

There’s a “Standard” or “Flipped” option, which assigns a face button to each direction on the dpad.

This is definitely a new kind of system you’ll have to get used to, even if you’re a seasoned Hatsune Miku veteran. But once everything clicks into place you can have a lot of fun, especially on the harder difficulties. But don’t just take my word for it - if you’re intrigued by the controls as we’ve laid them out, go out and try the demo! 

Are you interested in what Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory has to offer? Let us know over at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!