As the long title states, this topic is about my opinions on Birth By Sleep and it's content. I don't mean to sound pretentious or immature in these opinions and feel free to share yours. Let's begin:
Story: The story felt... okay. It was a decent prequel to the saga and it was nice having some fan-service and seeing the universe before the events of KH1, but I feel that the main plot is lacking. The main trio's fragmentation felt forced and out of nowhere with no buildup to it, and their friendship wasn't present either. The antagonists were great and had enough qualities to be likable and unlikable at the same time. The pacing was a moderate speed and events weren't rushed, but there were some slow moments. While the ending was kinda sad, it didn't make me very emotional and wasn't just worth it, partly because I didn't feel anything for the characters other than Ventus and maybe Aqua and Mickey. Overall, while it does some good things, there are problems that really ruin the story and the connection with the characters.
Gameplay: The gameplay is good IMO. Exploration was great here, since there was a lot of platforming and worlds were filled with collectibles. It wasn't just "walk from one area to the next" and it gave use to some of the abilities you get, even if some weren't that great, however it was annoying having some areas locked for certain characters and travelling to the same places 3 times can be boring. The command deck was a departure from the traditional menu system from the numbered games, but is in my opinion a better version of the cards system from COM. It was fun putting different commands and using them alongside normal attacks against enemies without worrying about MP. Command styles are a cool idea/power-up, though having it inmediately end a combo was annoying and I would have loved to have some sort of customization with them. I also love that there's a lot of content in the game, and the 3 characters, while having a similar playstyle, felt different enough to aproach things in their own way. However, there are problems that end up ruining the system. Firstly, melding commands and abilites is unnecessarily complicated, and is a waste of time. Getting abilities was tedious, I'd rather have them be gained through leveling up instead of in the process of melding and the process of melding to get a certain command was even more frustrating. I constantly had to look up guides just to get a command I wanted, in the end it just wasn't fun. Then there was the balancing. Having 3 or 4 commands that are better than the rest is unprofessional and bad, though it didn't compel me to fill my deck with 6 Thunder Surges/Mines all the time. Shotlocks can be devastating and broken, but they didn't have much use outside of certain situations.
Then there's the bosses. Early on they aren't bad, but late and post-game bosses really show the flaws of the system. Their AI is nothing but using attacks randomly with no cooldown or flow and the strategy to beat them is "abuse dodge roll while using 1 command that works best against it" which was boring. Not only that, but they make regular attacks feel weak and pointless. With some more adjustments, the command deck could've been just as great of a system as the menu, but it's problems are so glaring that it just makes it decent compared to the system of the numbered games.
Graphics: The graphics still look good, though not as good as the PS2 games due to it being on a handheld. All the environments are varied and still faithful to the movies they're based off. Models are great and true to the spirit of the series, though I didn't like how the "default" face was almost always present during cutscenes. Cutscenes have a lot of flow in them and give the characters life, especially in the battle scenes. Overall, they're not too bad.
Sound: Goodness. The music is as always phenomenal, with various themes that fit the scene they're in while also conveying various emotions. None of the pieces sounded weird or bad, and it all just made the game more fun. Voice acting, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. While there are some stellar performances like the ones of Ventus, Vanitas, Xehanort and Eraqus, others were okay or not that good, such as Terra, Aqua and some of the Disney characters. The voices either made a scene better or ruined it, so there's not much to say about that. Overall, though, the sound in this game is great.
Overall, while Birth By Sleep added a lot to the lore of the series and introduced some good gameplay aspects and concepts, the problems it has only push it down and make it a game that isn't very loved by the community. While these problems do bother me, it doesn't distract from how much I enjoyed the game. The Final Mix content is a good bonus, while at the same time not making the original feel obsolete.
This could be a temporary end to my marathon, since I'm at a crossroads as to wether I should play Re:Coded or skip it and wait for 2.8. I don't know about that, but for now, this is it.