Kingdom Hearts 3D: What's A Dream Eater?

Hardcore Kingdom Hearts fans have spent much of their time battling the Heartless, corrupted shadow creatures lacking a body and soul.

Square Enix removed these foes in the upcoming 3DS adventure, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, largely because the game takes place in "sleeping worlds" the Heartless cannot enter.

Instead, players must contend with a new form of the darkness called Dream Eaters. The evil type, Nightmares, are dangerous enemies that consume dreams and create nightmares. Predominantly animal based, these critters feature dark colors and red eyes. There's Scissor Beetle, which uses long-range attacks, as well as Ghoul Clown, a creepy fellow that licks heroes Sora and Riku, rendering them temporarily immobile.

Scissor Beetle

Other Nightmares include the dreaded Torpedo Fish, the shifty Ice Penguin, Rex Tyrant (basically a giant T-Rex) and the scary looking Gorilla.

To better combat these creeps, the developers designed another version of Dream Eaters called Spirits, friendly companions that devour Nightmares and produce good dreams. Not only are they cuter then their diabolical counterparts, but they also serve as Sora and Riku's party members, in lieu of Mickey, Donald and Goofy's absence; Mickey put Sora and Riku through the Mark of Mastery Exam to become true Keyblade Masters, hence the lack of support.

From what we've heard, both characters have at least two exclusive Spirits. Sora's include Wonder Meow (a cat) and Kuma Panda, while Riku hangs with Bat Bat and Goat Horn. Later, they'll run into Neku Sakuraba from the DS RPG, The World Ends With You, and he travels with Neko Cat, a Spirit that harnesses the power of music.

Goat Horn

Taking this a step further, you can recruit more than 50 Spirit types throughout the adventure, and must use them to visit different worlds.

On top of that, some Spirits have evil variants, so expect to tangle with Nightmare versions of Wonder Meow, Kuma Panda and Neko Cat. There also appear to be at least two lion types, Needle Lion (Spirit) and Aura Lion (Nightmare).

Spirits aid Sora and Riku in combat, and thus far, gamers can equip two at a time. The creatures pack a punch, provide various abilities and level up.

Handsome Pegasus, for instance, fights with powerful wind attacks. Tsunokeratops, meanwhile, skewers enemies with its horns, then transforms into a spiked ball (after players build up a Link Gauge and unleash the Link Attack) that rolls around the play area dealing massive damage.

Outside of the main quest, Kingdom Hearts 3D will come with Augmented Reality support that let users bring these Spirits into the real world, as seen through the 3DS' top screen.

In addition, there's a wireless Dream Eater battle mode (local only), but we've yet to see it in action.

Finally, Square Enix plans to sell plushie Dream Eaters in the near future, though at the moment, only Wonder Meow/Nyan was confirmed.

With so many different Dream Eaters to meet and destroy, we look forward to seeing how these mysterious beasts enhance the Kingdom Hearts experience.

Look for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in Japan March 29.