Kingdom Hearts

December 18, 2002

Let me start off by telling you that I had no clue this game was even in production. It wasn’t until Pickle brought it home and started playing it that I had even heard of it. So Dots and I walk upstairs to check it out with Pickle. Now Dots is a HUGE fan of the Disney world, so naturally her first reaction is “Buy it. We need to play that game.” So we head out to the store and with what limited funds I had at the time, we bought Kingdom Hearts. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. If you don’t know anything about the game, let me summarize it for you:

Kingdom Hearts is the story of Sora, a 14-year old boy whose world is shattered when a violent storm hits his island-paradise home, and is separated from his two closest friends, Riku, a 15-year old boy, and Kairi, a 14-year old girl. The storm scatters the three to different and unknown worlds.

At the same time, there’s turmoil in Disney Castle. King Mickey is missing, and Count Wizard Donald and Captain Goofy set out to find him.

On their travels they meet Sora, on his own search for his lost friends. The three were told of ominous creatures known as the Heartless – beings without hearts derived from an unknown dimension, and as it turns out, the ones responsible for the devastating storm. The Disney villains, enticed by the power of darkness, manipulate the Heartless to help them gather the princesses of heart, who are needed to open a mysterious final door.

Upon discovering the link between the Heartless, the storm and the disappearance of King Mickey, Sora, Donald and Goofy join forces and help familiar Disney heroes to save their worlds from the Heartless.

With more than 100 Disney characters — such as Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Jafar, Ariel, Peter Pan and tons more; the voice talents of Haley Joel Osment, David Ghallagher and Sean Astin, to name a few; guest appearances from past ”Final Fantasy” characters and the top notch gameplay and storyline from Squaresoft, Kingdom Hearts is a revolutionary adventure role-play game that will leave your adrenaline rushing and your heart pumping! It’ll take magic spells, wits and a cast of hundreds in multiple diverse lands to solve the riddle of the Heartless. Do you have what it takes?

Ok, so that wasn’t a summary, it was taken from the Squaresoft site. Whatever, you know what it is about now. So Dots and I start out playing, she was actually playing in the beginning, but I stole the controller from her at some point. In the beginning, you see a very impressive FMV and when the game finally starts you are presented with 3 abilities: Magic, Strength (Warrior), and Defense. At this point, you choose 1 ability and give up 1… this choice sets your character’s abilities up for the game. There are numerous FAQs about what those do and whatnot… so I won’t explain it. Jump forward past the choices etc… as that is not the only choice you make to determine your course in this game.

Let me briefly pause and explain to you folks that I am not an RPG fan. I know I know, but Cone, this IS an RPG. Ya, I get that. It’s not that I don’t like RPGs, but I have a rather distaste for turn based games. Maybe its due to my short attention span or even my inability to strategize, but I just prefer things to be real time.

Getting back to the game… My initial thoughts of this game were overall good. I was very impressed graphically in regards to the FMVs and the in game graphics. The sounds was about average. I don’t have a full surround sound system anymore so my judgement comes from plain ol stereo sound. The game is good, very good, but it needed something to hook me into it. I needed to feel as though I couldn’t go a single day without immersing myself into this Disney world that had been so finely crafted. It didn’t take long for that to happen. The story that Kingdom Heats tells is fascinating, and on par with the average RPG story. Keep in mind that I don’t play many RPGs… The hook came about 1/4 of the way into the game… when I finally figured out that I had tons of magic, items, and weapons that I hadn’t been using. Well crap! The game suddenly got way easier as I equipped the numerous items I had been toting around and not using. Now I was hooked and determined to hit level 100 and discover every secret in the game. I was also trying my best to catch Goofy in experience points, which you will find out is pointless as he seems to get points for everything you kill. Needless to say, I spent many hours just killing enemies, collecting items, and avoiding making any progress in the game.

My main complaints about the game were really with the idea of the “locking system” in which you automatically or manually target enemies and/or objects in order to attack and cast magic onto them. I experimented with Auto and Manual… my conclusion is this. The manual locking on takes a little extra skill to do properly, especially if there are numerous enemies around, and if the enemy you are locked on to moves then your camera view moves with him. Aha! There we have it. Sporadic camera movement that almost feels like the camera is slinging wildly around like some of those gravity based Flash movies you have seen (you know what I am talking about!). So I decided the Auto locking was the way to go and I learned to move Sora and attack in such a way that you kind of swing the camera around behind you . You get the hang of controlling the camera and locking onto enemies after about the 2nd world.

Aside from the camera, which I got used to, this game is superb. It has been a long time since I have been into a game like I am into Kingdom Hearts. If you are into turn based RPGs, you may not totally be into it, but if you enjoy real time action ala Dynasty Warriors 3, then you should definitely give this game a try. For the record, I am Level 100, have unlocked all the secrets, and have the Ultima Weapon. I have also logged 70 hours on that game and 25 on another.

Update: It has now been a good 3 weeks since I beat Kingdom Hearts and I haven’t touched the game since then. I have heard a lot of rumble about a possible sequel to this game, but not until 2005 at the earliest. The game has a tiny bit of replay value, but its not a game you will go back and play from the beginning very often, if at all. I still give this game an excellent rating since the 70 hours I spent playing it blow away the length of most current games, but I wish there was more to it. I almost think that if they would have let you play as another character with slightly different attributes (maybe Goofy or Donald) then the game would have been that much better.

Score: 5/5

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