Review by Computerbug8

"A great handheld game from two Organizatons"

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, (KH: CoM) as you probably know, is the game that bridges the two games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, two of my favorite games for the Playstation 2. Unfortunately, KH: CoM is the worst game of the series, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a fun game to play and really does a good and entertaining job of setting the stage for KHII.

STORY

The game starts off almost immediately following the events of KH with Sora looking for his friends Kairi and Riku. (And he's accompanied by Donald and Goofy, of course) Sora's search eventually lands him in a mysterious place called Castle Oblivion, and as Sora gets deeper and deeper in, the castle seems to have odd effects on his memories. But that's not all; in addition to Sora looking for his friends, he's also followed by mysterious cloaked figures lurking in the castle who refer to themselves as members of "The Organization" and have plans for Sora that just don't include finding his friends. Sora must fight his way through Castle Oblivion and the Organization members, as well as learning many more things about his memories, as he searches for his friends.

The story to KH: CoM is fairly short and fairly simple. However, this IS a hand held game and a bridge game, so that much is almost expected. The story actually has a fair amount of plot twists and events in it, and it tries to get philosophical after a while, and it actually works. And while the story isn't exactly great, it's still one that will hold your attention until the end.

GAMEPLAY

KH: CoM has fairly simple, yet very repetitive gameplay. As Sora, you travel through numerous floors in Castle Oblivion, all of them resembling Disney worlds he visited in the first game. (With the exception of Tarzan) The worlds that Sora goes through are divided into small parts, with each world slightly bigger than the last.

To get to a new part, Sora has to find a door connecting to that part and use a card with a face value that matches the value required to open the door. (i.e., having at least a value of 7) If you use the right cards, you can pass through the doors and continue on. At the end of each world is the boss that you'd expect from the world. Beating that boss will allow you to finish up the world and move on to the next one.

It's an all right thing that the game usually lets you decide what world you want to move on to next, because it gives you the option of four to choose from. That is, once you beat one world, you'll have to choose one of the remaining three, then one of the remaining two, and then the last one before you get a new set of world cards and you repeat the process. But even with this slight freedom, it doesn't really make much difference.

The game play here is unfortunately pretty linear and repetitive. You do the same thing over and over to progress through each world, and it doesn't take long at all to catch on to the fact you're going to be doing this the whole game.

Now, I talked a little bit about cards a while ago. You might be asking where you get the cards, or wondering what the heck the cards are about anyway. Well, I'll talk about that when I talk about the...

BATTLE SYSTEM

Battles in KH, even though they're usually pretty simple and repetitive, have always been fun to play, and the battle system in KH: CoM manages to live up to that, despite the fact it's on a hand held system.

The first good thing about the battle is that you can see your enemies on screen before you fight them, so there are no random encounters. For the most part, that's a relief, because that means you don't have to take the time to fight battles you don't want to. Of course, you could abuse this and not fight at all, which could severely weaken you in the long run. However, this is a fairly easy game, so that may not make much of a difference.

Okay, now onto how the battles themselves play out. Unlike other KH games, in KH: CoM, you enter a battle screen as soon as you make contact with an enemy. From then on, you control Sora in the fight, and Sora's alone. You can, however, summon Donald, Goofy, or several other Disney characters to help you fight if you want them to. To summon them, all you have to do is use their card. Let me explain a bit about the cards...

In battles, you attack by selecting the top card in the deck, OR you can use sleights or combos, which is when you use two or three cards at once. Once you use a card, it's out of the pile, and if you want it back, you have to re-shuffle the deck. It's mandatory to re-shuffle the deck once you completely run out of cards, and the more you have to re-shuffle, the longer it takes.

Each card in the deck has a face value with a number of one through nine, including zeroes. There are keyblade cards, which are used to attack, along with magic cards and potion cards. In the end, they all work the same way. If your opponent is using a card with a value of 6, and you use a card with a value of 7, your opponent loses his card and has to re-shuffle the deck before getting it back. (and the same applies to you) There are a few things you do that will make a card disappear for the whole battle, like using it for a slot in a sleight or combo. If you use a zero card, you automatically break your opponent's card (that's what the term for it is: breaking), unless your opponent uses a card when you're using a zero one, in which case you lose the card. This applies to all cards, despite their type and their use.

But you can't put as many cards in your deck as you want. Each card you equip to your deck takes points, and if you use up all your points or don't have enough to equip another card, you either have to remove cards or increase the amount you can put in a deck. How do you do that? Simple, my good friend. You level Sora up.

As always, once you fight enough battles and get enough experience points, Sora levels up and you get to choose one of three things to spend some level-up points on: sleights, increasing his HP, or increase the cards you can put in your deck. And the good thing about KH: CoM is that Sora levels up rather quickly, so if you want to upgrade your deck a little, you won't have to fight for hours on end.

There really aren't any huge problems with KH: CoM's battle system. It's explained well early on, and it doesn't take too long at all to understand it and be able to use it well. Unfortunately, there are still a few problems that are presented in it. Even though the cards make the game a bit more based on luck and timing, the battles can still quickly become button mashers that take little to no strategy for winning. That means that the battles are pretty easy. It's not really a huge problem that the game is easy, but I just thought it's something you ought to know.

GAMEPLAY OVERALL

KH: CoM delivers an enjoyable experience. It's fun to explore worlds and the battles are fun, but both have a flip-side to them. While it's fun at first to explore the worlds, you'll quickly realize that you're going to have to do the same thing for every single level in the game. This gets repetitive, and it really stops being fun after you do it for a while. And the levels are loaded with enemies, and while it's a good thing you can see your enemies before you encounter them, the fights, too, can turn out to be pretty much the same thing over and over. Not only that, but you rely on your enemies for the cards you need to progress through the worlds, so if you don't have the exact cards you need to open a door, you could be in for a lot of fights just looking for that one card.

But even with these problems, KH: CoM still delivers a fun experience. Despite how repetitive it can get, the fights and going through the worlds can be fun, even if you start getting tired of them by the end.

GRAPHICS

For the GBA, these graphics are pretty good. It's obvious who the characters are when you're looking at them on screen, so that's a good thing right there. The backgrounds are well rendered, even though each section of a world is pretty much the same background with a different landscape.

Cutscenes are told by dialogue boxes at the bottom of the screen next to the character who's supposed to be talking. The character portraits are fairly well done, and the majority of them have multiple poses, all of which look pretty good.

And the graphics in battle are pretty good as well. The fights are well animated, and you can still tell very clearly what it is (or who it is) that you're fighting. And while the things like spells and sleights aren't anything new or extraordinary, they still look pretty good.

SOUND

Did you play the first Kingdom Hearts game? Then you've more or less heard the entire soundtrack to this game, except this time it's GBA quality. Halloween Town still has "This is Halloween", Atlantica still has "Under the Sea" (unfortunately), Wonderland still has...you get my drift, don't ya?

So yes, a lot of the music is repeated from the first game, but even though it's on the GBA, it still sounds pretty good. And there are a few new tracks thrown in, like the music that plays in the halls of Castle Oblivion (where the majority of plot cutscenes occur), and some new boss music, which is a pretty good thing.

The soundtrack to KH: CoM is pretty solid despite the fact it uses a lot of the songs from the first game (But that's not a bad thing), but there's still the question of voice acting. There's some of that in this game, but it all pretty much comes during the battles. So be prepared to listen to Sora scream "Heal!" or "Fire!" or "Freeze!" or some other spell a lot. (In addition to the obligatory "Ugh!" and "Ah!") A lot of bosses who can talk also have small voice clips, which is a pretty good thing.

The sound effects are also pretty good and I didn't have any problems with them, whether it was the sound of an Organization member materializing in front of our teenaged protagonist, the sound of Sora's keyblade bashing an enemy over the head or the sounds of the cards opening up the doors as you progress through worlds.

So with all that being said, the soundtrack is still pretty good, as are the sound effects. Nice job with the sound, Square.

LENGTH

This game is pretty short, which is a bit of a shame. (But you should cut it some slack since it's on the GBA) The main game with Sora will only last you about 15 hours tops. There's a second mode you can unlock after that with another character, but that mode doesn't take a third of that time to beat, ultimately coming in at about 20 hours of gameplay. That's not a bad length by any means for a GBA game, but the fact that it's an easy game will have you breezing through it very quickly.

PROS

+ Story is pretty good
+ Graphics are good
+ The soundtrack is solid
+ Sound effects don't get annoying
+ Easy to learn to play
+ Decent length

CONS

- Gets very repetitive at times
- Easy gameplay will have you going through it in no time

CLOSING NOTES

KH: CoM probably doesn't even come close to being my favorite handheld game ever, but I've certainly played worse. Exploring the worlds is fun, even though if you've done one, you've pretty much done them all. The battles are pretty fun as well, as most fights in KH games usually are. The graphics and sounds are all satisfying. Taking all this into account, KH: CoM is a very fun handheld game that should satisfy almost anyone who owns a portable system that can play this.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/07/07


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