Review by Fin_Obelius
"Play this one before KHII if you plan on fully understanding the story of the series."
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the less known installation for the Game boy Advance that bridges the gap between Kingdom Hearts and the second. Boasting a gameplay that offers a unique experience compared to the usual Kingdom Hearts gameplay.
Sora and co. are exploring the depths of Castle Oblivion, a structure where the normal gameplay in KH games do not apply. Oddly enough, as you enter the castle, you find yourself in Traverse Town, in sprite form. There Sora is told that he shall lose his memories but unlock those that are hidden in his heart as he goes deeper into the castle. Tough deal, eh. The majority of this game consists of locations Sora has visited in his memories. A remix if you will.
Simply, you use cards. Thankfully not like Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic: The Gathering, as this game retains the original KH's Action RPG (ARPG) genre. You use cards to execute attacks and powerful sorcery. Cards have values from 0 to 9 and the higher value you have, the higher chance you have of executing an action. If an opponent uses a card with a higher value than yours in the duration it takes to complete your gambit, the said enemy will interrupt your assault with it's own attack. This is called a card break. With some quick reflexes, you can use this technique to counter every move in the game. This strategy requires your deck of cards to make up of several high value attack and magic cards. the only exception are zero value cards as they can break every card in the game. However, as they are worthless in terms of card value, it is also very easy for your opponent to counter with their own card break. As you level up, you can either get more health (HP), Card Points (CP, which increases the amount of cards you can keep in your deck), or a new ability (Sleight). Also, you can get cards via a variety of methods. Some would include smashing breakable objects and buying cards at the Moogle shops. As you travel the landscape, you encounter monsters that once you get in contact with, it brings you to a different screen to do battle with the monster's group.
As this is a GBA game. Typically it uses sprite-ish graphics. As Square Enix is the king of CG scenes, this game is the first GBA game ever to have actual CG scenes. The camera is set at a fixed angle as well but this has never been a problem for me except when Sora jumps in a pit then I will see nothing except the surroundings and a big hole. Eventually, after some fumbling, I manage to get out so that was not such a big deal but this could potentially become a problem. Overall, Square Enix does a very good job in this category, as expected.
Boasting a dual originality factor for its CG scenes and addicting card battle system, this game has a good concept but is marred slightly by its reused landscapes. But I suppose, that is the price one has to pay for entering a world governed by the cards. As stated before, it is highly recommended to players wanting to understand the story that occurred in the year separating KH and KHII. I had some quite fun moments, so even players beginning this series can enjoy this game. This game may be rare, but if you consider yourself a hardcore KH fan, definitely get this game.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/07
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (US, 12/07/04)
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