Review by Allhailshadow
"Don't worry. The cards aren't the focus!"
Ah Kingdom Hearts. A weird concept to be sure. Mix final fantasy with Disney? Well somehow they pulled it off and the result is a very popular game series. Intense battles, hooking storyline, good graphics. But what's with the cards?! Will this ruin the game? Let's take a look...
Don't get me wrong. Compared with the first game it's basically equal. It picks up where the first game's final ending picks up. Sora is wandering through a field with Donald and goofy trying to figure out where Micky and Riku went since the first game (trying not to spoil anything) when he is suddenly led to a strange castle. Upon entering he is warned of the dangers but since they have nothing better to do they decide to check it out. However they find they are slowly losing their memories and Sora realizes he is finding "new" memories as he loses the old ones. One of the people in this castle suggests the the memories were there but buried under his old ones. He begins to remember a girl who drew sketches of him and Riku but suddenly moved away and finds this girl from his memories is being held captive in this castle. What happens? Well if you like it so far you should find this game a fun play though. Not to spoil anything but the ending felt a little deceptive to me...
Okay... cards. Afraid? Let me explain how it works before you freak out. The battle for one is not that different. You still have all your old attacks it's just there's a new method of selecting them and now you can attack break and do combo type attacks. Breaks are quite useful because you can use them to block and boss's powerful attacks and save yourself a bit of damage. Thus the challenge of having to scroll through your cards in real time is balanced out by this. It may take a little thought to get used to but it's not too hard.
Next part of the gameplay that's significantly different is the map. Instead of exploring an already generated map you create it with the map cards you get from enemies. It's nice to be able to choice where you want to get next but a little frustrating. If you don't have the right number of cards (for instance a card above 5, or a card below 4) then you can't move on until you collect one. This forces you to battle enemies over and over until you get the right ones and that can be irritating.
I felt the graphics and music were a little bland compared to the first game but due to it being on a hand held system it seems sort of predictable.
Characters(new and old): 8
The old main characters (Sora, Donald, Riku, Mickey, etc) are back and for the most part the same as they were before. Only thing out of place to me is the way Sora reacts to things in this game. He acts a little hot headed and irrational compared with before while Riku does the opposite. Riku is thinking more reasonably then he was in the first game. This changes are minor however and don't feel that horribly out of place. Also: Kairi will not be in this game very much. Sorry.
As for the new characters I liked a lot of them and miss the ones that die wishing I could see them in all their 3-dimensional glory. Oh well... I'll avoid spoilers but if you played Kingdom Hearts 2 before this one you'll see this is where some of those characters were from. ;)
Riku's half: 10
Strangely Riku's half is more reminiscent of the first game then Sora's. He's worried that he darkness in his heart will take over and Ansem will regain control and thus he's afraid and fighting. As ansem is the darkness mickey acts as a guiding light helping him out when he gets lost. The story and characters in this half of the game seem more appealing to me then with Sora's first half but both sides are pretty good. Riku is still using the same battle system and for some reason he goes to mos the same places that Sora goes to. (I have yet to discover why) Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Riku's half of the game. It feels sort of refreshing and if I were to replay this game I'd greatly enjoy the second part as compared to feeling so-so about replaying the first part just because Riku's story is a lot to take in. Overall: Sora's is about memories and friends and Riku's is about the fight within one's heart between light and dark.
Over all: 8
Let's see... As this game takes place between 1 and 2 you should consider it despite the differences from the numbered games. It's fun and without it you may be confused during the second game as it feels like part of the story is missing. Rent vs buy? Well if you play this game non-stop you could probably beat it and the replay value isn't that great so consider renting it. If you would rather buy it then buy it. Again the cards aren't as big a deal as it would seem though I don't get why they were implemented. Overall I think the game is a satisfying experience if you give it a chance. Don't let the cards scare you away.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/08
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (US, 12/07/04)
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