Review by noz3r0
"A well balanced card-based RPG"
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the sequel to Square Enix's smash hit Kingdom Hearts. The game takes place on the Gameboy Advance and expands on the series's story as it serves as a bridge between the first game and PS2's sequel Kingdom Hearts 2. Sora, the main character, Donald, and Goofy set off once again in search for there friends in the ever expanding series of Kingdom Hearts.
Chain of Memories brings about a different style of an RPG as it plays with a card-based system for the most part. The battle system is different from the original game because enemies now appear on the map only to act as a group itself. This system is most similar to the Super Mario RPG game on SNES and is great for people who don't like random battles. The cards in the game ultimately choose the attacks that Sora can do and the card value (CV) helps determine what kind of attack Sora may do if he does a combo. Combos are stocked in the game by pressing the L and R Buttons, a maximum of three cards can be stocked at any given time. Pressing L and R again will initiate the combo and do a move, deadly or not. The total CV of the combo determines the move overall and if it lands within the range of a currently learned ability, the ability will be used instead of a series of slashes. Eventually Sora will run out of cards, there is a shuffle command that refills the cards but the charge time grows every time you reshuffle. After all enemies have been destroyed, a Map Card is left behind. The Map Cards help open doors via Room Synthesis, a key part in the game. Doors are opened with the cards as long as the CV is within the range that the door asks and they typically lead to another area in the map. Not only do the cards open the doors, but they control what is in the next area. An example would be using a Moogle Card to open a door, the next area would contain a Moogle in which you can buy cards to add to your deck.
Underneath all the card-based action is the typical RPG (Role-Playing Game), level ups and stat increases that aid in advancing the characters. When Sora levels up you have the choice of increasing his HP by 15, his CP (Card Points) by 25, or even learning a skill. Skills aren't always available, they only appear at certain levels so be sure to grab them when you can. As Sora's level increases so does the amount of experience he needs to level up. Experience is gained through battles, but just because you defeat the enemies doesn't mean you get the experience points. Experience points are dropped by the enemies and Sora must touch or be near them to obtain them. With smooth play and easy-to-control commands, Chain of Memories is a well-balanced mix of a card-based RPG.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy arrive along a long winding path that seems to go on forever. As they travel they must rest from time to time, but one night a strange and mysterious robed man appears to tell Sora that someone he cares for is held in the castle down the road. The group travels to Castle Oblivion and attempts to take down the robed man, but they discover that none of their skills work. The man informs them that all of their abilities have been lost and Sora's memories have been partially erased. Now Sora must travel through places he went through in Kingdom Hearts to discover the truth in memories.
The story takes place directly from the end of Kingdom Hearts and leads Sora on another grand adventure. This time Sora must recover memories that he once lost and discover his true self. Throughout the story are plot twists and many surprises that leave the player wanting more.
The game uses sprites for all of it's in-game play. These sprites are not the typical ones we see in games such as The Legend of Zelda, they are incredibly detailed and depict exactly who the characters are in great retrospect to the PS2's characters. The game also has it's FMV's that are on a level not seen before on the Gameboy Advance. The games sound features most of the same songs from the first game and they come out rather clear. Some songs are brand new and have a great sound to them -- the classic Disney songs never seem to fail.
The game takes about 25-30 total hours of game play and it contains many secrets. With an extra mode in which to play and link compatibility the game offers quite a bit of replay value. Since the story is sort of complicated, a replay will generally give the gamer added information to further comprehend the game.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is a great game all around and deserves at least a try. Any fan will surely have this game as it includes a grandeur story and is a decent game in every aspect.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/22/04
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