Review by KFantasy017
"The true gem of the series, hands down."
Ah, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the long awaited sequel that links Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II's stories together. Is the game worth the money? Does it live up to the hype? Relax, that's what I'm here to tell you.
As of now, I am writing this review after only completing the Sora's Story, but I will re-send the review with separate scores for the Reverse/Rebirth mode as soon as I can.
The story of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is an interesting one. The game begins with a cut-scene with some ending footage from Kingdom Hearts 1 and then continues from there. Sora, Donald, and Goofy run down the same path as in Kingdom Hearts and eventually stop at a cross-road. While there, Sora (Donald and Goofy vanish without a trace) is greeted by a mysterious man in a black coat. The man speaks the following: "Ahead lies something you need, but to claim it, you must lose something dear." After that, the man vanishes and all of the roads form into one, leading to the equally mysterious Castle Oblivion.
In this castle, the story picks up, and as you proceed through the game, you will uncover a plot of mystery, deception, and depression (I bet some will argue with me on that last part, though) as you travel to worlds you visited in Kingdom Hearts to find Sora's lost memories. (I'd tell you what's that all about, but I'm going borderline spoilers here)
The story unfolds like so: You go to a world, solve the problems of the people living there, fight a boss or two, and leave. When you leave, the main story of the game continues. Since you only have a few scenes in-between every world, you will more than likely want to just skip over worlds to get to the next story bit.
In the worlds, other then the first and final three, all have the same story that they did in Kingdom Hearts. Now, I understand that you are trying to collect Sora's lost memories, but if I wanted to have the stories from Kingdom Hearts, I would just play Kingdom Hearts. The first world, while similar to what I just described, has a bit more than that, so I left it out.
The final three worlds, however, are strictly for developing the game's main story. Thankfully, it is enough to make you not mind that the story is a repeat of Kingdom Hearts everywhere else. In these final three worlds, which I will not name to prevent spoilers, all of the characters either make themselves known, or sink into the background and fade away. By fade away, I do not mean that they had a story bit and were forgotten about after that. =) You'll see what I mean when you reach these worlds.
The story itself, while complex and interesting, is not very hard to follow. If you read the text carefully and go back to read Jiminy's journal entries once in a while, you should understand the game completely, but some may still have trouble comprehending it.
-Original Story is very well developed
-Plot reminds me of FFT, which is a good thing for those who haven't played FFT
-Introduction of new characters, as well as development of others
-The story for most worlds is the same as Kingdom Hearts
-The worlds seem just there to play as a way to give you more gameplay rather than story
-Story may be too hard to follow for some
The gameplay of Chain of Memories is rather unique. It uses cards, but doesn't play similar to something like Pokemon Trading Card Game. The cards are your attacks, magic, and summons. Everything you do in the game revolves around these cards.
While roaming around a world, you fight enemies to gain Map Cards, which are used to unlock doors that allow you to venture further into the world. The Map Cards are separated into colors, names, and level.
While it seems like a simple and easy concept, it gets VERY tedious after a small amount of time. Sometimes you must have something like a Red Level 7 card. If you don't have that Red Level 7 Card, you have to fight until you get it. The searching could take anywhere from five minutes to an hour or two. The latter times are more frequent in the later worlds.
During battles, you have attack cards (keyblades), magic cards, and summons. Each of these are separated by level as well. You have things like Level 1 Kingdom Key and Level 9 Oblivion for attack cards, Level 0 Fire or Level 6 Ice for magic, or Level 3 Dumbo and Level 4 Cloud cards (yes, I said Cloud) for summons. You cycle through your cards with the L and R buttons and use the A button to use a card. Level 0 being the weakest and level 9 being the strongest.
That's not all though. You can combine cards by hitting L and R at the same time while on a card. So, say you have three Cloud cards left. You would hit L+R over while on each card, and they will combine into things called sleights. You learn new sleights by levelling up. Now, back to the three Cloud cards example, if you have the three Cloud cards ready to be used, you hit L and R again and Cloud will use an Omnislash. However you can also use two card sleights. So, if you only had two Cloud cards, he would use Cross Slash instead of Omnislash. Naturally, the more cards you have, the more powerful the effect will be. You can also combine things like Cloud, Fire, and Kingdom Key cards for three separate attacks, but in a quicker pace then using them separately.
Don't forget that there are enemy cards too. If you defeat a boss, or sometimes a random enemy, you will get a card based on them. Some will give you things like faster running speeds, while others will give you abilities like Auto-Life.
There is also a feature called Card Breaks. If your opponent uses a sleight, you can use a level 0 card to break their sleight, and make them lose the attack and a card. Your opponent can also do card breaks to you.
Level 0 cards are not the only way to break sleights or attacks. If you create a sleight that has more total points than your opponents, then you will break their sleight and your's will be used. Or if they use a level 5 card, you could use a level 6-9 or 0 card to break it. If both of your cards have the same total points, all cards used would be broken and no one would get a turn.
Since it would be too much to just throw any and all cards in your deck, you have a CP (Card Points) limit. Higher level cards require more CP than lower level cards, so you can't stack your deck with all powerful cards.
Another addition is Premium Cards. These cards require no CP to use, but after used once, can't be reloaded back into your deck. So if you try and use all premium cards, you will run out of cards by the time you have to reload your deck. Not a very good thing.
In terms of difficulty, Chain of Memories is nothing extremely tough. Some bosses will cause you frustration, but it is usually because your deck of cards is unorganized, underpowered, or a combination of both. Like I said earlier, it's all in the cards. All you have to do is change around your deck and you can most likely win.
While exploring the worlds, you will probably notice that every world is the same. All the rooms have the same set up and patterns, with the only difference being the floor tiles and walls. It gets very boring running through the same course over and over again.
-Very innovative idea
-Bosses require strategy and not senseless button mashing
-Can be fun
-Very tedious after a while
-Can take hours just to find a single card
-Levels repeat over and over again
The graphics in Chain of Memories are outstanding. Quite possibly the best I have seen for the GBA. A nice feature of the game is the adding of PS2 quality cut-scenes. That's right, ps2 quality. You know the graphics that the original Kingdom Hearts had(bar FMV)? Well that's the cut-scene graphics for Chain of Memories.
The attacks and such are smoothly animated, and look really cool, but if there is too much going on at the same time, the game will slow down until everything causing the slow down finishes. I only came across this slowdown two times the entire game, so don't worry about it.
-Great GBA graphics
-PS2 quality cut-scenes
-Occasional Slow down
The sound in Chain of Memories is pretty damn good. The battle cries are the exactly the same as they were in Kingdom Hearts, and the same goes for attacks and magic.
The music, while nothing to be frowned upon, repeats throughout the game from start to end, While I enjoy the music, I don't like hearing the same track from the start of the game to the end of the game.
Square did manage, however, to port all the music from the world in Kingdom Hearts over to Chain of Memories, and it sounds pretty good.
They also managed to get the song "Simple and Clean" over to the cart as well, voice and all. Very nice indeed.
-Sound quality very high
-Themes ported over from Kingdom Hearts
-Simple and Clean
-Songs repeat the entire game
Replay, Length, and Rent or Buy
This game will provide a couple play throughs, I'm sure. Two times is the minimum, if you want to get the full story experience, since there are two different modes, each with their own story. I'm pretty sure you'd want to play through each mode at least twice.
The game provided me with about 12 hours and change of fun. I got it on Christmas, and have already beat Sora's Story, but I hogged the GBA most of the time ^_^.
Rent or Buy? Buy of course. You could probably beat both modes within the five days given, if you rushed, but no one wants to rush a game through just to say you beat it.
Rent or Buy?: Buy
Overall Score: 8.5, rounded up to a 9
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/30/04, Updated 08/31/07
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (US, 12/07/04)
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