Review by Terran
"Disney and Squaresoft's joint effort was far from a mistake."
When Disney and Squaresoft announced a joint effort I thought, interesting...but this game can go wrong in so many ways. I mean, everything is up to your personal tastes, but with a vast amount of already well-known Disney and Final Fantasy characters together, making a game with a good story can be very difficult. I was somewhat worried that they'd get lost in the sheer volume of recognizable characters and not be able to put forth the same quality of a game that one free of boundaries would have allowed for. Luckily my fears were misplaced.
If anything having so many recognizable characters aided the story line and did not take away from it. Starting off on Destiny Islands as a kid name Sora, all you know practically nothing of the outside world. In fact, the only reason you have to believe that there is a world beyond this one is that your friend, Kairi, comes from somewhere else. Teamed up with her (Kairi), and another one of your friends, Riku, the three of you decide to build a raft and see what’s beyond your tiny, but nice island. From there the story builds and evolves including many different sites (most based on Disney movies) and a cast of familiar faces including Donald Duck, Goofy, Cloud, Selphie, Tidus and many more Disney and Final Fantasy characters. Kingdom Hearts is packed with an interesting plot and a lot of fun side quests (including optional bosses and even a secret ending).
Of course the story line isn't the only thing good about this game. It's also filed with what I think of as improvements that recent Squaresoft titles like Final Fantasy X do not share. One of these major differences is the battle system. HP, MP, Str, and Def are all still there, along side Magic and basic attacks, but the Turn-based battle system is gone. In it's place, real time battles take place, which adds a new element of strategy into the mix. Sure if you have 21 HP, 12 MP, 7 Attack, and 8 Defense, your going to beat someone with only 7 HP and say 3 MP/Def/Att, but the chance of the little guy winning, if he is more skilled, is now greater then it was in the current Final Fantasy titles.
Another feature you'll find early on is the difficulty levels. In the first section you get to choose between playing the game in normal mode or expert mode, which gives the people that beat the game the first time with a normal difficulty level a reason to play again. In addition to that, you also make various choices at the very beginning of the game which will determine how quickly you level up, what your base statistics will be and even when you'll learn certain abilities.
The voice acting is also well done. I must say I was not a fan of FFX's translations. Turning so many sentences into questions using the same two words over and over again got on my nerves. Kingdom Hearts does not suffer from the this problem. Not only that but the voice acting was well done, filed with many well known Disney character voices.
Disney also contributed a great deal of the games music from many of their movies, but that's not to say that their aren't any original Squaresoft songs. In my opinion Squaresoft a lot of great music to this game to make the game excellent in that department.
Kingdom Hearts isn't without flaws though even if I feel they are few and far between. The main problem I had lies with the controls. Attacking in battles isn't the problem, but changing camera angles can take some time to get use to (especially seeing as Automatic doesn't always work well).
All things considered, Kingdom Hearts is a great game, one which I think is worth the costs of purchasing.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/19/02, Updated 09/19/02
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