Review by Computerbug8

"Seriously, how often can you cross a kid who fights using a giant key with Sephiroth and Winnie the Pooh and get a good game?"

STORY

The story to Kingdom Hearts (KH) is exactly the way the plot to any Disney movie should be: simple and fun. You start off as a teenager named Sora, just hanging outside with his friends, Kairi and Riku. They live on an island called Destiny Islands with their friends, Tidus and Wakka. Yes, you read that right. Final Fantasy characters make a few cameos in this game, but most of them (with the exception of a few) don't serve much of a purpose for more than once scene. Sora is starting to get bored with his repetitive life on Destiny Islands and wants to leave and see new worlds, convinced theirs isn't the only one out there. He wants to go on an adventure.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing elsewhere. Donald Duck and Goofy (yes, you read that correct as well) have gotten a message from King Mickey, who has vanished without a trace. The message is telling them to look for someone who holds a key that is critical to their survival. Goofy and Donald go off, looking for the one who carries this key.

The key bearer turns out to be none other than Sora. One night, Sora is whisked away by a dark cloud and awakens in a place called Traverse Town, where he meets up with Donald and Goofy and he finds out that he's the wielder of the keyblade, a sword that is shaped like a key and holds the power to saving the world from darkness.

Initially, the plot to this game may seem simple and cliched. And it doesn't help that the game is a bit repetitive, because for most of the game, you're just going from one world to another and saving them from “The Heartless”. But despite this, the story is actually very unique and it's a great one. From the moment you wind up in Traverse Town, you'll be sucked into the game's story and be wondering what happens next. It has its twists and turns, and while it would have been nice if the story was just a little bit deeper and more complex, it's still an amazing story that blends perfectly with the atmosphere of the game.

GAMEPLAY OUT OF BATTLE

I think I've established the story to KH is pretty good, and that's a critical feature in RPGs, but what about the actual game? Well, for the most part, you shouldn't be disappointed. When you're not in battle, you're controlling Sora and moving him through several worlds, most of them based on Disney movies. (like Alice in Wonderland, Nightmare Before Christmas and Aladdin) You're mostly just looking for a keyhole in these worlds to protect the worlds from the Heartless, but exploring the worlds is fun. I'm not one who normally likes to explore in games, but KH made it fun to explore the layout of the worlds and see your favorite places from your favorite Disney movies.

Exploring the worlds out of battle is a blast, but there's more to the game out of battle than just exploring and watching cutscense. Over the course of the game, you travel to several different worlds. To get to those worlds the first time, you need to pilot something called a Gummi Ship and fly to them. This involves a mini game that several people consider an insult to space shooters, and to perfectly honest, they're right. While I didn't hate the Gummi Ship mini game like most people seemed to, I definitely thought it slowed the game down and was more of a hindrance than a help. In this game, you take control of a small ship and you try to pilot your way through any obstacles in your way. The mini game is extremely easy and simple, and it seems to be more for just filler.

With the exception of the Gummi Ship, there isn't much to complain about in terms of gameplay outside of battle.

BATTLE SYSTEM

Unlike other RPGs, you don't enter a battle screen when you get into a fight; you continue controlling Sora like you were before the fight started, except this time, you have the ability to attack things. The fights are real time and seem similar to the style of battle used in Legend of Zelda games. You have basic moves like swinging your keyblade or casting magic with it. You also have Donald, Goofy, or any other Disney characters you recruit while you're in their world. The targeting seemed a little difficult at first, but it gets easy once you get used to it. Overall, the battle system in KH feels like a hack'n'slash, but the game pulls it off very well and the battles get you involved and some of them (mostly the boss battles) challenge you very well.

The battle system is good overall, but it has its flaws. For instance, several times over the course of the game, you'll probably want to change the camera angles. You can freely change the camera, but there's a drawback: it's done with the shoulder buttons. Changing the camera in the middle of a battle and having to use the shoulder buttons to do it can become a hassle. But I had an even bigger problem with something. If you want to use an item in battle or cast magic, you'll need to do it through the menu. The problem? You need to use the D-pad to access the menu. Did I mention that like all other games, you use the left analog stick to control Sora? So, you're trying to use the D-Pad while still controlling Sora with the left analog stick. Good luck with that.

Problems with the battle system's controls aside, KH delivers a fun battle system that is very easy to get the hang of. You'll have fun controlling Sora and being able to attack and use magic to kick some Disney bad-guy butt.

SIDEQUESTS

If you like looking for stuff to do when you get tired of the main game, KH will give you a lot of things to do. There are sidequests all over the place, like trying to find the 99 Dalmatians and to bring them home to their parents. You also can find torn pages to a book and interact with Winnie the Pooh in it. (and it's surprisingly fun) And like other RPGs, you have a coliseum where you can fight several enemies you met during the game, topping the coliseum battles off with a fight against the most famous Final Fantasy villain ever, Sephiroth. KH offers you a ton of sidequests do to, and doing them all is a lot of fun and can really add time on to your game clock. (which is a good thing. A VERY good thing)
REPLAYABILTY

As stated, KH has a lot of sidequests that might make you want to go back and play through the game again if you didn't finish them or if you didn't get around to them the first time. But the great thing about KH is that you'll want to play it again because it's fun. KH is a fun game and if you liked it, I can guarantee you that you'll be wanting to play through it again. (unlike games like Tales of Legendia when you can like it but not want to sit through it again) Seriously, the biggest reason you'll want to play through KH again is because it's a fun game.

GAMEPLAY OVERALL

KH doesn't necessarily do anything new when it comes to gameplay, but what it does do, it does a darn good job at it. Exploring the Disney worlds and getting into battles with Heartless and Disney villains is fun and well executed, despite it being hard to access the menu or turn the camera. The Gummi Ship slows the game down and hurts the game more than it helps, but that doesn't hurt the gameplay overall. KH is a very fun game and gets hard to put down when you get going.

GRAPHICS

The graphics to this game are, in a word, awesome. Sora and his friends look very well rendered, but that's just the start. Throughout the game when you travel to different Disney worlds, and everything in them is modeled extremely well. You'll meet several Disney characters, and all of them will look just the way you remembered them when you watched their movie when you were a little kid. The environments also look extraordinary and can almost make you think you're playing through the world in the movie and not just a level in a video game. When a Final Fantasy character makes a cameo, they also look pretty good. The only problem is that some may look a little cartoony when they're supposed to look realistic. But that's not much of a problem. You'll feel like you're actually watching a Disney movie, due to how incredibly similar the characters and the environments in the game look to the movie.

SOUND

I'll start off, as always, with the music. The music in this game is amazing. While a lot of the songs are just remixes of popular songs from Disney movies, they still sound great and will be a joy to listen to…for a little while. (a clear example of this is “Under the Sea” when you're in Atlantica. That's not a song you want to hear loop over and over.) The battle music also changes with each world you're in, and it usually sounds fine. I didn't think the boss battle tracks were too great, but they pass. Listening to the Disney music will bring back memories of your favorite songs that you heard growing up.

The voice acting is just as great as the music. Sora is voiced by the kid who sees dead people, and Osment does a pretty good job being his voice. In fact, just about everyone sounds great, but that's not the best part. When playing through all the levels and hearing Disney characters talk, they will sound almost exactly like that did when you watched their movie. Just about every single character sounds just like they did in their movie, which is nothing short of incredible. Whether it's a good guy like Aladdin or Jack Skellington, or if it's a villain like Ursula or Maleficent, their voices will sound exactly as they did in their movie. Very well done. As a bonus, Final Fantasy fans finally get to hear what their favorite characters sound like, such as Cloud, Sephiroth, Squa…err, I mean, Leon, and Aeris, to name a few. (oh yes, we can't forget Cid. What would a Square game be without Cid?) No problems with the voice acting on their part, but fans may be disappointed to hear that Sephiroth is voiced by Lance Bass.

LENGTH

This is a part that really kills the game, in addition to the Gummi Ship and the weird controls. KH is short. I was at the final boss only a little while passed the 23-hour mark. Luckily, the sidequests can add several hours to the game. And if you want to travel to the Olympus Coliseum and beat Sephiroth up in real time, be prepared to invest a LOT of time into training yourself and making Sora strong enough to take him on. But even with the addition of several sidequests, the game is short.

PROS

+Story is simple, fun and enticing
+Graphics are great
+Music is amazing
+Voice acting is done extremely well
+Exploring is fun (you're hearing this from someone who doesn't like to explore)
+Lots of sidequests
+Game is actually fairly challenging
+You get to fight side-by-side DISNEY CHARACTERS!!!
+Final Fantasy fans get to see their favorite characters…with voice acting

CONS

-Main game is too short
-Accessing the menu during battles is poorly done
-Gummi Ship is just for filler and slows the game down
-You can't skip cutscenes

CLOSING NOTES

Whether or not you think you've outgrown Disney movies, or whether or not you're a fan of Final Fantasy, this game is sure to amaze you. The battles are fun, the graphics give you the impression you're actually watching a Disney movie, the music and voice acting is very well done, and the story, despite having a bit of a cliched plot and villain, is great. The Gummi Ship mini game and the difficulty accessing the menu caused the game to get a 9 instead of a 10, but it's still an awesome game. This game will bring back memories of the good ol' days of watching Disney movies. (hey, a little nostalgia is good ever now and then) Who would have thought that blending Disney and Final Fantasy would turn out such an amazing game?

RECOMMENDATION

If you don't watch Disney movies and aren't a fan of the Final Fantasy series, you'll still like this game. How do I know? Because I fit both criteria. If you like video games and you've seen and enjoyed Disney movies before, then this game is one that you shouldn't even think about passing up. Even if you're not a big fan of RPGs, Disney or Final Fantasy, this is a game you're bound to like.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/21/06


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