Review by Archmonk Iga

"A nerd's seven-year-old wet dream."

I refused to read articles on it, I refused to watch the commercials for it, I tried to naysay it like it was my job, and I almost shot myself when I found out Lance Bass was voice-acting for Sephiroth. Eventually, I cooled down... it took me four years, but I did it! I'm all better now, and what's more--I even played through the whole thing. You should be proud of me. And you know what? It really wasn't all that bad. I mean, I love most of the Disney characters that are in Kingdom Hearts, and I love Squaresoft. Why didn't I realize this before? Oh yeah, because Lance Bass was the voice of Sephiroth... but still! I gave it a chance. It took me four years, but I still did it. Now how do I feel about it upon my completion?

STORY:
It's a beautiful tale of friendship and love. Sora, the main character, lives on "Destiny Island" with his two best friends Kairi and Riku. They hang out and talk about leaving the island to go on grand adventures. Just when their dream is about to be realized, something strange happens--darkness begins to consume the entire island and the three friends are separated. Sora awakes in a strange place called Traverse Town and meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy, who are on a mission of their own to find their King, Mickey Mouse. Together, this unlikely trio will search worlds high and low to find the king, Kairi, and Riku. Along the way they will encounter familiar faces (from both Disney and Final Fantasy), make friends and enemies, and feel the horror that is the ever-consuming darkness. But these three still understand the most important thing--there is always a light, no matter how much darkness.

Yes, the story is a little cheesy, and quite simple to understand, but it's the characters that you'll grow to love or hate. Remember that much of the target audience for this game is children. When it comes down to it, it's how the whole thing plays out rather than the big picture. Good job.
STORY: 8.5/10

GRAPHICS:
Characters look utterly stunning in this game, with full 3-D models and some of the best videogame animation I've ever seen. The cutscenes look astounding, but even during gameplay the detail is most impressive.

The environments, while not amazing, still look nice overall. Not to mention they're mostly all worlds your familiar with--Wonderland, an Arabian village, and (my favorite) Halloweentown. Along with the many familiar Disney characters are the locations you know them from, which, in my mind, is just as important. I absolutely loved exploring them all. Again, while the environments are not the MOST detailed out there, they still look great.
GRAPHICS: 9.5/10

SOUNDS:
The music in Kingdom Hearts is some of my favorite I've heard on the PS2. Of course, I absolutely love hearing the classic music from Mickey Mouse, The Little Mermaid, Nightmare Before Christmas, Winnie the Pooh, etc., but even some of the original tracks are great. Traverse Town's music is a simple jazzy tune with clarinet and piano sounds--it doesn't use much, but this was one of my favorite tracks in the game. I especially loved how each world has its own battle music, which, by the way, seamlessly kicks in from the out-of-battle music once you spot an enemy. One very little gripe I have is with that annoying song “Simple and Clean.” Yeah, I definitely could have done without hearing that cheese-fest.

The voices, for the most part, sound great as well. Sure, I poked fun at it before, but despite Mr. Bass's performance, everything sounds great. Sora is voiced by Haley Joel Osment, and it fits him well, as does Riku's voice actor, David Gallagher (of “Seventh Heaven). Cloud is voiced by the hunky soap-opera star Steve Burton, Squall is voiced by “Angel” star David Boreanaz, Mandy Moore voices Aeris, and “Even Stevens” chick Christy Carlson Romano voices Yuffie. The “all-star” cast ends up being worth it—they all work with their characters very well. Donald, Goofy, and the rest of the Disney crew sound just how you remember them, too, which is good (Hercules is voiced by Sean Astin, AKA Samwise Gamgee!). Your two partners may annoy you at first, but you will eventually grow to like them so much more.

And, as you may know if you've read some of my other reviews, I never really pay much mind to sound effects. But I really liked them in this game. When you strike with the Keyblade, it makes a really satisfying noise, and the footsteps sound great.
SOUNDS: 10/10

GAMEPLAY:
While not an RPG that Final Fantasy players are used to, KH leans more toward the hack 'n' slash type of game. Battling comprises of having Sora strike enemies with his Keyblade, using magic or items, jumping, dodging, blocking, and summoning. There's really not much more to it, but you'll still really enjoy fighting in this game.

Still... there is something I have a huge problem with--this is aimed towards kids, right? Then why is it that some of the boss battles are sooooo ridiculously hard? I mean, sure, you'll want to make them tougher than normal, but when you have to try beating a boss so many times, it really will get anyone frustrated--kid or not. I mean, it happened to me, and I guess I'd consider myself pretty good at videogames. Come on Square, this was way too tough at times. And what's worse? You can't skip the cutscenes. So there's usually a long cutscene before a big boss battle... and you die. This means you'll have to watch the same long cutscene allllll over again. REALLY annoying. Especially towards the end... Yeah, the ending? Can we just ****ing WATCH it already? For goodness sake!!

Another extremely annoying aspect of Kingdom Hearts is the camera. You use L2 and R2 to control it, which means it can only turn left and right--no up or down. Wow. This is a horrible idea. The camera screwed me over way too many times. Hopefully they fixed this in the sequel, because it might've been the worst aspect of the game. I won't go into details--I'll just say that the camera is a complete bastard.

Another annoyance that I had with fighting was that you can't enter the menu while you're in combat. I don't know how many times I've run out of items during a boss fight, and really could have used the bazillion that I had saved up in my stock. Characters can hold only a few items at a time, and it ultimately doesn't help during those tough battles for very long. Is it too much to ask to simply allow entry to my menu screen? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

Still, the combat is fun fun fun. Even when just attacking repeatedly, it's a good feeling. They also added in some cool abilities and accessories to equip, such as allowing Sora to roll. It helps add that little bit of strategy into gameplay.

Another great part of the combat is with your two friends, Donald and Goofy. Each has his own specialty (Goofy is more of a knight and Donald is more of a magician), and you will not be able to count how many times one of them saves your ass. Even better, they're not the only two people who will help you. Aladdin, Ariel, Jack, Tarzan, the Beast, and Peter Pan can also accompany you whenever you're in their world. While the AI isn't perfect, it no doubt adds an immense level of fun to the combat.

Outside combat, you will do RPG things that you'd expect. Shopping, talking to people, and snooping around for secrets, among other things. Sure, it's nothing new for the most part, but it doesn't get in the way of anything. Of course, there are some things that make it unique. This game is a bit of a platformer, which is kind of cool. Sora and company can jump, swim, fly, and glide in the many worlds to get from here to there. It adds that much more freedom to this game, which is nice, but, again, the camera can be a pain when trying to get up that ledge or down that hole.

Then we have the most unique part of KH--the Gummi Ship. Oh dear God, how I hated the Gummi Ship. It looks like they rushed it into the game last minute, and it involves absolutely zero fun. See, you need a way to get from one world to another. That way is through the Gummi Ship. It can't be avoided. It's kind of like an enhanced version of Alien Invaders, I guess. It totally blows. Not to mention there's the option of tinkering with your Gummi Ships to make them fly/attack how you want, but this is completely silly and was made way more confusing than it needed to be. The Gummi Ship = complete failure.

So it seems that all these problems block out the good stuff in KH. But remember--there is always a light! The biggest part of gameplay is in the combat, and that is also where you will have the most fun. The Gummi Ship eventually gains the ability to teleport, so you won't have to do the stupid mini-game as much, and the auto-target feature can somewhat help to rub off the annoying-as-hell camera. Yes, the bad stuff is REALLY bad, but the good stuff can allow you to have a great time.
GAMEPLAY: 6.5/10

LASTING APPEAL:
The main game alone will last around 25 hours... that is, if you can even beat the last boss... In addition to that, there are loads of optional things to do, such as your adventure in 100 Acre Wood, the Coliseum, and finding the dalmatians. The game alone will last you a long time, but the loads of extras really will tack on those hours. If you beat it once, though, you may be finished for a very long time.
LASTING APPEAL: 7.5/10

OVERALL:
The kiddy story may not appeal to everyone, but this is one of the prettiest (looking and sounding) games out there with some very fun combat. It's too bad the terrible camera wasn't looked after more, though. And that damn Gummi Ship!! Get that out of here, PLEASE. In my opinion, though, you're never too young to have an imagination--go play this game. You'll be satisfied in the end.
OVERALL: 8/10

Thanks for reading =)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/07


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