Review by ASX

"An addictive game from a unique collaboration"

When this game was announced farther back, many people were wondering the same thing - Disney and Square? What's going on? Although putting the two companies together on a game was definitely a strange move, the result of what they produced was worth it. Kingdom Hearts is a very fun game that puts a new twist on traditional RPGs.

In KH, you play as a 14 year-old boy named Sora who lives on the Destiny Islands with his friends Kairi and Riku. One day, evil beings called the Heartless invade and Sora awakens in a place called Traverse Town (which is full of Disney characters). He sets out to unravel the mystery of what happened. He runs into Donald Duck and Goofy, who have been set out to look for their King Mickey. The three join forces and set out through several Disney worlds to destroy the Heartless, find King Mickey, and find Sora's friends. Along the way, you'll encounter several familiar Disney characters who will help you. Some will even assist you in battle.

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Graphics:
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Visually, Kingdom Hearts is stunning. The entire game is set in a vast 3-D world that will mesmerize you. Character models are good-looking, the visual effects that occur while you're casting magic spells or summoning allies are awesome, and the backgrounds in the game are detailed. Although the graphical work in KH was not focused on realism (everything looks a bit cartoony), it still doesn't make a difference.
Score: 10/10

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Sound:
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One feature in Kingdom Hearts that Final Fantasy players will enjoy is the new voices for older FF characters such as Aeris (Aerith in KH), Yuffie, Cloud, Squall (Leon in this game), and more. There is also ''professional'' voice-acting for some characters... Haley Joel Osment does the voice of Sora, Mandy Moore does Aerith, Christy Carlson Romano does Yuffie, Lance Bass (!) does Sephiroth, and other voice actors that have been famous at some point are included in the game. All the Disney characters have voices too. I'm pretty sure most of them have their original voice actors, but not positive. Some examples of ones that are include in the game are Aladdin, Tarzan, Hercules, Hades, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and many other favorites.

The background music in each area is nothing special, but it's not bad either. Sound effects are crisp and clear and done nicely overall. Everything is great when it comes to sound.
Score: 10/10

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Control:
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The only flaw in the control is that the button combinations may take some time getting used to. During battle, you'll need to press several buttons to execute a command against your opponent. You'll eventually develop to become used to it, but at first it can get a little tedious. However, outside of battle, things are simple. Moving around, talking to people, examining objects, etc., is easy. No big problems here...
Score: 8/10

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Gameplay:
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As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Kingdom Hearts definitely puts a new twist on traditional RPGs (sort of like The Legend of Zelda). Instead of fighting random battles or turn-based battles, you will enter battle as soon as you sight an enemy. Fights take place in real-time, so you're vulnerable to enemy attacks even while you're changing attacks or options. You will need to attack your enemies manually by pressing X, and heal manually too, all in real-time. There are various things you can do during battle, such as summon characters to assist you, cast traditional Squaresoft magic spells, and use items. Defeating enemies results in them dropping ''balls'', small spheres that have various effects. Some may restore HP or MP, while others may have special results. During battle, you, Donald, and Goofy have your own traditional HP and MP bars. Donald and Goofy are sort of like part of the game's AI since you can't control them and their actions are unpredictable (not in a bad way though).

There are several mini-games scattered throughout the game, and these add to the fun. Although the ''Gummi Ship'' game you need to play in order to cross worlds is boring, everything else is good.
Score: 9/10

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Buy or Rent?
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Buy. You'll most likely enjoy this game, especially if you've played other action-RPGs.

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Overall:
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Although at first it may not seem like it, Kingdom Hearts is actually an excellent game. The graphics will stun you, the audio will keep you satisfied, and the gameplay will leave you wanting more. Everything's just awesome here. Pick this one up ASAP.

Overall Score: 10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/02, Updated 12/18/02


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