Review by DragonShadow

"Perfection."

Kingdom Hearts

Graphics: 10

Ultra smooth, exquisitely rendered characters. All of the Disney characters look and move exactly like their movie/series counterparts, and the Final Fantasy models can best be compared to the CG that featured them in previous FF games, yes it’s THAT good. Every world has its own structure as well. Most of the worlds have the same general ambiance (Disney style animation and character designs) but a few stand out from the pack, namely Halloween Town, which actually manages to carry a smooth version of the claymation graphics from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Character movement is also perfect, from Tarzans ape-like gait to Ariel’s shooting thorugh the water, it’s again, perfect. Every world’s locations are practically ripped straight from the source, modeled with painful detail after sets in the movies. From the trail up to Skeleton Jacks house to the campsite in Tarzan to the Olympus Coliseum, it all looks almost perfect. Characters mouth movements are also unusually well done, outdoing most on the PS2. The mouth movements are kind of exaggerated like a cartoon sometimes, which is a wonderful effect, but on others they use the stock “Mouth moving” animation depending on the importance of the conversation. It also runs completely smooth, with no popup or draw-in, and no slowdown even with three people on your side and up to ten on the enemies’ side.

Sound: 10

Everything is appropriate for the game, but the real stars here are the real stars they got for the voice acting. Haley Joe Osment as Sora, James Woods reprising his role as Hades, the real current voice actors for Donald and Goofy, EVERYONE in the game has their original voice… well almost everyone. A few they couldn’t get the voices for, such as Malificent, whose original actress died a while ago. Still where they couldn’t get the originals, they got damn good replacements. My only complaint in this department at all is that Robin Williams doesn’t reprise his role as Genie, instead they got genie number 2 who played him in the series. Aw well, it’s still a thousand times better than 100% of other licensed games out there.

Gameplay: 10

Fast, furious, and surprisingly difficult. Later in the game battles can get very intense, thankfully the AI for your teammates is generally pretty good. Donald and Goofy are pretty good at taking on enemies, though of course Sora will probably get the most kills. They’ll intelligently heal you, and each other, when you need it. Some call them bad and wasteful, but in this game magic is plentiful enough to where you don’t have to conserve every ounce of it. Especially once you get certain abilities. The bosses are usually pretty big, though some are pathetically easy, and the general enemies get harder the farther you go (as any good enemies should). Fun with a capitol S (Get it? Square? HAHA)

Controls: 9

A little hard for the dexterity challenged to do, but it serves well enough. The left analogue stick moves Sora, with R2 and L2 controlling the camera. X accomplishes whichever action is chosen (more on that in a minute), circle jumps, and R1 locks onto enemies. The complicated part is trying to manipulate the action choices during battle. The left stick will be busy dodging enemies while the right stick can be used to activate items and spells, and when you find one you want to use you can activate it with the rarely-used R3 button. Unless you’re ambidextrous and have four eyes you can use to dodge and navigate at the same time, this can get pretty tough during an intense battle. On a side note though, it IS possible to do EVERYTHING with the R3 button (except jump) without ever touching the control pad, but it’s a little too imprecise. Also you can use the Directional Pad to hunt through your menus, but in that case you’ll have to stand still and leave yourself open to attack. Oh and L1 acts as a shortcut you can use to quickly and easily activate three pre-set spells, a nifty addition for us aspiring wizards.

Story: 10

If it wasn’t Squaresoft doing the development, I wouldn’t have expected a story from this game at all beyond “go from place to place and play other stories”. However, the story is quite good and accomplished a lot better than I would have ever expected. Malificent, the villain from Sleeping Beauty (I think), is using beings called the Heartless to advance her wicked ways. Of course there are various Disney villains helping her. Sora, a boy living on an island with his friend Riku and his pseudo-girlfriend Kairi, has plans to set out and see other worlds. The night before he sets sail, darkness consumes his world, and he’s thrust into a journey to find his friends and save the many worlds from the plans of the Heartless. The way the journeys to other worlds is done is surprisingly good. Sora, Donald and Goofy usually walk in right in the middle of the various worlds’ stories. For instance, they find Jack planning the Halloween in Nightmare Before Christmas and Wonderland during Alice’s trial, though obviously thanks to the Heartless things are a little different in each world. A wonderful, often-gripping story with a lot of surprises for those who don’t read ahead.

Overall: 9.7

If not for the necessarily complicated controls this game would be perfect, as it is… it’s still perfect, just with one slight flaw. Squaresoft can turn anything into gold it seems, even Disneys menagerie of stolen misfits.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/14/02, Updated 10/14/02


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