Review by MK15

"Disney meets Squaresoft? Idea = Weird, Execution = Excellent!"

Squaresoft's Final Fantasy franchise has been going on since the NES days when they were a starving company, looking for a big hit to make money, BIG money... After the releases of Final Fantasy, fans took to Squaresoft as reliable developers. Square delivered again with it's many sequels, all the way up to 10. Around 2001, an announcement from Squaresoft came as a surprise, no it wasn't any information leaking on Final Fantasy 12, it was the development of another game, this time an Action/RPG... Kingdom Hearts.

Square explained the basis of the game as Disney meeting Squaresoft, with new worlds to explore. The first screens seen were of Donald Duck, Goofy, and a new character, Sora, who was wielding a key blade. Needless to say, long time loyal fans of Squaresoft's games were a little apprehensive, would this be a kiddy, horrible Zelda rip off?

Well, in September 2002, everyone's apprehension might as well have gone away, as the game delivered in every aspect it had promised to.

Story:
You're thinking to yourself, this story has Disney characters in it. How ''cool'' or interesting can it be? Answer is very! This isn't your typical Walt Disney storyline, although Disney has their main characters in this game, Squaresoft is developing it, and Squaresoft worked on the story. For those who played Final Fantasy, or any other Squaresoft franchise, the story is sure to be good, no matter what. You take the role as Sora, who along with his friends Riku and Kairi live on a small island. They hope to one day make it off the island, and explore new towns, and are in the preparation of building a raft to do so. Riku and Sora have a friendly rivalry, with Sora feeling a little jealous of Riku sometimes, and sometimes Kairi coming in the middle. One night, a black storm engulfs the island, and Sora sees Riku being swallowed up into it. Sora takes his hand, but instead of disappearing, he's still on the island, holding the key blade. He is the chosen one...

Goofy and Donald Duck are guards for King Mickey, who has gone off to stop the Heartless, and has sent Goofy and Donald to find the master of the key blade, and lock up various worlds. Eventually, all three characters join up, and start fighting the bad guys.

As the story progresses, it gets much more interesting, and you can tell Squaresoft did this all.

Gameplay:

As you go through towns, and battles, there is a list of four actions at the bottom. Attack, which is your standard attack button to nail enemies with your key blade, Magic to conjure various types of magic such as Fire, Ice, Blizzard or curing aids like Cure, Cura, Curaga and many others. You can conjure these up any time during gameplay or battle. Also in the Magic category is SUMMON, which you'll get a few hours into the game. You can call upon a famous Disney character like Simba, Dumbo, Tinkerbell to aid you in battle and fight as well for a limited amount of time. There's items, which will help you greatly, as you can use Ethers to restore MP, Potions to restore HP, and various other types of items in your stock. The fourth one can vary. During battle, you can use some sort of special attacks like ''Sonic'' or if you're not in a battle, you can use that option to examine stuff in town, like treasure chests. There is no load times between the battle grounds and normal world, like the Final Fantasy games, as it is an action RPG. The enemies appear, and the battle begins. It's pretty straightforward, and easy to get used to.

You'll be fighting alongside Donald and Goofy to make your life a lot easier, and as the game begins, they're well... dumb... They'll use up the items you gave them, heal constantly, even when it's not even necessary. As you get farther, the AI gets smarter for the characters, and they actually use battle tactics. They'll know how to fight, and it comes together so well. Also, an added bonus, all characters have their real voices from the movies, and during the battle you'll hear Donald and Goofy trash talking and such.

Controls:

The controls are perfect, the R and L buttons are used to adjust the camera. Start is to naturally pause, and Select is used to look in first person view. Circle is used to jump, and X is used to use any of the actions, like Attack, Magic, Items and other. You use the joysticks to move, so controls are pretty tight, but the only problem is the camera adjustments. Like most 3D action games, the camera will always get messed up somehow, and sometimes it will mess you up so badly, that you'll fall from high places. It can get very annoying.

Replay:

The game has a lot of value, not only do you have a 35 hour quest ahead of you, but you also have the Ultimate weapons to collect. All the 99 dalmnations, all the side quests of the torn pages, the tournaments at the Coliseum, and if you do all that, you'll get a special trailer for Kingdom Hearts 2. There's much to do, so it's hard to get bored of this game, it will be in your Playstation 2 console for awhile.

Final Fantasy, Disney:

I felt it was appropiate to make a section for this. Throughout your adventures, you'll meet A LOT of Disney characters, and a dozen Final Fantasy characters, like Squall(called Leon in the game), Yuffie, Aerith, Cloud, and everyone's favourite villain, which I'll leave to some people's surprise. As for Disney, as I said, you'll meet a lot. You'll see Aladdin, Alice, Jack Skellington, Peter Pan, Pinnochio, etc, etc. For those respective good guys, you'll see their main villains like Jafar, Captain Hook, Ursula from Little Mermaid and many more. After you meet these characters, you can read up on them in your journal that Jiminy Cricket keeps.

Overall:

The game is excellent, well done, and warrants a 10. The camera is a problem, but it's really nothing major to get marks taken off. Buy this game if you're a fan of Square, Disney, or both, or if you want a game similar to that of the Zelda series. Can't wait for the sequel.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/26/02, Updated 10/26/02


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