Review by Ender Wiggin

"Wow, you didn't see this one coming did you?"

Kingdom Hearts. Made by Squaresoft, the creator of the beloved Final Fantasy Series, and Disney, this unlikely alliance has produced one of the best RPG's in a while. I remember reading about it a long time ago, and I never thought i would get it. Square and Disney? WTF?! But, as you can see, this game is a masterpiece, and I would recommend this to any gamer. (as long as they don't hate Square or Disney) Featuring many Final Fantasy characters from FFVII, VIII, and X, this game will be a treat for all FF fans. It will also provide nostalgia with its cutesy Disney characters like Goofy and Donald Duck, as well as the majesty himself, Mickey Mouse. Even if you do have something against either company, I would hope that you can see past it and see how good Kingdom Hearts is.

Story: 6/10

This is the game's weakpoint. The storyline isn't good compared to many other RPG's out there. Without giving too much away, you start out as a 14 year-old boy, Sora, who lives on the Destiny Islands. Other main characters include his rival, Riku, (age 15) and his love-interest, Kairi, a young girl who is developing rather nicely if I say so myself...*ahem* Anyway, something happens, and a sort of portal opens leading to other worlds. Evil spreads throughout all the different worlds, which are called the heartless. The heartless are trying to find the 'heart' of each world, and destroying it. Sora suddenly gets caught up in this mess, and a Keyblade, a huge key that is used as a weapon, materializes into his hands. Sora, Riku, and Kairi get seperated. From here, Sora ends up in a world called ''Traverse Town'' and finds the King's (mickey) henchmen. Goofy and Donald Duck. They join up together, and use a ''Gummi Ship'' which lets them travel from world to world. They go to all these different Disney worlds like Neverland or Atlantica, and lock the keyhole to the world's heart, so that the heartless can not get to it. There are several plot twists, especially involving Sora's rival, Riku, but getting into that would definitely be a spoiler.
It is not that the plot is bad, but it is nothing special. It is a nicely done Good Vs. Evil plot. Kingdom Hearts does not compare to any Final Fantasy game or other good RPG's storyline at all. In some other RPG's, you will be playing the game solely to find out what happens. You will be sucked into it, making you laugh, cry, get angry, get happy, etc. Kingdom Hearts does not have that effect. Not an epic feeling or moving in that way. But it is a solid plot, and it does keep you interested.

Graphics: 8.5/10

Nicely done. Nice and smooth, great background, pretty good characters, etc. I'd say about FFX level. Smooth animation. I can only remember a few times when there was major slowdown. The graphics are great for the PS2, but there have been better. Not much else to say...

Sound: 7.5/10

the sound is also well done. Good sound effects from weapons, spells, etc. No tracks stick out in my mind though, which takes off points. But, the game's theme song, ''Simple and Clean'' by Utada Hikaru, Japanese pop star, is very catchy, and you should be humming to it often. I even downloaded it!

Gameplay: 9/10

This is where the game shines. If you want a break from turn-based battles, look no further. Kingdom Hearts offers real-time action combat. Targeting system is pretty good, although sometimes it goes crazy. Which is one of the complaints. Camera. Although it is bearable, once in a while you will find yourself getting frustrated because of that darned camera. Yes, you can rotate it, but sometimes it doesn't help. I would've made the camera zoom out more around the character. In the game, the camera is too close to Sora IMO. But with that out of the way, fighting is easy to do. Target a heartless, and slash away! But another complaint is the menu system...In Kingdomhearts, you have this menu on the screen which has 4 options...

Attack
Magic
Item
Special

It is default to attack, so you just press X to use it. But it is a pain to have to stop fighting, scroll down to items, go through sub-menus, use a potion, and resume fighting. Luckily, with magic you can make shortcuts by pressing L1 then either Triangle, Square, or X. But you can only have 3, and a lot of the time you will wish you had more hotkeys. I would have liked 5. They also should have made shortcuts for using items...Then there is that special command, which unleashes an ability you have. For example, ''Sonic Blade'' makes you dash forward and slice those in your path. But anyway, the gameplay is excellent nevertheless. The game's difficulty is a lot harder than one would expect, especially if you have that ''Disney=Kids'' mentality when playing the game. You can see a lot of Square influence. For example, just about all the FF characters you have to fight are hard, and other bosses like ''Cerberus'' (hercules) and ''Ice Titan'' (unique optional boss) will pose a good challenge. But this game does offer two modes of difficulty, normal or expert.

Replay Value: 5/10

Not much, but certain things will keep you coming back. You get to pick different stats at the beginning of the game in this sort of dream sequence, and you get to choose the rate at which you level up. (If it is fast, you will go fast in the beginning, but slow down when you are at a high level, vice versa) A whole world is dedicated to mini-games, (100 Acre Wood...aka Winny the Pooh) and a few other challenges will might make you want to come back, including a secret ending. But it still isn't something that is especially luring to someone who has already beaten it.

Conclusion: A great game that any gamer will enjoy, as long as they get past the fact that there are Disney characters in it. Do not underestimate it.

Overall: 8/10 (not an average)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/24/02, Updated 11/24/02


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