Review by Sonic Nightmare
"Another overhyped game with a critical review"
In Japan, this seemed to be the number one fantasy among gamers, but in America, the idea of merging Disney & Squaresoft in a game is questionable. In the recent streak of what I would call Squaresoft's daring attitude which started with the movie ''Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within'', Squaresoft is yet again going ambitious with Kingdom Hearts for the PS2.
The Story starts out about three characters: Rikku, Kairi, & Sora. They are living their peaceful lives upon a solitary island and dreaming about the future, that is, until one night. On this night, darkness falls (I know that sounds stupid but bear with me) and little dark creatures called heartless appear. After a long battle, Sora and his friends are taken out of their world.
Sora, now alone, bumps into Donald and Goofy. They are astonished that he is now the holder of the Keyblade and tell him of a great quest that he must fulfill. In every world there is supposedly a keyhole and using the keyblade he must seal them all and stop the onslaught of the heartless, but Sora would only agree if they would help him look for Kairi and Rikku. Quick to do so, their great adventure begins.
The reason for the low score is the exact interaction between Squaresoft & Disney. There is barely anything here to tie it all together. The Squaresoft characters have their stories, the Disney characters have their stories and they are all loosely tied together with a medium story about darkness and light.
To be honest, I didn't like the graphics that much. They shined for the Disney characters, but it seemed to dull Sora, Rikku, Kairi, & the Squaresoft (actually it is only Final Fantasy) characters. The other characters would have looked a lot better with graphics like FFX as the game has close to the same graphics in cinematics as in FFX's cinematics. There should've been more time spent in this department like many others should have been in this game. I have to admit though, nearly all of the characters look exactly as they should except I think that Minnie is a little bit too big.
I would think that since this game has been released post FFX, and the whole point of the game is to bring out nostalgia to all the Disney fans, that it would be nothing but speech. This, for some odd reason, is not true. Speech is only given in key sequences, and there are one or a few characters that you never hear their voice in the game. The Disney characters each have their original voice actor if they are still alive (with the exception of Genie who has the voice from the animated series), and everyone else who gets to speak has a Hollywood star as their voice actor.
Sorry for the pun, but since it is Disney, it's a small world after all. The worlds that you explore in Kingdom Hearts are just too small to be considered worlds. Jupiter is bigger than all of these. Each of these worlds have the nostalgia feel to it if they apply, but the designs for each are basic. Like the character designs, they also fail to use the power of the PS2. While it is nowhere near as bad as some of the cheapened backgrounds in Devil May Cry 2, it still makes you question how much effort they actually put into this game compared to FFX. They usually follow a few scenes from a Disney movie or what else their influence is and follow it throughout the worlds in a very basic (in the eyes of Squaresoft) manner. Probably the most disappointing of these worlds is Hercules'. It makes you wonder what they think a world is. It is simply a Coliseum!
What hurts the worlds most is the same as the characters, the sound. All the worlds have between one and three songs. These songs are rarely over two minutes long. The songs don't have bad looping, but if you aren't a regular RPG player, you will get annoyed. This only gets worse with Disney themed music. You will be begging for the option to play your own music like on some X-Box games. Luckily, battles do change music, but again like most RPGs, there is rarely a change in the battle music.
Speaking of battles, the graphics and sounds don't exactly shine here either. The magic is decent and in no way of any worse quality than anything else in the game. What is also annoying here is speech in battles. Sora & friends only have a couple of things to say in battle like saying each other's name when they are using an item on each other and replying. Summons that you use in play rarely say anything and if they do, it is the same exact words.
Where the sound was at it’s best has to be the opening and ending music done by the only Japanese artist I know that sings in English, Utada Hikaru. She is responsible for both versions of “Simple and Clean” as many of you have heard in the commercials.
The controls are fairly simple and with the addition of shortcuts and a small easy to use menu, the fact that all the battles are in real-time shouldn’t make the potential player scared to play this game. In fact, these battles are too easy to be scared of them. You can nearly go through every battle in the game with little to no strategy needed. You can simply just attack with the keyblade and let Donald and Goofy worry about magic and healing. To put it in the perspective of a newbie, the battles aren't boring, it is just the fact that the battles don't change much from the beginning to the end.
After you defeat an enemy, any combination of these items appear: a small or medium sized yellow orb for munny, a small or medium sized orb for health, and a tiny treasure chest with items that you can trade in for better equipment items at the synthesis shop in the first world you entered (but don't forget about what I said earlier). You also earn experience points with after every enemy you defeat not after there are no more enemies.
As you level up, you may earn abilities that you can use by spending ability points that you also earn as you level up. Most of the abilities require no effort from you like treasure magnet, some are special skills like Vortex that require you can use it in battle, and others are in a separate ability menu that all characters can use whenever.
Even that becomes annoying because of the camera. It moves on it's own from behind when you walk, but if you ever get into a corner, it wobbles like crazy. You have an option to use a first-person view in the game, but you can't use it in battle, nor can you move with it on otherwise.
An astonishing addition to the battle is the use summons, but with the exception of two of them, they don't have that great of a significance in battle. There are certain worlds were battles become a little bit different and/or you can get a surprising change, but you quickly figure out that it does little to change the battle.
To travel between worlds, you are able to ride in a machine called a Gummi ship. You can custom design your Gummi ship as you go through the game as you can earn new parts and blueprints, but there is little reason to. In fact, you can go through the entire game with your innate ship turned backwards (in other words without using your weapons) and survive traveling from world to world.
If you haven't realized by now, this game seems to be too linear for a Squaresoft game, but there are a few side-quests to make it not seem as bad. One of them is a to collect the pages of a book with a little character known as Winnie the Pooh. There are also goals to try and find all of the colored Mickey icon spots know as Trinities, which often cause some funny sequences that give items like Dalmatians that you also have to try and collect or open up a room that contains important items. Sadly, this is about as far as puzzles (if you can call it one) can go in this game.
Play Time 8/10
I have heard of a vast range of time of how much it takes to beat the game. This is no Final Fantasy people; I don't know how it is possible to play this through once with as much as 100 hrs. Being the fastest player I know, I beat the game without finding all the extras at about 20 hrs. So, for everyone else, that should be about 30 hrs. To find all the extras and secrets, that should be about 50-60 hrs, and to level up to 100 should be about 70-80 hrs. I do not see how anyone can play this once with 100 hrs plus.
There is absolutely no purpose to playing this game again; there isn't anything that hidden that you would have to and besides longer battles, there is no difference between the easy and expert modes. The story itself just isn't extravagant enough to want to play through it all over again. More than likely, you will stop midway just to do one thing and then stop playing.
This is one of many over hyped games that are out there, but unlike some of them, this is somewhat good. The main problem that seems to shine through this whole game is that it seems to have been done quickly. It fails in my mind to carry the effectiveness of its nostalgia throughout the whole game. Everything about it seems to lack that Squaresoft idea (that shines mostly in the Final Fantasy series) of a video game is like. This game shows a lot of potential though if this series does continue.
If you are a kid, this game is a definite must-have; you will see absolutely nothing wrong about it. The fact that it is a Disney game alone makes you believe it is a 10/10 no matter what everyone else says.
If you are a teen or above, you might want to wait until it becomes a greatest hits game before you buy it or borrow it from a friend that followed the hype. I wouldn't recommend renting it because you won't beat it in time.
Also. If you hate Disney, don't buy this game, it doesn't help you into liking it anymore. That also goes for those that don't like RPGs like Phantasy Star Online or .hack
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/03, Updated 02/26/03
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