Review by Game Magician

"A masterpiece, a work of art!"

When I first saw the commercial for Kingdom Hearts, I fell heads over heels in love, even though I did not possess a PS2. I was absolutely intrigued, although most of Disney’s releases was basically, I hate to say it, but failures. But this game was different, somehow. Squaresoft and Disney, two of the most respectable companies in the whole entire world! Surely this game must have at least some good points. I had heard so much about the Final Fantasy series, and I was a major fan of Disney movies, I resolved to get Kingdom Hearts, no matter what. Two months later, at Christmas, when I finally received the Playstation 2 that I’ve wanted for so long, Kingdom Hearts had the honor of being the very first game I touched.
Kingdom Hearts is a surprising, unusual game, but that’s what sets it off from its other competition. It contains a mix of Disney and Square character, which is a super combo. It also possesses the rare charm of the unique feeling of watching a particular scene that is especially touching. It also possesses a certain amount of action, for the fans of thriller games out there.

Graphics: Kingdom Heart’s graphics shines, literally. Although it can be improved, it’s not too shady, and can definitely hold a candle against the storm. The main characters are intricately sketched, with very little resistance. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, with every line intricately sketched. It will make you feel like you are directly there, at the very place that you are watching. Kingdom Hearts really shine, especially in the boss battles or the places that require more attention and work, such as ones under the sea or in the sky. The background can use more work, but it’s, overall, not too shabby. Overall, Kingdom Heart’s graphics are excellent, a real treat for the eyes.

Rating:8/10

Sound: Sound is perhaps worse off than the graphics. The music may get boring and repetitive after a while, especially if you find yourself repeating a certain fight over and over again, or staying in a certain world too long and having to listen to the same rhythm over and over again, without any stop. Of course, in such a situation, you can always hit the mute button, but having no sound at all is even worse…
The song “Simple and Clean” is fantastic, though. It is an excellent song, and I knoe many people who have bought the game just for the sole purpose of listening to this song and this song alone. Trust me, this a song not to be neglected, even with so many people in love with it, perhaps it is still under-rated…

Rating: 7/10

Gameplay: The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts is moderate, I suppose. The main objective is to travel from world to world, trying to prevent the Heartless from invading it. You also fight some special bosses in each world, each with their own unique strengths and disadvantages. Your way of transportation of world to world is the Gummi-Ship, in which you pilot a little spaceship and destroy every obstacle in your way, and also trying to collect the miscellaneous items that appear when you blow up stuff.

You act as a warrior and hero, traveling from place to place, sealing the Keyhole and protecting it from the Heartless. You must wade into the midst of battle and but through the hordes of enemies that will prevent you from reaching your goal. You must rely on brute force and brute force alone in order to beat the game. At the beginning, your options are greatly limited, you can only dodge, block, and attack. As you process through the game, however, your options increase. You gain abilities, both combat and defensive, that you can use in battle, to either do damage to your opponents or to defend yourself from that particularly nasty attack. At the beginning of the game, you are limited to simple, three-hit manual combos that you perform with the X button. Towards the end, however, you gain Special Abilities that allow you to perform delicate tricks and computer fast-and-furious combos that do more damage and leave you invulnerable for that short period of time. There are also abilities that are both manual and automatic, you must follow up with the combos in order to pull off a successful attack.

The surprising thing is, you’re not only a warrior, you are also a magician, capable of destroying every single enemy in your path with just a simple click on a button. As you process through the game, you learn new spells, and the ones that you already know become more and more powerful. You learn to cast maelstrom, crush enemies to the ground, start a raging fire, call the elementals themselves down from heaven to aid you, and the gentle power to heal both you and your allies.

That’s not all, though. You’re not the only one who is resisting darkness. Your allies, from Disney worlds, will aid you on your way. There will be two team members with you at all times, no more, no less. They will help you defeat the Heartless and draw attention away from yourself. But, they do have artificial intelligence, so naturally, they’re not going to be as smart as you. Often, they will scramble up and ledge and fight some imaginary enemy that’s not even there, or do a silly victory dance when you emerge victorious from the battle. That’s the magic of Disney, though, to make you feel silly, young, and light-hearted. Don’t let there cheerfulness affect you, continue to defeat the enemies and become the hero of Kingdom Hearts!

So, now that you know your allies, what about your enemies? Well, your enemies are basically known as the Heartless, they are on every surface imaginable. Each world has its different type of Heartless, ranging from octopus-looking Heartless, Heartless that wear turbans and carry swords, or ones that rather look like a cute dog than a creature of absolute evil. As you process through the game, the Heartless becomes stronger and harder to beat, but gives out more experience points, a necessity for gaining levels. Some Heartless has their weaknesses and strengths, some will absorb some attacks and turn it into their own health, and be especially weak against other attacks. As you fight Heartless, you should always look for certain weaknesses and exploit them, and avoid the strengths.

But the Heartless aren’t your only enemies, oh no! There are also bosses, villains from typical Disney films. You must fight them in order to complete a world or to unlock a secret thing. The bosses tend to be much stronger than the regular Heartless, and gives out more experience points when they are beaten.

Kingdom Hearts also possesses sidequests, some much like the ones in the Final Fantasy series. You must complete the sidequests in order to get certain, secret things. Most of them are fun, some are not. Overall, the sidequests are okay, a minor disturbance and annoyance that you must put up with in order to reap the rewards, but not something that you would do for fun, either.

One major disadvantage of Kingdom Hearts that severely wound its score is the dreaded camera angle. It turns every which way, in every direction except the one where you want it to point. Unfortunately, that causes a major problem in battles, especially the ones with a crowd or with a particularly hard boss.

Overall, though, the good points outweigh the bad, and you’ll find yourself used to adjusting the camera angle, so much that perhaps you won’t even notice it when it suddenly spins off course in the middle of an important battle. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself loving the battle systems, loving the world, and loving Kingdom Hearts down to its very core.

Rating: 8/10

Story: The story is pretty average, with a decent plot and some interesting events, but definitely not top-notched. It is full with holes and knots, also loose ends that must be, supposedly, tied up in the rumored upcoming sequel. Disney and Square leaves some characters and plots unfinished, as well as not going deep into their unique personality and characteristics. The story, however, does provide you with enough twists and pulls to keep it interesting, at least semi, anyway.

Rating: 8/10

Playability: Kingdom Hearts lasts from 25 hours to 50 hours, depending on your skill level, Normal or Expert setting, whether or not you have difficulty against the Bosses, etc etc. But all over all, Kingdom Heart’s durability is great. Repeating all of the levels from the beginning can be a huge problem, though, since you are very much weaker and have so many disadvantages. The cutscenes can get tiring of being watched over and over again. Chances are, you’re going to want to pick this game up again after a period of rest, though. You’re going to want to go back and beat all of the optional bosses, to collect all the items and miscellaneous things.
Rent or Buy: Definitely buy, Kingdom Hearts is worth more than the 50 bucks. If you’re a fan of Disney, Square, or RPG games, this is a must-have in your library. If you dislike Disney characters or anything in this game, try giving it a rent. You would not want to blow the fifty bucks on a game that you dislike. But who knows? You might discover that you love Disney after a spin with this amazing game.

There’s a reason that Kingdom Hearts made almost every single Top-Ten list, there’s a reason why the Kingdom Hearts board is always full at Gamefaqs, there’s a reason why so many people, both young and old, adore it, and there’s reason why you should play this game. Kingdom Hearts is so worthy of recognition, it’s unbelievable. Overall, Kingdom Hearts is one of the treasured games of today. It is a light-hearted, cheerful game, a quality so rare in games today. I have discovered that Kingdom Hearts is one of the better RPGs that I’ve played, and one of the best overall games, too!I love this game, particularly because I’m a huge Disney fan. But you can enjoy it too! Never underestimate this game and think it’s too “kiddy”. The light-hearted characters in this game will make that youthful spirit inside of you flare up. Guaranteed to make you feel like you’re six years old again, and that is a rare feeling, a very rare feeling.

I give Kingdom Hearts an overall score of 9/10. It’s a game that should definitely be in your game collection, but not one that is perfect. Rather, it’s full of small holes that should be patched up, but they are small ones, nonetheless, are merely an annoyance that you can put up with, it does not necessary hamper the game from being its full potential, and even if it does, it doesn’t hamper it much. Rather, the good points outweigh the bad by a major amount, and that’s all that matters.

Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Story: 8/10
Replay: Does not apply


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/03, Updated 04/10/03


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