Review by Khmai_Knight88
"An enjoyable but frustrating remake"
This game is the remake of the GBA game that came out a few years ago but I'm sure you knew that already. I'm a big fan of the series but I have never played the original version despite owning a Game Boy Advance. When I heard Square was bringing this game to the PS2, I decided to give it a shot after missing it the first time. Now that I have beaten the game, here's my take of Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories.
This is the main reason why I bought the game. I missed out on this part of the story and when I played KH 2 for the first time, I was like "what the hell is going on?". "Who is this Roxas and who are all these kids?". You know, "where is Sora and why is he sleeping in this weird thing" and stuff like that. I was confused initially but then I quickly realized that stuff happened in CoM and I missed it. People who kept up with KH2 and Chain of Memories probably knew all these details and such but I didn't, so I knew nothing about the story. Well, the story that I missed is here and although it's corny at times, it is unique and different from the other games. It start off a little slow but it gets a lot more interesting near the end of the game with the plot twists.
The game starts off immediately after KH1 with Sora/friends searching for Riku and The King. Sora meets a mysterious figure dressed in black that tells him "Along the road ahead lies something you need but in order to obtain it, you must lose something dearly" thus leading him to a mysterious place known as Castle Oblivion. This is where the game's theme comes in, "In this place, to find is to lose, to lose is to find". What that means is that Sora will forget his "current" memories the farther he goes into the castle while remembering things that he has long forgotten. The figure also told Sora that he will meet those he knows now and ones that he miss in order convince him to go deep into the castle. Little do they know, they'll soon find out that it's all part of a plan.
The game is now in 3D and it's comparable to the other games. Most of the character models and locations are recycled from the first game. Some of the facial expressions and movements are still very well done while some needs more work. I was surprised that there weren't any new FMVs in this game and that is a minor disappointment. You'll see a recap of the first game at the beginning with bits of the same FMV in it and that's it. The battle animations is pretty much the same as the other games except for a few new ones.
Overall, it's a solid looking PS2 game.
The new battle system is a love or hate it kind of thing. Some like it for it's complex and originality while others like me, find it too complicated and annoying (card breaks and switching screens). Unlike the other two KH games where it's just simply a hack-n-slash, the battle system here consist of using cards with values (numbers 0-9) to attack and use magic. It's still hack-n-slash but requires careful planning and strategies. Sure, it sounds great on paper but it only made the game more difficult and frustrating. For this very reason, this game is not recommended for new KH players. Those that played the GBA version before won't have any problem obviously but for me, it took a very, very long time to fully understand the concept of the system. What is frustrating about the game is that once you're beating heartless and the Disney bosses like it's nobody's business, you'll think you got the hang of it until you get your @$$ kicked by one of the organization in an instant. Just when you think you have a solid deck to work with, the game gets very difficult quickly. So in order to stand any chance, you'll have to spend a large amount of time grinding levels and moogle points to get the best cards.
There are a lot of sleights (a combination of cards to use abilities) that you'll have to remember and will need to build your deck around for hard boss battles. If you are expecting to just use the keyblade cards individually, you're not going to get very far. I found that out the hard way. The problem with sleights is that I often forget it's value requirement and mixing it with wrong cards only to screw it up in boss battles. I don't know about other people but it happens a lot especially when I'm in desperate situations.
Not only are cards used for battles, they are also used to synthesize different types of rooms for each world. These are called map cards. For example, you can use a card to create a room with treasure in it or another room with a lot of heartless depending on the type of card. The whole point of this is that you'll have to go through one room to the next to advance the story and to get to the next floor in the castle. There are thirteen floors and the worlds are the same from the first game. Same Disney boss fights but a slightly different scenario to fit this game (ex: memory potion/Halloween town). I like the non-linear aspect of the room synthesizing but I really missed the free-flowing exploration from the first two games.
The same as before unfortunately. It's good to hear the classic tunes again as well as "Simple/Clean" but there's not much new music to be found here which is a little disappointing. On the bright side, we get new voiceovers from Haley Joel Osment and David Gallagher to name a few. The voice acting is solid as always despite Sora having his deeper, KH 2 voice. I didn't mind it at all. Voice acting occurs only in the hallway scenes only which is understandable.
Once you beaten the game, you get reverse/rebirth aka Riku mode in which you get to play his side of the story. I thought it was a nice addtion and it boost your playing time even more. Riku's battle system is different than Sora's and probably a little easier. When I said easier, I meant that for Riku, you won't have to worry about deck building because you can't customize it like with Sora's. Some may or may not like that. Another difference is that Riku gets to use his awesome dark powers. It's a very enjoyable mode.
You also get a theather mode for watching the game cutscenes which is nice too. Other than that, there's not much else to do but you can try to collect all the cards and complete Jiminy's journal entries. If you want more challenge, you can always try the proud mode if you haven't already from the beginning.
Well, I can say that it is worth the $30 despite some of it flaws. It was an enjoyable game while frustrating at the same time. I will recommend this game to any KH fan but for new KH players, start with first one (it's cheap), and then give this a try. The story is worth playing for and like I said earlier, it's why I bought the game. Right now, I'm anticipating the release of the next two KH game, 358/2 days and Birth by Sleep. One is side story and another is a prequel. Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this review.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/15/09
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories (US, 12/02/08)
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