Review by LegendofLegaia
"Kingdom Hearts: Painful Memories, now with better, but still incredibly flawed gameplay"
Before someone gets really annoyed that I'm giving this game a bad score, let me make it clear that I DO like the other Kingdom Hearts games. I've played this (if I didn't, I wouldn't be reviewing this), Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts ll, and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days and Chain of Memories is the only game I've hated so far.
Anyway, with that out of the way, let's get on with the review!
Graphics - They're basically the first game's graphics (which may or may not be slightly improved), seeing as how at least 95% of the areas you come across are ones you've been to in the first game. This game's plot is supposed to be an excuse as to why there's only one or two new areas to explore, but we'll get onto that later. I'd be able to go into more detail if this was the version on the GBA, but since it isn't, there's not much to talk about.
Music - Again, they just borrowed all of the songs from the first game (excluding a couple of songs, of course). I SUPPOSE you could argue that the songs were reused (like how every single area from the first game excluding one or two places) because it would be interesting to hear them on the GBA, but again, either way you look at it, it still seems pretty lazy that they didn't even bother trying to remix the songs a little or something like that.
Story - As much as I want to say that the story was complete garbage, I can't. I mean, I do hate, and I mean REALLY hate that it pretty much does nothing for the overall storyline (at least nothing big that I've noticed), but I do like the way that they set up the main story. Heck, I even admit to liking the main story of this game. Most of the time, if not, all of the time, an event would occur after you finish revisiting a world from your memories. And each time an event after finishing a world ended, it made me wonder what would happen next and it made me want to speed through the worlds I had to play through in order to see the next event. Speaking of the worlds, this is where the story really fails. I mean, I understand that we're experiencing THE SAME events from the first worlds because this game is about Sora's memories, but it still comes off as incredibly lazy. Square... Squaresoft... Square Enix... Square *insert new word here*... If we really wanted to redo everything we did in the first Kingdom Hearts, we would have just kept our money and replayed the first game.
Gameplay - Oh boy, I bet anyone else who hated this game has just been dying to hear what I have to say about this game's gameplay. Now, I can excuse a game for having a poor story if it has fun and enjoyable gameplay, especially if it can manage to add to the gameplay without screwing things up. Square Enix (which will probably be called something else five or so years from now) tried to do this and I really have to commend them for the amount of effort that probably went into the gameplay. In this title, instead of the usual Kingdom Hearts gameplay where you scroll through options such as "Attack", "Magic", "Items", etc. and you have a magic bar, you're given cards. Not only are you given cards for magic, summons, and items, but you also use them for normal attacks with your keyblade. You can also combine cards to use awesome and helpful attacks, but you'll end up losing the card that began the combination until you either use an item card or until the battle ends. You also encounter enemies like you would in EarthBound, which is seeing them pop up and not having to fight them unless they touched you. This system would have been perfect for a turn based RPG... However, that's just the problem. This isn't a turn based RPG, this is a Kingdom Hearts game, a game where you can allow your character to dodge attacks whenever possible, attack more than once before the enemy does, etc.. Kind of like a Zelda game. So, considering that you're not given a turn to decide just how you want to use these cards strategically, how do you use them properly? Unfortunately, you don't, unless you're used to scrolling through a deck of cards while constantly running from enemies. I found myself constantly just using high level keyblade cards and pretty much nothing else due to the fact that running away from enemies and recharging my deck that takes a couple of minutes to recharge completely five thousand times is something I find incredibly annoying. Not to mention the fact that enemies can stop your attack from happening if you're using a lower level card than there's. So, due to the fact that you can't rely that much on cards that take longer to finish than a keyblade strike during boss battles because the bosses can also combine their cards to stop your attacks and also use stronger attacks themselves, the player has to find a way to be able to constantly hit the boss upfront with a keyblade card and recharge without getting hit, and let me tell you that if you get hit once, the boss might be able to spam an attack a bunch of times before you're even able to heal, causing you to die and forcing you to fight the boss from the beginning again, and again, and again, and again, until you get lucky and beat them. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was A LOT worse when it came to these problems and Re:Chain of Memories really fixed things up, but the gameplay is still incredibly flawed. There's also a special mode after beating Sora's story, but I won't spoil it. It's pretty much just you going through the same exact worlds again except you play as a different character. Not only that, but you don't even get to see any of the characters you got to meet when playing as Sora, except for the Disney villains. And that, folks, is why I hated this game. This game's gameplay is incredibly flawed and could have been good had Square Enix just swallowed their action/RPG Kingdom Hearts gameplay pride and made this a normal, turn based RPG.
Summary - So, overall, I would ONLY suggest playing this game if you're on OCD gamer like me and you need to have all of the games from a series you like. Also, if you're somehow unable to just look up the parts of the game that advance the story on YouTube or some other video website for some reason, then MAYBE you should get this game, but only if you really need to know trivial things from Kingdom Hearts ll like "Where did that "THANK NAMINE" note come from?". Also, if you are going to get this game, be sure to get THIS version instead of the GBA version because, even though it's still a bad game overall, the gameplay is even worse on the GBA version (as I said before).
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 04/28/11
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories (US, 12/02/08)
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