Review by enacting

"Kingdom Hearts steals your heart as well"

I've never quite been a Kingdom Hearts fan. Until now. Putting both Disney and Square characters in a game sounded too much of a bad mix to me. Would it be too childish with Disney themes? Or too serious with the characteristic melancholy main characters of Square? Well, my doubts have been put to rest with this gem.

As you start the game, you're quickly drawn into the fast-paced storyline. The game is merciless at throwing new information and ideas, and sometimes I even need time to comprehend fully after every line before I push the A button. No introductions - nothing. But your mission is clear: To find your memories, which are being lost every moment and solve the mystery of Castle Oblivion. The key to unlocking the memories is for you to find out. As you search through past memories, you meet old friends and gain new knowledge. And all this time while a dark scheme unfolds behind the scenes. The story is immensely deep, and grips your heart tightly. The intriguing plot is so compelling that you'd be dying to find out more about the hidden secrets of your true memories, game or other-wise. The depth of the storyline is also responsible for the only fault I find in this otherwise perfect game - there are simply too many dialogues. Even the introduction is made up of 10-minute long dialogue-based scenes.

You roam entire worlds, plagued by Heartless which are cold beasts that steal your hearts and memories. The battles are very revolutionary and intense, requiring you to use cards for all your attacks and spells. Although slightly confusing at first, after you get the hang of it the whole concept is exciting, even exhilarating at times. You can stack cards to make powerful combos and spells. You can also unleash "friend" cards to help you in battle - a mix of both Disney and Square characters you'll find familiar like Genie and Cloud. Stack them up increase their powers. Cards can be given to you, dropped by Heartless or even bought from Moogle Shops with Moogle Points that you collect throughout the game.

Battles aside, there are many worlds for you to explore. You can relive plots from the different Disney cartoons and get their cards, adding an interesting touch to the game play. What's even more commendable is how all the different plots are linked to your own. You discover some of your own memories and inner desires by helping them achieve and gain theirs.

If the deep storyline isn't enough to draw you to the game, the graphics and sound effects will. The graphics are beautiful and well-drawn. The attacking motions and movement out of battle are completely seamless. The stages are well decorated along the themes of that particular world. And although most of the characters are from Disney, they're still able to look beautiful and serious at the right times without being too "cute". The introduction song, Dearly Beloved, is mesmerising and enchanting. Your in-battle effects include voiced spells and attacks, and great background music. The music changes with every world, reflecting the themes of them.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is a beautiful masterpiece that will engage you for days on end. Buy it and be prepared for a whirlwind ride unfolding the true secrets of your deepest memories in the game. Definitely a heart-stealer of any true gaming fan.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/10/04

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