Review by Spiral_Wolf

"Nicely done, not perfect, but nicely done."

Only so long ago did we all play and enjoy the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts (Well, I hope that you did enjoy it if you are thinking of purchasing this one) and it was one of, if not the, finest Action RPGs of the year (In my, and many others opinions). Either SquareEnix is looking to expand on the series story-line or milk it for a couple of extra bucks, and what this is might be a combination of the two.

The game play itself revolves around cards, much to my surprise it retains a few mechanics of its older Playstation 2 counterpart. For one the game is not turn-based, thankfully enough for most fans, and familiar attacks, techniques, magic, summons, and yes, nearly all of the PS2 game's enemies (not to mention its characters) make a return. The combat takes place on rectangular battlefields, sadly which only differ from one another background-wise, and occurs in real-time, this is where the cards come into play. In order to do anything but move, you must use cards, which surprisingly enough does little to slow down the pace of battle, and adds a strategic layer of depth to the game (Button-mashers will find themselves at a disadvantage here). Card breaks, combos, and sleights are incorporated into the previously mentioned strategic element and set this apart from other Action RPGs (Well at least I think they do). Not to say that the game is by any means only strategically centered, in my opinion the game combines its card system with action-oriented game play quite smoothly. All this being said, the entire game is very combat centric, so don't let the cards fool you. In fact, you do very little else but go from point A to point B over and over again and fight enemies, so at least SquareEnix pulls off the combat well enough to keep you entertained.

The story in the game, quite frankly, hardly exists. It is, of course, a hand-held game, so you can't expect much. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll keep my summary short. The game follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they venture through Castle Oblivion. Yeah, that's mostly it. I really can't help but think that the story was only meant to tell you what happens between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2... and I suppose that is true. It is interesting... but I am a big fan of Kingdom Hearts, it really helps if you actually care about the story between the first and second game, but at least it doesn't get in the way. The graphics are actually quite impressive for a GBA game, large colorful sprites and backgrounds ensure that the most vain and superficial gamers won't have to blindfold themselves whilst playing, and the graphical effects and animations are done nicely. The sound track features many of the original songs from the PS2 Kingdom Hearts and I think that I may of heard some that are new, but you know, its a hand-held; the songs aren't spectacular but they get the job done, the sound-effects as well.

All in all, you don't have to be a fan of Kingdom Hearts, but it sure helps you enjoy this game. If you are a fan, or an RPG lover, get it, it'll surprise you that SquareEnix didn't completely ruin the game with the whole card thing.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/21/04

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