Review by CrOxx

Reviewed: 12/30/04

A game worthy of the 'Kingdom Hearts' title

Back at Tokyo Game Show 2003, everyone was clinging to the edge of their seats for information about a sequel to the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts. However what no one expected was a GBA game that took place between KH1 and KH2. Some people wondered if it would simply be a rehash, while others thought it would be a disaster. They couldn't have been more wrong.

Graphics: 10/10

The graphics of this gave are simply amazing. Believe it or not, Chain of Memories even has about 5 cutscenes of near PS2 quality. The in-game graphics are also quite good.

Music: 8.5/10

For the most part, the tunes of CoM are midi versions of KH1 music. While this isn't bad by any means, I wish that they hadn't reused quite as much, as the new songs are pretty decent.

Gameplay: 8/10

Most of the rooms of each world are created by using cards that you get from fighting enemies. Each card has different effects on the door. For example, one card might cause the room to be full of sleeping Heartless, while another may cause a save point to appear. There are also numbers on the doors and on the cards. In order to open a door, you'll need to use a card that matches the number requirements. This system allows for quite a bit of customization, but it can become annoying toward the end of the game when you may have to spend a lot of time searching for a certain card.

The battle system of this game also uses cards. You generally get cards from using a Moogle point, from beating bosses, or by opening treasure chests. Each card represents a different attack, spell, or item. When you select a card, it's effect, whether it's a typical attack or a curative spell, is used. Obviously, you can create your own deck and scroll through it in battle. Besides attack/spell/item cards, there's also boss cards, which have special effects, and ally cards, which cause an ally to temporarily assist you in battle.

There are a few interesting features to the card system. One of them is card breaking. Each card has a number. When both you and your opponent use a card at the same time, the card with the higher number is used. The other card is "card broken" and can't be used for the rest of the battle. An odd exception to this rule are 0 cards. 0 cards can typically be broken by any card. However, if you use a 0 card after the enemy starts using the effect of their card, then the enemy's card is broken. Another cool feature is sleights. Using the R and L buttons, you can select 3 cards to put to the side to use all at once. Sometimes, the card combination will result in a sleight, which is a special attack. The card system is fun and adds quite a bit of strategy to the game. However, it has a tendency to get rather repetitive after a while.

Story: 9/10

The main story of this game takes place right after the end of the first Kingdom Hearts, and begins with the scene of Sora, Goofy, and Donald chasing Pluto down the road. A black-clad figure appears to Sora, and tells him that in order to find what he is seeking, he will have to lose something precious to him. After this encounter, the figure disappears. Sora and his friends find a strange castle and journey inside, only to discover that they are beginning to lose their memory...

The story of this game is excellent. In order to regain his memories, Sora travels through all of the worlds (except for Deep Jungle) that he visited in KH1. The main plot is told between the different worlds. CoM introduces many new characters, all of which are interesting in their own ways. After beating Sora's story, you can also unlock the ability to play as a certain silver-haired boy and see his side of the story. This explains many issues, and introduces even more important characters.

Unfortunately, the story of each world is less then stellar. Though slightly changed from KH1, the worlds are not especially interesting plot-wise, and you may find yourself rushing through them to see more of the main story. However, the main plot more then makes up for the dull worlds.

Overall Score: 9/10

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is an excellent GBA game, and will be loved by fans of the original Kingdom Hearts. However, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't played the original KH1. Also, if you don’t have a GBA, you may want to just read a game script and wait until KH2 comes out as opposed to buying a GBA just for CoM.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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