Review by Kashell Triumph

"When you put Chain of Memories in a word scrambler, here is an example of what you may get, "Shame. Crime. No." That's about right."

Kingdom Hearts for the PS2 was an average at best game. Yes, I am still biased about it because those "Kingdom Hearts is better than Dual Hearts" jerks. Well, I still decided to get this game because I was in need of RPGs for the GBA SP. What I got was something far worse than I expected.

Story: 4/10
The game starts off where the first game ended. Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter Castle Oblivion where they meet a mysterious figure cloaked in black. How original. Anyway, the cloaked one says that Sora must voyage through the castle and leaves him with these words, "Ahead lies something you need, but to claim it, you must lose something dear."

Hmm, sounds familiar. Actually, playing about an hour of this game will seem very familiar after you realize you're going through the stages from the first game all over again. I understand that the game is not a sequel, but it could've been more interesting than the entire game all over again.

Game Play: 2/10
When you're not battling, you'll be going through tedios dialouge with characters you've encountered before. As far as I can recall, the only shops are those in which you can buy cards. Cards play a major role in this game. They are what allow you to go into new areas and encounter new characters. Anyway, besides the card shopping, the only other thing I can think of doing when you're not battling is looking at the confusing menu screen, trying to organize your card deck. Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough to "get it" but the menu screens were crowded and annoying. But nothing compares to the annoyance of the battle system.

All games based around cards except for hearts, euchre, rummy, and solitairre are B-A-D. I have yet to find one that has held my interest. Kingdom Hearts for the GBA SP is no exception. You encounter enemies on the field and you can press A to swing your Key Blade at them to get into a battle. If you hit them, you'll get initiative. Unfortunately, this initiative doesn't help much. The battles play out as they would in an action game, however they are seriously flawed due to card system. You press A to use a card. However, each card has one use and after it's used, you can't use it until you recharge. It's pretty much like a button mashing game, which doesn't work when cards that allow you to attack are involved. Sometimes, you'll be pressing A so fast that you'll use a Cure spell or summon Donald to aid you when you really didn't mean to. The most annoying part is when the enemies card number value is higher than yours and it causes you to get hit by a Card Break. This annoyance leaves you wide open for attacks. Card games suck, period. You would think that RPG creation veterans from Squaresoft would know better. I blame Enix for this wise idea!

Graphics: 9/10
The character sprites and backgrounds are gorgeous. They are colorful, and give a great representation of how the characters looked in the PS2 version of the game. There are some cinematics here and there in the game, but they serve no purpose other than Square-Enix saying, "Look what we can do! Yay!" Anyway, the one flaw with some of the graphics is that some of the objects/character sprites are too big and take up too much screen. It actually gets annoying when you're up against a lot of enemies, some of which are large, and you only have the GBA SP screeen to deal with.

Music and Sound: 7/10
The music is nothing like it was on the PS2 version. I recognized no tracks from the PS2 version, despite the fact I was revisiting the areas from it. It's not necessarily bad, but it could've been much better given Square's reputation with things.

The sounds, on the other hand, are great for a GBA game. Sora, Donald, and Goofy all say little things when the do certain actions. They sound great. The other sound affects are nice as well.

Replay Value: 4/10
I hear you can play the game a second time through as Riku and see his side of the story. Unfortunately, that means you have to deal with the lame cards all over again. Therefore, I see no real reason to play through this game unless you loved the battle system and are a huge Kingdom Hearts junkie.

Buy or Rent: Rent
I don't know, most people would think to buy this game becuase it's an RPG and has side-quests and what not. However, it's a short game and lasts only 15 hours. It's not worth paying all that money for it. You're better off renting it if you desire to try it, which I don't recommend.

It was a shame that the cards were used in this game, and it was also a shame that a potentially good story was ruined. Whatever, if for some reason I decided to get Kingdom Hearts 2, all I can say is that it better be good or Square-Enix is going to lose a RPGamer.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 01/05/05

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