Review by ToaofGamecube

"Yu-Gi-No!! This is one card battler that you won't feel confused at!"

I know what many of you are thinking: how could SquareEnix turn this amazing game series into a stupid card battler? Well, the reason is simple: it doesn't feel like a card battler. You could go the entire game without changing cards! This would be hard, though.

In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the game actually feels like an extension of Kingdom Hearts for the PS2. The story is very elaborate, and SquareEnix did a good job thinking it up. You start out with a simple deck consisting mostly of Kingdom Keys, then you must battle your way through 13 different worlds, each with its own enemies and storyline. The familiar Dodge Roll becomes a staple, and you have it right from the outset.

The main game consists of 13 worlds, each with its own rooms. To enter a room, you must use a Map Card with a certain requirement to open the door. The card affects the appearance and enemies of the room. For example, if you use the Stagnant Space card, you will enter a long hallway with heartless that move at half speed, and if you use Calm Bounty, the room will contain no heartless, just a treasure chest.

If you touch a heartless on the field, you will enter battle. However, if you hit it with the keyblade, the heartless will be stunned. You use L and R to select a card, and A to use it. You can also jump, roll, and move. There are 4 types of cards. Attack cards swing the keyblade. Magic cards cast magic or summon friends. Item cards can be used only once per battle, but have effects such as refilling your deck. Enemy cards cost a lot of CP and can be hard to find, but they have lasting effects that will help the entire battle. You do have to push select to use them, however.

Enemies leave Map Cards, Experience, and sometimes Enemy Cards. When you collect enough experience, you level up. When you level up, you can choose to level up your HP, your CP, or learn a new sleight. Your HP increases your health. Your CP increases the amount of cards you can hold in your deck. Sleights are special combo attacks that do amazing things, such as Sonic Blade or Ragnarok. You press L & R at the same time to stock a card, and if you stock 3 specific cards, you will be able to unleash the sleight with L&R.

To build a deck, you must first have cards. You gain these throughout the game, through battles, treasure spots, and Moogle shops. At a Moogle shop, you can trade old cards for points, and then buy card packs. To build a deck, each card has an amount of CP. The cards' total CP cannot exceed the amount of CP you have. You can also order the cards.

The Hundred Acre Wood is a special level. You help Pooh get his friends' attention, and then they will give you some pretty powerful sleights. It is a nice addition to this game.

The boss battles for this game are amazing. They can use sleights, just like you, but cards can be broken if another card with higher value is played. Each boss fits perfectly into the storyline, and have very fitting attacks. For example, Hades has the powers of fire, while Dark Riku has amazing dark powers. The story for this game seems like it goes on forever, and it takes many twists and turns as Sora realizes what the castle truly is.

This game also has some of the best graphics on the GameBoy. When you are watching the intro scene, you'll swear you're watching a cutscene from the first game. Also, the text has animated faces, with moving mouths and blinking eyes. Also, unlike in the first game, you can skip a cutscene by holding down start, which is great if you keep on failing a boss battle.

Once you beat the normal story mode, you unlock Reverse/Rebirth mode, where you see another character's side of the story. This mode has many more familiar faces from the first game, such as Ansem, the King, Kairi, and more. However, this mode is only about half as long as the normal game mode. I'd tell you who you play as, but that would be giving it away.

In Reverse/Rebirth mode, you can't alter your deck, it just alters itself, and it doesn't ever contain magic cards. However, that doesn't mean you can't perform magic! By breaking opponent's cards and getting hit by attacks, you will increase your DP, or Dark Points. Once they reach 30, you go into Dark Mode, where you can perform three sleights: Dark Break, Dark Firaga, and Dark Aura, all three of which are powerful.

When you level up in Reverse/Rebirth, you can choose between HP, AP (Attack Power), or DP (Dark Points). This modified version of the main game makes a nice addition, and answers many more of your questions.

In conclusion, I think Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is well worth the $35 to get the best GBA game on earth. Just remember: if you're a perfectionist, you will be playing it forever. I've played Sora's story for 30 hours already, and I still haven' t reached max stats or all cards. Reverse/Rebirth will take you about 15 hours, but it is still a good thing to play. All in all, this game receives a 10 out of 10:

Gameplay: 2/2
Graphics: 2/2
Story: 2/2
Level Design: 2/2
Music: 2/2

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/17/05

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