Review by Ali_X_Rexus
Once upon a time, Disney characters got their hearts ravaged by monsters of darkness
And not only were Disney characters getting their hearts torn out by darkness, but also Final Fantasy characters--wet dream only made possible by the monetary power of one Square Enix. In Kingdom Hearts, you'll experience Disney Worlds through the keyblade of Sora accompanied b y Donald's Magic Staff and Goofy's shield on a quest to unravel the mystery of the Heartless.
You see, one day Sora lived on an island with his best buddies Riku and Kairi--there's also a mini-tidus and mini-waka amongst others for added fanny wetness. All three were dreamers of the outside world, and one day, Sora's island gets sucked into a warp-hole. The warp-hole will lead you to traverse town, a hangout for disney and final fantasy characters. They seem like an odd combination of cutesy/emo, but just like peanut butter and jelly, you feel they blend.
Soon after, you get joined by Donald and Goofy, and your quest of visiting wonderful lands begin. Take a bit of time to recount some Disney movies in your head--Disney sure does have plenty when you think about it, and this game features some amazing replicas of the Disney ips for your dirty hands to sink into--there are some 13 worlds in Kingdom Hearts, interconnected on the universe map through Gummi ship lines and eventually warp holes--once you've established a road to the world.
You will jump the roofs of Agrabah market before departing to the cave of wonders; you will go down the hole of Wonderland and face the Queen's foot cards--hearts and spades; you will participate in various challenges on quest for cups in Olympus Coliseum; you can also collect torn pages out of a total of five during your run through to open new areas in a 100 Acre Woods book--Pooh has always been a bit childish, and the mini-games you have to pull do seem a bit so, but there's nothing quite like a Disney fan's stroll through the scapes of a cartoon show they grew up watching--albeit at a very young age.
In some levels, there will be world-specific themes, like in Jack Skellington's Halloween Town and Ariel's Atlantica--in Halloween Town, Sora, Donald, and Goofy will be donned in threads only fit of creepy Halloween Town dwellers, and in Atlantica, Sora will grow a tail just like a merman as Goofy and Donald become a turtle and squid respectively.
You don't control Donald and Goofy in this game, but you rather have control over them. The CPU takes control of both Goofy and Donald, but you can set frequency and behavior of actions on a menu that makes you feel a bit more in control--how frequently to use items you equip them with, how much magic to use, etc. Donald is the magician and Goofy has great strength and defense for physical encounters. During the beginning of the game, you are capable of choosing three paths for Sora--those of Strength, Defense, and Magic; Sora's attributes will grow according to what path you take. It's nice to see the different Soras you can breed from these three configurations.
Alongside choosing a growth path for Sora, you can choose how fast or slow you gain experience points. If you choose to gain EXP fast, you'll have an easy streak to lvl 40 and then things will start getting slower; if you chose to slowly gain EXP, you'll be on a trickle up till lvl 40 where Sora will start to shine. The latter is the better choice for me obviously, since you won't stop playing at 40.
The game has so many things to do and see, and the side-quests are attractive for any one who likes veering off-road and indulging in side actions. One of the quests has you retrieving all 99 dalmatian puppies to their parents with gifts finding way into Sora's pockets at a steady pace. Also throughout the Kingdom Hearts Universe are trinities scattered, waiting for the trinity of Sora, Donal, and Goofy to tap into. You can activate the results of trinities by standing over a colored trinity mark and using the trinity command.
The controls are a good flow, with actions being chosen from the main action menu on the bottom left. Attack, Magic, Item, and special commands can be triggered from here and then some--you're attacking with your keyblade and the attack command suddenly changes to Sonic Rush, an ability that you can assign to Sora using AP, or Ability Points. As you grow in level, so will your ability points and other attributes, and you will start gaining abilities. Each ability costs a certain amount of AP points to assign, and they're all sorts of helpful, ranging from giving you an extra HP when you get a critical to gaining magic as you get hit. Plenty of combos can be formed to make better use of abilities.
Magic has some helpful assets, but I didn't use much besides Cure, Aero, and Summons on my Strength Sora quest. You can use Summons ranging from Simba to Tinker Bell, each offering special kind of offense/defense--Simba downs baddies, Tinker Bell protects Sora. The more you advance in the game, the more summons, abilities, and magic you'll have hold of. Magic can be upgraded in Final Fantasy sense, Fire going from Fira to Firaga for example.
Back to Gummi Ship, this is Sora's mean of departing from world to another, and you will be riding a preset course filled with enemy ships, turrets, and other such obstacles, but to tell you the truth, it's really BORING. You can customize your ship, building your own gummi and adding specials to it like extra boosters and attack turrets, but when it comes to getting down and dirty with the thing, it's just not FUN. If there's one section I'd have removed in this game, it's this, since it won't really be missed.
Speaking of the cons, the camera needs a bit of work as well. When having an enemy in target, the camera seems to wander a bit off, and if you try to manually fix this, it doesn't respond, so you have to go out of auto-lock, fix the camera, then go back in. It's an annoyance, but the more battles you get into the more experienced you'll become in quickly circumventing this.
The battles are fun with an added tinge of strategy to the hack-and slash system. You hack, you slash, you see a projectile, you delect it back with the guard ability. You wait for an opening then hack, hack, hack, and slash away before casting aero to half the damage and curing yourself. It's all a bit too simple, but it's FUN, and that's what matters.
The enemies are a varied bunch, from the Heartless to the baddies of Disney--you'll take on the Trickmaster, a huge metallic puppet of sorts from Square, and you'll take on Maleficent, evil incarnated from Disney. The bosses are the more interesting and fun battles in the game, since certain strategies should be followed and the experience outcome almost always notches you up a level.
The voice acting and riffs of the game are very well done--famous cast of actors wouldn't necessarily mean good, but indeed the voice acting is good. I didn't feel whiny since all I felt was well done. Goofy, Donald, and the Disney cast sound just like they would in their cartoons, and the soundtrack is indeed music to the ears, making the game not just a wonderful site, but a wonderful listen as well.
The game has plenty going on for it, and you will spend in the excess of 30 hours for a quick first run through, but you won't stop there--you will go back for finding every trinity and dalmatian, seeing all there is to see, and then replaying the game all over. The story might over-complicate itself at times, and little annoyances like not being able to skip cutscenes are there, but a high-quality game with this much reeking production values rarely comes about, and so is deserving of every adventurer's game collection.
+ Disney/FF characters create an amazingly charming game
+ The varied worlds are a joy to discover
+ Lovely visual/audio score
+ Attractive side-quests
+ Fun battle system
+ Some abilities are a joy to try out; nothing like deflecting a projectile with a well-timed guard
+ The Olympus Coliseum cups; you'll be facing the two most known Final Fantasy characters in these
+ Nice world-specific costumes
+ The Heartless are one of these beautiful hostiles with a certain charisma flowing out of them
+ Truffles - these are certain mushroom like creatures that are neither foes nor allies; one of them is an actor, and according to what it does, you have to strike it with the correct magic spell; this is one of my fave parts of the game
- You can't skip cutscenes
- You don't really feel Donald and Goofy much
- Story over-complicates itself at times
- Some camera annoyances
Story - 8
Visuals - 10
Audio - 10
Gameplay - 10
-FUN Factor - 10
-Controls - A-
-Difficulty - Normal
Lifespan - 10
Overall - 10
Even with some of its shortcoming, this game should be given a ten, because you will rarely ever come across such a crossover with high-production values that show.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Kingdom Hearts (US, 09/16/02)
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