Review by Cluster Lights

"This game has really got me thinking as to who Square's next teamup should be"

Kingdom Hearts didn't appeal to me at first. I guess part of the reason was because some of the art looked really cartoony, giving me a bad first impression. But some time past and as I looked more and more, this view changed. When I finally got my hands on the game and played, I don't think the cartoonish side mattered anymore.

Kingdom Hearts was simply amazing. The first few hours left me in shock. I couldn't stop playing the game. Not even when my mother told me to eat dinner. But like all good games, Kingdom Hearts does have its faults. However, this should not affect the enjoyability of the game.

Graphics: 9.5/10
Perhaps one of the thing that did make Kingdom Hearts good was because of the cartoonish look. If Disney characters started to look real, it just wouldn't feel right. The Worlds are all designed like how they each were in their Disney Movie. The environments are big and you will spend a lot of time exploring. The buildings trees, houses look like how they really should. I guess it has the magical Disney touch in it. Either way, the cartoony graphics help contribute a lot to the field of the game. At times, you might just want to stand atop of a building to look around. Its almost THAT good.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
If you played Legend Of Zelda before, then you basically know how the battle system should work. Its more of an action RPG then a turn based one. In other words, its completely different from almost all the FFs. The environment is interactive. Meaning you can hit a switch with fire, or light a room with Thunder. You have a command window at bottom left hand corner. Using the right analog stick allows you to control which command you want to use. You have the choices of ''Attack'', ''Magic'' and ''Item'' each doing exactly what they sound like. There's also a fourth bar in the command menu which functions like an ''Action'' command. For example, if you want to open a door, approach it and select the ''Open'' Command which would have taken the fourth slot. Otherwise, the fourth command is always blank. When you don't have to fight, the command window stays blue.

However, when you run into an area where baddies might appear, you'll enter battle mode. The command window will turn Red and you can utilize your actions from the menu. Attack, Magic and Item are available here too, but the fourth command will change to a ''Special'' command, where you can utilize special moves you've equipped (more on this later). There is also a targetting system that allows to lock on to an enemy. By doing so, the camera will constantly focus at that enemy only. However, unlike Zelda, Sora doesn't automatically turn to face the enemy. So, it will take some time to adjust. Note that you can also adjust the AI of Donald and Goofy, customizing the way YOU want them to fight in battle. Extra Bonus.

Outside of battle, you can also pop open a menu, allowing you to customize characters with abilities (think FF9) and equipment. You can also make characters hold certain Items so when battle occurs, these items become available for use. Please take note that you can also use the D-pad to move the command menu, but doing so will make the game incredibly difficult as it would just feel awkward and the command switching will be a lot slower.

So where does the reduction come from? Well, after a while, battle get old. Its not like there's a point to shielding. Mash away with X and you can pretty much win most of the battles. Especially if you make your allies act defensively. It gets tiring to fight enemies over and over again while slamming on X.

Controls and Camera: 6.5/10
This is where it gets ugly. As described before hand, you can also move the command menu with the right analog rather then the directional pad. But its still slow and sometimes, you may not be able to keep up with everything. And the camera. Now this is horrid. Unlike the Zelda camera, if you don't lock on to enemies, you will find yourself constantly getting hit. Half the time, you allies get into you way of view, and you become unable to see what's going on. And the other half? The enemies get into the way. I guess that's why the gameplay becomes reduced to mashing X. Also, note that the game doesn't always allow you to adjust the camera. So when you want to jump from one platform to another, you can be given only a corner view, and they will tell to jump straight. If it helps though, pressing L2 and R2 at the same time will have the camera go instantly behind Sora. I don't think games should make you estimate how far you have to go. It doesn't always happen, but its there, which is why the score in this category is reduced.

Story and Plot: 8/10
Nothing too special. Think FF and you have the basic storyline. You can predict who the main enemy will be early in the game. Most of the FF ideas are being reused, so if you are a constant FF player, you will find nothing special. But hey, why mess with something good? If you're not, then you will see the abilities of Squaresoft =D. Though some of the quotes are rather cheesy.

Difficulty: Average (7/10)
Its not that difficult, but for those saying kids can beat it, I doubt it. Aside from painstaking camera, some of the enemies deal a lot of damage. And if you are not careful, you will die. It takes some thinking as to what the best move might be and you will be kept occupied because its not turn based. Also, for those who think the difficulty is too low, there is an extra ''Expert'' mode which cranks up the difficulty by letting the enemies deal more damage.

Extras: 10/10
Like many other actions game, there are TONS of thing to do and many sidequest. For example, finding all 99 Dalmations, unlocking extra battles. Chests are often out of reach and some cannot be gotten until late into the game. Lots of exploring is needed sometimes to get through. Then there's a special ending available. Plus, you have Squaresoft cameos and very good Voice Acting. Extra plus

Replay Value: 10/10
Probably want to play it at LEAST twice to get all the items you might have missed and get a taste of expert mode. For the record, Square has also put 4 extra bosses into the game, some of which you might not be able to defeat even at a high level. You will want to go back at least once or twice.

Overall: 9/10
Squaresoft cameos, great graphics, huge area to explore, lots of things to uncover, decent challenge, the game is great. Definitely not the best. But it will provide you with at least 50 hours of entertainment. And those 50 hours will be great. The only thing you have to be careful of, is camera angles.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/19/02, Updated 09/19/02

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