Review by Hellgraves

Reviewed: 04/24/04 | Updated: 08/05/04

WHAT?! Disney and Final Fantasy...TOGETHER?!

WHAT?! IS THIS TRUE?! This...this can't be possible....IT JUST CAN'T BE! Disney and Final Fantasy? In one game? Together? NOOOO!Disney will ruin the Final Fantasy name, no one will ever purchase another Final Fantasy as long as it exists! WHY GOD, WHY?! Wait! What's this? It's actually a GOOD GAME?! YOU'RE LYING RIGHT? RIGHT?!?! IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!
Actually, it's quite possible, quite possible indeed. In fact,I'm here to tell you how.

Story: 9/10

The Final Fantasy series has been known for it's amazing and thought provoking story lines, deep and intricate characters, vast and massive worlds, beautiful and lush graphics . Does Kingdom Hearts live up to said status? Why yes, yes it did.
So just what is Kingdom Hearts all about anyways? Well, you play as a kid named Sora. Sora lives on a tropical island paradise known as Destiny Islands. He spends his day playing away with his friends, Riku, Kairi, and some other assorted Final Fantasy characters. Lately, Sora has been having strange dreams that he can't seem to explain. These dreams are filled with dwarf like creatures that are completely black, except their yellow eyes that is. What do these dreams Sora has been having mean? While in the real world, Sora and company just can't help but wonder ''What's out there?''. Could it be more islands? More people? Maybe even a whole other world? To find out, Sora and his friends build a raft in which they will use to sail away on a journey to see just ''WHAT IS OUT THERE?!'' Sadly, the night before they depart from Destiny Islands, the island is attacked by strange dwarf like creatures that are completely black except their yellow eyes, hmm...where have we seen these before? Meanwhile, in the Disney Kingdom, we see Donald going to greet the great King Mickey a good morning. Only to find out that the king is missing! The only clue the King leaves about his disappearance is a letter. In the letter, he tells Donald and Goofy to go search for the one with the ''key''.Donald quickly goes to inform Goofy, and the two set off in search of their King, and this person who bears the ''key''. Meanwhile, back on the island, Sora is trying to battle off the creatures but finds no success. He meets up with Riku who strangely disappears in darkness. Sora tries to help Riku by grabbing his hand, but instead of getting to his hand, Sora finds a strange object. It appears to be some sort of key. Anyways, Sora is now able to kill off the creatures using the ''Keyblade'' as it is called. He goes in search of Kairi, but Kairi disappears too. After some more fighting, the terrible storm sucks Sora up into the sky itself...
After the hectic storm is over, Sora finds himself in a town with neon lights and people he's never seen before in his entire life. Sora eventually meets up with Donald and Goofy and discovers he holds the ''key'' to saving the worlds. The worlds are being torn apart and Heartless are invading them. To stop the endless onslaught of Heartless, Sora must go from world to world and discover the world's ''key hole'' and lock it with the Keyblade. With that explained, the trio then set out to save the universe, and stop the ''heartless''. As you can tell, the story is anything BUT average. Sure it may seem like your average ''save-the-world'' game, but there are just so many tweaks to the story that it truly is the birth of something great. Something that may even rival the Final Fantasy series in the near future.

Gameplay: 9/10

The game boasts to have some kind of new battle engine, but its nothing TOO revolutionary. In Kingdom Hearts, you control Sora with your other two party members, which are usually Donald and Goofy, but can be switched with some other characters later on. The game is an action RPG, so don't expect a turn-based battle system. Your other party members are controlled by the computer A.I. but you can set limits to what they can do so they don't end up casting a strong spell on a weak enemy or use up all their MP. These commands range from ''Use Items A Lot'' or just ''Use Items In Emergencies''. They tweaked up the battle system by adding in a menu. On the menu, you have attack, magic, item, and an extra slot for special commands. You can switch through the menu using either the right analong stick or the D-pad. Moving through the menu to cast magic or use items doesn't pause the game, so you have to be on your feet. Luckily, the game has a ''short-cut'' feature that allows you to set 3 of your spells onto ''short-cut buttons'' for fast-casting. There's also a ''lock-on'' feature so when you're surrounded by enemies, you can just lock-on to one of them and all of your attacks will be aimed at that specific enemy. This will decrease the chance of you having your attacks miss. Throughout the game, you can also summon different disney characters to come in and lend a helping hand. Some may heal you, while others will help you damage the enemy. For example, you can summon Mushu (From Mulan) to shoot fire at enemies. Or summon Tinkerbell (From Peter Pan) to heal a small of amount of Sora's HP every now and then. These summons don't last forever, seeing how there is a time gauge that unfills it self as time passes, and when it's empty, the summon will be gone. And when you summon, the summon will take the place of your two party members. So summoning isn't always great, it could end up even killing you if you're not careful. That doesn't mean the summons are bad, you just have to be careful when using them. There's also other assorted side quests such as you searching the world for the ''lost Dalmatians''. There's also a special world in which you don't have to complete. This world is none other than Winne The Pooh's. Except it comes in the form of a book and you have to recover the pages to add more areas to the world. Not to mention a tournament in Hercule's world, which brings me to my next topic. Just how do you travel from world to world? You travel through many worlds through your ''Gummi Ship''. After selecting a world, a little segment will begin in the game in which you control your Gummi Ship and go into a shooter mini game. As time progresses, you gain ''Gummi pieces'' so you can make your Gummi Ship stronger, or build an entirely new one! Though this really isn't necessary, it can be a little fun. As you gain more worlds, flying the Gummi Ship becomes more of a chore than a mini game. But you do eventually gain a warping device in which you are able to just simply warp to any world, any where, without having to fly there. This is a very big help. In my opinion, the whole Gummi Ship thing wasn't necessary, not only is your Gummi Ship hideous, but it can get pretty repetitive and tedious.
My other complaint about the game play in Kingdom Hearts is the camera system. While not terrible, it could've been better....much better. I even found myself having to quit playing because my head began to hurt. Kingdom Heart's gameplay is quite good, but due to small problems like the camera system and flying your Gummi Ship, I only give Gameplay in Kingdom Hearts, a 9 out of 10.

Graphics: 10/10

Once you start a new game in Kingdom Hearts, the player(you) is treated to a wonderfully magnificent intro cinema. Accompanied by one of my favorite songs of all time, by my favorite artist of all time. But I'll get into that when I start talking about the music in Kingdom Hearts. As for the graphics, they are mostly light and cherry. The in-game graphics do a excellent job of showing each Disney world's ''feel''. The characters are animated nicely, and the spell effects are decent. All in all, the graphics are great. Nothing thats big eye candy that will have you drooling for more, but its very good, none the less.

Sound: 8/10

Moving on to the sound department... will Kingdom Hearts deliver? Not exactly...memorable tunes that you will be whistling to all day long? No. Good quality music? Yes. The theme song (as mentioned earlier) is VERY GOOD in my humble opinion. The song is a beautiful J-pop song sung by the great Hikaru Utada. The singer was nice enough to make two version of the song, Luckily, you are treated to both versions of the song, a up-beat techno version, and a slower more ''emotional'' version. Besides Simple and Clean (The name of the theme song) and only a handful of some other tracks, none of the other music is very good. In fact, I found most of it to be quite annoying at times. the songs sounded generic, but fitted the worlds. Nothing catchy, but nothing THAT BAD either. On the other hand, the voice acting in Kingdom extremely good! With a large cast filled with voice you will definitely be familiar with from your favorite (and not so favorite) disney movies. And countless other voices that aren't from Disney( Voices for Cloud, Tidus, Squa- er....Leon, etc etc). Kingdom Hearts has some of the best voice acting in a game ever! The mouths were even altered to fit the voices for the U.S. version. Though they don't always match perfectly, it's pretty good.
Not that the music is a big problem, its not one of Kingdom Heart's best qualities.

Replay Value: 7/10

Except the fact that the game has 2 different difficulty settings, there isn't much of a reason to replay Kingdom Hearts. Well...unless you wanted to witness the great story of Kingdom Hearts unfold again.

Difficulty: Medium
The game is at your pretty average RPG difficulty. Some bosses are difficult while others are easy. Though the game does have one specific optional boss that is guaranteed to give you a hard me.

Buy Or Rent?

BUY! GO BUY THIS RIGHT NOW!!! Chances are, Kingdom Hearts will not let you down at all. If you're into RPGs, Final Fantasy, Disney, or anything of the likes, than this is definitely your game! Even if you're not, at least give it a rent, it may look kiddy on the outside, but the game is good for all and any age of gamer.

Overall: 9/10

My final conclusion about Kingdom Hearts? EASY! Kingdom Hearts will definitely come and warm your heart(pun intended), and satisfy your terrible craving for a good game. Kingdom Hearts is something that we need and haven't seen in a while, and that my friend is originality. And Kingdom Hearts
definitely delivers in this department.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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