Review by TheDeadHeart

"There is darkness everywhere, and in this game there is some too..."

This game looks like your normal childish game, at a first glance. Disney characters are on the back cover of the game, for crying out loud! If this seems bad to you, then overcome that, and play the game. I wasn’t disappointed, although I don’t mind the Disney factor.

Graphics – 10/10

The graphics are stunning in this game. The environments are well made, with all kinds of different terrains to adventure on: undersea, the jungle, the desert, and even in the middle of the sky! All the areas look well crafted, and the cinematics are even better. They make you feel as if you’re watching a 3D Disney movie, but it’s even better than that. The loading times for those areas aren’t long, either, so that’s good.

The character designs are very different, that is, for the original characters. For all unoriginal characters, what they wear is identical to before, save one blonde heroic Final Fantasy warrior. They are appealing to the eye, down to the very details of Jafar’s twitching eyes.

Sound/Music – 10/10

The music in the levels sets the tone for the game. In crazier places, the music is a little more ‘out there’, but in serious places, the music is a bit more somber. The sound is good too: your characters will scream out things during combat, when using spells or items and the likes.

At the very beginning of the game, they play a song sung by Utada Hikaru named “Simple and Clean”. It goes very well with the tone at the beginning; playful, yet serious in the lyrics. It’s modern, yet traditional, and Utada’s voice is fantastic too.

The voice acting is good; in cinematics, characters will actually speak with subtitles on the bottom of the screen. The voices are perfect for each and every character, in my opinion. They are all credited, but I didn’t see the point of some of the credits (such as Sora’s mother, who has a whole line to say in the whole game).

All the Disney characters are exactly like in the films, awaking childhood memories in me. Final Fantasy characters were also given voices, and most of them were great, but one was very off… Experienced gamers know whom I’m talking about.

Story – 8.5/10

The story is very deep. At the beginning, it seems to start out very simplistically, but ends up very complicated, leaving you deep in thought about questions to which you don’t have the answers to yet.

You land in Disney worlds, in search of your two best friends, Riku and Kairi, and intervene in the chronology of events in those movies. It’s fun to mess around with these events, as well as seeing how the villains use the Heartless, a new breed of mean people, to their advantage.

You’ll need to lock the worlds with your Keyblade, the key-slash-sword that you use as a weapon. To do this, you’ll need to find the keyhole. When you find it, you’ll lock that world. Locking means, supposedly, Heartless will not be able to enter into that world. Strange, as they seem to still be there seldom after you lock them…

Although they bring the multiple Disney worlds’ stories well together, and have a great storyline, it leaves you in agony about certain things, unresolved matters. Needless to say, you need to buy the two announced sequels to get the full idea. However, it does stand well on its own.

Characters – 9/10

Although most of the characters aren’t original, there are a few original ones. The hero of the story, Sora, lives on Destiny Island, wants to reach new worlds. His friends, Kairi and Riku, share the same dreams.

The curious trio change a lot through out the story, proving their realism to me. They aren’t set to a certain tone and dragged out that way through out the whole game, they change, and they become new people, almost.

The Disney characters are well characterized – the heroes heroic, the princesses useless and the villains mischievous – and each bring their own personalities to the mix. Of course, you won’t find characters like Tarzan roaming around under the sea, but only in their own worlds, unaware of what you are up to.

Donald & Goofy, although Disney characters, deserve their own paragraph, as they aid you in your quest. Goofy and Donald are still as crazy as before, with their personalities coming back. Donald is more of a mage; he’ll heal you and cast spells, whereas Goofy is the strange warrior that fights with a shield. Trust me when I say, this isn’t the weirdest it gets.

The Final Fantasy characters, to me, shouldn’t be mentioned that much. They are just cameos – you meet them, they guide you on your path, and you see them a little bit much later in the game. That’s about it. Other than that, they aren’t the same people from their original Final Fantasies; rather, they seem to be new people, with their own history behind them in Kingdom Hearts.

The enemies, other than the villains from the various Disney films, are quite dark. The Heartless, as Ansem named them, are those without hearts. They are attracted by the darkness found in every heart. You’ll have to fend these off continuously, because your Keyblade is also something that attracts them.

Gameplay – 8/10

This is where the deer takes the bullet.

The game has the usual leveling system of an RPG: you can level until level 100. You have traditional stats: Health points (HP), magic points (MP), experience points and other not as important stats. Not original – there is nothing new and hip about this.

Like other RPGs, it uses the ability system. Depending on certain choices you make at the beginning of the game, you will learn different abilities are different levels. You’ll also acquire some abilities if you have met certain conditions.

The fighting isn’t that innovative, it’s just basically pressing “X” over and over again. You fight with a key, named the Keyblade. You’ll receive key chains to attach to it, making it stronger. These key chains are like new weapons, except they aren’t buyable.

The magic aspect isn’t that strong either. You get about six basic spells, each of which can be upgraded twice. The spells aren’t original either, since Final Fantasy players will recognize most of them. They cost MP to be cast, but you don’t necessarily have that much MP, so it’s not evident to cast many spells.

Another type of magic is summoning. Summons will make your warrior friends, Donald and Goofy, disappear for as long as the summon is in combat. You’ll find many odd gems along your journey, and the Fairy God Mother can transform these into summons. Each summon has a different ability, ranging from loud roars to healing.

Items aren’t that variant from Final Fantasy games either. Potions, Ethers, Elixirs, and the list goes on.

Donald uses staffs in battle. You can buy these at a shop in Traverse Town, your main pit stop between worlds. Goofy uses shields, as I mentioned, and you can buy these at the same shop. Sora uses the key and the key chains, as I also aforementioned.

Each party member can also carry two accessories. You’ll find these naturally through the game, and they are also purchasable at one of the shops in Traverse Town. I find these original, more so than the spells, because some are Disney-inspired.

The puzzles aren’t easy, either. It might take you a few good minutes before you realize what to do at points. Some puzzles require a change of size; others require a good look around, while others are just pure combat.

To fly from world to world, you’ll use the Gummi Ship. You’ll find Gummi blocks that you use to ‘tune up’ your Gummi Ship, sort of like a car. Special Gummi blocks will allow you to find other worlds, way out there…

There are mini-games here and there, and a load of side quests to accomplish. Among these side quests, you’ll find yourself hunting down the ninety-nine Dalmatians, looking for lost post cards and entering death matches in a Coliseum.

Also, in certain worlds, you’ll be joined, in your party, by key characters, from Aladdin to Ariel. These characters are normally strong, with many abilities. However, since your party can only contain three characters including Sora, these characters are often ignored, as most people only want to level up Donald, Sora, and Goofy, as they are with you through out the whole game. Of course, these characters don’t follow you out of their worlds; that would be illogical in more than one way.

Play Time/Replayability – 8/10

A game like this isn’t one you’re going to want to play over and over again for five weeks. It’s not long, if you play it a lot. It’ll last you at least two weeks, give or take a few days. If you buy it, you’ll eventually want to replay it. Or, even, after beating it, it’s tempting to give another look at it.

Difficulty – MEDIUM

Some bosses aren’t easy to beat. I am replaying the game and having difficulty with some of the very first bosses, ironically. However, some others are too easy. The puzzles are seldom hard, as most of the game is straightforward.

Buy or Rent? – BUY

This is the kind of game that, if you like it, will never get old. You’ll play it, stop for a few weeks, and restart again, like that. If you rent it, you risk not finishing it completely. Some parts are too treacherous to finish in a rental period, although, with seven days, it could be doable.

Scores at a glance
Graphics – 10/10
Sound/Music – 10/10
Story – 8.5/10
Characters – 9/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Play Time/Replayability – 8/10
Difficulty – MEDIUM
Buy or Rent? - BUY

Final Thoughts

This game will definitely repel anyone who doesn’t like Disney. For anyone who likes a good Action-Adventure game and RPGs, this game is a good buy. It may also repel people who don’t like the Final Fantasy franchise, but I assure that they do not play that big of a role in this fantastic game.

To me, they could have tried harder with original characters. Although there is a handful, it would have been interesting to see more original characters. Also, the loose ends in the storyline are good, but it is making me anxious to see the sequel, and see the answers answered.

They'll eventually sort out these problems in the sequels, I'm sure, as they will have learnt from their miniscule mistakes, and hopefully tied up the loose ends and leave new unanswered questions.

Overall Mark: (not an average)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/01/04

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