Review by strawhat
"Like peanut butter and jelly, it's a weird combo but is still great."
I never would have thought in a million years that Disney and Square would ever come together and create an RPG. A good one nonetheless. This game has an equilibrium of charm, wit, imagination, and originality. It has that Disney zanyness with a touch of Square's magic that will make this title a game like no other.
Taking a look at the start of the game, you wouldn't guess that Disney helped in the production. It has the classic Square FMV introduction that's puzzling as usual. The graphics are stupendous. You can see every strand of hair on a person's head, their clothing waving in the wind, ripples in water, etc. However, this intro is not only great in graphics quality. It's puzzling, it shows the main character(Sora) looking at himself falling, his friend holding out his hand, and other strange antics. The song is also unforgettable. You can find it in any video game music archive on the web.
After the sexy looking FMV, the game will pan out and introduce a part of the excellent storyline. Sora is always wondering about the outside world. He wants to know why he has always stayed at the Destiny Islands. Him and his friends will prepare to build a raft and run away from their perfect, flawless home and abandoning their other friends and family to discover if there is anything outside their little paradise. That's incredibly smart, hmm?
Of course, things don't go as planned when the Heartless come. Heartless have no hearts and seek to turn everything into themselves. There are different types of heartless, all with one goal in mind. Sora's world will be destroyed and his friends separated. He finds out that other worlds are also disappearing. A Key that's also a blade(hence the name Keyblade) appears in Sora's hands and now he can kick ass.
Meanwhile, in a whole new world, Donald and Goofy find out that their King Mickey is missing. Oh my goodness, it's a dilemma. Goofy and Donald already know about other worlds, but they didn't know that there was "a one key that is their key to survival." So, they travel through different worlds and meet Sora, who has that "key". You can probably guess where this is going. Sora, Goofy and Donald will seek out why this is happening and also to find Sora's friends and Mickey. And yeah, if they don't do it fast, they're roast duck. The game's storyline will eventually flesh out more as you play the game. While traveling through worlds, you'll meet familiar enemies and allies like Peter Pan, Jafar, Belle, Tidus, Squall*coughcough*, I mean Leon, and more. The most intriguing plot twists happen near the end of the game and are super-spoilerific, so I can't tell you. I can say that it's going to be very interesting though. You know when a so-called ally turns into en enemy? Yeah, there are tons of surprising factors like that in this game. The Kingdom Hearts storyline deserves a check plus.
The visuals that accompany this game(aside from the opening FMV) are terrific. Although not as detailed as the FMV, you can clearly see the expressions of a character's face. The old disney characters look tip-top up to shape. The environments are well done. What really impresses me is the lighting of the graphics. You can see the shadow of your character, the effects of night and day and sunlight. At night, nothing looks distorted. I also like how in different levels, your characters will dress up differently so they can "protect worldly order." The costumes are exccellent, especially Halloween Town's.
The music quality is just as great as the graphics. They fit the mood of the level perfectly. As you progress through the game, you may notice that the music takes a more serious tone. Some of the songs from before(like when you fight the heartless) become more intense. Although you won't recognize any of the music from previous Disney shows or Square games, they are very good and original.
The sound on the other hand is OK, but not great. That damn voice acting screwed up the game once again. Although some voices managed to stay from their original movies and such, others were not. Take Wakka for example. The guy from Final Fantasy X with an accent. In this game, his voice is different and his accent sounds really, REALLY fake. Sora's voice is none too terrific either. The normal sounds ingame are OK. It's the standard enemy bashing, items appearing, clinging, clashing sounds. Nothing special. It's one of this game's minor flaws. The voice acting can be bad or good; I wouldn't not buy it because of that.
This game's concept is excellent because it is original. It offers you different paths to complete the game(although you'll eventually have to go through every one of the worlds). You can surf through whichever worlds you like as long as you've visited it before. To visit these worlds, Goofy and Donald have a Gummi Ship which you can customize. It's a cool feature of the game, although not necessary. You can have a bazillion lasers, uneven wings, and a tiny engine all in one ship! Of course, you'll be piloting the Gummi Ship while you travel between worlds in a Star Fox-like mini-mini-game, so you'll want it to be good.
The controls in the game are smooth for the most part, but I have a problem accessing items. During battles, using one of your spells or items will require you to scroll through the menu with the Directional Pad WHILE moving your character to not get beaten up with the Control Stick. Does someone see something wrong here? Moving the left analog stick and and directional pad on the left side of the controller is kind of hard. But other than that, jumping, attacking, talking, and every other action is simple. The camera is also well done and manageable.
Exploring the game is fun and simple. That's a very important aspect in an RPG. There are many worlds to go through.The become harder and bigger as you progress. Other worlds may also change making you want to go back there and explore the worlds all over again.
The thing that pisses me off the most about this game is that damn battle system. Actually, it's not even a system. It's mashing X onto a bunch of different black enemies. Heartless are your only enemies and they appear EVERYWHERE. Not just one or two. They come in giant groups. After killing one group, you think that you're done. But you're actually not! Another group appears and you'll have to mash the X button some more. If you want to run away, you sure can. The heartless will stalk you until you go in a different room or a scene occurs. There is also little to no strategy in the battles. Only the bosses really prove a challenge. Another thing about the battle system, the computers are dumb as lightbulbs. Goofy and Donald will throw Potions around like they grow on trees. They're not too much help in an actual battle.
Abilities are a whole different story. Although leveling up is the normal formula of killing enemies = experience = level up, the abilities and stats that you gain will be different depending on which weapon you chose and which you forfeited in the very beginning of the game. Sora can learn a move at level 10 when he chooses the sword, but learn that same move at level 25 if he chooses another weapon. Goofy and Donald learn abilities at a totally linear rate however.
An important aspect to RPGs is their replay value. If there's nothing to do after a game, an RPG's value will quickly diminish. Thankfully, this isn't one of those games. There are still secret places to explore, weapons to collect, items to synthesize, and mini-games to complete. One could compare these to the Final Fantasy series' mini-games. Although there aren't as many, they aren't so hard that it'll take days of your life to complete.
Kingdom Hearts is a great game. In my opinion, it's one of the most unique RPGs out there. It's the little things like the abilities and Gummi Ship customization that makes this game better than others of its category. The unique mix of serious Square and zany Disney characters will keep you entertained for over 30 hours. Depending on your taste, the game could last much longer if you choose to get all the requirements for a perfect game and view a secret ending. This game is excellent. If you can live through a subpar battle system and bad to decent voice acting, this game will be a good addition to your RPG collection.
Some people don't like this game though. I don't really know why, but I think that it would be best that you rent the game before buying it. If you find nothing wrong with it at the beginning of the game, you will really like it, guaranteed. The plot twists are extremely good.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/01/05
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