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Backtracking into the Magical Realms of Disney and Square!
There is one word that best describes this unique action RPG from Square and Disney. That word is magical. Indeed, everything about Kingdom Hearts is full of wonder and excitement. And like the advertising campaign that Square ran when the game came out that said "You'll Never Know Who You Will Run into Next", that has almost never been more true for a game.
People were skeptical on this title almost the instant it was announced. How could the epic company Square come together with Disney and make a good quality RPG? The skepticism continued until, on that faithful day, the game was released. Once the disc was popped into the old PS2, many people, but not all, saw the absolute brilliance that this title had to offer. And I was one of them.
The plot begins with a young boy named Sora who has two friends, Riku and Kairi. Riku is Sora's rival in many ways and Kairi is kind of the girl friend of the two. It is rather obvious that both have some kind of liking to her, but they never really come out and say it but do hint it. Well, not too far in, Destiny Island, the island in which these three kids and some FF characters live, gets attacked by monsters called the heartless. Their island is drowned into darkness and they are all separated into other worlds. Sora lands in a world called Traverse Town, and there he meets two interesting characters that will soon be his faithful companions in a long journey that lies ahead. These two characters are none other than Donald Duck and Goofy. From then on, the story is very wonderfully written and the localization is very good for the most part. There are a couple places where some hocky Disney quotes come into play, but most of them are few and far in between, thankfully! Also, the story is surprisingly deep for a Disney game, but on par with all of Square's other games.
The audio was very well done in this game. Furthermore, the voice acting was well-cast for the most part (a couple could've been done better--especially Wakka and Tidus in the beginning) but Sora, Kairi, Riku, and most of the other Disney characters' voices are well done. The music is also very well composed and many songs will be stuck into your head long after you are done playing. I find myself, a lot of times, humming the theme of Traverse Town or "Simple and Clean" at school. It's definitely another strong point of the game.
Now we have the gameplay. Well, if the story is good and the audio is good, does this mean that it is fun to play? Thankfully, yes. While the overall gameplay is kept very simple, it works very well, and I have a blast beating up the heartless. Monsters are displayed in the "field screen" and you simply run up to them and start hacking into them with your trusty keyblade while Donald and Goofy are controlled with A.I. Also, you can set magic to be cast on just the press of L1+ another button of your choice, and that is always handy. For the most part, items are easy to get access to when you either toggle the right analog stick, or the digital arrow controls. The only complaint here is sometimes, the control is a bit unresponsive when jumping and sometimes, I find myself getting mad when I pressed the O button to jump and Sora simply falls down like a wet noodle. Also, the camera can pose a hindrance at times, but I found it wasn't that hard to toggle with and I thought it! In the end, it wasn't bad for the most part. Other than that, the gameplay is very well put together.
So, how are the graphics of Kingdom Hearts? Well, to tell you the truth, they are nothing short of spectacular. As all good RPGer knows, graphics aren't everything. Even though they do put some extra frosting on a good game, they don't have to be essentially wonderful. However, Kingdom Hearts surpasses many PS2 titles up to this date in terms of graphics and every world is wonderfully detailed. The only flaw is some worlds are a bit cluttered and a bit more texturing here and there would be really nice, but the textures that are there are very solid and nicely done. As for glitches, Kingdom Hearts has some minor slowdown when many heartless are on screen and other than some jagged lines in some places, KH runs very smooth and looks great.
KH will take probably 30-35 hours to beat if you go straight through it and find some of the secrets. But if you want to get most of everything, you'll find yourself playing it for 40+ hours. Also, this game isn't too difficult with the normal battles but the bosses can be quite the challenge. Also, there is a hard mode, which I haven't tried yet, but the normal mode in itself can be pretty challenging at times.
In conclusion, KH is a very worthy title to any RPGers library of titles. Plus, it is now only $19.99 and is on the Greatest Hits which just gives you another reason to pick it up if you still haven't. Not to mention, that is, that KH Chain of Memories and KH2 will be here hopefully in 2004. Go ahead and splurge yourself into the realms of Square and Disney!
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