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Kingdom Hearts

Platform:
ps2
Developer:
Square
Genre:
Action RPG
Series:
Kingdom Hearts
  • September 16, 2002
  • March 28, 2002
  • November 15, 2002
A 287 total ratings
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Enthroned in the Hearts of Kings

A Kingdom Hearts review Author: Ziyad Published: October 20, 2002
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Upon first reading about this little gem, I instantly responded with profuse cursing and loud exclamations. Some CEO, President, or monkey on a typewriter had finally gone mad, I thought. A year later, however, I have since eaten my hat: thrice. Not only is this game not terrible, but it's wonderful! I can honestly say that I haven't had this much fun gaming in quite a while. Essentially, Kingdom Hearts is well-executed romp through various Disney worlds with a meaningful plot and a battle I've been waiting for since FFVII. But let's get down to business:
Graphics:
"Satisfying" is the key word. The smooth and pleasurable in-game graphics do clearly utilize the PS2's capabilities, but what game doesn't, these days. Instead, Kingdom Hearts takes these capabilities and applies them to its own world, vividly depicting Disney worlds in a luster their very own. Appropriately allocated bright colors save this game from a drab background which other RPGs suffer, giving it a fanciful, lighthearted atmosphere. As for FMV movies, they are very scarce: one at the beginning and one at the end. They are both, thankfully, very well executed, and while it would have been nice to have a few more dispersed at key points in the plot, I'm going to overlook this because game graphics are come do relatively close to Square's famed FMV. One day, they'll all look like Final Fantasy:The Spirits Within.
Score: 9.3/10
Storyline:
Beings called Heartless are ravaging worlds, and it is up to Sora, a young boy stranded on an island, to wield the legendary Keyblade and rescue the land(s), with the help of his AI impaired sidekicks, Donald and Goofy. This is the gist of the Kingdom Hearts plot. So much foreshadowing, symbolism, and intended character development is put into the first few hours, though, that you'll find yourself befuddled more than once. Nevertheless, traveling to new worlds and exploring new lands gives the story a very nice flow, as you encounter a myriad Disney characters and villains whom you all know and love/hate. Not to mention all our favorite Final Fantasy friends, such as Squall (uh..I mean...Leon) and the ever-scruffy ninja Yuffie (whose name I now pronounce correctly). As you progress, you'll find the story picking up pace and building, as if behind your back, and the tension and suspense is very nice in the final hours of the game, as all the usual truths are revealed.

Score: 9/10
Characters:
The thing that makes this game so wonderful and so much fun to play is that the characterization is already done. Save for the three main characters and a villain, you already know each and every character there is to know, right down to Jiminy Cricket. This, in turn, reserves your 40 some odd hours of game time for developing only your protagonists and antagonists; a leisure not many games enjoy. In this case, our lucky youth is Sora, a little brown haired boy with "gangsta" chains aplenty. Secondary to him is Riku, a young man a little older with Sora, who is mysteriously gray haired, and has a little ambition in his soul. Our story's woman, then, (if you can call her that) is Kairi, a cute little red haired number who spends most of her time not being around and serving as emotional fuel for Sora's ordeal. The characters here are very well done, and very memorable.
Score: 10/10
Gameplay:
Typical for an action RPG, you spend most of your time amongst action, but occasionally, there is a stray from the main adventure, which creates a well-rounded experience. Chief of these is the ability to build a "gummi" ship to pilot while traveling between worlds in space shooter stages. With over one hundred different types of blocks, the possibilities are endless, and it is nice repose from bonking monsters in the head with blunt objects to spend a little time arming a ship to the brim with colossal cannons and auto-targeting lasers to wreak a little havoc in the universe.
This, in my opinion, would be enough, but a little ways into the game you'll make a little visit to the 100 Acre Wood, home of Winnie the Pooh, and a mini-game haven. You can try your hand at seeing how far you can throw the bear off a swing or how many carrots you can stop Tigger from bouncing on. Or, if cute and fuzzy ain't your thing, just take a trip to Tarzan's crib, and see how fast you can swing through several vine obstacle courses. Oh, and have fun collecting 99 Dalmatian puppies. No matter what you like, you're sure to have fun here one way or another; the gameplay is fun and varied enough to make sure of that.
Score: 9/10
Battle System:
Think Zelda without the aiming. Kingdom Hearts comes equipped with a lock on system and an auto-lock feature which will make Sora attack the closest enemy. No aiming; if you're close enough, you'll hit, if not, you'll slash in the general direction, or if you attack at the same time as the enemy, you'll both deflect each others attacks, which looks really outstanding in one-on-one battles. Statistics have clearly been toned down for this game, with an obvious intent to be "general public" friendly, and have reverted to attack, defense, AP, HP and MP, with the latter two as meters on the screen. Abilities are equipped with available AP ala FFIX, and represent everything from stat boosters to lethal combos.
Meanwhile, everything takes place in real time, and you can select magic (of eight different kinds) with the right analog stick as you run and dodge with the left. This way, the action never stops. I've also heard many a complaint about the camera being lackluster in battles, but all of the people who claim it to be a problem fail to realize all they have to do is mash the X button and the camera is almost never a real obstacle. If nothing else, the battle system is plenty of fun, which of course, is the most important thing of all.
Score: 9/10
Controls:
Oh, this one's easy: Simple. Intuitive. Smooth.
Score: 10/10
Music/Sound:
Musically is where the game falls flat the most. The age-old error of letting the battle theme get old is no more, for each world has its own battle music. This is also the problem, as it retains its own area music as well, which gets repetitive, and fast. Being a devout Sephiroth follower, I also scoff at the new One Winged Angel arrangement.
Fortunately, the voice acting is enough of redemption to more than make up for whatever is lost in music. Kingdom Hearts does, in fact, have the best voice acting in a video game I have seen to date. And as we all know, Disney is the expert as far as voice acting goes, and apparently can do something right...almost. There's still the problem of recruiting movie and TV stars to play key roles, just for the sake of publicity. But facts are facts: Lance Bass played Sephiroth.
Score: 8.7/10
Comments/Final Thoughts:
The one thing I must note is that the battle with Sephiroth fulfilled my every whim as a Final Fantasy fanatic. He may have killed me in 2 hits and in 5 seconds, but I loved every moment of it. Even if you loathe Disney to the highest point imaginable, rent this game just for this battle. I greatly look forward to the sequel. Yes, there is a sequel. No, its not speculation. Its fact. If you're good enough you might see why.
Total Score (an average):
65/70 = 93%
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Editor's Grade
A
dotted line "Exquisite. The perfect amount of pop culture without making you gag coupled with the excellence that is Squaresoft. Don't dismiss it until you've played it."
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Author
Ziyad
Nerd Patriarch
Square Haven Editor
Member since October 19, 2002
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