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Kingdom Hearts

01/29/06

  10:51:11 am, by Nimble   , 468 words  
Categories: Reviews, Games

Kingdom Hearts

Link: http://na.square-enix.com/games/kingdomhearts/index1.html

This game was a surprise. It's one of the oddest concepts I've come across in a while - Final Fantasy meets Disney - but the truly strange thing is that it works, and even soaked-to-the-bone surety that running around with Goofy and Donald by your side can't possibly be anything other than cheesy... doesn't prevent you from enjoying the game thoroughly.

This seems a homage to the "horror lite" that Disney was occasionally so good at, like Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. Indeed, the beginning is pretty darned... creepy. Shadows, including your own, coming out of the ground to attack you. When you finally land on the idyllic paradise island, all seems to go well. It doesn't last, though.

There are many bizarre elements to the game. You get between the worlds, which are all based on Disney movies, via a "gummi ship" (why gummi? I haven't the foggiest). You find gummi ship parts all over the place, and you can build your own... which isn't easy. I upgraded my original ship with a gun, and have never felt in any danger whatsoever, though there is an "Esuna" piece which will apparently show hidden things, so I may want to figure out how to use it at some point.

The combat is much simplified over many other Squaresoft titles, and also unlike many of their titles (like Final Fantasy), the combat is realtime, not turn-based. You actually run through and hack and slash your way around. When you kill a monster, it explodes into a cavalcade of little balls which you can pick up: green for health, yellow/orange for "munny", and bubbles for magic. One of the bigger difficulties I found seems to be with getting your party members to pick them up for their own use.

One thing I really enjoyed about the game was the variety of puzzles and sheer variety of game worlds. Some are jumping puzzles, and can get frustrating if you lack tiger-like reflexes, but even most of the jumping puzzles are just for bonus and hidden items. You don't get totally stuck with most of the puzzles, either, though it does tax your brain to try to remember where you've already been.

You gain abilities over time and from finishing some game worlds. You have a certain number of 'ability points' which you can apportion to various skills, like the useful Treasure Magnet, which attracts those health/magic/munny balls from further away. After finishing Neverland, your party get the ability to glide. This lets you get to more spots in worlds you have previously visited, too.

It's just been a lot of fun. Now I know why the guy behind the counter at EB was so enthusiastic about the game and couldn't wait for a sequel. I think I'll be getting that sequel :)

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