"I put off playing Kingdom Hearts for three years. When it finally wandered into my collection, my brother asked how I—a person who considers Metallica soft rock and thinks watching Ultimate Fighter is a good way to relax—could play Kingdom Hearts. Eyes red, fingers blistered and zombified from a lack of sleep. That’s how I played it. I seriously couldn’t put it down. I don’t know how this game escaped my attention for three long years, nor am I sure if the friend who lent it to me will ever get ..."
I put off playing Kingdom Hearts for three years. When it finally wandered into my collection, my brother asked how I—a person who considers Metallica soft rock and thinks watching Ultimate Fighter is a good way to relax—could play Kingdom Hearts. Eyes red, fingers blistered and zombified from a lack of sleep. That’s how I played it. I seriously couldn’t put it down. I don’t know how this game escaped my attention for three long years, nor am I sure if the friend who lent it to me will ever get back. All I do know is this game is magic, no matter what age you are.
How could a combination of two monster Corporations Square and Disney be a bad thing? I’ll admit that Disney was the reason I held off on this game, but it was a stupid decision. Everything is so brilliantly interwoven and the story is so mesmerizing it was easy to get into, Disney or not. Granted, it is morally injected as most Disney things are, but it doesn’t play out like an after-school special. Square helps to balance out those “do-gooder” moments with dark undertones and creates a sense of mystery surrounding the main character Sora. Little by little, as he battles against the heartless, his destiny unfolds and I found myself leaning forward and attentive at every cut-scene, eager to unlock the secrets Square had so brilliantly hidden.
The battle system can lead to an addiction as well. Rather than a turn-based random-encounter method (which I’m bored of), Kingdom Hearts uses a three-man team melee similar to Shining Force Neo. The battles are fast paced but still remain thoroughly entertaining. Sora has moves that would make Dante jealous and magic that would put Yuna to shame. The game has tight controls and a decent targeting system that works automatically when you’re in-range of an enemy or lock-on with a one-button target change. Items can be kind of a pain if you’re in a brawl, but the games awesome A.I. takes care of that problem, provided you leave it up to your partners to watch your back. You have the option of choosing how frequently your teammates use magic and how often they use all kinds of items. Putting it on “constantly” can save your hide, but kill your inventory.
Kingdom Hearts isn’t lacking in the glitz and glamour department, either. Each character mirrors the majestic, stylish artwork Disney is famous for and seems as though it leapt right from the big screen. The animation of Oogie-Boogie is stellar and the design of Hades—fire and all—is flawless. Hearts boasts a pretty stellar voice cast with stars like James Woods, Haley Joel Osment and David Boreanaz. It wouldn’t hurt to juice up the soundtrack a bit though.
There’s a ton of worlds to peruse and a mass of things to uncover, from secret items to ultimate weapons. There’s also the Gummi Ship, which is your way to travel those worlds. Not only can you fly it manually, you can design it anyway you want. I spent a good hour but I finally got it to look like a T.I.E. Fighter from Star Wars. Tweaking those things is mad fun.
Only a couple things really put me off. The camera angles are absolutely horrid. Your view is constantly obstructed by your other team members, the camera picks the worst angles as a default and it’s easier to pull a bus with your teeth than to find a good perspective. And even if you get it, one move and it reverts back to the ever-so-irritating Donald’s backside view.
Some of the levels tend to drag, as well. Most of them have pretty cool perks about them, like flying around Neverland or the cool costumes and gloomy feel of Halloween town, but some of them are downright dreary like Atlantica. Swimming slowly in a murky, repetitive ocean is not really my thing.
Kingdom Hearts is one of those games you never forget. Square’s emotional storytelling and Disney’s majestic artwork is enough to make it magic. I’m even willing to lose the friend who lent it to me. Cause I ain’t giving it back.
Community review by True (March 15, 2006)
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