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baylaust

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baylaust last won the day on April 15 2012

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About baylaust

  • Birthday 06/19/1994

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    The 'b' Isn't Capitalized
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  1. You know what? I'm glad they didn't take too long getting this game out the door. In all seriousness, to say that this has been a long wait would be an understatement. While there have been plenty of games released on plenty of not-home consoles over the years, the 13 year gap between Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III was a long one. For better or for worse, KH3 was the game that every KH fan has been waiting for since Mickey's letter popped up in the epilogue of KH2. And now, after several years, a full engine switch, multiple HD collections, and a few more delays, Kingdom Hearts III was finally released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 25th, 2019. I will be reviewing the standard PS4 version of the game today. The series has seen plenty of highs, and plenty of lows, since the days of KH2, but to say that KH3 is a hyped game would be... putting it mildly, let's say. That being said, such a long wait is sure to create high expectations. After all of this time, is KH3 able to stand on its own, or is it crushed under the weight of those expectations? Let's find out. Before we get started, a quick word. This review will be dealing in spoilers from the entirety of the series. However, due to KH3 being less than a month old and the nature of the wait behind its release, I will NOT be delving into specific spoilers for KH3 itself. That being said, I will give a basic plot synopsis and be discussing what I think of certain characters and how they're handled, so if you want to go in COMPLETELY blind, don't read any further. You've been warned. Story Kingdom Hearts III takes place immediately following the events of Dream Drop Distance, and the epilogue of Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage. Jesus, these names... Anyway, Sora has returned from the Realm of Sleep to continue his adventures. However, because of his defeat at the hands of Young Xehanort in 3D, Sora has found himself stripped of most of his strength, as well as the highly coveted Power of Waking. This is kind of a huge problem, since the groundwork for a new Keyblade War is nearly finished by a freshly resurrected Master Xehanort, who plans to pit a group of 13 Darknesses against an opposing 7 Lights to forge the X-Blade and finally unlock Kingdom Hearts. While Kairi and Lea train together to prepare for the coming conflict, and Riku and Mickey venture further into the Realm of Darkness to try and save the fallen Keyblade Master Aqua (and hopefully her own friends afterwards), Sora once again joins Donald and Goofy to travel to various Disney worlds in order to regain his lost power and hopefully uncover the secret behind the Power of Waking. However, Sora is on a strict time limit: if he and the others can't form their seven Lights, Xehanort's new Organization XIII will begin going after the seven Princesses of Heart instead. It's up to Sora and friends to keep them safe, save their old friends, and put a stop to Xehanort's schemes once and for all. So I'm going to be VERY blunt here: Kingdom Hearts III's story is meant for long time fans of the series, and no one else. Despite what the short recaps in the menu screen will have you believe, I advise STRONGLY against picking up KH3 without having played the other games in the series first, if story means something to you. That's not to say you won't get it, but there there are a lot of moments in KH3 that won't have the same emotional punch if you haven't experienced the rest of the series for yourself. No matter which promo guy from Square Enix tells you that KH3 is the perfect point of entry for the series, don't believe their lies. Now look, I'm not gonna pretend that the Kingdom Hearts story is high art or anything. KH gets a lot of crap for being overly convoluted and hard to follow, but I've always found that as long as you've played the games in chronological order (of release), things flowed mostly well. Once time travel was introduced in KH3D, however, I had to accept that at some point, the plot had kinda gone off the rails. I was pretty sure that KH3 was going to be a complete mess of ideas and concepts that are barely explained and open up gaping plot holes, especially after 0.2 ended up being a prequel about how Mickey ended up shirtless in KH1's ending, and also Aqua was just there the whole time. Which is why I was so surprised that KH3 plays things mostly straightforward. To the game's benefit, it largely avoids introducing any more new concepts to the series' expansive lore, and focuses instead on wrapping up the plot threads that have been going for well over a decade at this point. Same goes for the characters, who are (besides the Disney worlds) all returning members of the cast from previous games. Your goal at the beginning of the game is crystal clear: stop Xehanort. Every single thing you do in KH3 is a step to hopefully achieve that goal. It does take a while to get to that goal, however, because KH3 has some pretty severe pacing issues. What I mean by that, is that all of the super heavy plot stuff is in the final act of the game. KH2 did something similar, but it also had a three hour set-piece in the middle to let you know that things were just getting started. Kingdom Hearts III, however, does not do that. You spend about 85% of the game going through the Disney worlds, and the final 15% is the climax. Speaking of those Disney worlds, they're a mixed bag. I'd say it's a pretty even 50/50 split in quality. A few of the worlds tell completely original stories that are able to weave together with the overarching plot pretty organically, and have a few moments that are genuinely amazing (if you've beaten the game, you know exactly which two I'm talking about). On the other hand, a few of the worlds once again fall into the trap of just being a rehash of the movie it was based on. Arendelle is a particularly egregious example, with an uninteresting setting and a plot where every original character is completely irrelevant. It's probably one of the worst worlds in the series, honestly (not THE worst. I haven't forgotten about you, Atlantica). I mentioned earlier that the climax was where most of the story was, which is disappointing in its own right. But that being said, the climax was pretty much everything I was hoping for, and more. From the moment the endgame begins, Kingdom Hearts III never lets up. It's an endless wave of amazing moment after amazing moment, with multiple characters' plotlines from years worth of games finally coming to a close. On top of the overwhelming excitement, I'm not ashamed to admit I teared up a few times as well. While the overarching plot of KH has gotten a bit out of control over the years, I've always found that Tetsuya Nomura's strongest area was his characters, and that continues to ring true for me. All of my favourite characters had incredible moments and wonderful payoffs. And while the ending has proven divisive among fans, and I can definitely understand why, I was personally largely satisfied with how things played out. I was looking for the end to the Xehanort Saga, and that's what I got, in addition to almost every single character getting their moment to shine. Key word being almost, because let's talk about Kairi. I'm not going to spoil anything, don't worry, but Kairi has always been a bit of a weak link in the main cast, albeit with hints of a good character trying to break out. She was very much little more than a damsel in distress in KH1, but she also had a fierce and fun attitude that made her likable enough to make you want to go on this journey to save her. And while KH2 Kairi is forced into a brief damsel role once again, she definitely has more agency, as well as a desire to fight back and take what she wants. Kairi becoming a Keyblade wielder and a frontline fighter was one of the aspects of KH3 I was looking forward to the most. Having beaten KH3, I can say with complete confidence that Nomura has no idea what he's doing with Kairi, and whatever attempts he made to give her more agency have fallen flat on their face. This is the WORST version of her by a significant margin, and I can only hope that she's either given her own game to fix what was done to her here, or just left alone for the rest of the series to avoid any more damage being done. Gameplay Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, because there's a lot to get through here. Kingdom Hearts III is an Action RPG that has ditched the strappings of its portable incarnations in favour of the streamlined mechanics of the original PS2 games. You'll be wandering vast worlds, striking down enemies of all kinds, leveling up, equipping new abilities, and casting magic. You know the gist of it by now. The game was developed by the Osaka team, the guys behind BBS, 3D, and 0.2. Why is this important? Well, there's a certain... word in the KH community that has set off a bit of a firestorm. You probably know what I'm talking about, but it's used to describe the difference between the combat of KH2, and the combat of its portable counterparts. Particularly in how air combat feels and works, and your points of vulnerability while doing combos. That's right, everyone, let's talk about floaty combat. It's a subject I dread talking about because it invokes such strong feelings in everyone. If you like it, then you clearly don't understand how everything post KH2 is actually garbage and the series will never be that good again. If you hate it, then you can't accept that not everything can stay the same and that people might just like a style you deem to be factually inferior. I'm not gonna get into that, I'm just gonna give you the facts: yes, Kingdom Hearts III is floaty. Not nearly as much as 3D or BBS, but it's definitely there. Does it bother me? Not really, because unlike KH3D, the game was designed WITH that floatiness in mind. Unlike previous Osaka games, very few enemies will refuse to stagger when you attack them, and you're given a wide variety of aerial combat options to make staying in the air worth it. The air dash is quick and snappy, and Sora now has the ability to Guard while in the air, which completely changes how you can approach a fight in the skies. The boss fights have also greatly improved from the handheld games. The highly praised Revenge Values of KH2 have finally made their triumphant return. This means that you can combo and juggle bosses just like any other enemy, but if you get too aggressive and push that combo too long, they will automatically break out and counterattack to punish you. Kingdom Hearts III has some of the best boss battles of the entire series, especially in the climax section of the game. I won't spoil it, but I wish I could, because those boss battles towards the end are absolutely stellar. Kingdom Hearts III adds a LOT of new stuff to combat. So much so, that I'll probably forget to mention something. Most of these are tied to Situation Commands, KH3's version of the Reaction Commands of KH2. Upon attacking enemies for long enough, you will gain certain Situation Commands to play with depending on what you have done. Casting a certain spell several times will allow you to cast Grand Magic, a hyper Za-level version of that spell with insane range and devastating power. Every now and then, a party member with request a Team Attack with you, giving you what is essentially a Limit from KH2 minus the MP cost, the catch being that it's random. If you strike an enemy with a green circle around them, you can summon an Attraction Flow, a powerful, interactive AOE attack that will summon a different Disney Ride depending on the enemy you strike and where you strike it. You have Links, this game's version of Summons, that allow you to call upon a Disney character for a powerful attack at the cost of a full MP bar. Finally, and what you'll likely see most, are the Keyblade Transformations. After attacking enemies for long enough, you will be able to transform your Keyblade into a new form, granting you access to new abilities, attacks, and finishers. Every single Keyblade has at least one transformation, with several of them having two. And while there are a couple of recycled transformations, a grand majority of them are completely unique, encouraging experimentation with your Keyblades to find what you prefer most. In addition, you can switch between up to three Keyblades at once without going to the menus, and if you're in a Keyblade Transformation when you switch Keyblades, the transformation will still be in effect when you swap back to it. There is so much going on in KH3 that it can almost be overwhelming. I admittedly started ignoring Attraction Flows because of their long intro sequences and minimal selection, but in general, it's unlikely you'll go 30 seconds in combat without something crazy happening. You will always have plenty of options, and all of them are viable. Unfortunately, all of this overwhelming power does come at a price: Kingdom Hearts III is a pretty easy game, even on Proud Mode. Besides a couple of deaths to the final boss because of my own carelessness, I was able to power through every challenge in KH3 with relative ease. In addition, beyond a few mini-games and some Battle Portals, there is an unfortunate lack of post-game content here. I fully expect the inevitable Final Mix DLC to fix that whenever it comes out... but I'm not reviewing the Final Mix DLC, I'm reviewing vanilla KH3. And even compared to vanilla KH1 and KH2, KH3's post-game content leaves a bit to be desired. Presentation Kingdom Hearts III is absolutely gorgeous, let's just make that perfectly clear. The attention to detail is staggering, from the environments, to the lighting, to the character models, everything just comes together. Disney Worlds are far more expansive and detailed than they have ever been, and as a result, they feel alive in a way that they really never have before. The game is also bold in its artistic design, with certain worlds changing the aesthetic of the game. The Caribbean brings KH3 closer to realism than ever before, while 100 Acre Wood makes the characters look like drawings popping out of a book with the black outline around them. I was playing on the standard PS4, and despite the overwhelming number of particles that can pop up on screen, the framerate was always very stable. It would occasionally dip when things started getting REALLY crazy, but even then, it was far from getting to the point where it was a problem. As is the case in every KH game, the soundtrack is absolutely stellar. Yoko Shimomura returns once again as the head composer, and she delivers some absolute gems, especially when she gets the change to remix some old favourites. Takeharu Ishimoto also lends his hand to the series once again, and I've been seeing his work getting a lot of hate in KH3. I'm just gonna say this: no, he's not Shimomura. That does NOT mean that his music is BAD, it's just different. Ishimoto's style of composing is what gave us the Vanitas theme, and if you don't like that song, you must not like KH music. In terms of vocal performances, there's the occasional rough delivery and bland expression here and there, but the voice acting is mostly strong across the board. Haley Joel Osment gives his best performance as Sora since KH2, and the rest of the cast around him bring their A-game when it really counts. Unfortunately, there is one notable absence in the cast. For reasons unknown, Hayden Panettierre was never asked to reprise her role as Kairi, and is voiced by Alyson Stoner instead. She doesn't do a bad job at all, but it is a noticeable change, and she just isn't able to convey the attitude Kairi had in her previous appearances. In addition, there were several notable moments where it was very clear that some characters didn't have voices at all. I understand that there are reasons, and that if they don't have a voice in Japanese, they won't have a voice in English. But it's still awkward when characters are talking about what some characters are feeling, while those characters are in the room. Verdict I have loved the Kingdom Hearts series for a long time now. Loving something, however, means being able to recognize its flaws. And make no mistake, Kingdom Hearts III is a flawed game. The story takes too long to get going, Kairi gets done very dirty in this game, there's a lack of engaging post-game activity, it's too easy, the Disney worlds, while gorgeous and expansive, were a mixed bag of quality, and not everything gets wrapped up in a nice little bow, like I believe many people were expecting. There is sequel baiting here, and I know people will be annoyed by that. But when Kingdom Hearts III succeeds, it SOARS. The game is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous while running super well, combat has a ton of variety and fun to it, the Gummi Ship takes yet another leap forward in quality from KH2, the soundtrack is excellent, it has some of the best boss battles in the whole series, most of the characters resolutions are expertly handled and hit their emotions with perfection, and it manages to end a saga that was stretched way too thin, far better than it had any right to. I was going back and forth on whether to give this a seven or an eight, but this was the deciding factor for me: when the secret ending finished and I was looking at my results screen... I was sad that it was over. That's why I'm giving Kingdom Hearts III a: 8 / 10 Kingdom Hearts III is far from perfect. It has plenty of flaws, and I can understand why people might be let down, especially after such a long wait. That being said, I never really let the hype get to me. If you spend 13 years dreaming of something, of course it will never live up to those expectations. I went in to KH3 looking for a few things: a resolution to the story so far that left me satisfied, and strong gameplay to go with it. And through all of KH3's shortcomings, I got both of those things. So at the end of the day, I'm happy with that, and ready to wait for whatever that madman Nomura has planned next. So that was my review. Did you think I was too harsh, or too lenient? Was there anything I missed? Let me know. baylaust out.
  2. I've been gone for so long that the picture I used for my signature has been wiped from the internet.

  3. So Ven and Marluxia were around after the Keyblade War, which took place anywhere from 100 - 1000 years before BBS... this plot, man...

    1. KingdomHearts3

      KingdomHearts3

      Apparently they were. This plot indeed.

    2. Nero Kunivas

      Nero Kunivas

      Bit of a firetruckfest, eh?

  4. After Kingdom Hearts II acted as the series' magnum opus, KH fans were all left with the same question: when is Kingdom Hearts III coming out? Nomura told us that he would get to work on it as soon as he could (which in hindsight, is absolutely adorable), but in the meantime, we got the announcement of not one, not two, but THREE new Kingdom Hearts games, all taking place across the series' timeline. And across multiple platforms. None of which were PS2. Thanks, Nomura. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days was the first to be released, coming out in 2009 on the Nintendo DS. However, it would eventually see a re-release on the PS3 / PS4 as part of the 1.5 HD Remix. The catch? It was basically turned into a movie, since Nomura didn't have the time and resources to rebuild the entire game from the ground up. Now, I will be reviewing Days in its CUTSCENE form, rather than its full game form. You may be asking yourself, "Why wouldn't you review the full game?" Well, the answer is quite simple: I never got to play it. I never owned a DS, so unless I resorted to "less than legal" means, I simply couldn't experience the game for myself. Because I'm reviewing the movie instead of the game, I can't critique 358/2 Days' gameplay features and variations. This means that my final score will have to hinge ENTIRELY on the story and presentation. So, is this side-story one that you should experience for yourself? Let's find out. Keep in mind that this review WILL contain spoilers. You have been warned. Story During Sora's original visit to Hollow Bastion, he discovered that Kairi's heart had taken refuge inside of him. In order to free her, Sora had only one option: releasing his OWN heart as well. This act saved Kairi, but caused Sora to become a Heartless for a very short while. This act had the unintentional side-effect of creating a Nobody, who would come to be known as Roxas. Due to him being a Nobody of a Keyblade wielder, Roxas also had the power to use the Keyblade. Because of this, the enigmatic Organization XIII (main antagonists of CoM and KHII) were quick to snatch him up and make him a member of their ranks. Roxas spends his days wandering the castle, destroying Heartless to build Kingdom Hearts, and watching the sunset with his friends Axel and Xion, who is the Organization's 14th member. As time goes on, though, Roxas begins to question everything around him. Why can't he remember his past? Why is the Organization so obsessed with Kingdom Hearts? Who is Sora? Why are his supposed allies so insistent on keeping secrets from him? What is it that connects him and Xion so closely? Roxas's pursuit of these answers quickly takes him down a road of pain, betrayal, and heartbreak. I should start off by saying that you do NOT need to have experienced 358/2 Days to understand the overarching plot of Kingdom Hearts. Beyond not knowing who Xion is, this is very much a side-story, something that can enhance your enjoyment of the overall plot, but you can get by without playing. This is an approach that works far better than in Chain of Memories, which was simultaneously completely irrelevant and completely vital to understanding KHII. Much like CoM though, Days takes itself far more seriously than other KH games. But because of the subject matter, this approach works as well. We caught a brief glimpse of Roxas's life in KHII, but we saw VERY little of his time in the Organization. Over the year that this game takes place in, we get to see Roxas going through a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows. A tricky thing with prequels is that it can kind of ruin the suspense, and it's hard to argue that's not the case here. However, I personally think the story works that to its advantage. We, as the audience, already know that Roxas' story does NOT have a happy ending, so there's this feeling of dread that hangs over the movie, even when it's just the ice cream trio hanging out and eating ice cream. Another part of what makes this work is the characters. The main two we follow are Roxas and Xion, closely followed by Axel. While the story deals with many elements, including a traitorous plot between Axel and Saix that kinda goes nowhere, it's the friendship between this trio that drives the plot forward. What makes this so effective is that they aren't just already friends. We get to slowly watch this friendship build between Roxas and Axel, and later, Roxas and Xion. It's because we care about that friendship that it's so hard to watch it slowly fall apart as secrets start coming out and they're forced to take sides in the Organization. Xion is a plot device. She was created to give Roxas the drive to abandon the Organization, and is disposed of when that purpose is fulfilled. It's the truth. That being said, Xion is still a likeable character in her own light. Unlike Axel, who is more of a teacher / mentor to Roxas, Xion is the one person in the Organization Roxas can relate to. Like him, Xion can use the Keyblade, and like him, she has no memories of her past life. Days is just as much about her journey as it is about Roxas, and when she discovers the (rather messed up) truth about who she is, it makes sense why it would affect Roxas so much: him and Xion have so much in common, so what if that's what he is, too? It all culminates in one of the saddest endings in the series, with Roxas losing everything and fighting in vain to take back the life that everyone around him stole from him. That being said, the movie DOES have some pacing issues. 358/2 Days was a pretty long game taking place across multiple worlds, yet almost the entire story takes place on the Twilight Town clock tower. There are more than a few significant stretches where it feels like nothing's happening. In addition, while it's main three characters are done very well, the REST of the Organization (save for Saix) is given nothing to do. Many of them don't even get to SPEAK. Hell, Marluxia and Larxene, the two main antagonists of CoM, only appear for a combined 6 seconds. I get that it's Roxas' story at the end of the day, but the fact that so few of the Organization actually matter in the story OF the Organization is frustrating. Presentation Naturally, being HD-ified for the PS3 / PS4 means that Days looks gorgeous, that's obvious. However, it's difficult to ignore how much it re-uses the same locations over and over and over again. It gets exhausting looking at the clock tower for such long stretches of time, honestly. And as I mentioned before, VERY few other worlds get to appear here, so it makes Days feel smaller than it already does. All of the main voice actors reprise their roles, and they do just as great a job as they did before. Jesse McCartney still kills it as Roxas, and Quinton Flynn gives Axel an undeniable charm and charisma. However, there is ONE weak link in the cast: Alyson Stoner as Xion. She was weak, and I mean WEAK, when Days first hit in 2009, and while her performance IS better now, it's not by a whole lot. Too many of her lines sound unnatural and stilted, and her scream is still like nails on a chalkboard. Also, yet again, the lips aren't synced to the english voices. The music is great, but limited. The game is comfortable with reusing old tracks from the series, but the few original pieces we get to hear are absolutely incredible, the highlight being Xion's theme (or "Musique Pour La Tristesse de Xion," if you feel like sounding pretentious). It's a shame we don't have more unique songs to listen to. Verdict The things that 358/2 Days does well, it does REALLY well. The main trio are all likeable, it's visually gorgeous, the plot is laced with drama and tragedy, and it adds a ton of new depth to Kingdom Hearts II. Roxas is an incredible character, and his life slowly fall apart around him can be hard to watch. You root for him, despite knowing that his story isn't going to end well. When it goes for your emotions, it hits hard. But there are plenty of flaws too. Xion's actress is a notable weak link in the cast, the music gets repetitive, the clocktower segments can start to drag on, too much of the Organization are given nothing to do, and there is practically no action in the entire movie. That's why I'm giving Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days a: 7 / 10 It's a perfect compliment to Kingdom Hearts II: it will help you enjoy the story more, but if you want to skip it, you aren't missing a whole lot, either. As the first of the trio of mobile KH games, it does its job. However, there was one that was built up to far more than the others. The one that got its own epic trailer if you complete KHII. That's the one people were hyped for, and that's the one that got released next.
  5. Kingdom Hearts was the surprise smash hit that brought Final Fantasy and Disney together. Chain of Memories was very much a thing that existed and could be played. But now, three years after its original release, Square Enix released the true sequel to Kingdom Hearts for the PS2, aptly named, Kingdom Hearts II. While Chain of Memories was a very different kind of game from its predecessor, Kingdom Hearts II stuck far closer to the original game's template, while adding its own bells and whistles to build on KH1's foundation. Kingdom Hearts II, like the first game, would eventually be re-released as Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix +. For years, this was exclusive to Japan, but it was recently finally upgraded to HD and brought to a worldwide audience as part of the 2.5 HD Remix Collection, and this is the version of the game I will be reviewing. Kingdom Hearts was a strong but flawed opening, and CoM was an ambitious but misguided bridge game. Will Kingdom Hearts II surpass its predecessors, or succumb to their own faults? Let's find out. Keep in mind this review WILL contain spoilers. You have been warned. Story Kingdom Hearts II picks up roughly a year after the events of Chain of Memories. Riku is gone, Kairi is back at Destiny Islands, and Sora, Donald, and Goofy are finally woken up from their year-long slumber, brought on by the events of Castle Oblivion. With renewed vigor, Sora and his favourite Disney pals continue their search for Riku and King Mickey. However, the trio are quickly drawn into another conflict of world-ending proportions. Between the ever present threat of the Heartless and the return of old enemies, the enigmatic Organization XIII (first introduced as "The Organization" in CoM), and a new threat under the Organization's control known as Nobodies, Sora must fight once again to protect the worlds from the threat of darkness, all while searching for his friends and uncovering the mystery of Roxas, a young boy who vanished shortly before Sora woke from his slumber. So funny story... this was my first Kingdom Hearts game. Yeah, my brother got it for my birthday way back when it first came out. Which meant I was completely unfamiliar with the series and its story. And if there's one thing I can hold against Kingdom Hearts II, it's that man, it does NOT care about explaining what happened in the previous two games. If you're looking for an entry point into the series and you care about the plot, do yourself a favour and stick with KH1. That being said, I loved the story of this game. Kingdom Hearts for the most part was pretty straightforward, and was a relatively lighthearted romp with some dramatic moments sprung in here and there. Kingdom Hearts II still has some silliness, make no mistake, but the story has a lot more drama to it. There are constant twists and turns, characters are put through the ringer on multiple occasions, and it even takes the time to delve into the concepts of identity and free will. Yeah, not exactly things you would expect Final Fantasy mixed with Disney to dive into, right? But it does, and it honestly does them pretty well. The story can get complicated, but it never goes into "diving up its own ass" complicated. That comes later. Part of what makes this story work so well is the characters and how they're portrayed. Sora is still Sora, yet he also has shown some growth since his adventures in KH1. On more than one occasion, he starts doubting himself, questioning if he's doing the right thing, and if he'll ever see the people he loves again. He also possesses some more aggressive tendencies, and quickly grows to HATE his enemies like he never did with Ansem or Maleficent. Riku and Kairi have also grown in the last year since we saw them, and Roxas (a new character merely teased in CoM) is perhaps one of the most human characters the series would ever see, and has his own story that's just laced with tragedy. And that brings us to our main antagonists. Organization XIII. They have become hallmarks for the series as much as the Keyblade itself, and with good reason. They make the game, they give it life. Kingdom Hearts II (wisely) avoids making the same mistake the first game did. The Organization is introduced as your main enemy very early on, and they stay your main enemy until the end of the game. Thirteen (now eight, thanks to the events of Castle Oblivion) Nobodies, out to spread darkness and destruction to the worlds, in the hopes that they'll finally get to be whole people again. While a force that needs to be stopped, there's a seemingly understandable goal at the center of all their actions, and that is what helps make Organization XIII stand out. Unlike Ansem, who was evil for the sake of being evil, most of the Organization just want to have hearts again. That, coupled with each member's unique personalities and incredible boss battles, ensures that you won't be forgetting these men for a long time. While KH2 falls into the trap of having the Disney Worlds mostly be filler, the second half of the game kicks into high gear, with most of the worlds having a clear purpose and effect on the story (with the exception of ONE, but we'll get to that). Kingdom Hearts II embraces its premise and the absurdity of its concept in a way that no other in the series has before or since, and this leads to some of the best moments in not just the game, but the series itself (The Battle of 1000 Heartless is probably in the Top 5 battles for any Kingdom Hearts fan). While it's not afraid to go full-on anime at times, it never loses the heart and soul that resonated with us all in the first game. It all culminates in a fantastic final battle, and one of the best endings to any game, PERIOD. I cannot say enough good things about how Kingdom Hearts II ends, it's one of the very few games to make me tear up. With the Final Mix version, it also adds many new cutscenes to the mix that help fill in holes in the story and tease future events. These are all welcome additions, and unlike KH1, they are all fully voice acted in English, and despite being voiced roughly 10 years later, most of the cast still slide right into their roles like they were recording in 2005 again. Gameplay Kingdom Hearts II is an Action RPG, much like the first game. You'll run around, cutting down enemies, casting old and new spells, levelling up, and gaining new abilities. There are some new features to help keep things fresh though. The first of these is the Drive meter, which allows Sora to take on a new form with the aid of his allies. Valor Form sacrifices Goofy to give Sora another Keyblade and a rushdown fighting style focused entirely on delivering as much punishment to your enemies as possible. Wisdom Form gives up Donald in exchange for a form that grants you more mobility, allows you to shoot magic projectiles, and significantly powers up your spells. Limit Form gives Sora access to most of his abilities from Kingdom Hearts I. Master Form absorbs both of your allies in exchange for a boost in strength and magic, a new Keyblade, and a fighting style focused on keeping yourself and your enemies in the air. Final Form gives you everything you could ever want, allowing you to attack constantly, deliver extremely powerful spells, and fly. Then there's Anti-Form, a form that triggers when you abuse your Drives too much. It's extremely fast and capable of dealing good damage, but you take far more damage and are completely unable to heal. In addition, you CANNOT exit this form while in combat, so if you get stuck in this form during a boss fight, your strategy basically becomes "pray to your God if you have one." Sora also has access to Limits, special attacks that completely drain your MP, but allow you to team up with any party member (including your Disney allies) to deal a devestating AOE attack to your enemies. Kingdom Hearts had a good foundation, but it still felt a bit stiff to control at times. Kingdom Hearts II, on the other hand, plays like an absolute dream. Combat is fast, fluid, and easy to control. The camera has been totally fixed, allowing you to always have control of your surroundings. Sora very quickly learns a far more vast array of skills and spells that demonstrate his talent and skill in a way that is just gorgeous to watch. Simply put, Sora has never felt as fun to play as, or as powerful, as he does in Kingdom Hearts II. The tradeoff to this is that the game can be pretty easy, especially with the addition of Reaction Commands, quicktime events that require you to press Triangle to have Sora do something flashy in combat. That's why I recommend you play this game on Critical Mode. Your health is halved and you take more damage from hits. When paired with Sora's sheer power, it feels like Critical Mode is how the game was meant to be played. The Gummi Ship, absent from CoM, makes its triumphant(?) return in KH2. I'm confident no one really enjoyed them in KH1. They were slow paced, bland, lifeless, and just dragged the game to a halt. In KH2, however, the Gummi Missions have been completely revamped for the better. Instead of being a poor man's Star Fox, these are basically arcade shoot-em-ups. They're flashy, colourful, fun to play, fast paced, and still retain the customization of KH1. The world map as a whole is a lot easier to navigate as well, so the Gummi Missions are now something you can actually look forward to. You know what you CAN'T look forward to, though? Atlantica. Boy, oh boy. Atlantica was already my least favourite world in KH1, with sloppy controls in messy environments. Kingdom Hearts II decides to completely do away with that, and it becomes a quicktime event based musical. On top of just not being fun to play, it's the world you visit the MOST in the game, with a whopping 5 VISITS in order to complete it. In addition, you guessed it, the plot does not progress AT ALL when you're here. If you cut Atlantica out of the game entirely, absolutely nothing of value is lost. But I can forgive KH2 for Atlantica because this game is just BURSTING with content. On top of minigames and optional enemies / objectives galore, Kingdom Hearts II adds not one, not two, but FIFTEEN new boss battles, one of which is an absolutely INCREDIBLE story based fight. You're able to challenge all thirteen members of the Organization after you've defeated them, and they can put up one hell of a fight. Finally, you get to fight The Lingering Will, KH2's TRUE superboss. While Kingdom Hearts II can get some flack for being easy, the Final Mix version includes some of the most skill-testing fights in the entire series. Presentation Needless to say, Kingdom Hearts II is beautiful. It takes full advantage of the PS2's hardware, bringing back the vibrant colours of KH1 while adding far more fully animated facial expressions to the characters. Kingdom Hearts was already a gorgeous game, but Kingdom Hearts II somehow manages to top it in almost every way. From its CG opening to its closing credits, Kingdom Hearts II is complete eye candy. Yoko Shimomura knocked it out of the park with Kingdom Hearts I, but she somehow managed to outdo herself with her soundtrack to KH2. Each and every song has a distinct punch to it, old and new, and a large majority of the series' most iconic themes (Organization XIII, Roxas) can find their origins here. Most of the original cast is back for the sequel. Haley Joel Osment returns once again as Sora, and he delivers what is probably his best performance to date, capturing the perfect balance between his youthful optimism and his older, more experienced self that he's become. Jesse McCartney is introduced as Roxas, and boy, does he have a talent. Roxas is arguably the one character you could believe being a real person, and Jesse McCartney plays a big role in that. Organization XIII is filled to burst with vibrant voices, and all of them are iconic in their own right. The only real weak link in the cast is Richard Epcar as Ansem / Xehanort. The loss of Billy Zane in the cast was a tough one, and while Richard Epcar is a talented man and has a fitting voice, he's still very clearly trying to find his footing here. He would eventually fit into the role nearly was well as Zane did, but his first outing leaves a bit to be desired. Rating Kingdom Hearts II is a sequel in the truest sense of the word. It keeps everything that worked about the original, scraps what didn't, and CONTINUES to build upon the foundation the first game built. Even if Atlantica is a slog to get through, and even if the game isn't that challenging (outside of Critical Mode), Kingdom Hearts II knocks everything else so far out of the park that it's easy to forgive its shortcomings. The gameplay is fast and fluid, it nails its presentation in every aspect, it's filled to burst with content, and the story manages to ramp everything up to 11 while keeping it, at its core, a heartfelt story about friendship and destiny. That's why I'm giving Kingdom Hearts II a: 9 / 10 I cannot sing this game's praises enough. Had the series ended here (especially with that absolutely brilliant conclusion), it would have been easy to see this series ride off into the sunset. But thanks to the secret ending, we know that there was more story to be told. And so it began, our eager anticipation for Kingdom Hearts III. How foolish we were.
  6. Sora, Riku, and Kairi together. While Xehanort did plenty of terrible things to plenty of good people, this trio were just living happily on their Islands before Xehanort tore their lives apart. It's because of Xehanort that Kairi lost her heart, it's because of Xehanort that Riku fell into darkness, and it's because of Xehanort that Sora lost his home and his friends. Let all 3 of them be the ones to bring him down.
  7. Hey

    1. baylaust

      baylaust

      Aloha. How're you doing?

    2. Cricket

      Cricket

      Doing great! How are you? Nice to see you still sticking around. :)

  8. Maybe it's just me, but I really dislike the new title screen style used in 0.2 and Back Cover. I hope they go back to Nomura's artwork for the title screen.

    1. KingdomHearts3

      KingdomHearts3

      I find it interesting. Something new. Should the do the artwork for KH3? I think so because Nomura is a savage when it comes to that stuff.

    2. Xiro

      Xiro

      I feel u bay

      Haven't seen the 0.2 title screen but I do like the usual artwork lol

  9. Kingdom Hearts, released in 2002, was a surprise hit for Square Enix (known as Squaresoft at the time). While a flawed game, it brought in a significant audience with it's mix of Final Fantasy and Disney properties, stylish combat, gorgeous visuals, surprisingly complex characters, and a story filled with heart and soul. With it's success and a cliffhanger ending, it was very clear that Sora's story wasn't over yet. So Square did the only logical thing, and released a sequel. On the Gameboy Advance. Naturally. It later got a PS2 remake and was released in Japan alongside Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix + (don't worry, we'll get to that), and received an English translation and release 2 years later. With its inclusion in the 1.5 Remix, RE:COM is now considered the canonical version of these events, and this will be the version I'm reviewing. As the Kingdom Hearts series' first "bridge" game, does it leave a good impression? Let's find out. Keep in mind this review WILL contain spoilers. Story Chain of Memories picks up immediately where Kingdom Hearts left off, with Sora, Donald, and Goofy continuing their quest to find Riku and King Mickey. The trio find themselves drawn to a mysterious castle known as Castle Oblivion, led by a group of men and women wearing black, hooded cloaks. With the promise that the trio may very well find their missing friends by proceeding through, Sora and co. begin their journey to ascend to the top of the tower. However, as they climb, they find their memories starting to fade, and new memories appearing. As they climb Castle Oblivion, it's up to Sora to discover the meaning of these memories, and how a mysterious girl named Namine ties into everything. Meanwhile, Riku manages to escape the Realm of Darkness, and finds himself appearing at the basement level of Castle Oblivion. With no way to go but forward, Riku starts his own mission to escape the castle, all while dealing with more black-cloaked conspirators, and coming to terms with the terrible things he did in Kingdom Hearts 1, and his own inner darkness. Chain of Memories is this weird odd duck in the Kingdom Hearts storyline, in that it's simultaneously important, and completely irrelevant to the main story. The Organization would go on to act as the main antagonists of Kingdom Hearts II, and this game explains why half of them are already gone by them. This game also serves to introduce us to Namine, AND it explains both how Sora falls asleep before KH2, and how Riku got out of the Realm of Darkness. That being said, the game ends with Sora losing all of his memories of the events of Castle Oblivion, and they're never REALLY addressed in future instalments, so it's like the game itself doesn't know if it's important or not. The story is a real mixed bag, I'm not gonna lie. There are elements I like, even LOVE. Sora, throughout the first game, didn't really grow or change in any major way. But here, he finds himself being pushed to his mental breaking points. He's constantly being antagonised by this Organization, his memories are being manipulated with every floor, he begins to turn on his closest friends, and it seems like no matter what he does, he's only moving further into the Organization's clutches. The idea of Sora having no idea what's real and what's not has the potential for some great drama, and it delivers at moments. But there's one major problem: there's no mystery for the PLAYER. We KNOW Sora is being manipulated, and by who. We KNOW which of his memories are real and which aren't. There's nothing for the PLAYER to solve, only SORA. So while this is an idea that's filled with potential, it ends up being frustrating more often than not. The same can be said for the villains. Marluxia and Larxene are great antagonists to Sora and his friends, and act as great foils to each other. Larxene, the sole female member of the Organization, is also its most violent and sadistic member. She relishes in watching people suffer, and finds no greater joy than in tormenting Sora. Marluxia, on the other hand, is a very unique antagonist for the series. He's incredibly powerful and has a lust for power, but he hides it behind a wall of calm elegance. He's strong, yet he knows his limits. His first instinct isn't to fight, but to think. He only steps out of the shadows when absolutely necessary, but when push comes to shove, he can easily hold his own against the Organization's personal assassin, Axel. While Vexen really serves to be a plot device to spout exposition, Larxene, Axel, and Marluxia help drive the story. But the problem HERE is that we know nothing about WHY they do what they do. We know they're part of an Organization. Who are they, though? Marluxia and Larxene are out to betray them. Why? Vexen constantly pulls out ranks, but what do those numbers actually mean? None of these are addressed. Some will get answers in future instalments, but if we don't know the characters' motivations NOW, it's hard to care about them NOW. We know the who, the what, and the how, but the most important WHY is left completely unanswered. Thankfully, Riku's story, which is unlocked by beating Sora's main campaign, fairs much better. It's significantly shorter, making everything feel far more important. His villains are Zexion, Lexaeus, and the one and only(?) Ansem. Since we know Ansem is already a threat, the stakes are already well established. Meanwhile, Zexion and Lexaeus have motivations that tie directly to Marluxia and Larxene, so what drives them is understandable. On top of that, his opponents UNDERSTAND Riku, and know what makes him tick, which only makes them that much more dangerous. He claims darkness is his enemy, yet constantly finds himself entrenched in it. He wants to reunite with Sora, yet was trying to kill him not too long ago. Riku's story is one of redemption and self-discovery, and it feels personal. While it may not be dramatically important to the main plot, it's important for RIKU, and you feel that Riku develops greatly through the events of Castle Oblivion. And unlike Sora, these events stay with him, and become a part of his character for the remainder of the series. Gameplay So yeah. Hope you like card games. Chain of Memories retains the action-based combat of the game before, but with a twist: instead of attacking using a menu, you attack with cards. You have cards for Keyblades, Magic spells, Items, and various characters you encounter through the game. For the most part, it's self explanatory; Keyblades use regular attacks, Magic cards cast elemental spells, Items reload your deck, and the Character cards act as brief summons. You also obtain Enemy cards for, you guessed it, defeating certain enemies and bosses. These can be used once per fight to give Sora temporary buffs in combat. Each card has a numerical value from 0 - 9, and enemies use these same cards to fight you. If you and an enemy attack at the same time, the card with the higher value will win. If they're the same, both cards are lost and neither enemy attacks. 0 cards will automatically break any card it's used against, but can also be broken instantly if it's used FIRST. In order to progress through Castle Oblivion, you must also use cards on doors. Each door has a specific requirement to be opened, and depending on which cards you use to meet these requirements, the room before you will change. Some can be empty, some can be littered with enemies, some can contain Save areas and Treasure. It's up to you. Sora also has access to Sleights, which are activated by combining up to three cards together for various results. For example, you can create a basic 3-hit combo with a higher number value than 3 separate cards, you can combine 3 of the same spells together to form a 2nd or 3rd tier version of the spell, and by meeting certain requirements, you can unleash your most powerful abilities. That being said, you will lose the first card you used in the Sleight for the remainder of the battle, so unless you're stacked with Elixirs, Sleights cannot be used lightly. Riku follows the same basic rules, but with several variations. Unlike Sora, Riku CANNOT customize his deck; he's given a specific set with every new floor, and that's what he has to use. He also has a very limited set of Sleights he can access when compared to Sora. That being said, Riku also gets his own bells and whistles to make up for this. Unlike Sora, Riku can reload his deck instantly. When two cards of the same value are played against each other, Riku and his opponent enter a "Duel Mode," where you have to rapidly break several of your opponents cards. Doing so will allow Riku to unleash a devastating attack on his enemy. Riku also has access to "Dark Points" which increase as you break enemy cards. Once the meter fills, Riku will enter Dark Mode, where he dons his dark suit from KH1. His attacks become significantly stronger and he gains access to several new, incredibly powerful Sleights. This form lasts until Riku takes a certain amount of damage. It's just enough to make Riku feel refreshing and unique from Sora. Honestly, I actually like CoM's combat system. While KH1 had some sharp difficulty spikes towards the end, "Mash X to Win" was still a pretty viable strategy for a vast majority of the game. With CoM, however, you have to be a bit more strategic than that. If you just spam your most powerful abilities, you could very well make it through the basic battles with ease. But as the Heartless grow stronger, and begin to break your cards, your forced to rely on timing more than anything else. This is a combat system that forces you to stop, think, and use your opponents cards against them. Or rather, it WOULD be, if it wasn't easy to completely break the game with it. It's pretty easy to gain currency to buy card decks from Moogle shops, and with them, you can quickly amass a pretty powerful deck. Load a bunch of 9 cards in, add a few Elixirs and cures, and you're set for life. In addition, while Sora gets plenty of strong attacks through Sleights, there's one that was added just for RE: COM: Lethal Frame. This is the single best ability in the entire game. It's easy to set up (one stop card + two attack cards of any value), it's easy to hit enemies with, and it will clear a full health bar off of any enemy in the game. There is never any reason to NOT have this sleight in your hands. Unless you're up against an enemy that can teleport or fly, it should be your go-to attack in almost any situation. Up against a low-mobility boss? Lethal Frame. Enemy with a shield? Lethal Frame cuts right through it. Multiple health bars? Just use 2 Lethal Frames, and they're dead if not seriously wounded. It makes the majority of the game a cakewalk. Presentation So naturally, the game looks gorgeous, that shouldn't be any surprise. Unfortunately, while technically good looking, the art-pallet takes a significant hit. Most of the game takes place in Castle Oblivion. Which means a lot of white. A LOT of white. Gone is the vibrant colour pallet of KH1, replaced with...... white. In addition, while the story in Castle Oblivion is decent at times, the Disney sections in between are an absolute SLOG to get through. They add absolutely nothing to the plot, and are, once again, basic retellings of Disney movies, but with the theme of "memory" somehow tossed in there. On top of that, every single world (save for 100 Acre Wood, returning as the mini game world) is the same. They only actually differ in 2 aspects: the Heartless that appear, and the colour of the backgrounds. Because the room layouts are decided by cards instead of the world itself, no matter which world you're in, each room will look and act exactly the same, with no unique mechanics. These were included only to pad the run time of the game, and they add nothing to it as a whole. In each campaign, only 4 worlds ACTUALLY contribute something. For Sora, it's Traverse Town, Twilight Town, Destiny Islands, and Castle Oblivion. For Riku, Hollow Bastion, Destiny Islands, Twilight Town, and Castle Oblivion. See the problem here? Even the voice acting takes a punch. Most of the main cast reprises their roles (with Sora sounding far older in his KH1 design, thanks to Haley Joel Osment being 6 years older), and the newcomers all fit into their roles with ease. Unfortunately, unlike KH1, they didn't bother to sync the lips to their English voices, which means the actors are forced to pause and speed up their delivery to match the lip flaps. This causes a lot of the dialogue to sound stiff and unnatural. But, let's be real, there's also plenty to appreciate here. The entire soundtrack has been remastered, and it sounds great. The original songs used are wonderful, and the new final boss theme for Sora is among the best compositions in the entire series. Speaking of which, RE: COM also features two new boss fights: a new final battle against Marluxia, and a boss battle against Zexion for Riku. Both of these are very welcome additions, ESPECIALLY the Zexion battle, which was completely absent in the GBA version. Verdict I'm generally far more kind to CoM than most KH fans, but looking at it objectively, it's hard to deny its flaws. For everything it does right, it does something wrong. The story has promise and intrigue, yet is held back by poorly explained motivations and a feeling of unimportance. The villains are cool, but poorly developed. The combat is unique and strategic, but easy to break. The game is graphically great, but it looks bland and lifeless. The cast is talented, but forced to stiffen their delivery to match the characters' lips. It's definitely not a great game like KH1, but I can't say I DISLIKED it, either. It falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. That's why I'm giving Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories a: 6 / 10 I give this game points for being willing to take risks, but unfortunately, many of those risks just didn't pay off. Ultimately, what kept me from going a 5 or lower was the new content, and just how well done Riku's story was. It also introduced many of my favourite characters in the series, so hey, credit where credit's due. What's interesting is that while this is very much a direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, there was a very clear decision made to not title it Kingdom Hearts II. That's because Kingdom Hearts II, the REAL Kingdom Hearts II, would be in its way within about a year (which actually kinda fits in with how CoM ends). Will the TRUE sequel to Kingdom Hearts be worth the wait? Well, stay tuned.
  10. I dunno. The crux of Marluxia's character (and one that I like and I think stands out from the other villains in the series) is that he has a lust for power and control, but he knows he's not strong enough to get that on his own. While powerful, he's NOT a warrior; he's a manipulator, a schemer. Not unlike Zexion was. I think handing him a Keyblade would be throwing all of that out the window. His goal wasn't to have his own Keyblade, I think he knew that wasn't gonna happen. His goal was to control its power, which meant controlling Sora. Assuming he's back, I doubt Xehanort would EVER trust Marluxia to make him a central part of his army. Marluxia would just continue scheming for power behind the scenes, and Xehanort NEEDS all 13 darknesses alive and well for his plan to come into fruition.
  11. So I'm bored, and I haven't been on here for a while, so I figured I'd review the entire Kingdom Hearts series. Because why not. A few things first: I'm going to be focusing on only what you could consider the "mainline" games. This means X and X Unchained will not be included. Second, I will be reviewing the most recent and complete versions of the game, which means the 1.5 - 2.8 versions. Finally, for Days, Coded, and Back Cover, I will only be reviewing them as movies. Which means they have to get by on the merits of their story above all else. Which will be far more difficult for some entries than it will be for others. Spoiler alert, as much as I like the series as a whole, it can get rough. REALLY rough. So let's dive right in with the game that started it all. Story The game focuses on a trio of three characters: Sora, Riku, and Kairi. The three young teenagers all live on a world called Destiny Islands, a nice little paradise that consists mainly of a few small islands where the group hang out and spend their days with each other. Riku, however, is convinced that there are other worlds to be found, and alongside his two best friends, plans to build a raft that will take them to those other worlds. How exactly they plan to travel through space via boat is a mystery, but hey, you kinda have to leave logic at the door with this series. Before they can finish, however, a catastrophic storm hits Destiny Islands, and a legion of monsters known only as the Heartless ravage the world. Kairi disappears, Riku vanishes into the darkness, and Sora is left to fend for himself with a mysterious weapon known only as the Keyblade, a seemingly sentient sword that has (supposedly) chosen him to be its master. Despite Sora's best efforts, the world is consumed by darkness, and Sora is cast away to a new world known as Traverse Town. It's here that Sora meets Donald and Goofy, a cartoon duck and dingo respectively, who are travelling across various worlds in search of their king, who has also vanished to investigate the Heartless. With specific instructions to "follow the key," Donald and Goofy join Sora on his mission to find his friends and return home, all while darkness continues to spread and evil conspires behind the scenes. I know that sounds like a lot, but part of what really hooked me in to this was how relatively simple it was. At it's core, Kingdom Hearts 1 is a pretty straightforward plot about a boy looking to find his friends, with themes of darkness vs light, friendship, destiny, and betrayal all thrown into the mix. Ordinarily, this would cause the story to feel tired and somewhat predictable. But what makes it work is the strangely brilliant mixture of Square Enix (Squaresoft at the time) characters and writing, alongside DISNEY of all things. You would think it was a disaster in the making, yet despite all logic and common sense, it works. And it doesn't just work, it works WELL. You wouldn't think that a meeting between James Woods' Hades and god damn Cloud Strife (played by Steve Burton, who would go on to play the character in every voiced appearance since then) is something you always needed to see. But it is. Kingdom Hearts also does a good job at integrating the Disney properties into the story itself. Later games in the series would have the Disney Worlds act mostly as filler between story beats, but that's not the case here. Despite every world more or less following the plot of the movies they were based on, they each move the main plot forward in their own ways. You can't write off a single world in the game as completely unimportant, something that can't be said for later games in the series. One area that it DOES fall flat is with the villain. For most of the game, the main antagonist is Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent, with a string of Disney villains as her underlings. Honestly, it works for the most part, and Maleficent, having always been one of Disney's best villains, is a great choice for the big bad. Sadly, at the end of the game, she's more or less cast aside in favour of a new villain, who has had little screentime or development beforehand. Worse yet, once he's introduced, he doesn't really appear again until the endgame, so we learn nothing about him besides the fact that he's evil and loves saying "Darkness." There are reports written by him that you can find throughout the game, but besides a bit of backstory about the Heartless and the nature of the worlds, they provide little insight into his actual character. But despite this setback, the story works pretty well for what it is. Despite the inherent silliness and absurdity of the game's concept, it has (forgive the pun) heart. And that's what ties everything together. The characters all grow, are all challenged in different ways, have their spirits broken, and have to crawl their way up from their lowest points to fulfil their destinies. It hooks you, and it even has a few tearjerkers thrown in the mix, as well as a VERY bittersweet ending. Gameplay Kingdom Hearts is an Action-RPG. Which is to say you spend the game beating the snot out of everything you come across in order to earn experience, level up, and learn new abilities. Not unlike Square's OTHER flagship series Final Fantasy, but unlike their (traditionally) turn based setup, all of the action is done in game, with no transitions, and no waiting between turns. As the game progresses, Sora progressively grows stronger, learning new abilities, getting new spells, and obtaining new Keyblades. While you start off with a pretty pathetic starting sword and little more than a basic 3-hit combo, by the end you'll be doing flips, flying, summoning magic barriers to finish off groups of enemies, and calling upon various Disney characters to briefly assist you in the heat of battle. For the most part, combat is simple but fun. The game controls well enough, your hits have a clear field of range, and landing hits on enemies feels satisfying. That being said, considering this was the first game, there were a few hitches in the design. The combat is never quite as fast paced as the game wants it to be, and Sora at his most powerful still feels kind of sluggish to control. But what really hurts is the camera. While vastly improved in the HD Remix from its ATROCIOUS PS2 counterpart, the camera remains a big issue. It doesn't respond right away, being slightly delayed after you ask the camera to move. Not only that, but it seems to fight you in almost every battle. It ranges from annoying at times, to downright infuriating when fighting in closed spaces. Especially considering how many areas in the game are very vertical, and one wrong move can send you falling down a pit you need to spend 5 minutes climbing out of. At times, the camera can be the biggest challenge you'll face in the game. Which is another point I feel the need to bring up: Kingdom Hearts is a surprisingly challenging game. For the most part, regular enemies are little more than canon fodder, but the bosses (and especially the secret bosses) will force you to think on your toes and push your skills to their limits. Most of the game requires you to mash X to achieve victory, but you can't get away with that during the boss fights. The bosses each have their own unique quirks, and you have to play by THEIR rules if you want to stay alive. It can get pretty infuriating at times, especially when the difficulty spikes towards the latter third, but for the most part, the challenge is pretty fair. Beyond issues caused by the camera (or the aggressively stupid AI party members not helping me when I need them), most of the deaths I had were fair. Presentation Despite originally being a relatively early PS2 game, Kingdom Hearts is absolutely gorgeous to look at. There is a reason that the series stayed with this art style for over a decade: it ages very well. Especially with a fresh coat of HD paint, beyond a few bland textures, the game is pure eye candy. Another surprise, especially for Square at the time, is that the voice acting was pretty damn good. Kingdom Hearts had a pretty decent star cast, with The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment headlining as Sora, future star of Heroes Harden Panetierre at Kairi, Seventh Heaven's David Gallagher as Riku, and god damn BILLY ZANE as Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. All of them, despite being newbies to voiceover, do a great job, and Billy Zane steals the show as Ansem. While Richard Epcar has come into his own with the role, the loss of Zane is one the series has never quite recovered from. What also helps is how most of the Disney characters have their respective actors and actresses reprising their roles, and those who don't have damn good impersonators. And then there's the music. Yoko Shimomura has done many soundtracks before Kingdom Hearts (including Mario RPG), and has done many since, but I doubt many will argue that THIS is what put her on the map as one of the greatest composers in video game history. Her soundtrack is absolutely incredible, and she will change her style to fit with every new world, something few composers can do. The game has a wide variety of ambient and combat tracks, and the boss themes are downright incredible. Verdict The game isn't perfect. It has more than a few flaws. The camera can be extremely infuriating, combat is sometimes sluggish and difficult to control, there are more than a couple of harsh difficulty spikes, and the main villain (despite having a fantastic voice) is harshly underdeveloped. Yet, it still works. And not just because of the gameplay, or the story, or the soundtrack, or the visuals. It's because the game has heart. It's earnest. It knows exactly what it is, and what it's trying to be. And for the most part, despite its many flaws, it succeeds at that. That's why I'm giving Kingdom Hearts a... 7.5 / 10 This works perfectly as a game for laying down the foundation for the future of the series. It knows what worked, and what didn't, and now with that knowledge, they can deliver a truly stunning sequel. Coming up next, card games?! In MY Kingdom Hearts?! It's more likely than you think.
  12. Doubtful. She knew about Repliku, but I'm pretty sure that's about it. The only people who seemed to know were Xemnas, Xigbar, Saix, and Vexen (who was in charge of the project in the first place). Basically, only the people Xemnas trusted most were aware. And considering that Marluxia and Larxene were basically sent to Castle Oblivion to die, I HIGHLY doubt they would have been in on it.
  13. So have we reached a point yet where we can acknowledge that KH3D was the worst in the series by a significant margin?

    1. Show previous comments  17 more
    2. Xiro

      Xiro

      Chi is a mobile game that's canon for some reason. Can't get much worse than that. (At least coded got a remake.)

      If Chi weren't canon... then yeah probably. Some Dream Eaters are cute thou

    3. HeartlessRoxas_

      HeartlessRoxas_

      None of the games are terrible so the worst game is going to vary for everyone. I'd personally say KHχ-Chi/Union-χ was the worst due to it being hindered by cool-downs and Micro-transactions. But other than that it's a pretty solid game.

    4. HeartlessRoxas_

      HeartlessRoxas_

      None of the games are terrible so the worst game is going to vary for everyone. I'd personally say KHχ-Chi/Union-χ was the worst due to it being hindered by cool-downs and Micro-transactions. But other than that it's a pretty solid game.

  14. Should I come back here to do some RPs again? Decisions, decisions...

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