Kingdom Hearts - "キングダム ハーツ" - Game Review -
Today, I will be reviewing the PlayStation 2-based game, Kingdom Hearts, released by Square Enix, the makers of the popular Final Fantasy series...
The game was first released in PAL format back in 2002, and I've only recently played it, 10 years after its release. So, of course, I was expecting the game-play to be somewhat outdated, almost terrible, in comparison to the newer games that have been released recently. However, much to my surprise, I was very wrong. When I first started playing this game, I had heard of the Final Fantasy franchise, but never actually played any of the games, and so I wasn't aware of just how breathtaking Square Enix's animation really is. The opening cut-scene made me realise that this wasn't going to be the badly animated, outdated game I had been anticipating. Instead, it turned out to be one of the best games I have ever played. Considering that it was released for the PlayStation 2, it really is an outstanding game with a gripping storyline that will tug on your heart strings and force you to fall deeply in love with the characters, especially the loveable rogue, Riku.
In Kingdom Hearts, you play the role of Sora, a young boy living on The Destiny Islands. For the opening of the game, you have to run around preparing a raft to leave the Islands in search of adventure with your friends, Riku and Kairi. However, once the raft is complete, darkness engulfs the Islands, separating you from the others, and transporting you to another world, Traverse Town, where you meet Donald and Goofy, whom are searching for their ruler, King Mickey. Upon meeting them, you develop the ability to wield the Keyblade, a key-shaped weapon that can only be used by the Chosen One. Donald and Goofy request your help in locating their King, as you are the only one able to seal the 'Keyholes' that are present in each world. Once a Keyhole is sealed, the darkness can no longer enter that world.
In terms of characters, the protagonist, Sora, is seen as very loveable and brave. He puts his friends before everything else and will do whatever it takes to locate Kairi and Riku, and save his home. Donald Duck and Goofy are present for the majority of the game, and often offer support in battles, which is always helpful. Especially Donald, whom will always put Sora's health before his own, using all of his potions to keep Sora alive and well. During cut-scenes, you really get a feel of the pair's personalities. Sometimes, Donald can be hot-headed, especially when he and Sora first meet, but Goofy always manages to calm him down, and the three always end up friends again by the end of the scene. The game also features Riku and Kairi, Sora's friends from his home on Destiny Islands. Though Kairi is not present through the majority of the game, she is often mentioned by both Sora and Riku, showing that the pair are very fond of her personality, and her ability to show a positive attitude to most situations. As for Riku, he becomes what I like to call a "loveable rogue", as he strays away from the path of 'good' and sides with the enemies, after being manipulated by Maleficent. Although he is seen as a 'bad guy', Riku only has Kairi's best interests at heart. And he longs to save her. He doesn't truly wish to fight Sora, but he feels betrayed since Donald and Goofy seem to have replaced him. I feel truly sympathetic towards him.
The game features a lot of Disney characters, including Hercules, Aladdin, Tinker bell, Peter Pan, The Genie and Simba. All of whom have an important role in terms of the story. The game also features the Disney Princesses, Snow-White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Belle. They also help to contribute to the plot, and play an incredibly important role towards the end of the game. Characters from old Disney cartoons, such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pete also come into the game, adding to the very loveable cast. As Kingdom Hearts was a collaborative piece from both Disney and Square Enix, some characters from the Final Fantasy series were also added to the game. For example, Squall Leonhart, known in the game as "Leon", joins Cloud, Yuffie, Sephiroth, Aerith, Cid, Wakka and Tidus. Each of the characters has a specifically sculpted personality, that allows them to interact with other characters as though they were real people.
The game-play seemed quite advanced at first, requiring multi-tasking in order to attack whilst using potions or magic to heal yourself. However, once you've played through a few fight scenes, you get the hang of the controls and it becomes a lot easier to interact with. The graphics were stunning, especially during the cut-scenes, when Square Enix's Final Fantasy expertise comes into play and you can truly appreciate the work that has gone into making the 'human' characters look as realistic as possible. Which, considering that this game is now over 10 years old, is quite an achievement. Interaction with this game is very good. You're given the option to do absolutely everything manually. Which is quite rare for a game that was originally released for small children. However, the game isn't difficult, either. Once you have come to terms with the controls, which button moves, which button attacks, the game is incredibly easy to play. Yet, at the same time, it never becomes boring. The only down-side is the fact that, if you die and have to repeat the level, you also have to watch every cut-scene all over again, as there's no option to skip them in this game. That option is added to the second game, though.
In summary; The characters are well-animated and highly, highly loveable, the soundtrack is a-ma-zing, the storyline is really well thought-out and put together, the choice of worlds is very good, you immediately recognise which world you've ended up in. I love this game so, so much. This is a very positive review. I think more people should play the game, the fan-base is dying out! T-T
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ !