Kingdom hearts was a HUGE part of my childhood and is most definitely one of the games that led me into becoming a gaming addict. So my opening statement goes something like this:
There are no other games that manages to combine very different universes with as much charm, fun and steadfast game play as the Kingdom hearts series do.
If you missed out on the Kingdom hearts series the first time round and think ‘why the fuck has some mentalist combined Disney and final fantasy’ I understand your hesitation, but trust me you need to play this game. I am yet to meet a person who doesn’t enjoy these games. They NAIL the character’s and their relationships and draw you in for hours and hours on end, create a really fun world that combines final fantasy and Disney in a way you’ve never imagined, and this remaster does a fantastic job of bringing this game into modern times. This is easily a game that could have been horribly pulled off and an absolute disaster but the end result is near perfect, and there’s a reason everyone’s clambering for a third installment.
Quite honestly the story is just as amazing as the first time round and made me feel so happy at every moment. I love how it feeds off of final fantasy but with an amazing Disney twist, and I just really enjoyed swinging the key blade aroundIs it sounding great yet?!
To back up the gripping story of heartless and Disney there’s a solid final fantasy-esque game play system. It was actually great to play it again as an adult with more knowledge of all the characters and gameplay, and much more of an understanding of levelling up, weapon improvements etc. And that’s the key, I’m playing this again 16 years later (yes it’s that old) and am enjoying it on a different level.
The combat system is not turn based as the final fantasy games before it are. The combat is open plan, you can attack the enemy with x (and also other abilities you unlock as you go on) cast magic using a quick equip with l1 or using the in screen menu, and you eventually unlock summons, the first being simba (closely followed by genie and bambi). There’s also items you can use mid Battle to heal, fill magic etc.
The way the combat works is simple but really fun, you can jump, dodge, block, slice and magic your way through enemies.
When the enemies die there’s a satisfying pop and as they become items, or health and mp orbs. Enemies vary vastly from little dudes that can avoid you by shadowing into floor to big boys who you can only attack from behind, forcing you to not just button bash and plan your attacks.
There’s obviously bosses as well, you can try your best to avoid their attacks but generally you just need to go for it and keep healing yourself until you take them out.
You also have the support of Donald and Goofy throughout the entire game and also certain heroes when you visit their world (Tarzan, Aladdin etc.). Goofy is more of a defensive attacker and Donald is your magic support. It’s got to be said at the beginning of the game they aren’t ultra helpful but as you level them up they become a big part of your combat, i’m about 12 hours in and Donald can take down the smaller enemies in one hit. You can also give them items to use in battle but my one big gripe with the game is even when you set them to using it ‘in emergency only’ they still use them willy nilly and generally run out of items after one battle (there should be a setting to set to use when health is red) so I tend to only entrust them with items during boss battles!
A couple of other minor issue with the game, which i do let slide as it’s an old game, jumping is bloody tough, until you unlock the high jump ability quite later in the game. This isn’t helped by the camera angles which have the old mechanic of the camera being stopped by a wall or obstacle. These two combined make jumping to certain chests a bit tricky, however you can revisit anywhere you’ve been so can always go back with more abilities to make it easier.
Also sometimes the combat can be a bit hectic and Sora doesn’t always do an intelligent auto lock on. You can choose who you tag and switch between enemies but there’s so many enemies at one time it needs to be a bit more fluent and intelligent. Like I said, I make allowances for it being an oldie.
This is a very good remaster indeed. It’s not as thorough as something like Crash Bandicoot but you can tell that they’ve taken time to run though the whole game and update the graphics everywhere. There are a tonne of comparison videos online but take it from me, you won’t be sat there feeling like you’re playing a PS2 game. The character’s sometime don’t have a whole animated face during the cut scene, just a mouth. This is fine as far as I’m concerned. The in play graphics hold up really well, especially as most of the game has been set up as kind of box rooms, so there aren’t huge open areas at one time (I think the biggest areas are in Traverse town) and this original set up helps the graphics update hugely.
Sometimes in cut scenes I’ll notice a random break in dialogue or the fact they’ve only chosen to fully animate one character, but this is easily worked around as they only tend to have short cut scenes followed by text dialogue, and more often than not the original voice actors have come back for their Disney roles.
Overall I’m absolutely loving this game, I cannot keep off it. It’s the first game I’ve played in a long, long, time that has me fully hooked wanting to play it every night. The story is wonderful and charming and hits you right in the nostalgia in every new world you visit. The gameplay is hugely enjoyable and exploring these many worlds with various Disney characters is an absolute pleasure. And the remastered graphics really hold up and don’t take away from the gameplay.
I HIGHLY recommend this game to anyone who’s looking to scratch their RPG itch, it will not disappoint. I cannot wait to carry on my story and play Kingdom hearts 2 again.