|By Art Mead||Thursday, 3 Feb 2005|
Whether you’re a long time Final Fantasy fan, a Disney lover, or just a gamer who enjoys a solid RPG, Kingdom Hearts is almost sure to provide you with a wonderful gaming experience. The game is based on a real-time fighting system where you must quickly attack, cast spells, etc… as opposed to the turn based systems which can usually be associated with Square games.
To start off, the story for this game is quite original. There are several different worlds in the universe, all of which are starting to come under an invasion by the Heartless, which feed off of the darkness within people’s souls. King Mickey (Mouse) goes off to find the source of this infestation, and Donald and Goofy are left to go find a boy to help them save their King and the universe. Of course that boy is you, Sora, whose world is little more than an island, and you and your friends are doing what you can to get off that island. You meet Donald and Goofy, are given your quest, and off you go to try to save your friends and all of the other worlds.
Where this game really shines is in the different settings which you must journey to and from in order to fulfill your quest. The settings include Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, A Nightmare Before Christmas, The Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, Hercules, and many more Disney movies. The great thing is that you only spend a limited time adventuring within each setting, so there are very few times that the novelty of the Disney settings wears off and you find yourself annoyed by the cartoonish surroundings. All of the worlds are extremely well designed, and you can fight side by side with some of the heroes of these worlds (Beast, Aladdin, Peter Pan, etc…), which adds dynamics to your party selection and equipment.
The fighting system is very easy to get used to, even when flying around trying to keep track of several enemies at once. The magic system is also quite simple, and you can “key up” 3 spells to be able to cast quickly with a touch of a button. The summons include characters such as Genie, Tinkerbell, Simba, and (my personal favorite) Dumbo. Each summon has their own special attributes, and may provide you with health, magic, extra attacks, or more. The only problem with summons are that you must consciously remember to cast them, as they are sort of hidden within the magic menu.
There are several main and side quests that must be fulfilled, all of which add to the immersion of this game. You might find 3 of the 101 dalmations in a chest in the 100 acre wood, or a new part for your gummi ship in the stomach of the whale from Pinocchio.
Alongside the Disney characters are many Square characters, primarily those from the most recent Final Fantasy games. I really enjoyed this inclusion within the game, as there is not much more thrilling than squaring off against Cloud or Sephiroth from FFVII, or receiving the help of Squall from FFVIII.
The entire game is just filled with little details that make it so great to play and an enjoyable experience. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes either Square games or Disney movies, as this should have something for just about anyone. The game will take around 25-40 hours, depending upon how in depth you want to go. I did a fair amount of the side quests and finished in just around 29 hours, and I found that not playing for a while doesn’t take away from the game’s charm or cause any difficulty in getting back into the story. Definitely check this one out.