Who would have ever believed that Square and Nintendo would combine forces for a game? They did, and SUPER MARIO RPG is still an all-time favorite for the Super Nintendo. Square and Disney are hoping that collaborative magic will strike again with the newest PlayStation 2 action-RPG, KINGDOM HEARTS.
King Mickey is missing, and a kid named Sora is looking for his crush, Kairi. So Sora teams up with Donald Duck and Goofy to search out the missing persons, and in the process discover the larger plot of an evil group called "The Heartless". Throughout the game, you'll travel between different areas of Disney movies, usually going through a shortened and altered version of each film.
If there's one thing to be said for KINGDOM HEARTS, it's that the atmosphere is absolutely incredible. From the first moment you arrive in Wonderland, to Agrabah, playing a game in your favorite Disney movie is great fun. Each level brings new exploration, new characters and new jokes.
While there is a lot to be said for the atmosphere, the gameplay doesn't exhibit the same flair for innovation. The fighting is Zelda style; you fight as Sora while Goofy and Donald (or whoever else has joined your party) fights automatically (you can set behavior patterns for them to follow). The problem is that it just gets old quick. Lots of enemies, attack, cure, wash, rinse, repeat. It gets old.
The experience system really isn't anything special. It's pretty typical for a Square RPG. There is an ability system where characters can learn and equip new abilities. Another part of the game is the Trinity moves. These are special moves you learn that require the three base members of the game. They are used at certain spots where you see Trinity symbols.
Between worlds in the game, you fly your Gummi-ship. These are essentially watered-down Star Fox sequences that are more annoying than anything else. You can construct a new ship with parts that you get, but really that's not much of a feature, and you should be able to easily make it through the game without building a new ship.
The other downfall of the gameplay is that you mainly run around trying to trigger the next event. It seems a lot of the time like trial-and-error, rather than truly knowing where you need to go next.
But all of that aside, KINGDOM HEARTS' character is what makes it a great, fun game. Any Disney fan will have an awesome time making their way through the game.
The outstanding color and recreation of the Disney world definitely put the game in the higher echelon of graphics on the PlayStation 2. The animation is also top notch, and the special effects cap off the game with a beautiful touch.
The theme song is excellent - getting to the title screen for the first time was a definite treat. The rest of the game music isn't quite as good, as the music is pretty short, so you hear it over and over again. However, the voice acting is fantastic, and really adds to the comedic factor.
While it does have some minor shortcomings in the gameplay department, KINGDOM HEARTS is a dream come true for any Squaresoft or Disney fan.