What do you get if you cross Final Fantasy and Disney? Kingdom Hearts. KH is a crossover between Squaresoft (Now Square-Enix), and Disney Interactive. Released in 2002 Kingdom Hearts is an Action RPG of epic proportions. Being the first game in the series it’s got a lot to prove to both Action and RPG fans alike. Can it satisfy both? Or does it just come off as mediocre across the board? Hit the jump to find out.
The strongest point in Kingdom Hearts is the story, the game begins on Destiny Islands, where three of the main characters; Sora, Riku, and Kairi live. The three friends want to leave the islands to explore new worlds and have prepared a raft for this purpose. However one night the island is attacked by creatures called the Heartless. Sora seeks out Riku, his best friend, however Riku disappears into a dark portal. It is at this time you obtain the KeyBlade, the most effective weapon against the Heartless. However, the islands are destroyed and Sora drifts out into space. Meanwhile, King Mickey of Disney has left his world to deal with the increasing numbers of Heartless emerging and has left instructions for mage Donald and knight Goofy to find the “key” that will protect the worlds from the approaching darkness.
Kingdom Hearts is often regarded as one of the best RPG’s on the PlayStation 2, and has created an IP mix unlike any other. It has a fascinating story, that will completely immerse you. The gameplay is great, with an engaging battle system that doesn’t get tiresome. The single player story mode is satisfyingly long, with plenty of extra content and secrets to keep you coming back even after you finish the game. The exclusion of multiplayer is no loss, as adding it to an Action-RPG would just seem desperate.
Kingdom Hearts looks great, graphically it’s not the best game on the system, and you’ll occasionally be confronted with jagged edges, but the colour and style is fantastic. Mixing the fantasy genre with Disney without turning it into toddler town is no easy feat, the balance between the two is perfect. The cinematics are astounding as well, smooth animation and textures that would make you cry. It may not be the best looking title out there but it’s sense of style holds it up among the best looking games.
There are some truly memorable tracks in Kingdom Hearts, there are plenty of Remixed Disney tracks in there, and the main theme song; Simple and Clean, is brilliant. You’ll hear plenty of your favourite Disney voices and the memories will flood back. The voices for the main characters are fairly good too, except Sora’s voice can seem kind of whiny sometimes. The voices of Genie, Jack Skellington and all the classic characters offer a fresh take on old childhood favorites.
The battle system is fantastic, real time battles take place at complete random. With Heartless spawning anywhere and everywhere you have to be on your guard. You have your basic attack and magic buttons, but you can also power Sora up with special abilities, such as Roll, Glide or extra Combos. There are a huge multitude of abilities available in the game so you have plenty of choice. There are also a number of KeyBlades in the game, each with varying strengths and weaknesses, and some with added abilities. The KeyBlades are often based on the Disney worlds you find them in, or after the character that gives it to you.
Kingdom hearts is a blast to play, the dialogue will keep you entertained and the story will completely suck you in, it has Disney appeal for aspiring young gamers and a deep ability system for the hardcore. Gamers of young and old are sure to enjoy this game. There are a plethora of secrets scattered throughout the game, for example, if you collect all 101 Dalmatians hidden in chests throughout the world, you earn a secret ending! The difficulty curve is nice and steady, being relatively easy at the beginning of the game leading to a test of your accumulated skills at the end. Kingdom Hearts will continue to challenge you, but it’s a challenge that you can overcome, despite the level cap of 100.
For a brand new IP Square should be very proud, they took a shot in the dark with this unexpected crossover, and it paid off big time. Kingdom Hearts is now a must have classic for the PlayStation 2. It’s combination of a compelling story with action packed battles makes it a strong candidate for most gamers.
When I bought Kingdom Hearts, I didn’t know what to think, it looked strange and I thought it was a bit childish. After I played for an hour or so, I realised that there was so much more to it. The Disney exterior is just the surface of the game. Overall Kingdom Hearts is a must buy, for RPG or action fans, or if your unsure and want a new game, pick this one up. Kingdom Hearts is a game you really have to experience yourself, and I finally have a game that combines my inner child and outer gamer harmoniously.
Great style and good graphics.
Plays like a dream, no camera issues either.
Great tunes and good voice acting make this a treat for the ears
You’ll want to play through again, but this is a game you’ll come back to even a year after you first finish it.
A fantastic game and a great start to the series.