Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

By Sumit Dutta

Published on Sunday, June 25, 2006

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 9.50
Gameplay: 9.00
Environs: 9.00
Gamelength: 8.50

The premiere release of Kingdom Hearts started with the cooperation of Disney and Squaresoft. This result of this is a whole new type of game: an interactive game for kids and adults alike with most of the features of other role-playing games RPGs. Take a look at the key feature of this game that brought it such phenomenal success in all areas from graphics to plot: variety.

The story of the game is entirely new, set apart from other entire Disney or Squaresoft movies or videogames. There are characters made specifically for the story, namely a 14-year-old aspirant hero Sora, the protagonist, and his friends Riku, 15-year-old boy who seeks rivalry with Sora, and Kairi, the 14-year-old girl who connects the lives of Sora and Rikku. A playful setting is first introduced in the game at a secluded paradise known as Destiny Islands.

However, most other elements of the game are derived from other Disney or Squaresoft classics, adding a touch of different styles and settings to the game. In each part of the game there are some other characters from previous Final Fantasy games. Tidus and Wakka from Final Fantasy X are introduced as friends at Destiny Islands at younger ages. Their character strongly resembles that from their original presences inFinal Fantasy X; that is, Tidus is the calm and supportive and likewise Wakka is sportlike and cheerful. Later in the game other Final Fantasy heroes and villains are introduced in more momentous situations, including Squall as Leon, Sephiroth, Aeris, Yuffie, Mog, and Cloud. Thus Kingdom Hearts can be considered a compendium of the classics from Disney movies and Squaresoft classics alike.

Sora’s quest begins in a dark realm where he must choose his strengths and weaknesses. After a series of short relay games at Destiny Islands, Sora ends up in Traverse Town where he meets the former Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII heroes and learns about his quest to defeat the evil "heartless" which are invading the various worlds of the Disney and Squaresoft universe with the keyblade he wields to restore peace.

Though Sora has to fend for himself in some battles around here, eventually he teams up with Disney’s Donald and Goofy. He journeys through several different worlds:

  • Destiny Islands
  • Traverse Town
  • Olympus Coliseum: Hercules
  • Wonderland: Alice in Wonderland
  • Deep Jungle: Tarzan
  • Disney Castle
  • Agrabah: Aladdin
  • Halloween Town: Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Never Land: Peter Pan
  • Monstro: Pinocchio
  • Atlantica: The Little Mermaid
  • Hollow Bastion
  • End of the World
  • Hundred Acre Wood: Winnie the Pooh

The graphics in Kingdom Hearts have been well-done, to the level that it maintains the standards set after Square’s release of the phenomenal Final Fantasy X. All environments have specific details for each setting, closely resembling what would be expected based on what is in the respective Disney classic. New special effects are included in new versions of the classic magic attacks from previous Squaresoft games and Disney movies.

It is evident that Squaresoft and Disney spent most of their time enriching the story and content of the game so videogamers can grasp the meaning of each of the plight of each of the worlds. The language, setting, and music of each level is highly appropriate. This deliberate inclusion of a diverse set of cultures in a journey to restore peace is the greatest factor contributing to the success of the videogame to touch its audience personally, making the gameplay and plot all the more interesting.

Music in Kingdom Hearts is almost unparalleled in its diversity and melody. Though a good portion of the music includes remixes of songs from past Disney and Squaresoft classics, there are some equally great songs which have been composed specifically to resemble the Kingdom Hearts theme. The theme song for the videogame is Hikari, which is both powerful in emotion and melodic. Some other songs are made specifically for Kingdom Hearts in the Gummi Ship traveling and editing modes and for the title menu and credits. Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion are worlds that are new creations made for Kingdom Hearts, both of them featuring superior sound in addition to great graphics.

Kingdom Hearts has implemented a whole new type of gameplay. Sora and his party travels from world to world, including others from each world in his party but only in their respective worlds. Traveling between worlds is done by Gummi ships, which can be bought or custom built with the help of Chip and Dale with parts acquired throughout the worlds. This makes the game much more interesting for those with engineering aspirations. Weaponry for the characters is advanced throughout the worlds, and a final weapon can be made after finding enough parts to synthesize it with.

The battle system of Kingdom Hearts is on-screen. That is to say, all battles are fought in the same environment that is walked through rather than in a new setting to host the battle. This also eliminates the need for a battle turn system, because everyone attacks at his own pace. That is not to say that attacking is unlimited, however, since each character’s ability to fight is limited by his amount of hit points (HP) and magic power (MP). Ability points (AP) are raised to enable special technical skills learned at each level of strength. Hence Kingdom Hearts maintains a battle system having roots from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, both games started by Squaresoft which have on-screen battles.

There is also a difficulty setting in Kingdom Hearts which makes the videogame suitable for different ages. Not only that, but it also increases the durability of the videogame by much more, because it can be played more than once.

In total, Kingdom Hearts makes use of the best of Disney and Squaresoft. Variety in itself is the key reason for the wide audience of the game. For this reason, it can be expected that many more sequels will be available in the Kingdom Hearts series.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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