In early 2000, Japanese video game company, “Square Enix” (formerly known as “SquareSoft) announced that they were working on a project with the help of “Disney Interactive,” involving a video game where the main character travels to worlds based on Disney properties as well as encountering characters from Disney animated movies & “Final Fantasy.” Current Disney CEO, Bob Iger also supported Sqare Enix’s pet project. Both companies focused on the game’s mechanics before they constructed a narrative to see if everything is according to plan.
After the two companies took months to design the gameplay, environmental locations & character designs, it was time to write a complex storyline about a boy named, Sora who lost his world & his friends. He’s randomly selected to wield a sword shaped like a key that’ll help him fight his enemies. His journey properly begins when Donald & Goofy need his help to track down Mickey Mouse who went A.W.O.L. due to an important mission related to a sinister force. Sora also learns that his friends are somewhere in a multiverse where Disney characters live in their respective worlds.
Marketing for Kingdom Hearts officially commenced when The Disney Channel revealed a trailer for the game during Kin Possible’s commercial break. Another commercial for Kingdom Hearts was also linked to “Mickey’s House Of Villians.” A direct-to-video film based on “House Of Mouse.” Man oh man I miss watching Kim Possible & House Of Mouse after leaving the school bus, snacking with Oreos & Capri-Sun. If you want to relive the commercial experience like I did, look up Disney Channel’s Kingdom Hearts commercial. When I was a kid, I had to use AOL to access The Internet, but it took forever to load up. That’s why my parents didn’t want me to use their computer to play games. There was no livestream, or YouTube back then.
Kingdom Hearts opened worldwide in 2002. It earned critical acclaim from reviewers & gamers alike selling millions of copies. Kingdom Hearts went on to spawn several installments including “Chain Of Memories,” “Kingdom Hearts II, “Birth By Sleep,” “358/2 Days,” “Coded,” “Dream Drop Distance” & the upcoming “Kingdom Hearts III.”
Kingdom Hearts III is scheduled to come out in North America on January 29th. Before the game’s released, I want to share my thoughts on what’s good or bad about the first game that started the whole series. This will be my first video game related review, it can’t be an all out multiplayer online game like “Overwatch,” unless a certain game has a narrative to keep the person interested.
Today’s review doesn’t contain any crucial SPOILERS. If you’re new to the series, feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Positive & Negative Qualities
Positive: The Main Cast such as Haley Joel Osmet, Hayden Panettiere, David Gallagher & Billy Zane all did an amazing job for their voiceover performances.
Many voice actors from notable Disney properties reprise their roles including the late Wayne Allwine, Jim Cummings, Bill Farmer, Tony Anselmo, Jodi Benson, Chris Sarandon, Gilbert Gottfried & James Woods all did a great job for their voiceover performances.
Other Actors such as Dee Bradley Baker, Mandy Moore, Christy Carlson Romano (possibly related to Ray Romano) & Lance Bass (not kidding) voiced characters from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series.
Combat System gives you various options to battle Heartless with your trusty Keyblade by attacking them physically using effective combos, magical spells & the power to summon Disney characters like Simba.
Game Mechanics help you explore locations from a particular world. You gain abilities you can equip to help you in your journey. Potions restore your health & magic if you’re running out of juice. Treasure Chests contain important things. Space Missions labeled as “Gummi Missions,” takes you on a route to travel to worlds. The Leveling System’s maximum cap is 99, which is too dang high!
The Heartless are the main enemies you fight. Each variation of The Heartless have organic strengths & weaknesses that’ll allow to exploit in combat.
Besides The Heartless, iconic Disney villains including Hades, (my favorite Disney villain) Oogie Boogie, Jafar, Ursula, Maleficent, Captain Hook & several others baddies are designated bosses.
Two secret boss battles are very excruciating. Trust me, folks, it doesn’t matter if you play on easy or hard. You’re gonna die too many times.
Besides the default Keyblade, you have the option to equip new Keyblades upon finishing a world.
The game’s soundtrack has memorable instrumental tracks that’ll keep you pumped up in battle.
The games theme song is, “Simple & Clean.” It’s played during the opening & ending.
Character Development involving Sora. Without giving too much away, as the game progresses, Sora learns that something will make him stronger other than his Keyblade.
Donald & Goofy also earned themselves Character Development.
Sora’s interactions with his friends Riku, Kairi, Donald, Goofy & The rest of the characters he meets felt organic.
The game contains twists & turns I refuse to give away juicy details.
Central Theme centers on friendship that’ll help you conquer the darkness.
When you visit a certain world, an inhabitant of his/her own world will accompany you during your journey.
Each world is unique such as the environment, characters, the atmosphere etc. my personal favorite world is “Halloween Town” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Final Mix adds new aspects to the original such as new enemies & a secret boss battle located in Hollow Bastion.
Unlike the PS2 version, Final Mix gives you the option to skip cutscenes.
It took me 25 hours to finish the game in normal difficulty on level 85. If you’re a completionist, it’ll take a long time to fill in every single gap detailed in Jiminy Cricket’s journal.
If you complete 100% of the game, a secret ending sets up the next installment. When I was nine, my mind was blown and I couldn’t wait to see Sora, Donald & Goofy’s next adventure.
If you want to spice things up a bit, drink a sip of water every time a character says the word, “darkness.” If I were you, don’t drink alcohol, because you’ll die from alcohol poisoning.
Negative: To be honest with you fellow gamers, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this game. I’ll give the people behind the making of Kingdom Hearts an Extra Point for designing a game as flawless as they can.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Kingdom Hearts is still one of my favorite video games since childhood. If you’re excited to play Kingdom Hearts III, play the first game that started it all by purchasing “Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far” featuring many entries to the series. It’ll take a very long time to understand the mythology of the series as long as you stay up to date like I always do.
Square Enix & Disney Interactive, If you’re reading this, I’m very excited to play Kingdom Hearts III. I hope you’re long awaited installment meets my expectations. My personal favorite Kingdom Hearts game is the second game, not Chain Of Memories.