Kingdom Hearts

Are you a big fan of Final Fantasy for its badass characters, innovative battle systems, and its state based leveling system? Are you a big fan of Disney for its fun, lovable, and versatile characters and settings? Then you should certainly love it when they’re put in a blender together and make what is now one of the most popular game series of the decade: Kingdom Hearts. Released in 2002, Kingdom Hearts took the world by surprised, offering a real-time battle system, character classes, and a great story, becoming the perfect mix of Final Fantasy and Disney. This game was on of the first video games I ever grew to love, and it certainly opened me up to a vast world of gaming, especially in RPGs. To this day, almost eight years later it remains as what may quite possibly be my favorite games series of all time that I make sure to play through every once in a while. You may be wondering how such an odd blend could ever be good in any way shape or form, and I’ll tell you how now.

Meet Sora. A fun-loving, carefree young boy living on the Destiny Islands with his two best friends, Riku and Kairi, as well as other friends from the Final Fantasy series. Sora is always in a fierce competition with Riku, each trying to one-up each other whenever they can in a variety of friendly ways. Life on the islands is paradise for the three, and they plan to find bigger and better things someday. Together with Riku and Kairi, Sora plans on building a raft in order to visit other worlds. Meanwhile at Disney Castle, Donald, a Royal Adviser discovers that The King has disappeared, leaving behind a note. Detailed in the note, The King explains that he notices that trouble is brewing in the universe, and he has gone to find out what has gone wrong. Donald finds Goofy, head of the Disney Knights, and together they embark on a quest to find The King, and mysterious “key” he spoke of in his letter. One night, Sora notices a storm over his island, and decides to go check it out to make sure the raft is okay. He soon finds out that there’s something weird about the storm, and weird black creatures are crawling all over the place. He quickly finds Riku, but he disappears into a dark pool. Sora becomes sucked into the same pool, but is saved somehow by a mysterious weapon called the Keyblade, which literally is a giant key. Using the Keyblade, Sora is able to defend against the black creatures as he makes his way to find Kairi. When he finally does, she disappears mysteriously, as if she were a ghost. Unable to save the island, Sora finds himself sucked into the storm. As this is happening, Donald and Goofy arrive in the world called Traverse Town, and they notice a star blink out. In some back alley, Sora wakes up to a dog, Pluto, licking his face. Sora, now having realized he’s in an entirely new world, begins looking for his friends. As he’s searching, he runs into Leon (formally Squall Leonhart of FFXIII) and Yuffie (FFVII), who fill him in on what his Keyblade is, and on what those mysterious creatures, the Heartless, are truly motivated on. Soon thereafter, Sora runs into Donald and Goofy, and the Disney pair realize that he is the “key” The King was talking of, so they invite Sora on their quest to find The King, promising that they’ll help him find his friends. Thus, the trio embarks on their journey, taking them to a several Disney worlds, and closer to finding out the mystery of the Heartless, the Seven Princesses of Heart, and to finding their friends.

If the plot wasn’t enough to hook you, the characters will. Apart from all the old Disney and Final Fantasy character you love, we do get a set of original characters. Being that they were designed by Square-Enix, it’s quite obvious that they’ll be well developed characters with strong back story, motivations, and developments in the plot, which they are. And from the many classic characters we get, all of them are portrayed true to the characters, and some are even expanded upon with the story.

The graphics in this game are also very appropriate for the type of game it is. Being that it’s a cross between Disney and Final Fantasy, two universes with vastly different styles, they’re going to have to meet each other halfway, right? Well, they do, and it’s pulled of perfectly. It’s kept somewhat cartoony, but also with the classic Final Fantasy style. Both universes are held true to their nature, and the blend is seamless, as if these two were born to meet someday. You will be stunned by how perfect the two seem to go together. On top of this, we even get most of the official cast of the classic Disney characters coming back to reprise their roles in this innovative game, making it all the more awesome.

Being that Final Fantasy is involved in this, you can expect a wide variety of game play, including an engaging battle system. The fighting style in this game is unlike anything ever seen from either universe, giving us an exciting real time experience utilizing both magic and swordsmanship. The game also contains a leveling system, allowing each of the characters to increase their stats and gain new abilities. Each character can have their items customized, including accessories and weapons; Donald gets new staffs; Goofy gets new shields; and Sora gets new Keychains for his Keyblade, changing its form and abilities. And if you were wondering, your party is customizable. While in certain worlds, you can have a Disney hero join you, like Jack Skellington, Tarzan and many more; each join you in their respective worlds.

We also get the exciting new Gummi system. The Gummi ship is what our heroes use in order to get from world to world by a means similar to space travel. You get the ability to customize and build your own Gummi ship with a huge variety of Gummi blocks to make your ship a force to be reckon with. Basically, it’s space legos with guns. Awesome, right? Throughout many different worlds, we see colorful marks on the ground called Trinities. If you have Sora, Donald, and Goofy in your main party, you can activate the Trinities and utilize their powers based on their colors. Trinities are very useful and often help you find secret items, and, in some cases, progress the plot. Another fun and exciting thing to do while playing is going to the Olympus Coliseum, in the wonderful world of Hercules, and battle in tournaments to train your ability and win special prizes. There’s a few different tournaments you can enter, and another few special matches you can compete in to fight secret bosses from both universe.

Overall, this game manages to take the best of both worlds and combine them to make something even greater in the grand universe of Kingdom Hearts. This game was an instant favorite among many, including myself, and will continue to be for years to come. Highly recommended to those who love both Disney and Final Fantasy, and don’t mind/are interested in seeing the two crossed. Overall, this game receives the grand mark of 10/10 for playability, fun characters, dark settings, and a surprisingly well done plot. Any avid player that hasn’t checked this game out does not know what they’re missing and needs to check this game out at one point or another. Further, the Kingdom Hearts spin-offs and sequels are equally good, if not better than the original, and they both do their part in continuing and expanding the universe within the game. You can all look forward to future reviews of some of those games as well. Until then, this has been another game review by Sachi!