Welcome to Drake Clawfang's review of Kingdom Hearts!
You're Sora, living on an island with your buddies Riku and Kairi. The three of you dream of getting off the island and exploring other places. Well, you get your wish one day when Sora finds himself seperated and lost in Traverse Town wielding the mysterious Keyblade. Recruiting (or being recruited by, whichever) Goofy and Donald who have been ordered by King Mickey to track the one with the Key, the three soon find that beings of darkness called "Heartless" have been attacking other worlds, tearing down the barriers seperating them and stealing the Hearts of the people. The people of traverse town, incluing Aerith, Yuffie and Leon, are the refugees who escaped the Heartless.
Using a Gummi Ship, Sora and co travel to the other worlds and seal them from attack. Along the way, Sora still can't find Kairi and Riku flits in and out. Finally, they reach Hollow Bastion, the humble abode of Maleficent who controls the Heartless. Here, we find out Riku was the one chosen to use the Keyblade, not Sora. But once Sora proves his heart is stronger, Riku loses it. After Maleficent is defeated, it turns out Ansem is the real villain and as the Heartless grow stronger, we have to descend to the darkness to defeat him and seal Kingdom Hearts, the heart of the worlds.
Well, the story is nice, simple and basic. You've got a lot of open ends, travelling to other worlds. Pick a spot on the map and you're off to who-knows where. It's a good story, let's leave it at that. Not perfect, but good.
Okay, here's where the rating plummets. Riku is cool but Sora can be kinda whiny and preachy. Kairi...well, no complaints, she didn't really do much did she? Goofy and Donald, they were alright. The allies were all fine...well, okay, all the character in the game were perfectly fine.
It's the ones that weren't in the game that pissed me off - the goddamn Final Fantasy characters! Where is everybody? Rydia, Terra, Locke, where are the classics? Who the hell is Wakka? I don't know and don't care! The whores Yuffie and Selphie were in the game! Who do we get that's decent? Aerith, Cloud, Squall, and a ten-second cameo by Sesshiroth. Oh, and Cid Highwind, and he was real important to the story! Where the hell are the true Final Fantasy cast? And the ones that were in were pale shadows of themselves, all of them. The only thing Kingdom Hearts shares with Final Fantasy is the naming conventions.
I read on Wikipedia that Nomura didn't want to use characters he hadn't designed because he wasn't as familiar with them as ones he had. Well, I respect that, but it's a load of crap. You know what you do when you wanna include characters you don't know about? You get the guys that do, and I'm talking Amano baby, the guy who masterminded IV and VI! I want Terra, I want Rydia, I want Locke, Celes, Edgar, Cecil, Kain! I want the REAL Final Fantasy cast dammit, the ones that made the series, not the ones riding their coattails five games later.
Nomura smartened up and used Vivi and Setzer in II, so I hear. And just looking at what he did to poor Setzer I can tell they should have just left them out. Guys, get Amano, if he and Nomura put their heads together I'm sure they could cook up some awesome storylines weaving FF and Disney together! Nomura alone, at least this time, failed miserably. The FF influences really just seemed tacked on.
Kingdom Hearts, I was led to believe, was a Disney/FF crossover. Ah-ha, not even close. This is a Disney game co-starring a bunch of side characters who happen to have names drawn from Final Fantasy.
Here's the battle system. You basically hotkey three spells, which for me were Curaga, Aeroga and another spell I swaped around. You assign abilities, equip equipment...
Then you just run into battle and hammer on the X button until there's nothing left.
It sucked, the ability and equipment systems were alright but in the end you just did the same combos over and over with small variations. Story of every battle in the game, hack and slash and heal when weak. There's just no real strategy for most of the bosses. The Phantom at the Clock Tower, the Ice Titan and Sephiroth were the only ones that made me work for my victory. And they were tough, I still haven't beaten Sephiroth but I've gotten him to his yellow bar. These three were real bosses, you had to think to get them. Even the final boss was pathetic! Cast Aeroga, jump in, hammer X, he attacks, I heal. Rinse and repeat, from starting FMV to ending FMV. Bor-ring!
The spell system was also badly done, too few spells with too few uses. Why waste MP casting a spell that may or may not hit when you can use your weapon? And I've already covered that. Same for the summons. How many people would use a summon in a FF game? Right. Now, when you use that summon you lose all your allies until the summon dies. You still wanna call that summon? Didn't think so.
The Gummi Ship, dear god that thing was annoying! The building menu was stupid, I couldn't understand what the hell I was doing, and the traveling was tedious. By the time you get any decent parts or can build a different ship it doesn't matter because you can Warp. I built the Cid and attached a few Ultima Cannons and Thundaga Lasers to it after I did Hollow Bastion. It kicked ass, but really, what was the point since I could just warp?
Oh, and the guy who decided to use the Left Analog stick to move and the D-Pad to select a command - I hope you die. You wanna use a spell or item you gotta stop moving. You might as well jump up and down yelling "kill me, kill me, I can't move!" That little programming oversight cost me a few battles. Then I find out you can use the Right Analog instead, but it's still confusing to me. Couldn't they have used one of the L or R buttons? Or better yet, they could have let us customize the commands.
The gameplay was horrid, tedious, repetetive and boring.
See what I said for characters. The worlds are fine, but we should have visited at least one Final Fantasy world. The music for most of them got annoying, some of them were just too damn hard to navigate like Atlantica and Deep Jungle. Others like Agrabah and Halloween Town were too small and there was really not much point visiting there once you had locked them up.
Kingdom Hearts - too much Disney, not enough Final Fantasy. I hope II fixes that, because with more Final Fantasy pumped into it (and by that, I mean Amano pumped into it), it could have been a great game. And it is to an extent. But it is in no way a Final Fantasy game.
Final Rating: 22/40