Kingdom Hearts Review

I missed Kingdom Hearts when it first came out, despite really wanting to play the game. I was a Final Fantasy fan, and Disney characters were fine enough that I thought it would be really cool to play an RPG that was a mix between worlds. But I never got around to the game, and the next time it appeared on my radar, number 2 was out. Again I missed my chances.

Anyway by the time I had the means to play KH, the series had gotten a stupid number of spin-offs and such that all made this huge web of what was a crazy ass plot. So I didn't want to jump into the series at a random point and be completely lost. Luckily the HD-updates came to PS4 and I went out and bought both KH collections, giving me all the console and handheld games all in an easy collection on a single system.

Of course I dove right into the first game and man.....I don't think I should have bothered.

Kingdom Hearts tells a fairly bog standard story of a child becoming the "chosen" one, or Keymaster, who's destiny is to rid all of the small but numerous worlds in the universe of a plague of evil creatures called the Heartless. To do this, the Keymaster must find the key to the world and seal with with his Keyblade. It's a tropey premise, but not inherently a bad one. But as I played through the game, I kept wondering who the fuck this game was meant for. On the surface it feels a lot like a kids game, simple platforming, simple and easy combat, very mundane and nothing that would stress anyone above 12. The Disney characters further refine this childish appearance, along with a story I'm pretty sure I've seen in Disney movies before.

Yet the game is also litered with Final Fantasy characters. Characters that no kid in the target age group would be familiar with, and certainly not have the same feelings as somebody who loved and knew these characters. So is the game for older gamers? It strikes weird feelings in me, because as I am playing through the game, solving the world's puzzle and fighting the basic hack'n slash combat, I feel guilty for playing a kids game. Then Cloud Strife rolls up and hits me in my nostalgia and I think that this can't possibly be a kids game, Final Fantasy 7 came out 5 years earlier. So a twelve year old would have had to play and understand FF7 as a seven year old.

So there is a real contrast of tone here. On one hand you have a very childish appearance, with all around simplistic game-play. On the other hand you have characters sprinkled all over the game designed to play at the heart strings of someone 5-10 years older.

Also if the story gets convoluted, it certainly doesn't happen in Kingdom Hearts 1. The plot is as straight-foreward as you can get. The gameplay is simple, mash X to win. You can cast magic spells, but the menu navigation is annoying and by the time you get a spell selected your AI friends have already probably beaten the enemy you were trying to hit, if it wasn't a boss. I only ever used the cure spell, and the elemental spells were limited to use for interacting with puzzles in the environment.

The game definitely feels old too. Even in this HD remaster, the control feels floaty and the game is full of an old-game design mentality. Having your camera directly behind Sora at a decent distance, makes it hard to judge how close you need to be for your weapon swings. This leads to you missing a lot. Flying enemies are terrible because they'll often be hard to tell if they are in front of Sora or behind him because it is possible for them to be just barely behind Sora and still in front of the camera.

For a title that requires jumping puzzles, you would think the jumping would be tighter. Instead jumping is floaty as balls filled with helium. You can't jump mid-step, so timing a jump so that you leap from the edge of a platform at the last possible moment is basically impossible as Sora will walk right off the edge of said platform due to being uninterruptible mid-step. You have to jump with a little space left on the platform you are on, making the distance you need to jump to reach the next thing hard to gauge. A jump that you fail and looks impossible is actually possible if you just get Sora's steps to land a few pixals closer before the jump. The puzzles are to simple for them to be this frustrating goddamn it.

Bosses are laughably easy most of the time. Giant over sized baddies that telegraph every attack by singing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in it's entirety before taking a swing at you. Most of the fights are made annoying this way because the only place you can hit a boss is in a single weak spot that they keep hidden for far too long, and remain vulnerable for way to short of a time. Meaning you spend a lot of the big climatic fights, waiting around, getting a little damage in, and waiting around again.

Perhaps I'm just too used to games designed in the post Ps3-360 era. Faster combats, tighter design, and better controls. Because despite these complaints, I still find myself unable to stop playing. And I genuinely do want to see how crazy the story gets in later entries. Under all of this, I do see a good game here, it just is very glaring in showing it's age. I understand that, but I have to review it based on the experience I had with it today, not how I might have judged it 15 years ago.

So on that note Kingdom Hearts gets a 5/10 from me. Boring gameplay, mundane story, and poor controls, all come together to somehow not be a terrible experience. There were a lot of flashes of fun, that were to quick to leave any lasting impression on me, except for the desire to see where they take the series. And maybe that's enough. KH1 is a foundation, a jumping off point where the other games will show me where the real meat of the story and gameplay lie.

I started playing recently, and I admit I would have liked it a lot better if I had played it when it first came out. Almost everything aged badly (specially me, I'm not that much into classic Disney cartoons anymore). But at least I got to kick FF8 Squall's ass (and I think I was supposed to lose there, lol).

5 out of 10... that's spot on for what I thought of the game back when I first played it when it originally came out, so at least it's good to know the game hasn't changed in all these years :P

I played a bit of 2 but got bored really quickly and I never bothered with any of the other titles until Birth By Sleep, I really enjoyed that one so maybe check that one out you might like it, do remember it's a portable game for playing on the go though so everything is smaller and shorter.

go-10:
5 out of 10... that's spot on for what I thought of the game back when I first played it when it originally came out, so at least it's good to know the game hasn't changed in all these years :P

I played a bit of 2 but got bored really quickly and I never bothered with any of the other titles until Birth By Sleep, I really enjoyed that one so maybe check that one out you might like it, do remember it's a portable game for playing on the go though so everything is smaller and shorter.

Well even though I am disappointed by the game, it did do one thing right and that was to make me care about playing the other games. I don't mind a basic or cliche story, if the mechanics can help carry it. With KH, everything is so basic, that it does indeed give a good jumping off point for the series and has piqued my interest enough to want to continue on.

Now if I feel this way about the other games. I may not continue and just consider KH one of those series that I just don't "get", like Zelda.

No mention of the amazing soundtrack! O_O

But yeah first KH had a lot of issue, but I still really liked it even though I don't particularly like Disney because of the atmosphere I guess, it was a good mix between laid back attitude and more serious tone. Sora and the gang were also pretty fun and while the gameplay wasn't really deep most of the time it was flashy and satisfying, also some of the optional challenge do show that the basic gameplay wasn't that flawed, Sephiroth fight is very fun, fast and hectic and you gotta be on point, but the game was clearly aimed a younger audience so they had to keep the basic game easy enough. I know KH2 remaster feature an ultra hard difficulty setting that definitely force you to play well, not sure about KH 1.

Sadly the series kind goes to shit from here imo, with 2 being the only one even worth playing, the countless spin off make the story a convoluted mess that's not worth keeping track of, and most of them have a watered down gameplay. 2 gameplay is better and some part of the story really shine, but for the most part it's more of the same except the story lost its simple charm.

CritialGaming:

Yet the game is also litered with Final Fantasy characters. Characters that no kid in the target age group would be familiar with, and certainly not have the same feelings as somebody who loved and knew these characters. So is the game for older gamers? It strikes weird feelings in me, because as I am playing through the game, solving the world's puzzle and fighting the basic hack'n slash combat, I feel guilty for playing a kids game. Then Cloud Strife rolls up and hits me in my nostalgia and I think that this can't possibly be a kids game, Final Fantasy 7 came out 5 years earlier. So a twelve year old would have had to play and understand FF7 as a seven year old.

So there is a real contrast of tone here. On one hand you have a very childish appearance, with all around simplistic game-play. On the other hand you have characters sprinkled all over the game designed to play at the heart strings of someone 5-10 years older.

*raises hand*

you're definitely missing the era of this, I played multiple final fantasies up until that point (I was 7 when ff7 came out actually) and I had multiple friends with older brothers who had done the same, so this was aimed at kids who grew up with all the classic disney movies and had played a final fantasy or two (it's a square enix game...so yeah, not hard to see the connection in player base)

It's cartoonish, to be sure, but there are tons of cartoonish things I enjoy even as an adult, so I don't feel like the tone was missed, you're just capturing it a decade and a half too late.

Perhaps I'm just too used to games designed in the post Ps3-360 era. Faster combats, tighter design, and better controls. Because despite these complaints, I still find myself unable to stop playing. And I genuinely do want to see how crazy the story gets in later entries. Under all of this, I do see a good game here, it just is very glaring in showing it's age. I understand that, but I have to review it based on the experience I had with it today, not how I might have judged it 15 years ago.

So on that note Kingdom Hearts gets a 5/10 from me. Boring gameplay, mundane story, and poor controls, all come together to somehow not be a terrible experience. There were a lot of flashes of fun, that were to quick to leave any lasting impression on me, except for the desire to see where they take the series. And maybe that's enough. KH1 is a foundation, a jumping off point where the other games will show me where the real meat of the story and gameplay lie.

I definitely can admit to having nostalgia goggles on while playing kingdom hearts, it has its rough parts in the gameplay, but honestly it was pretty refreshing at the time and I would just say that maybe it's just not your bag, you mentioned not liking zelda, so I can see the parallels there.

if I were you I'd avoid all the spin off games and just go straight to 2, you don't need to play those and they mostly just have watered down gameplay and such, you can find youtube "movies" with all the cutscenes spliced together for background story if you want.

gmaverick019:

I definitely can admit to having nostalgia goggles on while playing kingdom hearts, it has its rough parts in the gameplay, but honestly it was pretty refreshing at the time and I would just say that maybe it's just not your bag, you mentioned not liking zelda, so I can see the parallels there.

if I were you I'd avoid all the spin off games and just go straight to 2, you don't need to play those and they mostly just have watered down gameplay and such, you can find youtube "movies" with all the cutscenes spliced together for background story if you want.

Well I bought the Ps4 collections, so I might as well play them. I don't like to not at least try to play all the games I get.

CritialGaming:

gmaverick019:

I definitely can admit to having nostalgia goggles on while playing kingdom hearts, it has its rough parts in the gameplay, but honestly it was pretty refreshing at the time and I would just say that maybe it's just not your bag, you mentioned not liking zelda, so I can see the parallels there.

if I were you I'd avoid all the spin off games and just go straight to 2, you don't need to play those and they mostly just have watered down gameplay and such, you can find youtube "movies" with all the cutscenes spliced together for background story if you want.

Well I bought the Ps4 collections, so I might as well play them. I don't like to not at least try to play all the games I get.

oof....I wish I had the luxury of that viewpoint, I'd be 120 years old before could truthfully accomplish that

*stares at 500 games in pc library and dozens of console games*

they're honestly *not* necessary unless you love the games a ton, 2 came out right after 1, so all the other games are just filler...I've played a couple of them, but they weren't that great.

I've never played the spin off games, but in terms of gameplay I definitely remember Kingdom Hearts II being a major step up in quality.

 

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