Kingdom Hearts on the PS2 is an epic fantasy for any RPG fan. Square/Enix, best known for a little series called Final Fantasy, in cooperation with Disney, have created a Final Fantasy styled RPG using worlds and characters from Disney’s massive back catalogue. There are also several cameos by recognisable FF characters such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII or Wakka and Tidus from Final Fantasy X.
In Kingdom Hearts you play as the main character of Sora, who, as the story begins, watches as his girlfriend is sucked into the "Darkness". Sora follows, hoping to save her, along with his best friend who is jealous of them. Sora ends up meeting and befriending Donald Duck and Goofy. Donald and Goofy are on a quest to find King Mickey who has also been kidnapped by the ‘Darkness’. With their help you fight across the game’s environments, encountering all kinds of recognisable creatures and villains. The game environments allow you to travel through many of Disney’s most famous movies; from Tarzan's Jungle to Alice's Wonderland to A Nightmare Before Christmas’s Halloweentown, in each of these worlds you team up with the ‘hero’ of that world and attempt to defeat the ‘Darkness’.
The gameplay is classic Final Fantasy role-playing, as you would expect, which utilizes the aforementioned Disney characters and worlds as the setting for the ongoing central quest. In addition there are several extra sidequests that run in conjunction with the central quest that add an element of depth and strategy as you decide which ones to pursue.
All the characters are easy to control and the moves of the characters, which do change as the game progresses, are also simple to understand and learn. You have the ability to customize certain attacks to hotkeys in order to speed up their use.
The graphics stand out with Disney’s typically bright array of colours standing out well thanks to some good camera angles. The character is easy to follow with the use of the controller for controlling and adjusting the camera angles. With the way the Disney worlds are created, highly detailed models, it makes you feel as though you are in the actual movie (if you are a cartoon fan like I am this is great). Seeing Donald Duck and Goofy beating up bad guys in comic fashion is great. With Goofy carrying a shield and Donald a wand, they make great allies.
The sound is quite good. Many of the characters voices in Kingdom Hearts are the voices of celebrities; Haley Joel Osmond plays Sora for example. The music is intense and oddly soothing at the same time. It’s the kind of music that sticks in your head all day after you play it and Kingdom Hearts has some of the best movie sequences that I have seen in a game in a long time.
Kingdom Hearts is a timeless game in that you could, if you wanted to, spend hours upon hours immersing yourself in the wonderful world of Disney, while kicking butt in the world of Final Fantasy.
Although Kingdom Hearts was released a few years ago it has not lost its fun elements and enjoyable gameplay. A sequel is due for release in the not-to-distant future and is a continuation of the original.
Reviewed by Cole Wassner © 2005