I think everyone has that one game that they played when they were younger that they return to. It’s sort of like a safe haven in a world of increasingly confusing games. You know how the mechanics work, you remember each street or pathway on the map like the back of your hand and every single character becomes so familiar. For me, Kingdom Hearts is this kind of game. In particular, Kingdom Hearts 2.
The Kingdom Hearts series was the first game I properly played. It thrust me into the world of gaming wholeheartedly. I remember borrowing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the GameBoy from my friend. I would play it incessantly. The fusion of Square Enix’s finest and Disney, let me fall in love with an already familiar world.
After that I played the games in reverse order, playing Kingdom Hearts 2 first and then I explored the original. And once I played Kingdom Hearts 2 on the Playstation 2, I could never ever forget the series. From everything to the colourful landscapes, the familiar storylines told with an interesting twist and the ability to explore Disney-worlds, walking around in Beast’s castle or travelling around Agrabah on a flying carpet. Kingdom Hearts 2 tied together some of my favourite Disney movies.
From the time you start the game and watch the beautiful opening, with a great song called Sanctuary, by Utada Hikaru and tackle through the long opening tutorial with Roxas, the story begins to take shape and you know you’re heading into something good. The game is an action-roleplay. So, as a player, you get a lot of freedom to explore every world. There are usually plenty of fun Easter eggs to find.
In my first play through, I played with varying degrees of success until reaching a boss towards the end of the game. Xigbar from the infamous Organisation XIII. I had traversed through all the Disney worlds over and over, unlocked the last world, defeated every Heartless and Nobody I could find and plunged into the nitty-gritty of the plot where I could save Sora’s friends, Kairi and Riku. And I could not get past that pesky, eye-patched villain no matter how hard I tried.
But I wouldn’t let this stop me. I constantly replayed the game, starting from the very beginning. I made it a point to replay this game at least once every year. As I got older and I eventually defeated Xigbar, I could finally say I finished the game. I soon went on to finish the game over and over again. I could never get bored of the game. None of the other games in the series which I have played could quite compare to the enjoyment of this. The game has great levels and fun dialogue. If you have played the game even once, you will always be haunted by two simple sentences: “Stay on the Hydra’s back!” and “dance, water, dance!”
So with this game taking up so much of my life, you could only imagine my despair when my Playstaion 2 finally gave out from years of use. I could never find a replacement which meant no more Kingdom Hearts 2 for me. Even now I miss the game, despite being able to tell you everything about the game. It’s a game that grows with you – despite being a Disney game, there is a hidden depth to the game the more you explore the characters.
The gameplay is far more enjoyable than my original experience with the game. Chain of Memories was a card based game that took me a while to get the hang of. The system they switched to for the Playstation 2 was far more superior. It gave the character of Sora endless possibilities, from swinging that over-sized Keyblade, to using magic, to feeling like a badass as you explored Sora’s limit powers. The party system can be helpful and allows long-time Disney fans to play with some of their favourites. Although don’t lose too much health unless you want to hear a loud siren go off and increase your stress levels as you try not to die. Of course, there is always Donald Duck at hand to give you much-needed health…about four seconds after you waste one of your coveted health potions!
While the game play is fairly simple to get a hang of, it makes the game more fun. You can spend more time becoming invested in the characters rather than trying to remember how to fight a boss at a crucial moment.
The ship system for travelling to new worlds with Chip and Dale can become tedious and repetitive. Although it is only one small complaint among an otherwise well-structured and strongly-planned game. Fans of Disney can see so many cameos of their favourites. Films such as The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast all the way to Pirates of the Caribbean feature. In turn, lovers of Square Enix can find some of their most beloved characters thrown into the mix. Honestly, who could forget the hidden boss fight against Final Fantasy VII‘s Sephiroth? Or encountering the rest of the Final Fantasy VII cast out in Hollow Bastion. The characters all become connected, united by their friendship with Sora, the game’s main playable character.
Kingdom Hearts 2 is definitely a great game and I will always go back to it. With the new game coming some time in the future, we can look forward to revisiting some of our favourite characters. Until then, I must find a way to replay this amazing sequel. For fans of Disney and Final Fantasy, alike, I would heavily recommend giving this game a go, if you haven’t already!
Do you like the game? Are you looking forward to the newest installment? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Doing a little of this, a little of that. If you see me holding a camera, run!