Simple And Clean? No Not Even Slightly
I have technically lied already in this article. I’ve recently been replaying the Kingdom Hearts games, having got the 1.5 + 2.5 Collection on PlayStation 4 not that long ago. It’s the first time I’ve replayed Kingdom Hearts 1 in quite a long time, though I had never actually played Final Mix before.
This also ended up being good timing given the Kingdom Hearts 3 news that came out not too long ago, so go me I guess. Getting back to Kingdom Hearts 1 though, what a beautiful game that constantly makes you wonder how it got made.
Kingdom Hearts is a confusing anomaly of a game, the kind that wouldn’t have a hope in hell of getting made as a new IP these days. Most of this comes down to the premise and the fact it mixes licenses from different companies. Some of it though is the gameplay.
The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts is, I find, fairly unique. An RPG that plays out with real time action, but your characters actions are chosen via a menu. You run around using the stick, yet select whether you want to attack/cast magic/use a potion etc using the D-Pad to cycle through a menu.
It doesn’t really sound like something that should work, and yet it’s pretty good. Learning the menu becomes important, especially with magic. You can set three spells to shortcut buttons, but to use anything else you gotta go through the menu, Knowing that Thunder is the third spell down, for example, is key to being fast with your actions.
Magic Of Disney
The story of Kingdom Hearts as a franchise is notorious. It’s a madly complicated web of characters, half of who are actually a different character in some form. The story of the first game on its own though is relatively simple. It’s actually rather like a Disney film fittingly. Three kids, one gets kidnapped, one falls to the evil side and you are the good one. Rescue your kidnapped friend, save your fallen friend from the evil, and save the world. Job’s a good one. The main draw for people though are the Disney worlds.
You travel to the world of Hercules, Nightmare Before Christmas, Aladdin and much more. Here you play through a short self-contained story with the famous characters from the films at your side. The way it’s done is excellent and no small part of why Kingdom Hearts exploded as a franchise. Whether it’s the self-contained stories of the worlds or the overarching plot of the game there is one thing that is key to all of it. Friendship. Kingdom Hearts head-dives straight into the territory of friendship solving any problem. Now, I am a real sucker for that crap.
Every time the game goes on about how if we believe in each other we can win/find each other again etc. I bloody love it. It didn’t really have any bearing on me as a kid, I was in it back then to see Disney characters and that was it. Now though, give me that stupid rubbish about how friendship defeats evil magic.
On basically all levels, Kingdom Hearts is a strange franchise. It is because of that weirdness, however, rather than in spite of it, that the games are just excellent. Ignoring the HD version of Chain of Memories anyway.
Currently, all I’ve got left to play through is Dream Drop Distance. Then I am fully ready for Kingdom Hearts 3 (the 11th Kingdom Hearts game) to release next year.