Reviews: Kingdom Hearts
Less Than The Sum of Its Parts
Kingdom Hearts could, in theory, have been a pretty decent franchise, but it's kind of muddled by a couple of things. The gameplay is alright; in some games it's more fun than others. It used to be that the games were just too easy (especially KH 2), but higher difficulty modes in newer games/special editions that include them in older games has mitigated this problem. It can actually be pretty fun on the higher difficulties since you need to master dodge roll, and the combat is pretty flashy and impressive. Where the series falters the most, however, is its plot and characters. The plot of the first game was simple, but did its job alright. since then the story has branched out considerably and begun to focus more and more on its original elements as opposed to the Disney ones. Some say it's become too complex for its own good, but it's honestly not that hard to follow provided you play all the games or do some reading. The problem is just that the plot just isn't very good, complexity or no. The dialogue is terrible, riddled with horrendous Narm in a lot of situations. The concepts it deals with COULD potentially be alright, but its focus on The Powerof Friendship and the light vs dark thing comes across as extremely juvenile in execution. Adding to that, the characters for the most part fall into predictable JRPG molds and simply aren't that interesting, though some of them like Riku and Axel are better than others. Some of them who are supposed to be main or at least important characters, barely get any development or screen time(see: Kairi). While you could perhaps chalk this up to it being a Disney game in part, the truth is that most Disney films were much better-told and were in a medium that often has an easier time telling a story than videogames. The limited technology in the games often ruins scenes from the movies (like Mufasa's death). The games tend to either just recycle the plots from these films but shoehorn in Sora and co., or they try to write original plots that are underwhelming. Not helping this is the lack of NPC's in the worlds and the lack of exploration in a lot of the games, which often makes them feel empty and lifeless. I've spent most of this review complaining, but honestly KH isn't really a BAD series. It's honestly fun, but could be much better than it is.
The Best of Two Worlds
Yep, every now and then I just gotta sit down and pinch myself to realize that this is for real. Squaresoft, at the peak of their, ahem, game; Disney, evergreen purveyor of animated delights, coming together to make the proverbial ham 'n' pepperoni pizza of video games. Let's all just give a bit of thanks to the powers that be for dealing us a decent hand here, huh? Of course, as awesome as it is to spend your time fighting alongside Donald Duck, Jack Sparrow, and FREAKIN' AURON, it would all be window dressing if the series' distinctive action/RPG hybrid gameplay weren't some of the most fun, slick, and addictive RPG gameplay systems in the business. Each game's journey from so-so giant key slinger to quasi-demigod who can obliterate the strongest of enemies in the blink of an eye is always an awesome and intensely rewarding one. If the series as a whole has an achilles heel (and it certainly has a slew of nagging problems to be discussed in greater detail in game-specific reviews) it would be the needlessly complicated spiderweb of a plot it's tangled itself into. Every time you think you've figured something out, out of nowhere there's some sort of confusing curveball that sends your carefully organized mind palace into Mind Fuck-y freefall. There are limits to how epic and dramatic you can make a story about people who swing giant keys around and regularly say the word "Goofy" with a straight face. It might've been better if it were a tad more simple and clean, but then again it's sort of part of the series' identity and charm. Oh well. And everybody knows the pain caused by the on-off quality of the character animation. Sometimes what's on-screen is jaw-droppingly identical to those legendary pieces of animated art, at other times all you see is blank-faced, lip-flapping morons. It just shatters the magic at very inopportune moments. It's a bit of a joke when the very worst entry in the series (Coded, as it there were any doubt) more frequently features high-quality models and animation than the main series installments. It's sad, but they probably have some sort of good reason behind it (hopefully not laziness). At its best, Kingdom Hearts is a delightful boon upon humanity that celebrates the best Disney and Square have to offer. And that's just pretty damn good there, fella.
Not bad, Just Overrated.
Ok, First off, Keep in mind I dont hate the series. The graphics and gameplay are good. so I at least consider it fun. but here's my main reason The game is not as complicated as everyone says, Are you honestly saying this is more complicated than,Bioshock,L4d2 and a few others I feel too lazy to mention. Infact, It seems like a more simplified version of great disney films. Remember The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Specifically the film's token religious bigot character, frollo? well, in the film. he's pretty realistic, There are a lot of bigots in this world and I'm pretty sure unless your self esteem is as low as Snoop Dogg from another universe, I doubt you consider yourself evil, same with most humans. Now as JoshScorcher Pointed out in his "Top 10 worst kh bosses" frollo in his film's respective world, has been simplified for the sake of "Dey downt wannt duh kidz 2 beh 2sed4memoneez". or in non sarcasm, they didnt want to make frollo notably religious/Ambigiously Christian as what the trope is called...I think.(Anyone mind correcting me if I'm wrong, I wouldn't mind) anyways, because of this. Frollo is just evil because...For the Evulz it's not that explained. And dont give the excuse that It's an e10+ game, because the film was G and that's just the hunchback of notre dame, dont get me STARTED on how they butchered all the other films. I'm just not gonna state them because... Well, only 400 words, I dont wanna waste them And The whole heart symbolism, I'm just stating this. correct me if I'm wrong, And i get this thing is popular in children's fiction. but here's the thing, brains control everything pretty much, hearts really only pump the blood. sure without blood the brain wouldnt work. but without the brain, you cant control the rest of the body...Either way To qoute Team Fortress 2 "YOU ARE DEAD, NOT BIG SUPRISE" so before the Fan Dumb attack me lets just cut to the chase. Kingdom hearts 1-7/10 Birth By Sleep-8/10 358/2 days-4/10 Chain of memories-6/10 II-7/10 Coded-Still awful, but dont hate it as much as everyone else. 5/10 D.D.D.-2/10 Lets just hope KH 3 is actually pretty good.
A story about The Chosen One now focuses on Fansservice
My current gripe with the Kingdom Hearts games, more than the numerous Retcons and ridiculously complex plot, is the fact that Organization XIII was suppose to be an awesome group of Villains is reduced to a group of crybabies that needed their reasons justified. Now, I understand giving them a motivation. Hell, a sympathetic one at that. But the very nature of their existence is a shell of their former selves. Yet the Fandom praises Axel and Demyx for being these Draco in Leather Pants. Now, this I don't mind. Fans tend to have their preferences and their personal reasons. I like Xaldin for reasons of being Badass and That One Boss status difficulty. I hate that Nomura is on level with the fans love of Axel, and rewrote the canon to specifically allow him to play a bigger part of the overall Myth Arc. However, I will give the credit where credit is due. The Games are indeed fun, the story, as convoluted and unnecessarily complex as they are, keeps you interested. The main character is interesting individual and it's fun to run around the disney worlds battling evil. The music is spectacular, leaving you in awe and wonderment long after you've turned off the game. Overall, while the overbearing amount of fanservice, retcons, and copious amount of Axel love can be intense for most people and annoying to others, the games are fun and definitely worth checking out.
Great, could be better, but otherwise enjoyable as is
Kingdom Hearts has a lot of good points: some great characters, an amazingly executed concept (Disney and Square? worked out great), battle systems that are always well polished and fun, an amazingly idealistic yet mature tone for such an era in gaming (hell yes friendship is hard to find in video games sometimes), and even the convoluted story has a good point or two. It has its flaws: heaps of retcon and continuity lockout and no export for you, some things just fall flat on their face with narm, others are just so confusing it takes heaps of help to understand, and then there are the occasional problems with bosses or other scenarios having fake difficulty. But otherwise it was and still remains a nice breath of fresh air in the market. The graphics are colorful and look very nice (I might just miss them when KH 3 comes out) and very clearly show off the wonderful animation that can be put into emoting, and the voice acting is about as consistent as it can be; not to mention pretty darn good with all the trouble there could be. The story is VERY, VERY hard to understand at times, but putting in the effort (at least to me) is completely worth it. It makes you think to understand rather than unsubtly feeding you every little bit, although it will do that occasionally. Not to mention the core concepts- what makes a heart/person, friendship and relationships, light and darkness, etc. -are all interestingly done and don't feel forced, unlike how it could seem in other games. Relationships are handled really well, able to be interpreted as just friends or something more. Characters themselves tend to be really well handled, Riku and Roxas's character arcs being particularly good. Now back to those flaws. There's continuity errors and it's hard to pick up one game without knowing the rest (unless it's the first one and even then that's iffy), and bosses- especially ANY organization XIII boss fight in KH 2 -can be annoyingly difficult. Sometimes characters can fall flat- Xion and Terra being the some most commonly agreed examples -and sometimes things just seem to be pandering to the fan base (Axel/lea in particular has become gratingly special in my eyes). It's not a game for everyone, but I still dearly love the series through all of its bad points and good, and feel that everyone should at least give it a try.
Getting sick of Retcon
When the first Kingdom Hearts was released,I thought it was such an amazing game. I missed my chance at Co M the first time (bad mistake for me) and went to KHII. The main story was good, but it wasn't as good as the original. Then Days and BBS came out and they started adding new twists to the backstories, especially to Xehanort. And now DDD is out and they just rewrote the intent on forming the original Org XIII. I am getting sick of the creators just trying to make the story more complex than it has to be. I want him to stop rewriting KH history and just put the focus solely of the present.
Kingdom Hearts: A Diverse Formula
There are five things that can be expected in any given Kingdom Hearts game: 1. Sora, Riku, and sometimes Kairi will make some kind of appearance. 2. You will be with Disney characters and characters from a Square Enix Property. 3. Your main weapon will be a Keyblade. 4. Gameplay will mostly be built around some new innovative feature. 5. Your worst enemy will be the in-game camera. The various Kingdom Hearts games (six of them to date, with a seventh on the way) all have this as the general framework, and while the gameplay changes, this core will be the same. And the six games are all completely awesome. While all of them are differing shades of awesome (i.e. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories is generally seen as a lesser KH game, while Birth by Sleep is considered a greater one), but for the most part, the quality is very uniform and spread out. The union of Disney and Square Enix (and soon The World Ends With You), added with lots of original, loveable characters makes for a setting that simply has no equal in the current day and age of gaming. In a medium where brown space marines shoot brown aliens in brown corridors, KH's bright, colorful visuals and simple, aesthetically-pleasing graphics are a breath of fresh air. Gameplay is, for the most part, easy to learn, but requires true skill to master - the hallmark of a great game. Lastly, the all-star voice cast (with most actors from Disney movies reprising their roles), coupled with Yoko Shimonura's amazingly awesome soundtrack, makes for an experience that your ears will most certainly thank you for. If Kingdom Hearts has any flaws, it would be that the story, while rewarding for those following along, suffers greatly from Kudzu Plot and Continuity Lockout. Pick up Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, and you'll wonder what a Nobody is or why you should care about the characters. Play Kingdom Hearts II before Kingdom Hearts or Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories, and you'll wonder who all the people are in the opening movie. However, for those that are willing to invest their time, the story is one of the best and most fulfilling ones on the market these days, and after playing all six games, you'll look back and go, "That was a great story." Bottom Line: Kingdom Hearts is one of the best franchises on the market right now, for everything I've said above. You owe it to yourself to play it.
Fandom is Ruining the Franchise
Kingdom Hearts is a great multiverse series, this I agree with. The gameplay is relatively simple, but complex when tweaking your strategies against opponents and has imaginative abilities and magic that's on par with the Final Fantasy series. The mythology is simply innovative and mesmerizing, the power of light and darkness, the transcending of inner strength through loved ones and your own sense of self is what really pulls a regular fan in—-and add a bit of the magical world of Disney and it's not just a nostalgic piece, it's an adventure. It's a shame that such a highly profited, not to mention elaborate piece of good gaming can be smeared by the fandom....well, fan DUMB. Kingdom Hearts is notable for it's notoriously...crazy fans, I have to admit. Being a yaoi fangirl myself, I find it terrible that the game is practically sullied by people who are simply in it for the 'romance', or whatever nonexistent theme of romance there is in it. While this is common in all fanbases, in all forms of media, the Kingdom Hearts fanbase is notorious in mainstream anime culture for it's now predictable cosplays of characters (most famously Organization XIII), to the mainstream game culture calling it 'that game where all the gay guys are' because of the the fanbase's portrayal of it. Not only does this ruin the fan aspect of it, but the overall mythology and story—-making it completely uncalled for. Kingdom Hearts is caught between being under-appreciated for it's story and gameplay and over-appreciated for it's characters. While I am of the firm mind that all creativity is welcomed in a fanbase, this is getting a little out of control—-and the game could end up being a laughingstock of the gaming AND anime community. And that, is a sad fate for such a wonderful game.