Reviews: Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories

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Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories is the second installment to what I like to call the original Kingdom Hearts trilogy. It was originally released on the Gameboy Advance and later remade for the PS2. Serving as the bridge between the original Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, it's a surprisingly great game in it's own right.

The story is 50% rehash of elements from the first KH, altered to fit the setting (and feeling infinitely less consequential as well), 50% new, concering Sora, Donald, and Goofy having to contend with a mysterious castle, a memory-erasing girl, and the shadowy organization that controls it all. What's good here is very good. The Mind Rape-induced Character Development Sora receives is intriguing, the comapnionship between him, Donald, and Goofy (and Jiminy this time around) is as well portrayed as before, and the four central villains (Axel, Larxene, Vexen, and Marluxia) are all cool, with great interplay with one another and a dark storyline stemming from their diabolical actions.

However, this game also marks the beginning where, with more freedom as a director, Tetsuya Nomura plants the seeds of the kudzu plant. All the talk of memories being something within the heart is utterly bewildering, and it only gets more confusing in the next game. And the bonus Riku mode is very poorly written, with Riku striving for Character Development but getting served what creates his Character Derailment instead, two bland Organization members (Lexaeus and Zexion), "darkness" being spammed throughout the script as if Ansem had written it, and a very poorly-delivered broken Family Unfriendly Aesop that pisses me off.

Also are concern is the gameplay, which is based around a card-based system for some reason or other. Here, you use cards to fight and to basically create your own dungeons, which take the appearance of a world from Sora's memories and get suitably longer as the game goes on. It's not a bad system, but I can't help but wonder whether or not it was neccessary, and if a different system would have been better. It certainly wouldn't have turned off so many players, who sadly skipped this game and missed out on not only an essential bridge to KH2, but, overall, a good and solid gaming experience, and one that I gladly recommend.
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