I do know that it's an epic collaboration between Square and Disney, bringing characters from both their franchises together in an attempt to come up with a third person action game with enough star power to rival Super Mario 64. This would've been back when Square still had that feud with Nintendo going on, so Super Mario RPG 2 was way off the table.
Okay I admit that a few years back I did give Kingdom Hearts half an hour or so to win me over, but I didn't exactly come away from it with a deeper understand of what I'd been playing. All I remember of it now is running around a desert island looking for fish to eat. Forever.
Hang on, is that a dead fish sticking out of the protagonist's mouth right now? I just assumed that it must be a bit of plant, but now that I'm looking at it properly...
Final Fantasy VIII style unskippable pre-rendered intro video, with words materialising on screen as we drift along the ocean. Except this time they have a voice attached to them! Plus there's j-pop!
"I've been having these weird thoughts lately. Like, is any of this for real, or not?"Seeing as the guy starts by falling through down through water, finds that he's actually standing up on an island beach, gets washed away by a wave, and then picks himself back up again just in time to notice that he's now falling from the sky... I think personally I'm leaning towards 'not real'.
The Final Fantasy games typically start off relatively down to earth and then work their way up to batshit insanity, but this time Square have jumped straight to the point where I stop even trying to figure out why I'm looking at what I'm looking at.
Okay I get what he was going for, with the black hoodie, red shorts and white gloves he's dressed to look halfway between an FF8 character and Mickey Mouse, but still... Nomura didn't have to give him clown shoes.
But anyway, a mysterious silent voice has given me the choice one of these three items, signifying the power of the warrior, the guardian or the mystic. He's got no interest in explaining what impact this will have on gameplay though, so I'm playing it safe and going with the sword. I also have to give a power up, so I'm getting rid of my magic (somehow giving up defence seems like something that could bite me in my unarmoured ass later).
Despite that menu on the left, I'm actually controlling this in real time, running around and slashing up enemies by tapping 'X' like in any other third person action RPG. It's even got that three slash combo that they're all really fond of. Smack, smack, SMACK... smack, smack, SMACK...
I can lock onto enemies with R1, but otherwise he just automatically targets the nearest person anyway so it's not all that essential. They make an effort to move around and fight back, but being hurt stuns them for a split second, so once I've got them with one hit, I've pretty much got them.
Hitting 'lock on' painted a target on his wrist so I'm just going to keep on slashing away at it until I get a better idea. There's more of those little shadow monsters around as well, but that's working to my advantage as they've been getting caught in my swipes and exploding, which showers me with green health balls and 1Ps experience bonus.
I've learned that the hero is called Sora and his friend is Kairi, and they don't plan to be stuck here much longer as they're working on a raft to escape. It's not made clear how long they've been here or how they got here, but those Final Fantasy characters from his dream are here too along with some pretty impressive wooden structures. If they built all this themselves, I'm sure they can handle a raft no problem.
I suppose the idea is that it gives players a chance to go chat to the NPCs they meet along the way, but if I did that it'd just slow me down even more! Plus why would I care about anything Wakka has to say if he's not voiced by John DiMaggio any more?
By the way it's cool to see that Donald's doing well with those broomstick assistants. I've never seen Fantasia, but I believe that Mickey had a bit of trouble with the things while working as a sorcerer's apprentice.
LATER, BACK ON DESTINY ISLAND.
No Wakka, I don't want coaching. Wait, where's the 'no' option? They haven't given me a 'no' option!
I had a bit of trouble with the coconuts actually, as Sora refused to pick any of them up. I thought I was being clever by hitting the palm trees and catching them as they dropped, but the guy just wasn't interested. It turned out in the end that he would only accept special golden coconuts that drop occasionally if you keep smacking a tree around long enough.
LATER THAT NIGHT.
This boss fight seems like the same deal as earlier: I run up to his wrist and keep tapping the 'attack' button until he dies...
Anyway they're all gone now so it's not worth worrying about. On the plus side, there's a lil' moogle over there! I'm going to go chat to him.
Anyway it looks like I'm going to have to tap that 'attack' button some more!
SEVERAL WAVES OF MONSTERS LATER.
These two are still very much true to their source by the way, so it's like a Who Framed Roger Rabbit thing going on when they're around. They bring their own tone of comedy and follow cartoon rules, though they're still stuck in the same plot as everyone else.
Jumping around on everything in the shop didn't help much, so I tried hacking away at the monsters for a bit to see if there was an end to them and there really isn't. They drop health and XP so it wasn't a total waste of time, but after a while I stopped trying to dodge them and just kept tapping the 'attack' button... and it worked. In the interests of science I decided to stop looking at the screen entirely and found that as long as I kept hitting 'attack', Sora was doing just fine without me. Any health lost was immediately recovered by the green balls they dropped. You can literally play this blindfolded at this point.
Also this may be an action RPG, but there's no way to choose how to improve my character on level up. I just get told I've been given a bonus to one of my stats occasionally, so there's no decisions I have to pay attention to either.
Wow, that's a pretty bleak message. The world of 101 Dalmatians has been utterly obliterated, which I guess must mean the entire parallel Earth that the story took place on is now gone, swallowed up by darkness. It seems that there were some survivors at least... though of course most of the population were likely stalked by shadow creatures and had their hearts torn out.
I'm guessing the actual follow up to the Disney animated film probably took things in a slightly different, less apocalyptic direction... which is a shame really as the sequel to the original novel involved the dogs being contacted by aliens who wanted to save them from a nuclear war. Seriously, look it up.
Oh crap, they shattered when I jump on them too! Way to get my hopes up Kingdom Hearts (you bastard). Fine, I give up. The game has won. I have absolutely no idea what I am supposed to do here, so I'm going to reluctantly check a walkthrough and if this gives me a stupid answer I'm deducting 500 points.
TWO MINUTES LATER.
Right, it turns out that what I have to do is... return to the start of this world and go back to a shop that I already visited the first time I got here. Apparently the second visit triggers a cutscene which continues the plot. -500 points it is then.
BUT THEN, AFTER LEAVING THE SHOP.
Final Fantasy VIII! And he's being played by TV's David Boreanaz! And he wants to beat the shit out of Sora! This is awesome!
I guess this must be after FF8 as he's still got the scar across his eye but he's let his hair grow a bit, so he's going to be ridiculous high level right now. But all I have to do is dodge his attacks and summons that could deal 9999 to a final boss, and I'll be fine.
Squall here is the toughest fight I've had yet by far, as little green health balls aren't dropping out of him when I hit him with my key! I've been having to use the 'item' command to drink potions, and it turns out that the game doesn't pause when I switch commands so it's a miracle that he didn't fire off some magic at me while I was busy.
There was plenty of dodging ranged attacks in this battle by the way, so there's no chance I could've done this one with my eyes closed. But I did actually manage to win in the end! Squall's too stubborn to drop though and in the post-fight cutscene it's Sora who passes out. I know how he feels.
FF7) explained that the Heartless are after him because they fear the Keyblade and as long as he's holding it they'll come after him no matter what. But I figured I'd show this picture of one of Donald Duck's triplet nephews running the item shop instead because I love his expression. Don't ask me which one he is, I have no idea.
Guess what Squall and Yuffie didn't explain though. Yep that's right, they completely forgot to mention what it is I'm meant to do next. I was just thrown right back on to the streets of Traverse Town again to repeat the same thing I did last time, except with tougher enemies spawning in.
The two cartoon characters dropped in on me along the way and it doesn't seem like I get any say in what they're doing. Though I can use a health potion up on them using the 'item' command so I'm worried I may end up being the one stuck babysitting them.
SOON, AFTER THE BOSS FIGHT.
Oh, before I leave, you remember that they were yelling out for 'Leon' earlier? Well we found him too.
Oh plus it seems that Aeris from FF7 has found her way to Traverse Town as well, only she's had a name change too and is going by the name 'Aerith'. Square have really been retconning the hell out of that one.
The interface is a bit more awkward than it has to be and it doesn't seem to matter where you put a block as you get the stat bonus as long as you're using it at all, but I don't think anyone would want this to turn into Kerbal Space Program anyway. The editor does its job and it's bearable.
Star Fox-style minigame on my way to the next world! It's not a great sign when I have to check online to make sure that the graphics are really supposed to look like this, but this is apparently running as intended right now.
Shooting the enemy ships gets me new blocks to add to my own, so it's very much in my interest to do that. Plus shooting down enemies is rarely a bad idea in general, especially when they're a bunch of heart stealing shadow monsters out to destroy all worlds. I bet they're not even running their ships on happy faces.
Before arriving, Donald and Goofy augmented by abilities with a ranged fire magic and a dodge roll move and so far they're making... absolutely zero difference to combat. I'll get the hang of them eventually though I'm sure. Hitting enemies recharges my MP, so I can practice with my new fireballs all I want.
It seems that my purpose in this world is to gather up evidence that proves that Alice is innocent, and I'm suddenly getting flashbacks to all those times I had to gather up logs and coconuts so I'm not all that hyped at the idea. Though hey, at least I've been explicitly told to do something for once, instead of just being left to wander around blindly.
SOME BLIND WANDERING LATER.
I'm getting a bit sick of beating up monsters in this cardboard diorama world though so I think I'll quit here. If this isn't what the game's going to be like from here on out, then Square took way too long to get to the good bit.
It always annoys me when I end up disagreeing with the majority on a popular game, because it makes me feel like I'm missing out on something, but I'm just not finding the fun in Kingdom Hearts.
Take the crossover characters, the fantastic presentation, and the bizarre dreamlike story out of it and what's left has been 'collect 4 items', 'go back and collect 7 items this time', 'press lock on and then tap attack', and 'wander around blindly until a cutscene starts'. Not that you even can skip the cutscenes. Plus after making me go through all that trouble they didn't even use the bloody raft! Honestly my favourite part of the game so far has been the awkward gummi ship editor, because at least I felt like I was in some kind of control of what was happening there.
Gameplay aside though, this is a fantastic looking PlayStation 2 game and the voice cast is as authentic as you could hope for, which many Disney characters voiced by their original actors. I think the guy who plays Donald Duck deserves a medal for reading out all those lines in that voice. Plus they even got Haley Joel Osment to play the leading role of 'a young boy', which is about as perfect as casting gets!
But speaking from the perspective who has no real nostalgia for Disney animated movies, there wasn't enough else in this to win me over at all.