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SummaryPushed The Technical Limits Of The GBA.
The GoodI enjoyed the original PS2 "Kingdom Hearts" game immensely. It remains a noteworthy title, and shows how easily Square can blend their worlds with others (the previous attempt being Super Mario RPG). That said, this game ties the first and second game together in a gorgeous package.
From the first second of the game beginning, players are treated to a several minute full FMV of Sora, Donald, and Goofy's new adventure. The effect is so jarringly unlike anything seen on Game Boy that you have to pause for a moment to fully take it in. Even when the normal gameplay starts, the effects are no less impressive. The characters have a SNES Square style to them, are well animated, and instantly recognizable. The locales? Beautifully animated. It's easily one of the most gorgeous GBA game out.
Sound-wise, it has voice clips from the actors and actresses from the first game and movies. Brief, but recognizable and effective. And the music is extremely well done, with the tunes from the PS2 game. Again, it makes for a pleasant and surprising audio experience.
Story? There are some changes, mostly with the card battle system and more notable how Sora and Co. can now walk in Atlantica. But changes are not ignored, and explanations are placed within context of the story, so players can buy into it. Even with the major absence of most voices, the text is well written, and emotionally resonant. Typical Square. You feel for these characters. Smart dialogue, and everything sounds in place.
The card battle system is the most radical change, and though I do miss the hack/slash style of the first game, the battle system still makes sure action is the emphasis. Different, but once you get into how it's done, it becomes second nature.
The BadGiven the impressiveness of the title, there's not much to complain about. However, there are a few things:
The card system has one flaw: In long battles, once the cards are gone, they're gone until the end of the battle. So if you run out of the most necessary cards, you're out of luck. This happened during my fight with Oogie Boogie, and was painful.
Battles in general are attack or avoid, but some creatures will decimate you if not careful. Captain Hook went off with his bomb attacks, and corned me to the point where I could do little more than watch helplessly as my entire life bar was drained away. That's frustrating. Especially when you have to cycle through all of the pre-fight dialogue again.
The last notable thing is that as good as the worlds are in KH:COM, I wish there had been some new worlds instead of the same worlds from the first game. Tarzan was strangely missing from the mix this time. Still, Square adds some new spins to keep at least the ideas fresh.
The Bottom LineIt's an extremely recommended game for GBA, well into the "must-own" category. An extremely well-crafted action/adventure/RPG that pushes the technical limits of the system like no other. The CG opening is stunning, and it's not the only movie in the game.
This is a title that shows off what can be done with the system if placed in the right hands. A good looking and sounding game that balances it all out with solid gameplay and an intelligent, thought-provoking story.
Easily one of the best GBA games of 2004, if not THE best. Highly recommended.