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SummarySimple and Clean
The GoodTwo points share the upper hand in the applause section, and that is of music and graphic. Graphical elements are like hardly ever seen in such detail on PlayStation 2 or any other platform for that matter. Dynamic backgrounds will constantly keep you at the edge of reality whereas carefully chosen textures will make you believe the unbelievable. Looking at the character movements, ocean waves, sun rayed sandy beach, or swinging palms circled by a seagulls can easily make you wanna be at that place, feeling exact essence of nature Sora does. And graphic really has the strong effect to make you closer to the game so you won't feel yet that far away.
Worlds are taken to extreme detail level, and all Disney 'toons are so well balanced that you will eagerly anticipate the next one to come. Worlds aren't too small and will provide you with what you'll expect from this game, in a vast wave at that. Don't take the graphic lightly as it can by no means be compared to childish, as a matter of fact it can easily leave superb graphic such as of Final Fantasy X or Silent Hill 2 pretty far behind. So no, this is a not just a whacky idea for a cartoon, this is every player's experience.
Soundtrack if so great that every worlds has its own theme, and so unique at that. Each song is so different from another, each one is so full of feelings and ambience towards the place it's played at, it is by far one of the finest soundtracks to listen during gameplay, and I believe, as an audio compact disc just as well. Utada Hikaru's song "Simple and Clean" is awesome, and techno beat for the intro is really perfect to fit the opening cinematic. However, the original Japanese version, "Hikari" (also by Utada Hikaru, duh) is much nicer for an ending song. They are both alike, but something's lost within translation, and instrumental version wouldn't sound that much same. If you can manage to get ahold on both, that would be achievement.
Controls are well balanced and the real fun will start when player gets ahold of some party abilities such as floating on the air, jumping higher, or flying. The hole manual versus auto-targetting system rocks and is perfect just the way it is. But controls won't be just for walking mode, there is a mode when you get to dive (think Little Mermaid) or fly (think peter Pan) where you get whole new set of controls, and might become easier (flying) or complicated (diving) until you get ahold of controls. Perfect thing is how all three main characters (Sora, Goofy and Donald) change outfit according to any new world they visit, either get a fish tail for water world, scary outfit if in halloween town, or whatever comes with a certain world theme.
Voice-acting is no less but equivalent to the soundtrack. Although there will be equal use of text-only as voice-overs, English version fits perfectly for every single character. Donald and Goofy even sound as in cartoons (be lucky to have subtitles all the way when listening to those two, lol), Sora's voice is joy to listen (although I didn't think it'll be that good when I saw who's the voice-actor), and Kairi is a music to ears. Not to mention that all the villains are pretty much as you may hear them in their original roles.
The game has many surprises, and that is one of its stronger side, it keeps you going from one story to another, never know who to expect next, never know what evils to fight next, and you get to have a journal all along the way. It gives a details on how many which types of enemies you perished, who did you meet on your journey, and when and where did they appear first time on screen. It was really fun to read as how they wrote something about everyone.
Story is a typical one where you must prove the darkness that light in our hearts can be seen in any dark corner, and as such it cannot be dimmed. The characters are so cut and likeable that you cannot imagine to start hating even the bad ones. More to the point you always win over them, and that in case you loose some fight, you don't have to reload way back but usually start from very near place of conflict. The way how your party members help you all the way is brilliant, and they do help you a lot sometimes. 'Tis a game which you simply get to like, it gets you and gets you until you say 'okie'.
The BadKnowing SquareSoft and how they must make extra-tough battles against villains, I expected they will make it a bit softer to the fact this game came out after Final Fantasy X which didn't trouble you that much when compared to all of its prequels. Well, this thing is, there are countless boss battles in this one, but none of it that hard. Well, none of it that hard so you won't be able to pass it after 3000-5000 times, bust still. Certain fights were simply hard, and although you could always get into position of status-quo where nemesis wouldn't be able to do much harm, nor could you. Sometimes you could only depend upon your companions, and that was kinda too hard. Also, since this battle system cannot compare to those of other Square's RPGs, this requires constant care and precisement from player's coordination. Sometimes there was simply pay-attention strategy which usually lasted for like half-an-hour, and pressing pause button was a constant consideration.
Being more action game that requires reflexes as much as it requires well planned strategy may come to my advantage, but the end battle which consists of only too many in a row was not light at all and I cannot even begin to think of replaying it again. Took me 2+ hours to pass countless bosses and what all not, yet I didn't even get the opportunity to see the ending cinematic whenever I wish after passing all that. Square always stays Square, and they will never make you see something unless you either replay it and have a hard time again, or know how to extract the prise. The game had only too many beautiful scenes, and form what the ending presented, this seems like a game split in half, and this, of course, if the first half. That sounds already fine if the sequel's coming, but kinda leaves you sort of 'empty' in the ending of it all, with only extremely cute ending cinematic with great background song.
The Bottom LineTo say Disney can come up with something so wonderful (yeah yeah, I'm talking beyond the limits of contents for kids and other fans) and to make me proclaim that I like this game so much is definitely beyond my limits of belief. Square and Disney, Disney and Square... tsk tsk tsk, somehow it always tended towards sounding as hilarious attempt to make something which is only meant to catch a failure. Creating a worlds so distinctive and bringing them to life by a merge of their inhabitants, on one side Square's characters from well known Final Fantasy game series, and on the other Disney's characters from numerous of cartoons from Little Mermaid to Tarzan.
Seems like many people were sort of skeptical towards this idea of joining the best of both worlds, on one side western giant, Disney with their art, and on another eastern giant, SquareSoft with anime art. But just as many people mistrusted that idea in general, they sought to try it and see how much they can laugh at all this. The thing is, they were all sort of converted with completely altered final thought upon the grand finale. This mix doesn't just seem nice, but really and undoubtedly perfect with no range left for errors. This is a very good step towards creating something that might attract sub of all fans, both of Disney and SquareSoft.
When something surprises you so much like this game, it is only fair to take one step back and acknowledge thy own mistake, embracing the world of Kingdom Hearts with both hands opened, 'cos, who knows how soon can we hope to encounter such a well thought combination like this one.