Monday, 19 March 2007

Kingdom Hearts II

Hi all, this is one of the first many posts concerning my hobbies, which includes reading and of course, video games. Alright, this is a post of the very first game I completed when I got my Playstation 2, that is, Kingdom Hearts II.

For those who have not heard of it, and are wondering whether it REALLY is Mickey Mouse and his friends there, I can tell you that yes, it IS him. This game was made through a collaboration between Square-Enix, of Final Fantasy fame AND Disney, thus the presence of 'King Mickey' there. The first game, Kingdom Hearts for the PS2 as well, was so popular that both companies decided on more games together, thus the creation of Kingdom Hearts : Chain of Memories for the Gameboy Advance and Kingdom Hearts II, all set in chronological order.

I shall try to summarize the story from the other two games as much as possible, for context sake. WARNING! THESE ARE SPOILERS FOR KH AND KH:CoM. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ALL THESE, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH COMPLETELY!

Sora, a boy from an island (known as the Sunset Islands if I am not wrong) opened a door into another 'world' where he finds beings, born of ill feelings and bitterness called 'Heartless' are stealing hearts from people as an ingrained reflex, and in the process creating new Heartless. To prevent the Heartless from destroying the worlds, Sora, as a chosen person to wield a Keyblade that can unlock the worlds must journey to defeat the Heartless together with Donald Duck and Goofy, who are searching for King Mickey who has disappeared. They defeat Ansem, a Heartless with tremendous power and foil his plan of obtaining Kingdom Hearts, the largest and most important heart of all, thus joining all worlds together again.Then they end up in a place called Castle Oblivion in KH:CoM where floors are made based on past memories of Sora. He slowly forgets certain memories, in place for renewed memories of a girl he has all but forgotten, Kairi. In the end, they reach Kairi, held by a secret organization called Organization XIII but are frozen in time and space, for whatever the Organization has in mind...

And then comes KH2, where Sora wakes up and learns about the Organization and a new enemy: the Nobodies. It is another race to protect Kingdom Hearts again, and to reveal the truth behind the mysteries encountered thus far...

Anyway, enough of conspiracy theories and boring stories, let us go into the game. As you can see, the graphics are superb, as expected of Square-Enix (those who have seen Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children can testify to that). The gamestyle is in real-time, which means if you press jump, he jumps. You press attack, and he attacks. The items used as support for the characters in terms of equipment and healing consumables are also reminiscent of Final Fantasy games, where hardcore gamers will be very comfortable with. There are also abilities that supplement the characters' powers with more powerful or useful effects. New to the game is the addition of Forms, where you 'sacrifice' the help of an ally (the two characters fighting alongside you, you will only be able to control Sora for 98% of the game) to power up Sora's abilities to another level. As you progress, you will obtain more forms that 'sacrifice' differerent allies, or even both at once. As a sidenote, the Final Form is gorgeous, both in style and attack power, though I do wish it has the continuous float-air-skating movements of the Wisdom Form. XD

The presence of many sidequests and mini-games also add to the gameplay experience without compromising the storyline. I particularly enjoyed hunting down certain ingredients to create rare, powerful items through Moogle Synthesis. The worlds opened in the game are also superbly done, though I do miss visiting Traverse Town and hearing its background music =<. Most of the worlds are based on Disney's creations, such at Atlantica from The Little mermaid, Agrabah from Aladdin, and The Land Of Dragons from Mulan. This might be nostalgic for those who grow up watching those movies =>. As with the previous KH, Sora and friends will change costumes in certain worlds, and even their forms, as in Atlantica where they become mermen and in the Pridelands, where they become animals! For FF fans, there are also characters from the Final Fantasy world thrown into the mix, such as Leon (Squall Leonhart from FF8), Tifa, Cloud, Yuffie (FF7 all), and even the Yu-Ri-Pa combination (from FFX-2).

All in all, a truly enjoyable game, with rich artwork, superb animation (never get tired of seeing the slow-mo capture that kicks in when you defeat a boss) and compelling storyline. In my opinion, a classic that is not to be missed!

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