TGS 2001 FallKingdom Hearts hands-on

Square shows off the fruits of its collaboration with Disney.

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When Kingdom Hearts was first officially announced around E3 2001, many people were both skeptical about and amused by the concept of a Disney/Square RPG. The game has finally reached a point where Square feels it can be shown to the public in playable form, and that's just what the company has done here at the Tokyo Game Show 2001 Fall.

The game is, for the most part, an action RPG, taking place in real time and employing a Zelda-like lock-on targetting system that lets you focus your attacks on one specific enemy. The version shown at TGS focuses on Riku, who wakes up in the Disney realm and must use his giant key as a swordlike weapon. Aside from jumping, you can also execute a three-hit combo using your key. Magic spells are cast by accessing a shortcut menu using L1 and pushing one of three face buttons to execute different spells. The left analog stick moves Riku around, and the D-pad is used to scroll through a menu of commands, giving you more control over magic and your inventory. L2 and R2 are used to manually rotate the camera.

The demo shown at the TGS was long on action and short on communication, which mostly consisted of running into a building located in town and talking to a few moogles inside. When there's something or someone you can speak to or otherwise interact with, an exclamation point will appear over it and a generic action button can be used to take action on the nearby object or speak to a nearby person.

The game showed off a few Disney characters, starting out by showing Donald Duck and Goofy chatting. Then Pluto heads down an alley and finds Riku passed out in a corner. Pluto wakes Riku up with a few well-placed licks to the face and runs off, leaving Riku to fight a few shadowy creatures, who can flatten to the ground and move like shadows before popping up near you to strike. Health and magic points are displayed as a quarter-circle-shaped meter in the lower-right corner of the screen.

Kingdom Hearts is scheduled to hit Japanese shelves in the spring, and a US release will follow in the third quarter of 2002.

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