Even on the Game Boy Advance, it feels and sounds just like Kingdom Hearts game should which is fantastic.

User Rating: 9 | Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories GBA
The idea of using a card-based battle system may sound like something that may hinder your enjoyment of an action-adventure game such as Kingdom Hearts but when you play it, you see that it fits right in. The idea is certainly embraced from the beginning and as you play there will be countless strategies to use based on what cards you use, in what order, and even when you use them. This makes the game seems fresher and fresher as you progress and have the ability to do more things.

But more important is that you do not underestimate this game just because it is for the Game Boy Advance. It certainly has it's challenging parts and most of the boss battles are nothing short of genius. Even the final battle has that epic feel you would want from any game and that is usually delivered when it's a game by Square-Enix.

If you're curious as to how the card-system works, you have 4 different types of cards. Attack, Magic, Item, and Enemy cards. Attack cards are categorized by different keyblades from the original series with their own different strength, magic, and speed attributes. Magic is your basic Kingdom Hearts magic like Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, Cure, Stop, Gravity, Aero, and Summons. Item cards consist of Elixirs, Potions, and Ethers that reload certain types of cards instead of Sora's health. And Enemy cards are cards that regular enemies will drop during rare occasions and that a Boss will drop when defeated that will provide certain perks and boosts to your abilities.

These cards all have a number from 0 to 9 that will be able to be used against enemies. For example, there is no blocking in this game so if an enemy is going to attack you and they use a 5 card, you may use a card that is 5 or higher to cancel their attack and get a chance to land some attacks of your own. This also goes for magic and items. However, 0 cards can cancel anything which will be part of important tactics necessary for survival during later parts of the game.

A very interesting feature of the game is sleights. Sleights are combinations of cards used to your advantage. This takes the place to abilities in the original console series such as Ars Arcanum or Raid attacks. Certain combinations of attack cards that equal a certain number will let you unleash an attack that you have learned. However, these should be used with caution because every time you use a sleight, one of your cards is gone for the duration of the battle and cannot be reloaded. But this won't be a problem later on in the game if you equip a certain Enemy card to your deck.

There are several modes for this game. First there is the normal Sora's story mode and when that is completed, you may do Riku's story mode which is actually very different. There is also a versus multiplayer mode that you may play when linked to someone else with the game for the GBA but I have yet to play it.

If you're a fan of Kingdom Hearts, you do not want to miss out on this game. The story is very intriguing and an excellent connection between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. The gameplay still feels like Kingdom Hearts and is ever so satisfying and addicting to play. Even if you have never played the Kingdom Hearts games or are not a fan of the series, you may find something you like about this game considering the greater amount of strategies at your disposal that is absent in the other games. Even on the Game Boy Advance, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is an excellent and welcome addition to the series and I only hope with another 2 handheld Kingdom Hearts games on the way, they can prove to be just as good or even better.
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