When I'd first heard of Kingdom Hearts I was VERY skeptical. What? A bunch of Disney cartoons are gonna mess up my favorite Final Fantasy characters? The whole thing sounded like a bad idea, but being a loyal Square fan and an RPG addict, I eagerly awaited the game's release. I've since played through the game and I would have to say I was impressed. Very impressed. The story starts out in a tropical paradise called Destiny Island. It is the home to Sora, the main character who has some of the biggest feet I've ever seen, and his friends Riku and Kairi. The three of them long to get away from Destiny island and to see the rest of the world, so they build a raft and plan to sail away. One night a mysterious storm hits the island and Sora finds his home crawling with shadowlike monsters. Sora fights his way through many of the creature, but suddenly all goes black and he awakens in the far off city of Traverse Town. Riku and Kairi are nowhere to be seen. As Sora begins searching for them he again runs into the shadowlike monsters...the heartless! Soon Sora will meet up with some familiar faces and he discovers that he is the Key Master- the wielder of the Keyblade. Elsewhere, King Mickey is missing, and left orders for Donald and Goofy to find the Keymaster. The two soon join up with Sora in a quest to find King Mickey, Riku and Kaira, and defeat the evil Heartless! The story was really quite good, and as the game progresses you'll find a lot more depth to the plot than you'd expect. The Heartless aren't the only villains in the game, and you'll constantly run into such villains as Hades and Jafar who are trying to manipulate the Heartless for their own evil plans. Sora, Donald and Goofy travel from world to world sealing the Keyholes that allow Heartless to pass through while searching for their friends and trying to discover what exactly the Heartless are. There's a lot of cool things happening between it all, and some really interesting discoveries you'll make throughout the game. Kingdom Hearts did a great job of taking the fun of a Disney cartoon and adding the depth and intrigue of a Squaresoft RPG. The characters impressed me more than anything about the game. Naturally, Cloud, Aeris and Squall were cool, but Square did a great job with the Disney characters too. Jafar had to be my favorite, but Aladdin, the Beast and Malificent were also great! Sora was a fairly classic Squaresoft hero, and I'd even read somewhere that he was designed by combining Cloud and Tidus. You're compadres, Donald and Goofy, were a lot better than I thought they'd be. I was expecting to hate having two "silly" characters in my party all of the time, but they weren't annoying at all, and even proved worthy in combat. And, if you don't like them you can often replace them with such characters as the Beast, Aladdin, Ariel and Tarzan. Honestly, the characters in this game rival that of any other game I've played (well, several of the characters were from OTHER games I've played...), and the characters that were chosen for each role fit marvelously! The game is a lot deeper than one would expect of a Disney game, and the Disney heroes help to move the story along quite nicely, and provide you with a little humor between epic battles with the even cooler Disney villains Kingdom Hearts doesn't play like the Final Fantasy games, despite the additions of characters like Squall and Yuffie to the game. The fighting is all done in real time...sort of like the N64 Zelda games. The camera is fully rotateable too, which makes the game pretty friendly when you want to explore. Unfortunately, you can only control Sora, which is too bad because it would've been neat to control Donald and Goofy, but Sora's better than those two anyway, and the A.I. for them is good enough that they can handle themselves. In combat, you can lock onto your enemies and hack and slash with the keyblade until they're all dead. You've got lots of different magic spells that are straight from the Final Fantasy series, such as Blizzaga and Fira. You use these spells in combat, and you can customize certain buttons to cast spells for you so that you don't have to scroll through a bunch of menus during combat (naturally, this would kill you). You only can customize three spells though, so choose your spells wisely. Unfortunately, they did not add this sort of a feature to items, so it is pretty difficult to use items without coming to a complete stop altogether while the bad guys rip you to shreds! But, Donald and Goofy can use items too, so if you equip them right you will likely never need to use an item. You can only access certain items from your stock during combat, sort of like in Parasite Eve II, but again, Donald and Goofy can use items for you, so it isn't too annoying. Sora can summon during combat too, everyone from the Genie to Bambi. When you summon, the summoned creature takes the place of Donald and Goofy temporarily, and when it runs out of MP it disappears and Donald and Goofy return. Each character also has specific abilities that they can learn and each costs a certain amount of AP. Depending on how much AP you have you can equip them with multiple abilities, and there are even some shared abilities. By the end of the game your entire party can fly, which comes in really handy and is really quite fun. There's a large amount of different monsters spread throughout the different worlds, and when a monster is defeated they drop little bubbles. These bubbles may restore HP (green bubbles) MP (clear) or give you money (gold). This was pretty great really, because I often wouldn't have time to heal, and being able to pick up some HP during combat was really helpful. I really enjoyed the innovative battle system, but it was hampered somewhat by difficult controls. The graphics in Kingdom Hearts are some of the most impressive I've seen. Obviously the game didn't quite go for the realistic look like in Final Fantasy X, but the more animated style characters are equally as impressive and fit the game much better anyway. The character animations are simply excellent, and each character has a very unique look and way of moving. Both the Disney and Square characters were very well done, and every feature of them was recaptured in this game. The backgrounds are so great they will make you feel like you're watching a Disney film, and each is done with amazing detail. My favorite world would have to be the Nightmare before Christmas level. The beauty and detail of that world will remain in my mind for quite some time. The sounds of Kingdom Hearts are really good, and you'll hear a lot of familiar music throughout the game. Some of the levels have music that gets a little repetitive, but it stays very true to the Disney environments at all times. There's even some boss fights that have music so epic you'll want to fight them again! Overall, the voice acting was very good and some of the best I've ever heard. There was an all star cast with voices like James Woods, Haley Joel Osment and many more. Yet, there really didn't seem to be enough of it. The quality is great, but the quantity was a little disappointing. With so many people eagerly waiting to see what Cloud's voice sounded like you'd think they would have given him more speaking parts. The same goes for many of the other characters. Also, Square didn't lip-sync the voices, but, however disappointing this was, it didn't cause too much of a distraction. During your trip from world to world you travel in a spaceship called a Gummi Ship. This is the only aspect of the game that I really disliked. The graphics of the Gummi ship looked like something drawn by a preschooler and were a complete shame to the PS2. You'll encounter enemy ships as you fly through space and you can blast them out of the sky. The space combat wasn't any better than its graphics were and at no point did it ever approach something even close to fun. The whole combat was basically pushing X to shoot your lasers, and closing your eyes to take a nap until you reached the next world. Fortunately, Square showed that it's merciful and once you travel to a world you can warp right back there so you won't need to waste another minute or so of your life on the boring trip. You can pick up a lot of upgrades and attachments to your Gummi ship that will make it stronger, but it's nothing that really needs to be done. There are a lot of little things to do during the game, like finding the missing 99 Dalmatians and defeating the optional bosses. But, there isn't really any replay value to the game. Even if you do EVERYTHING in the game you probably won't get much more than 45 hours from it (I did nearly everything to be done in the game and got around 38 hrs). Nonetheless, the game is fun enough that you may want to play through additional times despite nothing new to do. The game does have two settings though, normal and hard, so it may be worth checking them both out. really enjoyed playing something very different for a change. Although I can't say I want Disney characters to make regular appearances in all of my RPGs, it was really entertaining and done very well this time.I cant for the sequel to this game, and although it overall isn't quite as good a game as some of Square's other works, (namely, the Final Fantasy titles) it's a MUST play for any PS2 RPG fan!