The Good: Simple yet sweet story, likeable characters, excellent voice acting, impressive graphics, epic boss fights.
The Bad: Jerky camera controls, boring and lazy space missions, gameplay gets repetitive quickly, confusing puzzles with little to no help at all.
I don't know about you, but I love me my RPG's. They're so cool with their combat, leveling up, and fantasy imagination. It's too bad popular games today contain little to no imagination *cough* Call of Duty *cough*. To review an RPG, I have to do a classic. A classic that contains both Square Enix characters and Disney characters, creating the beast, Kingdom Hearts.
In this game, you play as Sora, a kid who has a lot of compassion for his friends. He lives on an island with Sephiroth wanabee (a.k.a. Riku) and girl who acts too young to be fourteen (a.k.a. Kairi). Life is all fine and dandy until the heartless come, separating the three friends from their world. Sora, along with Donald and Goofy whom he meets later, have to travel through the worlds and seal the keyhole, saving the worlds from utter dominion from the heartless! Okay, now onto the review.
If you have been following the Kingdom Hearts saga, you should know how much of a train wreck the story is. But, this is before the later games messed up the story with complexity because in the first game, the story is simple, sweet, and pretty good. You can really tell how desperate Sora is to find Kairi. Not to mention, the characters are pretty likeable, and somewhat relatable- all with great voice acting to match. You'll see Square Enix characters, Disney characters, and… well, that's it. That's not a bad thing. It's just Square and Disney characters. That's all it needs.
Do you know what the game does need? Better camera controls. It's so jerky, it's nauseating at times. The camera itself is fine, but you don't get to freely look at your surroundings by moving the right analog stick like a normal game. You look around by pressing the shoulder buttons. Doesn't seem to bad, right? It shouldn't, but the camera is jerky and shaky. The slightest press of the button will quickly twitch to that side. It's annoying. Other than that, the controls are pretty good. You have good control over your character. And the AI for your allies and opponents are good… well… most of the time…
The graphics and art style are pretty good, especially for 2002. They have color and are pleasing to look at. The character animations are pretty good to, even when the characters are mouthing the words like anime characters. The look of the combat is also very cool and flashy. I got to hand it to Japan- they know how to make fancy art styles. And the music- not bad either. It can get annoying at times, because the music loops are short, but they're still nice to listen to.
The worst part of the game are the space missions. They're annoying and unnecessary. You basically pilot a ship through space avoiding heartless ships and stuff to get to the next planet. It wouldn't be too bad if the space missions weren't so easy. It takes hardly any skill to complete them. Not to mention the controls are confusing. Why do you move down when you move the analog stick up? The shooting is also imprecise. As for the level design, it's just absolutely… pathetic. All it is is just shapes floating at you. Thassit. Floating shapes. The only thing appealing about the space levels are the background, which I got to admit, are pretty cool to look at.
The best part of the game is the boss battles. They are so cool, with a wide range of difficulties and the sort. They range from easy to hard, epic to boring, big to small, epic to annoying. Kingdom Heart's got it all! I even have to enjoy the really bosses that frustrated the crap out of me and shouldn't even been there in the first place *cough* Ursula and her eel pets *cough*.
The gameplay is pretty good, but it gets repetitive fast. You're running around killing as many heartless as you can to get to your destination. It doesn't help that this game is kind of a button masher and the heartless appear in multiple random encounters. Sometimes, I just run past them and try to get to my destination as quickly as I can. It's not too hard to do, though. The enemies AI isn't that great. Plus, the game is also kind of like a puzzle game. You have to do these things and go to these places to complete the mission. Problem is the game doesn't really tell you anything about this, making the game really confusing at times.
Overall, this game is a lot of fun. It may be flawed, but it has a lot of great elements to it. I think it's a pretty good start to a successful franchise. I think you should give it a try.