Kingdom Hearts is about a boy named Sora, who lives on an island with his friends; Riku and Kairi. They are getting tired of their layed back lifestyle and decide to leave by building a raft. They get the raft built and are about to set out when, one night, a storm hits the island and Sora rushes outside to make sure the raft is okay. When he gets to the island, he finds that Kairi and Riku had the same idea and heads out to find them as well. It turns out, these strange monsters have appeared around the island and they are attacking Sora. Sora can't hurt these creatures so he runs off, dodging them as best he can.
He finds Riku at their usual spot and he says some strange things and disappears into a pool of darkness. Sora is left alone on the island with the Keyblade, a sword shaped as a key, the only weapon that can hurt this creatures. He finds the door hidden in the island's large tree open. He enters it and finds himself in a strange town, woken up by a strange dog. This starts a strange adventure with the goal of saving the many worlds in the stars, which are different Disney worlds, with the aid of Donald and Goofy. The story can be pretty juvenile and a little cheesy but it's not that bad. It's a great concept just aimed at younger people. The characters are mostly great, considering most of them are classic Disney characters this isn't surprising. It's also great to explore classic Disney worlds.
The gameplay is very different. You control only Sora, Donald and Goofy are controlled by AI, and run around on a 3D field. You attack in real time and are tasked with dodging attacks on your own. It's an action RPG and one of the first widely played ones. You can lock-on to enemies to focus your attacks, very much like in The Legend of Zelda, and just hack at the enemies until they die. There are no combos at all so the combat can get a little repetitive and the level design is pretty bland as well. You eventually learn some magic, classics like Fire, Blizzard, Thunder and Cure. Fire and Blizzard are missile magic, attacks that zip to the enemies to damage them, and Thunder and Cure are what you think they are.
The boss fights don't really differ that much from normal combat, other than the AI and strength of the bosses, but they are worth looking forward to since they mean more of the story is going to happen after their defeat. A few of the bosses are also from the Disney series you are currently visiting. You can buy and find different weapons for all three of your characters and each can equip accessories. When in a Disney world, you might get that world's main character as a temporary ally in battle; such as Tarzan. This is really cool, fighting alongside such characters, but they cannot change equipment and they are only usable in that world. Speaking of the worlds, when you go there for the first time, you need to play a space shooter type mini-game. I found these incredibly dull and was glad when I didn't have to do them anymore.
Overall, the game is fun even if it's not too deep. You just mash the attack buttons and dodge attacks. The combat is actually deeper in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and with no puzzles to really speak off and nothing to do other than fight or flight, it's a knock against the game. Even still, it's an enjoyable game considering it's a new kind of RPG.
The game's music is pretty good, it uses Disney music, Disney themed music and it's theme "Simple and Clean" which does not suit the game, I found. The voice work is mostly good, Sora sounds like you'd expect, as do Riku and Kairi. There are a few Final Fantasy characters in this game and most of them sound good as well, one sounds kinda lame I found and that is Leon aka Squall. All of the Disney characters are either voiced by their original voices or sound-alikes and they all sound great, especially Donald and Goofy who are voiced by their original actors and sound exactly like their cartoon versions.
The visuals are the biggest thing about the game. They look great, all of the models look excellent, the cinematics have excellent facial expressions and the enemy animations are great. Sora's combat animations are a little rigid looking however. The cinematics are much better looking than the more common in-game scenes and some scenes have drawn on mouth movements even though it is fully voiced. The levels are bland though they look good and are taken from the Disney worlds you are visiting. For an early PS2 game, this game looks great and aged well for the most part.
- Fast, real time, action based combat
- Fun Disney worlds to explore
- Voice work is mostly great
- Story is solid
- Visuals look great
- Cinematics have great animation
- Story can be juvenile and cheesy
- Level designs are bland
- Combat can get repetitive
- Most scenes look average compared to cinematics
- Enemy designs can be bland
Overall, the fans aren't that far off when loving this game. It's a fun, fast paced action RPG that allows you to visit classic Disney worlds. It's fun and looks great even if it can get bland and repetitive. It's a great start to a great franchise. Sora finds himself lost with a 7.5/10.