Kingdom Hearts – CHAPTER ONE: Who are you, really?

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Is it 2002? No, I just happened to get back my old Playstation 2 and had a hankering to play Kingdom Hearts. More than anything I had the urge to play it again and really understand what it was about this game that got my utter attention when I was younger.

Come, take a journey with me.

Kindom Hearts, for the uneducated, is an action-role playing game that was released in 2002 that featured a very unique blend of Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters. It’s game play was a very free-flow style of action that allowed the player to run around the battlefield as they pleased and tackle enemies however they thought was best. What I personally remember from this game that was so great happened to be the use of the Disney characters and how you got to see many of them outside of the story that existed in their films. Also the game play was really smooth and if I remember it correctly Mickey is a total badass.

This is going to be a series of diary-styled articles while I do a play through of the first Kingdom Hearts and maybe the second one.

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CHAPTER ONE: Who are you, really?

The best part about the intro for me is that you get to choose your character’s strength, whose name is Sora, from the get-go and it’s masked perfectly in the story and the setting. Also I absolutely love the music. When playing Dungeons and Dragons my DM (Dungeon Master) actually played the song from this intro when we were put into a similar dream-state during our campaign.

Tutorial music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdK5XAVGzww

I always choose the Warrior (sword) because jumping around and doing air-combos was always pretty dang satisfying in this game. Also having played it before I know that your other party members will use a sword and wand so I’m not too worried about team chemistry.

Your path is set

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Now I have to give something up which is always the bigger decision. Do you want to give up some magical strength or your resistance? They blend this in perfectly with the story as the opening cinematic shows that your character already has friends and the shield is what you use to protect those close to you. I give up the shield; I have a feeling those friends are going to be gone most of the game anyways.. Also I like to use magic.

It’s important to note that the Disney imagery is already everywhere as the platforms you stand on have images of the Disney princesses. Belle just ate dirt and shattered into a few thousand pieces below my feet, let’s see if the same happens to Cinderella.

While I recall this intro being pretty great I don’t remember all the tie-ins to the story. Even now I’m still pretty impressed by it. The dull explanation of how experience works in games is sort of breaking my buzz though.

Well, Cinderella just turned into a gigantic shadow.. guess she wasn’t too lucky. I have a feeling that this is some sort of foreshadowing.

I get my first use of the one-screen menu selection using the d-pad and although I remember it being pesky sometimes when I’m in the thick of a fight, usually it seemed to work just fine for the style of game.

Knocking barrels off into the distance looks pretty damn cool, but I’m stuck trying to remember if you can actually hit enemies with them that way.

I’m on some tropical island with who I assume are some other friends of mine. They start asking me some strange questions about the meaning of my life and I start to choose the most ‘gamey’ answers like “I want to be number one” and “I want to be strong.” I figure if these answers mean anything I’m going to be one tough mother. Also I figure these are all Final Fantasy characters because if I remember correctly the only original characters are the three main ones, me and my two childhood friends. The last kid asks me what I’m afraid of and in classic fashion I take 5 minutes to select “being indecisive.”

Your adventure begins in the dead of night. Your road won’t be easy, but a rising sun awaits your journey’s end.

Suddenly I’m on another princess mosaic, this one featuring Sleeping Beauty whose actual name I forgot. I fight some more little shadows creeplings and remember that if they’re in the air when I hit attack my player will jump to hit them and then air-combo. I remember exactly why I like the game play now. I recall a fight in the second game that has you fighting 200 enemies in a giant chasm which was sort of the culmination of all my air-combo dreams up until that point. I’m already excited for it.

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A staircase appears and I guess Sleeping Beauty isn’t going to break up or turn into shadow-quick sand. I think this is about where I start my first boss fight. I also remember that the jumps are all based on how long you hold down the button which pleases me. I’m a pretty big fan of air-control in action games if only because it’s so important to react quickly to everything.

Is this Belle again? Are there more princesses with yellow dresses. Suddenly my shadow turns into a giant manly-Medusa and I stop caring about princesses.

Alright so the boss is easy enough but sets a pretty good idea of what I’m going to need to face. Everything evil seems to be a shadow and has absolutely no dialogue. The narration also seems to have a thing for telling me not to be afraid. Personally I’m alright but if I was role-playing a young boy who was getting beat up by his own shadow I think those words would fall on deaf ears. I forgot that this game actual had voice-acting and I’m pleasantly surprised to be reminded that it does. It’s better than most games these days and certainly great for its time. The intro ends telling me I’m going to be the one to open the door and my character wakes up from a dream. I wake up on a beach when a girl wakes me up and we have some cute banter until the third-wheel, Riku, shows up. He pops in all “hey you two forgot about me” and then races me around the island. I dislike this person instantly.

I’m told to gather supplies by Kairi and as I look around I see one of the logs sitting comfortably next to Riku who appears dedicated to doing nothing and just looking cool.

In classic RPG fashion when you’re done a small task you finish your day and that’s the end of whatever sort of introduction you were in the middle of. This is all nice to set up the story and the characters’ motivations but I feel like this could all be done with a single cinematic. There’s then a cinematic that walks you through the concept of there being other worlds that people can get to. On this tropical island though it appears that a raft is the only way to do so.. for now.

Riku gives you a star fruit thing that I don’t know how to spell out and tells you that if you share it with someone your destinies will be intertwined. Like any teenage boy in a love triangle Sora tosses it away claiming he has no idea what Riku is talking about.

We finally get a glimpse now of the Disney characters as we see Donald Duck in a wizard robe and hat as he discovers that Mickey has gone missing. Of course his first instinct is to tell Goofy about this mishap and he’s discovered out by Minnie and his own wife trying to keep a secret from them.

Back on the island things are all fine and the same music appears to be playing. How these kids grew up here without going insane would make for an interesting novel. A little girl on the island tells you again the story of the star fruit and its powers of eternal damnation connected to another’s soul and how romantic that is.

Apparently there’s a small cave at the base of the waterfall that, in all their years growing up here, these children have never bothered to check out. I guess that’s smart of them but it also seems unrealistic. At this age I would have climbed into practically anything unless I already knew there were spiders living in it.

destinyislands3As I enter the cave I walk into an area with a giant wooden door that doesn’t even come close to matching the aesthetic of this tropical paradise. Apparently the kids have been here before as I’m thrust into a cinematic of Sora and Kairi when they were young drawing each other onto the cave wall with chalk. Suddenly a stranger appears in front of the door who’s so super creepy I’m pretty sure he was a pedophile before he started destroying worlds. Once he leaves the music goes back to tropical and merry which really throws me off. Why I’m still doing little chores on this island is beyond me, I just want to start killing shadows already.

Some little punk is playing with a stick by himself and then starts going off about how strong Riku is. He claims that if I can’t protect Kairi at least Riku can and I’m starting to think Riku is going to end up being my nemesis.

I just beat up a girl with a rope and a dude with a volleyball. I feel like those were both somewhat unfair fights. I almost lose to Tidas though, who at this point is a little kid and I feel a little more humble about my skills.

Riku plays the jerk card again and bets me in a race that whoever wins shares the infinite-love-spirit-forever fruit with Kairi. I lose but the game goes on, so I guess I was supposed to lose? That’s really harsh.

So after another 15 minutes running around the island trying to find a damn mushroom I finish off the day and await the cataclysm for this island to arrive. God I’m excited to leave this tropical paradise.

I think the best part about Donald Duck in this game is how much dialogue he has and the thought of someone having to wreck their voice recording everything. Also their kingdom’s space program appears to be run by chipmunks which is genuinely unique. Remembering that you get to fly a space ship in this game has me excited because I’ve also recently wanted to play Star Fox and this should cure that hankering.

BOOM Sora wakes up to a storm and the shadow creatures showing up again. You can’t fight them this time though as you only have a damn stick to fight with. Riku starts going off about the door and being all crazy and she-it, saying he’ll accept the darkness if it means he can see other worlds. As Sora’s about to be sucked into the darkness the Keyblade appears in his hand and he’s able to fight the little shadow creeplings. The cave entrance has now turned into a giant white door and after I enter it I see Kairi get taken and I’m tossed out of the cave. As the world is torn apart the boss I faced before appears again and I’m hoping this is going to be a better fight.

After beating the boss a second time we both get sucked upwards into some giant ball of destruction and I wake up in Traverse Town being discovered by Pluto, who came with Donald and Goofy of course. I know this turned out to be a live blog in a way but I’m hoping as I progress further into the game I’ll figure out why I used to love it so much because if you asked me now I’d just say that I REALLY enjoyed it. What I enjoyed exactly I wouldn’t be able to say but I have a feeling it was the combat and the story’s easy take on melodrama. It doesn’t try too hard to prove to you that teenagers can be troubled and it doesn’t throw countless metaphors for love in your face.

So begins the next chapter: Traverse Town Shuffle.

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Write in the comments if there’s a change in the style you’d like to see or any increase/decrease in detail.

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