I’m a video game masochist: Kingdom Hearts

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s not how you spell “I hate myself” but whatever. Anyways, Kingdom Hearts is a video game for the Sony Playstation II. It was developed by Square Soft. It is in full color.

Everyone I know who has played the game (aside from Thomas) loved it. It is actually pretty popular. So I can say with a certain amount of confidence that my opinions of this game will probably be unpopular. Well, what do I say, except “Whoops!” I loved the game, but I hated it.

First, I will introduce you to some characters.

This is our protagonist, Sora:

Then, you got Riku, a misguided badass with a good heart in the wrong place:

And then there’s Kairi, who is pretty much just the damsel in distress:

Then there’s Final Fantasy characters and Disney characters. I’m not going to describe the FF characters, and if you don’t know the Disney characters, you have some films you should be watching right now.

Oh, and by the way, as with my last review, this game is pretty old, so spoilers abound.

I’ll start what I liked. As ridiculous as it may sound, my favorite part of the game was the story. Especially the central characters of Sora, Kairi, and Riku. The way those three characters were played to each other was fantastic, and created

HMMM, I WONDER WHY RIKU IS THE ONLY ONE FACING THE OTHER DIRECTION...?

an engaging experience. I liked Riku’s character especially. In a sense, Riku felt it necessary to sacrifice his own soul to save the person he cares about, and it was beautiful. The loss of Kairi pulling Sora and Riku in different directions, and the way those characters interacted based on that, was brilliant and moving; it built tension through the game’s climax, and made the resolution so very satisfying. Also, the Disney characters were a wonderful inclusion for the story. While I thought Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s adherence to the Prime Directive a bit strange, it made the Disney movie-based worlds that much more immersive. Donald and Goofy made fantastic companions, and I felt they, as well as their relationship to the main character, was expertly developed. At the end, when you find out that once the darkness is sealed away all of the worlds become separated again, it almost broke my heart to thing that these three friends would be torn apart. The final boss was…cool. I will voice my issues about him later, though. The ending was very satisfying and provided plenty of closure while still leaving the game open for a sequel. Overall, the story was very satisfying. And that concludes my gushing about how much I love the game (very much). The gloves are coming off, brusing will now commence.

Let’s start by talking about what I didn’tlike about the story, shall we? To put it bluntly, Final Fantasy. All of the FF characters were clearly included in this game for nothing more than Final Fanservice (tee hee). They do literally nothing for the plot. I was okay with people like Yuffie and Leon (and I was secretly hoping for Cecil, Kain, or even Zidane; I’m not immune to fanservice sometimes.), I had a huge problem with Aeris (or Aerith, either way, eat shit.).  They all felt shoehorned in. For some reason, they were the only characters I couldn’t bring myself to give a shit about, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t figure it out! And then, during a conversation with Squall (or Leon, or whatthefuckever.) it hit me: He hasn’t done anything useful! All of the FF characters just holed up in a hotel room and complained to each other how much everything sucks, maybe occasionally playing their favorite game “who can be the moodiest.”

Why does he look so bored? Maybe because he spent the whole game crammed in a hotel room with two chicks? Yeah, that's a stupid answer.

Squalleon has A FUCKING GUNBLADE. Couldn’t he at least try to help? The problem I had with the scene where we come to the revelation that the different worlds become separated when everything is fixed is that the revelation is delivered by Squall. I was like “So? Who cares. My beach planet was some pretty sweet shit, man.” Donald and Goofy showed up, and I instantly changed my tune to “No! My friends! I may never see you again!” The Final Fantasy characters were never developed,  because they had already served their purpose. Fanservice doesn’t need to be meaningful, because people eat it up even if it’s really stupid.

Then, there’s the gameplay. Holy god the gameplay. Square Soft (or Square Enix, or Squeenix) doesn’t know what the term “Action RPG” means. No, it does not mean trying to manage a battle menu in real time. That is fucking stupid. Why would you do that. What the fuck.

You see, battle menus are for turn based rpgs. Because in a turn based game, you have time to wade through a menu. Even with stuff like the ATB system, you had time before the enemy could attack again, and thus you could comfortably swim through the menus with a sense of urgency. However, in Kingdom Hearts, you, and your enemies, can use attacks and magic whenever you want. I don’t like the feeling of having to run in circles continuously to evade enemy attacks while I’m trying to navigate menus just to fucking heal my party. The hotkeys were nice, but felt like an afterthought since you could only hotkey four of them. You could edit your hotkeys from the pause menu, which actually would have made the real-time menu fighting almost a non-issue, except, whoops, you can’t access the pause menu in combat. So if your equipment or abilities has you in a bad position, that’s just too damn bad. You just have to die like a real man.

And then, there’s the controls. No major problems here, except for one. When you’re playing a third person video game, you usually expect the left analog stick to control your character and the right to control the camera, right? Nope. The right analog stick now controls the menu! Okay, so then what does the d-pad control? The menu. Why the game is using two inputs to control the same thing is beyond me. The camera is controlled by the L and R buttons, which makes for some terribly imprecise camera controls. It takes some getting used to, but why couldn’t the left stick control the camera? Then the shoulder buttons could have been additional hotkeys. Or, even better, the d-pad could have been exclusive to hotkeys.

Overall, this game is pretty flawed. Like most people I know, I’m able to look past its flaws and enjoy it regardless. One thing that seems exclusive to me, though, is that the game’s flaws still manage to piss me off. This seems to happen a lot, so maybe I’m just an angry person. Either way, I hope I’ve effectively demonstrated my feelings for this game, or at least what I mean when I say “I love it, but I fucking hate it.” Allow me to end the review with my favorite quote from the game…

Sora has some weird friends.

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