Kingdom Hearts Series

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ptdebate
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Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby ptdebate » August 8th, 2018, 11:22 am

When I visited the Square Enix cafe in Akihabara recently, it finally hit me that Kingdom Hearts 3 is right around the corner - only six months away! That still sounds like a long time but if you compare to how long a lot of fans have waited, the remaining time until release day is minuscule.

One of the few souvenirs I went home with is a brass keyblade keychain. My immediate desire to buy it was a reminder of how much this series meant to me when I was younger. What was most exciting about Kingdom Hearts when it was announced was that it combined a niche but very passionate interest of mine - Final Fantasy and the JRPG genre itself - with Disney, a pop culture touchstone that seemingly connected everyone. It was an impossible, incredible combination.

What are your thoughts on this series, mainly I and II, in light of the fact that a sequel coming out 14 years later is one of the most anticipated games of all time? Do the originals hold up in 2018? I'm thinking of replaying both before III comes out, but also don't want to be disappointed when they don't live up to my fond memories.

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ptdebate
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby ptdebate » August 9th, 2018, 12:30 pm

So I started playing the first one last night. It definitely feels like it belongs to the era in which it came out, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You get so used to modern games holding your hand and signposting everything for you. In Kingdom Hearts - the first one at least - the game may tell you once what the objective is within a given level and then never repeat it or provide any further guidance. If you weren't paying attention, you're gonna be wandering around for a bit.

The combat system is okay, but not outstanding. The sound and visual design are high-quality and support each other well. The music is very, very good. The story works better the less you think about it. The overarching plot of Kingdom Hearts really just serves to string together the numerous Disney-themed vignettes, and I'm completely okay with that.

The real strength of the game is in these individual vignettes, and in that sense Kingdom Hearts is less than the sum of its parts. The journey is far more important than the destination.

It's not a classic on the same level as Final Fantasy X, but it is a solid, if wacky, light RPG that would actually be a great way to introduce someone to the genre. I understand that mechanically, Kingdom Hearts 2 adds some flair and variety, so I'm looking forward to how that pans out once I'm done with 1. I'm trying to approach both with a fresh perspective.

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David
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby David » August 9th, 2018, 3:56 pm

When the first one came out on PS2 I played a decent amount but never finished. I purchased the HD remixes on PS3 and never got into it again, and also bought the PS4 versions again. :roll: I want to play in sequential order but I cannot get myself to play the first one more than 10-20 minutes at a time before I either get motion sick from the awful camera, or sick of running around not knowing what to do. I love Final Fantasy and Disney so it’s very frustrating that I can’t enjoy the series. I’m thinking maybe I should skip ahead to the second game and read a synopsis of the first?

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby DaHeckIzDat » August 9th, 2018, 5:07 pm

As big a fan of the series as I am, when I replayed the first one on the HD Collection, I thought it was definitely showing its age. The Disney worlds are empty and barely anything like the movies they're based on. Like, Agrabah is a maze of platforms, not a city! The camera keeps getting caught on corners in Captain Hook's ship, and the swimming controls in Atlantica have always sucked. The worlds are completely empty, like the only people who live there are the people who join your party and their respective villains. Plus, Disney movies are amazing because they take their time to tell an engaging story. Reducing them to hour-long levels is like watching a highlight reel of a highlight reel. While it's always fun beating up your favorite Disney baddies, the highlight of the game for me was the non-Disney worlds, like Hollow Bastion. That's where all the artistic effort obviously went. The overarching story is way better than the fast-forwarded Disney movie sections, too. KH2 is way better in almost every way for me. Most importantly, the worlds actually feel like worlds instead of Disney themed obstacle courses.

I'm working my way through the PS4 collection right now. I'm planning on writing a review for each game on here once I'm done.

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Retro STrife
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby Retro STrife » August 10th, 2018, 2:00 pm

As a Final Fantasy fan, I continue to be interested in trying this series. Similar to David, I've bought copies on PS2, PS3, and PS4, all well intentioned, but then never played any of them. I plan to skip KH1 and go right to KH2. People give me a hard time about this and say I won't understand or enjoy KH2 as much. Two things: (1) ain't no one got time for 2 RPGs these days, I'm fortunate if I even finish one of them; and (2) I can't imagine that the story is so great that I'm really missing all that much. Am I wrong? And KH2 is clearly the higher regarded game among fans and critics, so hence the reason to choose that one.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby DaHeckIzDat » August 10th, 2018, 4:10 pm

The story is surprisingly good for its subject matter (kid fights Disney villains with Donald and Goofy). It's the character interactions and the overarching story of fighting the heartless, the darkness, Organization XIII, etc, that makes it worth paying attention to. And yeah, if you want to know what's going on you have to play them in order (release order, not chronological). For a game that sounds as silly as it does, it's surprisingly complex. Not to mention that it's been spread out across several platforms (which the HD collection fixed).

Chronologically, they go Birth by Sleep --> Final Chapter Prologue -->Kingdom Hearts 1 --> Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days (they take place at the same time) --> Kingdom Hearts 2 --> Coded --> Dream Drop Distance --> Kingdom Hearts 3 (when it's released).

The order you should play them to get the full story is Kingdom Hearts 1 -->Chain of Memories --> 358/2 Days --> Kingdom Hearts 2 --> Birth By Sleep --> Coded --> Dream Drop Distance --> Final Chapter Prologue

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ptdebate
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Re: Kingdom Hearts Series

Postby ptdebate » August 13th, 2018, 12:18 pm

Having gotten through the first Disney world (Alice in Wonderland), I think you may be right. The worlds feel very empty and the stories don't hold up to the original material. I will continue to make my way through it. I did take a detour to try out 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue - the bit that focuses on Aqua is very pretty and plays well.

With 3, it looks like Disney is a lot more hands-on with the development. The original teams that worked on the Pixar classics are overseeing the development of their respective worlds (Frozen, Tangled, etc). If the stories in 3 even come close to measuring up to the quality of the films, I think we're in for a pleasant surprise. Just watching the recent trailer, it was impossible to tell the difference between the in-game models and the actual Pixar animation from the film.


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