By Saba Mufti
Suppose you think of a mashup between two unrelated universes. How very odd sounding, right? Why would two completely different universes have any link to one another when there is no connection between them? Although the concept sounds rather absurd, there is actually a magical game that perfected this so-called “odd-mix” phenomenon. Kingdom Hearts is a single player action role-playing RPG game that tells a tale involving elements of two completely distinct but lovable franchises that come together to join forces as one: Square Enix and Disney.
This game basically incorporates Two Worlds, One Family. Imagining a video game that combines self-important characters from Final Fantasy with carefree and often silly characters from Disney brings out a unique story and game play that is out of this world. Not only does the game involve a crossover of Final Fantasy and Disney, but also combines characters who are original to the game as well.
Tetsuya Nomura, the mastermind game artist that helmed the Kingdom Hearts series, introduces three close friends by the names of Sora (the main protagonist), Riku, and Kairi. Riku and Kairi ends up disappearing by a mysterious force when Destiny Islands (where the game’s setting first takes place) was attacked by atrocious shadowy creatures called the Heartless.
With the help of a weapon known as The Keyblade, Sora, along with two of Disney’s iconic characters (Donald and Goofy) whom he met during his adventures, travel strange-but-familiar worlds to search for missing friends and restore peace to the disturbed realms or worlds on the verge of darkness.
Kingdom Hearts made a debut on the PS2 in 2002, and sequels were released afterwards. As time flowed on, video games, graphics, and systems have gradually evolved. More than a decade after the first debut, Nomura’s masterpiece was remastered in HD and released for the PS4 in the form of multiple games in one disc. Under the name Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix, gamers can now own a single disc composing of six titles of the franchise. Those that are already familiar with the series can relive the adventures and those that are new can catch up.
On top of that, updated features have been added, such as more difficulty modes, new enemies, and new weapons. Graphics definitely evolved transitioning from the PS2 all the way up to the PS4. 60 FPS yields clear visuals on each playable title. This makes the game run much smoother and the animation is absolutely phenomenal. Taking on adventures and seeing A Whole New World in 60 FPS is no doubt a breathtaking experience. Elements of this game that make Kingdom Hearts stand out more than the other video games include the collaboration. The engaging story makes players feel all kinds of emotions as if he or she was a rollercoaster of epic tunes, breathtaking scenery/settings, and character development.
Whether one is a Square Enix or Disney fan, or even both, immersing oneself in this game of adventure is a normality. The music and background of each world go hand in hand. The music stays true to the Disney-themed worlds with a slight twist to match a video game-like atmosphere. What especially stood out was the unique gameplay and movement in The Little Mermaid world where Sora and his companions can assume the form of oceanic animals and swim Under the Sea while listening to the catchy instrumental of the song originally sang by Sebastian in the Disney movie.
The combat system is rather fun, but can get quite tedious. The boss battles appear to be the highlight of the gameplay. The difficulty of each boss varies, ranging from not-so-difficult to aggravating and challenging which can cause someone to rage quit and even scream at the TV due to the inability of defeating an irksome boss. In the latter case, however, one can train the character he or she controls to raise stats high enough to make boss battles more feasible. Overall, the difficulty of this game is not an impossible one. One can either choose Beginner mode for those who would rather just see what the story is about, Standard mode for those who want a balance of gameplay and story, or Critical mode for those who are up for the challenge.
This game deserves a rating of 9.5/10. The story may be difficult and confusing to follow at first, but as one progresses through each sequel, the story becomes clearer and gaps start to close in. In fact, watching the cut scenes may prove to be more enjoyable than just merely playing the game.
This game has that charm where the audience can get engaged with heart-touching and adventurous narratives while simultaneously capturing the aspects of both Disney and Square Enix in a single game. The best part is that anyone can take a go at this game, whether one is new to the series or want to relive the cinematic-like game with enhanced graphics. There are no age restrictions especially since certain Disney cartoons inspired specific elements of the game, thus making this a kid-friendly and family-oriented video game. From an initial complex story line to an addicting game-play style, Kingdom Hearts is the story of light overcoming darkness through a power called friendship.
Sabaa Mufti is a third-year pre-med student at Holy Family University. She grew up and lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania all her life with her family. She has a passion for video games and enjoys immersing herself in each adventure while occasionally streaming her playthroughs. She is a member of the Video Game Club.