Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review


It’s time to look at the recent Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Collection. I’ve played all of the Kingdom Heart games previously but this collection brought a new adventure featuring Aqua and also has a movie which serves as a prequel to the series. As a result, I played those, but didn’t play the Dream Drop Distance remake so my review will not be addressing this one. I also won’t count it towards the score to make it fair despite knowing how the game works. Just a slight disclaimer up front.

Following the events of BBS, Aqua is now in the shadow realm. She been here for many years to the point where she had lost track of time and is slowly falling into the darkness. Still, Aqua has not given up and continues to try to find a way out. Can she escape this place?

0.2 is very short of course as it’s more of a prologue than a full game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was initially going to be included in KH3 as the intro. It would be an ambitiously long one which would fit the series. It’s a lot of fun and also works well as a preview of how the next KH will play. It has a lot of polish in the gameplay and it’s fun throwing out the ole combos. A new mechanic or a least one that I didn’t remember is that you can now charge up a flurry of energy blasts to send at your opponent. It came in real handy during the final boss. The game is actually fairly difficult as you can’t really grind your level up to make it easy. You’ve just gotta roll with the level that is pre set. There did seem to be at least one cluster of heartless that you could maybe stay with to gain levels but it would take a long time and since the game isn’t very long it wouldn’t be all that worth it.

The graphics are definitely excellent and could pass for being a movie. 0.2 still has the best opening out of all the KH titles as well, managing to beat out KH2 from the top spot. The song is definitely on point and I think it works as a good recap to BBS. These openings have always been very recaps and I look forward to seeing KHIII’s. As expected the soundtrack is also very good. I’ve heard the final boss themes many times as it played during the modded Smash 4’s final destination. It’s a 5 star ost to match the rest of the game.

As far as replay value goes, there isn’t much here but you could try to grab all of the treasure chests and such to make sure you get all the trophies. Beating the game on proud mode will also probably be very hard and time consuming. The game thrives on quality over quantity.

Of course we also have the movie which is about an hour. This serves as a prequel to the whole franchise which is cool. Of course we learned about the Great Keyblade War from BBS, but the movie shows what got the war started. There was a mysterious being who could see the future and he quickly got some pupils. He gave them all different tasks which nobody else could know. Then the master vanished. The prophecies quickly start to create a gap between the pupils and by the end you feel as though the war is inevitable. It’s definitely one of those fairly mysterious films where it doesn’t answer too many of the questions you may have. It’s more about understanding the basic premise of the origin and how we got to the war than exploring the timeline.

It does a good job of doing that and each of the characters got a good amount of personality in this stretch in time. Prophecies can make people paranoid so it’s no surprise that everyone started to turn on each other by the end. They definitely don’t have the bonds that Sora and the others possess. The film is pretty fast paced and it will keep you entertained. I think showing it all at once like this is better than just giving bits and pieces through a game as it would probably be jarring to be fighting Sephiroth and afterwards you are suddenly in a flashback.

Overall, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is definitely a great game. 0.2 is another excellent expansion to the Kingdom Hearts series and the movie was pretty interesting. It is fairly short which just barely keeps it from the 9 but keep in mind that this is all by not counting the first game. For those of you buying the game and haven’t played the first one, then this quite easily jumps up to a 9. Either way I highly recommend buying this game and you better hurry since Kingdom Hearts III is right around the corner.

Overall 8/10

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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Play Time 18h 10m
Level 48
Memories Collected 12/30
Key Items 25

Form Stats
Natural Level 2
Knight Level 7
Dragoon Level 1
Dark Knight Level 1
Scholar Level 1
Black Mage Level 1
White Mage Level 7

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon Review


It’s time to look at a recent Final Fantasy spinoff I got to play. This game has been sitting on the back burner for a very long time at this point. It always looked pretty fun, but I figured it would be pretty long so shorter games kept jumping it in line. Well, no more! I finally took the plunge and it’s definitely a fun game. While I’m not a fan of all the mechanics, I can say that the game was pretty well made. It certainly does the Chocobo character justice.

The game starts with Chocobo and Cid trying to grab the Timeless Power stone from some kind of ruins. Unfortunately Cid’s rival shows up and nabs it first. Before she can gloat, the whole group is transported to another dimension and the rival vanishes. This town is a little odd as nobody remembers anything including what their names are. A bell rings every few hours which makes the memory loss even worse. Fortunately, Chocobo seems to have the ability to go inside someone’s mind which allows him to restore their memories. There is also a baby named Rafaello who seems to have something to do with it. Chocobo starts on his mission to get everyone’s memories back, but everyone keeps telling him that this is a bad idea. Even the gods of the world tell him that he will only bring despair. Is this really the right thing to do?

Chocobo’s Dungeon is the kind of game where a large part of the story doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot. You go around restoring memories, but beyond that nothing much happens. Still, it’s a pleasant enough game. Right away you can see how much content is here as there are a bunch of side missions and sub quests to fulfill. The towns people seem nice enough as well. Still, you get the sense that something isn’t right since as I mentioned everyone is against Chocobo. The bosses you have to defeat in order to save the memories are also characters like the guardians of Light and Flame. Are they really villains or are you the villain?

All of these questions are answered in the climax which is definitely intense. It’s a climax that wouldn’t feel out of place in a main installment like Final Fantasy VII. The Destroyer, who is the final boss even looks a little like Sephiroth. We get a nice cutscene towards the end where this character even takes on Chroma and I wasn’t expecting such a fight. It was cool and I’d be up for seeing this game get a remake or be turned into a movie. I know there is a sequel for the DS so maybe I’ll get that one pretty soon.

Now lets talk about the gameplay as that is the bulk of the game. It’s a 3D turn based dungeon explorer type game where you have to navigate through the many floors until you get to the boss. Each step you take counts as a turn so you will have to quickly decide whether you want to move, attack, or use an item. I do really enjoy the strategy here. Most dungeons are only 8-10 floors while the larger ones are around 20. The final dungeon is 50 floors so get ready for that. Fortunately there is a check point every 10 floors so you don’t have to worry about starting all the way from the beginning. That would have been annoying.

The game does add in some stakes here though. For one, if you die you lose all of your money and all non equipped items. This encourages you not to take unrealistic risks. Make sure you have an exit strategy in mind or at least store your money in the bank before going on a tough quest. You’ll definitely want to do some leveling up before you get to the end of the game since the final bosses see a considerable increase in difficulty. Don’t underestimate them or your items will be sorry. When going into a dungeon you also have to choose what class you want to play as. Each new dungeon unlocks a new form for you. I highly recommend the Knight and White Mage forms. The Knight has great special attacks and gives you extra defense which is always good. I used him for the first 3 and a half chapters. However, eventually he simply wasn’t cutting it so I switched to the White Mage and never looked back. This form has a lot of great healing abilities so you no longer have to worry about carrying potions. Then he also has the best ability in the game which is the fact that he can cast a revive on himself. You can also use the escape ability to just get out of the dungeon if things look impossible. The Dark Knight is typically considered to be the best, but by the time I unlocked him the game was almost over so I couldn’t really verify that.

Now, I mentioned that not all of the mechanics were my favorite. In particular I am referring to the fact that enemies can rot your weapons. It works like in Breath of the Wild where your weapons just get weaker as you use them. They don’t actually break in this version but they do get weaker which is annoying since the only way to power them up further is to spend more money. What you want to do is find a weapon with an anti rust upgrade and then fuse that to your main weapon to ensure that nobody can weaken it. At that point you are all set. There are others for extra EXP and money, but I never found the former. It would have certainly come in handy though.

The graphics are pretty decent. It’s certainly a step below most of the other Final Fantasy games, but it still looks pretty good I’d say. It’s just using a different style. It’s sort of like World of Final Fantasy but not quite as polished. It does have each character keep up a motion throughout the game which is cool though like Chocobo’s power squats. He is doing squats during the entire game which is pretty impressive. Then we have the soundtrack which is pretty ordinary for the most part, but I do like the Chrome boss theme. That one’s definitely hype and will pump you up for the actual battle. It’s just that kind of high energy theme. So this game ultimately definitely delivered when it counted.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this game out. It’s a pretty fun RPG and one where you really feel like you got a lot of value for the price. The story took me 18 hours and that’s certainly a good amount of time. As I mentioned, the plot does take a while to get going, but as long as you’re fine with that then this is a slam dunk. With this game gone now I’ll be eagerly awaiting the Spyro trilogy. In the meanwhile I’ll work on Ridge Racer, but those turns are definitely real tough. I need some more training before I can be a master at the game like Chocobo. They always start out tough, but get enough level up and any RPG is cake. Sadly there are no level ups in something like Ridge Racer.

Overall 7/10

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Crystal Bearer Review


It’s time to look at a Final Fantasy title. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous Crystal Chronicles title that I played so I was a little worried when I first realized that I had the next installment. I watched the trailer and quickly changed my tune though since this one actually looked pretty solid and promising. Fortunately it lived up to the trailer and is actually a spin-off that you can be proud of.

You don’t need to have played the first one to get into this title since Crystal Bearers takes place 1000 years after the first. Additionally the first game didn’t really have a conventional plot so you weren’t gonna miss much either way. The plot follows a kid named Layle who is a Bearer. This means that he has special abilities (In this case Telekinesis) and is also built to be a lot more durable than the average human. There are only a few Bearers left since humanity hunted them down and they don’t get along with the humans. Layle is a mercenary who takes whatever job he and his partner are given.

At first this is a simple task but on one protection mission he is attacked by a mysterious robot. This robot is a part of the Yuke tribe which was eradicated years ago. She wishes to bring them back and Layle isn’t even sure if that is a bad thing. The government definitely doesn’t want that though since it would mean conceding power and territory. Either way both sides need the 3 legendary jewels to meet their objectives so regardless Layle is tasked with obtaining them. He will have to outwit a mischievous Selkie in order to do so though. Once he gets the jewels, who should Layle give them to?

I thought the game did a good job of making the plot engaging right from the start. The opening cutscene is a lot of fun and gives more action than the entirety of the last game. This title has fun with the motion controls and uses them for a bunch of different mini game style levels. You could be sure to find many different gameplay styles which always kept the game fresh. Naturally I still prefer traditional controls to motion based anytime but this one was definitely smoother than many others that I’ve tried.

The graphics are pretty solid. The characters appear to be on point and the energy effects look good. The hub world is nice and bright and makes for a pretty good forest kind of landscape. It’s not going to go down as the best looking Wii game but is definitely solid enough to be noted. As for the soundtrack, it is mostly low key, but we do get two hype boss battle themes. I’d also say that the soundtrack never feels dull outside of the hub world so it definitely works well.

The game is reasonably long at around 10 hours. It may not sound all that big for a Final Fantasy type game, but I did skip all of the enemies and certainly didn’t get any powerful equipment. I actually didn’t buy anything at all since naturally I didn’t have enough money for anything good. It did feel satisfying though to just coast through the game at the equivalent of level 1. The reason why this is feasible is because aside from the initial tutorial enemy mob he rest are all completely optional. Aside from them there are only two bosses. That will be the most difficult obstacle to overcome and it will take you many lives but the bosses keep whatever damage you dealt so eventually you will find a way to claim victory.

As per Final Fantasy tradition the final boss does suddenly become rather high tier and cosmic. It’s always a nice treat to get a flashy climax like that as not only does it make the game more memorable in the long run, but it’s always fun to have a space battle like that. It’s good that Layle was so powerful since he could take it in stride. It’s also a fun change of pace to be the overpowered character for a change. You’ll notice right away that he seems a lot stronger than the rest of the cast and you’d be right. By the end only one character can actually give him a real fight and even then Layle still has the edge.

The only real flaw that the game has is the map. It’s one of those maps that is really zoomed out the whole time so you never truly know where you are. Honestly I still fail to see the point of it in general since it certainly won’t be helping you get to your objective. You will likely end up wasting some extra time during these moments but stick with it and you’ll be just fine. Of course when the map is the only serious issue that you have you know that the game is quite solid.

The controls may not be amazing but they get the job done. To use your TK abilities you have to point at the screen and then twist the remote in the direction you want to throw someone. This does allow the TK abilities to be a little more intricate than someone like Silver, but I’d certainly be cool with just having one button be what activated the power. Then based on what you press next is where you will throw them. There are also racing levels where you will really want to make sure you turn effectively. The toughest mini game is certainly the one where you have to help the heroine win a game if volleyball though. Those bullies were tough!

I didn’t really touch on the characters so let’s look at the big ones. I didn’t trust Layle’s friend the whole time since you just got the feeling that he would end up being a traitor. Well, it didn’t happen so I have to say that he was quite good. He risked his career for Layle and even held his own against a Crystal user. The guy is often out of the loop but still helps out whenever he can.

The Selkie is a nice character to have around as well since she always provides a lot of witty banter. She may not have powers but she gets by well enough with her wits. You almost feel bad for her by the end since she is searching for someone who doesn’t care to be found. That’ll probably feel like a big let down. I can’t say that the main villain was all that inspired but he isn’t bad. At worst he is just rather generic and doesn’t stand out as much as the others. His abilities are definitely very good though and the guy is persistent. He is absolutely not backing down without a fight. The Princess felt like a waste in comparison though so nothing really needs to be sad about her. She didn’t add anything to the story.

Layle was a fun character as expected. He’s definitely not the nicest chap around but he is certainly very direct and to the point. Layle knows that he is ultra strong and just rolls with it. Nobody ever pushes him around and he only does what he wants to do. He’s certainly not your average main character and that’s a good thing. This guy’s definitely got quite a lot of personality to him. I certainly found him to be a more engaging character than the mysterious Yuke. He will end up going down as one of the more likable Final Fantasy leads alongside Cloud and Lightning.

Overall, Crystal Bearers was a lot of fun. It’s definitely the kind of game that is certainly going to age very well long term. While the map is a bit of a hindrance at least you have the moogles who do their best to put you back on the right path to victory. The gameplay is fun and the story is on point so you really can’t ask for much more than that. You certainly don’t need to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy this game and I’d recommend it to any platforming fan. Even though I played without beating any enemies I would probably recommend beating a few just to stay on the safe side. That final boss is no joke.

Overall 8/10

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Review


It’s time to take a look at the Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy has had a lot of different game lines over the years and they all seem to perform fairly well. You’ve got Tactics, Chocobo, Crystal Chronicles, The Rhythym music games, and the main line. By completing this game I have finally been introduced to another segment of the series but it certainly pales in comparison to the classic style.

There isn’t much of a plot in this game but I’ll give you the general premise. You start out by picking what kind of job you want to have and in turn what kind of creature you are. After that you travel with a little circus troupe as you purify the world of Miasma. To do this you must go to each area and take a drop from the Legendary tree. You get to the tree automatically by clearing the level and beating the boss. Eventually you will be able to reach the final stage where you must successfully defeat numerous phases of a final boss until you save the world. There are a bunch of subplots and lore that you will run across over the course of the game as you meet with new people. It’s luck based on when you encounter them so just keep running back and forth in the overworld until this happens. One such plot is a black knight who is going around beating people up. From what I could gather, the big boss known as Raem has been eating his memories which is making him go crazy. There’s also a mysterious little fellow who is always lying and stealing whenever he is around. Most of this is filler as you can guess. You never even get to fight the Black Knight even though he is mentioned and hyped up quite a lot.

The gameplay is that of a 3D action title. You hit opponents with your sword/staff or fire off some magic bolts at them in real time. This also means that you can dodge their counter attacks. By all accounts this should be a real good decision on the game’s part since who doesn’t like fighting in real time? Well, it is good but not all that great. Your hits never feel like they have a lot of weight behind them. It’s a more limited version of the .Hack style. Still, it works well enough in the game and nothing is more satisfying than walking into a room with a bunch of enemies and still managing to pick them all off. Divide and Conquer is crucial here.

I think what really hurts this game at times is how much the multiplayer aspect of the game is stressed. You’re meant to play this with a few others as everyone takes a different occupation and you go through the world. You can do this on your own but then it’s like playing the game 4 times over. You also better make sure your allies are as strong as you since the game stacks the difficulty up accordingly for each player. I played solo and can assure you that it took a lot of grinding to get through the final boss. I had to bear virtually every level twice and a few levels for a 3rd time before I finally got strong enough win. Part of the reason why it takes so long is because it doesn’t go by a traditional level up system like most Final Fantasy titles. Instead you obtain artifacts at the end of each level and you choose which one to keep. This will give you a +1,+3 for one specific stat. There are 3 stats in the game, Attack, Defense, and Magic. Alternately sometimes you can choose to get another heart or another command slot which is essentially a quick select for spells and Phoenix Downs. I highly recommend the latter 2 so unless it’s vs a +5 or something then it’s the best bet. You can’t get any artifact twice so only replay each level a few times. Eventually there will be no artifacts left so you’ll be wasting your time. You only get a new memory from each area once every 3 years so you could replay it for equipment, but it’s usually best to do both in one shot so switch up the areas as best you can.

Also, the equipment is very important here aside from the artifacts so try to get yourself a master class weapon and at least a Mythril level Defense & Belt. That’s like getting multiple upgrades so it will save you a lot of time. Getting to the final boss only took around 10 hours, but it took around 5 more hours to get to a level where I could beat him. As it so happens with many RPG games like this one, by the time I grinded high enough to beat him it seems like I went overboard so I didn’t even have to use any of my Phoenix Downs. I ended with about 20 extra, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry right? The bosses can be tricky so you just want to figure out what the best approach is. The game isn’t very straight forward so sometimes it will be handy to look online to see what you need to do. For example you need to use Cure on the memories in the final level to unlock your super attacks and the minions only respawn in the second last phase if you beat both so just take down one of them. Be warned in the final phase that you can accidentally heal the boss with your cures so definitely try to avoid that.

I dare say that the game’s biggest weakness here is the plot. You can make a case for the terrible level up system as well of course, but you really expect a dynamic plot from Final Fantasy. Sure, we get little cutscenes before each level as a narrator talks about how great the places used to be, but it’s just all very dull and boring. The actual characters have no personality and everyone is just going through the motions. There is never a sense of danger at all and the game simply isn’t cinematic, but at the same time it isn’t colorful like a Nintendo game either. It’s like playing a game full of exposition with nothing ever coming out of it. If you look really hard at the mini cutscenes and optional side quests then sure you’ll probably understand the lore, but there’s still nothing epic about it. I want a real plot, whether it be a slice of life one like in Sword Art Online or an end of the world adventure like Sonic The Hedgehog 2006. At least give me something.

There is a good amount of content here so I can’t really critique the game on that aspect. You can keep playing this game for a very long time if you want to get all of the artifacts. Especially since you won’t know what the level’s mission is until you beat it and that affects which artifacts you get. If you want to see the mission then you need to get your GBA ready and connect to the game. Again, they put too much of an emphasis on this connection part if you ask me. If the game had decided to be a little more self contained then I really think that it would have ended up being a whole lot better. Instead it just limits itself. I can’t see myself going back to the game for any of this, but if you really enjoyed the experience then go for it.

The graphics aren’t very good, but it’s mainly because of the artistic direction that the game went in than with the actual effort. The character designs are on the chibi design and none of the creatures look particularly threatening aside from the final boss. At least that guy seems pretty intense and it’s a monster design that is memorable. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t particularly good either. I can’t think of a single good theme in the game and that’s really a bad sign. Final Fantasy is known for its stellar soundtracks so I was actually rather surprised that this one didn’t hold up so well.

Overall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles really wasn’t for me. The gameplay isn’t bad, but I did have an issue with the level up system and the sheer amount of grinding to beat the game. I’m not usually opposed to grinding, but when your upgrades depend on luck and the game doesn’t tell you much then it can be rather annoying. It becomes a bit of a chore to play the game once you enter the end game as even the old levels get buffed to the point where the enemies are stronger than the ones in the final dungeon. Throw in the fact that the plot was so weak and there isn’t much reason to play this RPG. If you want a good action game then check out Legend of Zelda. If you want a big plot experience then play a main Final Fantasy title. There’s just no room for the Crystal Chronicles and I’m hoping that the Wii game is a little more fun.

Overall 5/10

Mario Hoops 3 on 3 Review


It’s time to look at a relatively obscure Mario game known as Hoops 3 on 3. Basketball and Football are the two big sports that never got a home console game to themselves and at this point I’m wondering if they ever will. Nintendo has been moving away from sport titles after all and maybe they just didn’t know how to pull it off in a satisfying way. Ah well, at least when I get Sports Mix, I’ll get a taste of what a basketballl game would have been like. Hoops does do a good job on the DS though and is a lot of fun so I’ll take what I can get.

The game really focuses on tournament mode and vs mode. I believe that there may be a mini game mode as well but I didn’t end up trying that one. There are 4 tournaments to play through and each of them have 3 rounds except for the final tournament which is 4 rounds. This is less than most Mario sport games which tend to have 6 tournaments but I suppose it’s because the developers wanted to make sure it didn’t get tedious. 4 tournaments is a fine number I suppose.

The game is definitely meant for those who are right handed as you use the control stick/pad to move and then you use the stylus to shoot or pass. You can also dribble faster by tapping the screen a lot which I did for fun a lot, but never in a way that was particularly useful. It was just a lot of fun to tap away. You are able to use super attacks which can’t miss and can’t be blocked, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I chalked it up to cheesy A.I. game mechanics and called it a day. There are a bunch of techniques that I didn’t learn here and I suppose I could have finished the tutorial, but why bother right? I can beat these guys using pure fundamentals!

Each game is 5 minutes long which is divided into two halves. For the first 2 tournaments you will probably want to consider just holding onto the hall and not scoring after you take the lead to make the game go quicker. After all, scoring just prolongs the game so if you have a safe lead then you don’t need to go further. Do make sure that it’s a safe lead though as a normal shot is worth 20 points and any coins that have been accumulated by the enemy are added to the total. You can easily see a 40 point lead get wiped away with a single shot. For my gameplay tip, I would recommend running to the bottom side of the court and just running back and forth. The computers usually can’t catch you and if they get bold and try to undercut you, just head up. This strategy is close to full proof for 50% of the game.

The game definitely went all out when it comes to the visuals and the sound. The graphics are on point and have aged really well for the DS. The character models are sound and a nice amount of effort went to the gameplay elements like the actual basketball and the courts. Everything is very vibrant which is nice to see. Same goes for the soundtrack. It’s fun to hear all of the iconic Mario themes like Bowser’s Airship. We even get a brand new song which talks about how they are all heroes. It’s definitely catchy and I hadn’t been expecting a lyrical song like this one to pop up. I’m certainly glad that it did though as the song gives the game more personality. Then we’ve also got Mario’s sound effects. He talks a little more than usual here like even speaking during the song. Most impressive for the usually silent main character.

As far as the length goes, that is naturally less impressive. The tournaments will take you a little less than 2 hours. This means that the game will live or die on its replay value. You do unlock the tournaments for a second time which you can try clearing on hard mode. I’m sure that would be a reasonably fun challenge. Then the rest of the replay value is in fighting other players in vs mode. Definitely a longer experience back when the DS servers were still functional. Still it will be a fun 2 hours so if you can get the game for a good price then you will be set. 25$ is certainly pushing it though so I’d recommend thinking long and hard about it. I suppose it beats most other 25$ purchases if you look away from the medium though.

Overall Mario Hoops 3 on 3 may be a very short title but it is quite polished. A good amount of effort was put into the game. The basketball gameplay is on point and it could be used exactly how it was here in a new Switch game at some point. I do like how they made longer shots a little more realistic to score as you can shoot a ball from very far away and then jump after it go force the ball in. It wouldn’t have gone in without your intervention so that’s why jumping after it is extremely important. Against a real opponent you will definitely have to huddle since they will have the same idea. In this game you feel powerful on both offense and defense which is important. There are also quite a few advanced gameplay mechanics that will help you out once you take the time to learn them. When you buy the game, prepare yourself for the intense secret final boss!

Overall 7/10

Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Review


It’s time for the next installment in the Kingdom Heart novels. This one covers the Chain of Memories game which was always a fun follow up to the original. The story was a lot more intense as you could say that the plot finally started here. This novel is quite a bit larger than the first as it has 2 Sora stories plus the Riku one. It clocks in at a clean 400 pages and makes for a pretty epic read from start to finish.

The first novel finished with Sora, Donald, and Goofy being split up from Riku and King Mickey as the latter stayed behind the door of Kingdom Hearts in order to shut it to save the world. Sora vowed to find them once more and Kairi stayed behind on the island. Unfortunately, something seems off. While the heroes were on a road, they suddenly find themselves at a castle and a mysterious individual warns that as they go through it, they will lose their memories. At the same time, they will gain new ones to replace the old memories that they have lost. Sora decides that they must press on and so the heroes continue.

You can definitely say that this is one of the toughest challenges that the heroes have encountered. What they don’t realize is that the castle is owned by Organization XIII. They are using a girl named Namine to rewrite Sora’s memories. She deletes his memories of Kairi and slowly inserts herself into them instead. She begins deleting his memories of his friends as well to the point where Sora begins to forget everything. This starts to cause some tension between the 3 heroes, but fortunately they’ve been through a lot so this doesn’t lead to any big split like in the first novel. Donald and Goofy know something is wrong, but their memories are being tampered with as well so it’s difficult to fight back. You can’t stop an opponent that you don’t even know you are fighting after all.

One of the challenges of the Castle is that Sora must revisit all of the worlds that he visited in the first novel. Admittedly, this part can be a little repetitious. Even more so since I just finished reading the first novel a few days ago. During each chapter, I would just look forward to the parts where he would leave the world and fight with the Organization XIII members. That and the new inner monologue were the most important parts. The actual worlds progressed in just about the same way as the first time around. That’s basically the point, but it doesn’t make those challenges too engaging.

Finally, Sora also has to watch out because the villains created a fake Riku to mess with his mind even further. Fortunately, Sora deals with this fairly well. He does suffer from a ton of self doubt in this novel but considering the circumstances, I suppose it makes sense. Sora’s definitely a great lead and acts as a real hero throughout these trials. Even when he finds out that Namine has been manipulating him, he decides to aid her since it wasn’t totally of her own volition and he claims that even if he never made the promise to protect her, the memory of it (Fake or otherwise) makes it real so he’ll live up to it. It’s an interesting concept and one that I can agree with. (As long as the fake promise wasn’t anything crazy) Donald and Goofy’s roles are a lot smaller here, but they’re good sidekicks to have around. They could maybe use more character at times, but as long as they don’t betray Sora or anything, we’re good.

The Riku story at the end takes place at the same time as Sora’s adventure although it ends after the first one. Since their main target is Sora, the Organization doesn’t bother to mess with Riku’s memories. They don’t even know that he has infiltrated the castle at first since everyone thought it would be impossible to escape from Kingdom Hearts. Riku spends most of the novel trying to fight off the darkness so he can be friends with Sora again, but this is a tough challenge. It’s one that becomes even more difficult once the Organization notices him. Surprisingly, he only gets about half of his own story though. Fake Riku (Replica) gets the other half as he tries to become a real person by destroying the original and taking down Sora.

I actually preferred the Riku story to the Sora one. Since Riku kept his memories, it made his experiences in the various planets feel fresh. After all, we never got to see him there originally so in that sense it was already new. Throw in the fact that Ansem, Maleficent and all of the other villains kept jumping in and the whole thing got even better. Also, as cool as Sora is, Riku’s even better. He’s the intense rival that every good series needs and he fills the role perfectly. Walking the path of light and dark is definitely only something he could do. It was also nice to see Mickey show up even if he didn’t do much til the end. As with most things in the series, it was still a little vague how they escaped and why Mickey has telepathic abilities, but we’ll roll with it. Part of the fun with the series is that the mysteries continue to grow, but the vague statements all amount to something by the end. Since I’ve already played the rest of the games, what they’re saying makes a lot of sense the whole time. I’m sure once I play Kingdom Hearts III there will be a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense. That’s just how it goes.

Replica was also a decently good character. You can’t help but feel bad for him when the Organization forces him to have his memory wiped. At least he tries to stop them, but he was a little out of his league. The villains were also pretty good. There were quite a few of them and they all had different personalities. I do question the power levels though. The girl was able to detect Replica pretty easily, but then Sora was able to take her down for the count. I don’t think the difference in power should have been that great. At times, Sora also seems outmatched against the Organization while at other moments he seems to be out of their league. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that he should be able to hold his own against them in Kingdom Harts III. By then he will have more than enough experience needed to take them down now…as a Keyblade Master!

Overall, This was a fun follow up to the first novel. It was definitely quite a bit more epic since the gang was already together and I really liked Castle Oblivion. The repetition in the worlds was maybe a little tiresome, but that was overshadowed by the increased amount of fights in the arc. I also felt like the fights had more stakes since Sora was up against sentient antagonists as opposed to normal heartless. I expect that the novel adaption of Kingdom Hearts II will be even better and will continue bringing up the series. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it!

Overall 8/10

Kingdom Hearts Review


It feels like I’ve been reading this novel for months, but I have finally finished! As you can probably guess, this book covers the plot of the first Kingdom Hearts game. It does a good job of going through all of the important events and really covering the worlds. This does come at the expense of the fights which is unfortunate, but it’s a great way to catch up with the series if you’re not really a video game player. After all, the plot is fairly engaging on its own and with the movie/TV series probably not coming for a long time, this is your best bet! (Perhaps the manga as well, but the novel seems to handle it with greater detail)

The plot of this story revolves around a kid named Sora. He lived on a peaceful island with his two friends Riku and Kairi. Unfortunately, he wakes up one morning to find that the ocean has turned to darkness and a tornado is ripping the island off the ground. Riku vanishes in the waves and Kairi also disappears. Sora tries to keep himself together, but then he also fades away. He wakes up in a mysterious town where he meets up with strange people who tell him that all of the worlds are connected…and dying. Sora shakes this off and meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy from the classic Disney movies. They explain that they are looking for King Mickey and were told to travel with Sora in the meantime. This is because Sora is the chosen Keyblade Master of destiny who will find the keyholes in all of the planets and restore balance to the universe. Sora gets his game face on and prepares for this endeavor, but it’ll be tougher than he dared suspect.

It’s a pretty fun story that works well enough even if you switched out the Disney characters for made up ones. That being said, it certainly has more of an impact when you throw the crossover angle into the mix. It’s pretty fun to see the characters show up and help Sora out in each world. Sora gets to travel to Aladdin’s world, Peter Pan’s, Alice in Wonderland’s among others. It can be pretty nostalgic to see them and while those characters can’t fight all that much, Sora doesn’t really need any help.

As I mentioned earlier, the one drawback to this novel is that the fights are very short. Most of them are over in a couple of hits and don’t usually last more than a couple of pages. Some of them seem to be over in a single page. I hope we can get some longer fights in future adaptions, particularly Kingdom Hearts II since that should have quite a lot of fighting in it. I don’t mind if they have to skip a few worlds as a result, the action will be worth it.

Sora’s a likable protagonist and a good kid. He loses confidence a little too easily at times which is his main character flaw, but I’ll certainly take that one over most. He seemingly gets over this by the end of the novel, but it’ll be difficult to say for sure until we actually get there. There are quite a few plot twists and villains who like their mind games coming up so that could rattle Sora quite a bit.

I didn’t like Donald or Goofy though. They showed their true colors when they chose to leave Sora after the keyblade vanished. Friends shouldn’t just leave each other so easily. While they eventually went back to Sora’s side, it feels like he can’t really trust them as much as he thought. That test of loyalty was one that they failed. It’s not as if they’re great fighters either. Goofy’s shield and Donald’s magic will never be quite as effective as Sora’s sharp keyblade. It’s just the ultimate weapon.

Riku also shows up and part of the drama with him is that he has been tempted to the dark side. He thinks Sora is having too much fun as he goes on side trips while Kairi is still in a coma. Riku decides that he’ll have to save her on his own and goes through a lot of dangerous quests to get to this point. The darkness starts to overwhelm him by the end though and he loses sight of his goals to an extent. With his character arc coming full circle as Sora convinces him to join the light once more, he should make for a good ally in the coming volumes. While he may have had a point initially with Sora, he was also pretty unfair about it since Sora did try to find Kairi and just failed to do so. Riku had the advantage of having an evil witch on his side….if you can call that an advantage.

Maleficent is one of the big villains here, but her role is greatly reduced from the game. She gets to appear a few times, but comes across as an underling who was being used the whole time. Unless she redeems herself in the sequels, I’m going to say that the author probably wasn’t a big fan of hers. Ansem shows up at the end of the novel as a fun final boss and he makes for a good opponent. We certainly haven’t seen the last of him. Once Organization XIII shows up, it’ll help the series as it will finally have recurring villains who will last for a very long time.

This novel is of a pretty good length so it should last you a while. It’s about 300 words and the font isn’t all that big either. A lot of stuff happens over this time and as I mentioned, the book was able to fit in a lot of worlds. Each of the Disney worlds gets a good amount of screen time. While the Beast may have only gotten to appear without his world, he still looked pretty good since he was able to follow Belle when all of the other main heroes failed to do so. Following someone through a portal is rare no matter what medium you’re in. Characters just tend to hesitate a little too much when the going gets tough.

Overall, It’s fun to revisit the original Kingdom Hearts story and to finish another book in general. It’s been a long time since I played the first title so this is always nostalgic. I remember the series very well so it’s not as if it’s new to me, but it is fun to see how the series was before the deep plot started. Make no mistake, the seeds had sprouted for the plot with hintings all around. The writers likely had a good portion of the sequel all planned out and that’s one of the fun things about the franchise. It’s all connected and you always feel like it’s planned out well. I’ll be reading the sequel right away, but it’s a lot longer than this one so it could take a while to finish. I definitely know it’s going to be fun as well and it may even be better since Chain of Memories had a more engaging plot with higher stakes than this one. If you haven’t played the game, I highly recommend reading this book to get you into the franchise. Alternately, you should take the plunge and finally buy the original game.

Overall 7/10