So yeah…I realize this is pretty late, but I wanted to throw up my thoughts on Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories for the PS3. As I said before, this game was included in the same package as KH1 HD, and I had never actually played this version before (only the GBA version).
For the gameplay, it’s a card-based action RPG. I know that it might sound a bit weird, but here’s how it works: You get a deck of cards with attack values on them (between 0 and 9), and every button press uses up a card. Enemies will use their cards too, and as long either the enemy doesn’t play a card, or your card is higher than their’s, you’ll get to attack. Outside of just attack cards, you also have use magic (fire, lighting, etc) and restoration (cure, refill deck, etc) cards. There’s also enemy and summon cards, but I never made much use of them.
When not in combat though, you’re wandering through the floors of a place called Castle Oblivion, where Sora, Donald and Goofy find themselves after the events of KH1. Each of the floors are themed in the worlds from KH1, like Agrabah, Hallow Bastion, and others. Each of the floors are divided up into various rooms that need to be unlocked with cards too. Each of these “map” cards puts a modifier on the room, like making the enemies easier/harder, have a shop, or even a save point. Because of this, you have a lot of choice in how the levels are actually play out, which is pretty cool. Most of the art was taken from KH1 as well (as this game is now fully polygonal, unlike the sprite-based original), so it looks pretty good.
The story this time around is quite a bit different from KH1. We now start to learn a bit more about the universe of Kingdom Hearts. Obviously after the first game, Ansem couldn’t have been the only big bad guy. You learn about the people really pulling the strings, an organization known only as Organization XIII. These 13 members are known as “Nobodies” (which you learn more about in KH2), but have an agenda. They want to turn Sora to their side so they can gain the power of the Keyblade. So when you’re not battling bosses in the levels themselves, you’re usually fighting members of the Organization. The way they try to take over Sora is through a girl known as Naminé. She has the power to reorganize someones memories, and she does just that to Sora. She makes it so Sora eventually forgets Kairi and concentrates solely on Naminé. They almost succeed, but there are a couple rebellious members in the Organization, and they tip Sora off to what’s going on. Eventually Sora prevails and convinces Naminé to reconstruct his memories…the catch of course being that he’ll forget her and everything about Castle Oblivion. That’s where we end up, and this is where we find Sora at the start of KH2.
Now, after this all happens, you have the ability to play the game over again, but this time as Riku. Now, when you play as Sora, you end up fighting Riku multiple times, but it turns out this was a copy, and the real Riku was also trapped in Castle Oblivion, but in the basement. You work your way up in the same manner as Sora did, and eventually battle Ansem again. With King Mikey’s help, Riku learns that he still has a lot of good in him, and he can use the darkness still inside to his advantage.
The gameplay this felt totally different from when I played it last time, and while it looked good, I’m not certain I really liked the battles taking place in a real 3D space. Maybe this is just me coming off the first game (which was a proper action RPG), but this time every attack uses a card. You can attack pretty much as fast as you could in KH1, but that’s not a good thing because you need to be very careful with how you use your cards, as they can now be broken. I also found most of the regular enemies were very easy, but by the time I got to the bosses, they kept kicking my ass. I threw my controller more than once after dying for the 20th time on a boss. I slogged through it, but only because I wanted to proceed through the story, not because the combat was good. Granted, I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn all the ins and outs of the system (as I said before, I rarely used summon or enemy cards), but then shouldn’t the regular enemies also be pretty hard? You’d think they’d try to teach you how to effectively use all that stuff.
I still had a fun enough time with the game, even if it was only with the story. Learning about Oranization XII was cool, and watching them betray each other was fun. Watching Sora almost lose it trying to get to Naminé was great. Then having him realize what’s going on at the end, and making the decision to forget everything was a pretty powerful character building moment for him. Watching Riku battle his inner demons too was great. He spends the whole game fighting the darkness, but realizes he can be more powerful with it…and having King Mickey there to guide him through this decision was pretty cool.
So, where does this leave me…well, I’ve already started into KH2, so I’ll be posting my initial impressions here shortly. Not sure how long it will take me to get through this, but hopefully not too long…then it’ll be on to the handheld games.
Until next time…