When I was younger I was in love with Disney. I owned every single animated classic on VHS and I even saw the Lion King when it premiered at a Nestle event over in Los Angeles. There was a day when I would dream of how good a Disney video game could be, barring that it was placed into the right hands. Two years ago that dream came true for me when Squaresoft released Kingdom Hearts
, an epic adventure starring a kid who was out to find himself with the help of some of Disney’s most beloved properties. It unleashed the inner kid in me yet at the same time tugged at every single adult fiber in my body. To me, it was one of the most beautiful games ever crafted and it ranks highly amongst the best video games I have ever played.
One area that left me unsatisfied was the ending. The end of the first Kingdom Hearts was left wide open and there was a certain sense of emptiness brought forth by it. Games are supposed to bring a sense of closure and there was any thing but at the end of the game. Though Sora had overcome the Heartless, two of the primary characters were separated from the rest of the cast which left the door open for a sequel. And indeed, a sequel is in the works that will continue the saga, but what happens in all that dead space between the Kingdom Hearts games? Square-Enix answers that very question with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
, an RPG for the GBA that adds some unique twists to the franchise.
Chain of Memories picks up right where the first KH left off, with Sora, Goofy and Donald running through an endless grassy field. I was taken aback when the game suddenly opened with a full motion video that looked very similar to the one found on the PS2. There wasn’t any audio but the video was gorgeous and free of any compression or errors. After a bit of running the trio runs into a mysterious hooded figure that transports them into Castle Oblivion. He gives them a long spiel about their memories and how neglect causes them to forget the ones they love. After that he hands them some cards and thus our adventure begins as our heroes try to discover the truth and escape the castle.
The castle is a self-contained entity but it houses all of the worlds that appeared in KH. You’ll be hobnobbing with the likes of Aerial, Belle, Peter Pan, Pinocchio and others as you visit them in their worlds. Interacting with the various Disney properties is both the game’s strongest and weakest suits. It’s fun to revisit all of the old Disney worlds and see what problems plague our favorite characters. The designers worked hard to try to recapture the feel and tone of the worlds, featuring the full likenesses of the characters and some recognizable musical tracks. On the downside the worlds are self-contained and have little to do with the game’s overall plot. You get all of the pertinent plot information in an intermittent world after
you exit the Disney world. This is where you’ll run into the mysterious characters and other familiar faces.
Chain of Memories takes you back through the events of the first PS2 game but there’s a twist. Everyone still retains some memories of the events that had transpired but their memories are a bit cloudy. When Sora runs into Leon in Traverse Town he calls him by name but Leon insists that he doesn’t know him. Only after Leon responds by telling Sora to back off does he realize that something is amiss. It seems like only Sora, Goofy and Donald retain any clear memories about what happened while the others are able to remember after some minor coaxing. It turns out that the towns are just illusions created by Sora’s memories and that his heart is broadcasting them to the others who come near him.
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