Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What happened to Kingdom Hearts?

Once upon time, in the magic year of 2002 my parents told me I could have a new video game console for Christmas. I chose a Playstation 2 for just one game: Kingdom Hearts. That Christmas day I spent the entire day in my room falling in love with the Disney/Squaresoft classic. So a new Kingdom Hearts game came out earlier this month and I barely gave it a second glance. So why am I no longer excited about the franchise that helped usher me into modern gaming?
The story of the first game was pretty straight forward. Sora, a 15 year old Anime character teams up with Goofy and Donald Duck in a quest to protect the Disney movies from an invasion of evil shadow monsters called Heartless. The Heartless are controlled by a cabal of our favorite Disney villains and some guy from a Final Fantasy game. It's like if the Legion of Doom all got jobs at Disneyland. Your main weapon is a three foot long key that is somehow the only weapon that can stop the Heartless and lock the doors to other worlds...
Did I mention it was co-created by Squaresoft, the same people who made all the Final Fantasy storylines?
The game was extremely fun, with it's simple combat interesting story line and lovable characters, both old and new. It did have it's faults though, like Sora's feet being about three times the normal size as that of a normal human, making him both look and move like an awkward teenager, which only became truly irritating when you tried to jump platforms with him and could only guess weather or not enough of his giant feet made it on. Donald and Goofy were apparently suffering from major depression throughout the game since they keep throwing themselves head first into combat with no regard to their own health and I had to keep running around the field reviving them. Plus the minigame of flying a ship apparently made out of gummy bears to go between movie worlds was clunky and relatively useless. I don't know how many times I'd find a hidden chest, open it excitedly, only to find another piece to attach to my useless space ship. Despite all that, I truly loved the game from beginning to end.
When Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, my heart gave a little jump with glee. I picked it up as soon as it came out. I remember sitting down, plugging it in, and eagerly pressing the start button to jump into the action.
Three hours later and I was still waiting to jump in.
In between games, Squaresoft became Square Enix and had apparently taken over the production. Most of the game play was reduced to pushing a button to get to the next cut scene. In the three hours I had already been to four worlds and had been in three short combats. There had been a game in between one and two, and apparently you had to have played it for this to make sense, since the story had hopped in a bus and drove it off a cliff. Some new white guys who moved like they came out of the Russian Ballet's PCP nightmare showed up wanting to fight, and there's a group of guys in black robes saying stuff about Heartless and Nobodies and have something to do with the Matrix while everyone is apparently waking up from simultaneous nights of binge drinking and bashing their heads into concrete because nobody remembers anything. It was just this weird convoluted mess that felt like the same reason I'd been driven away from most Anime in the first place.
Then the sequels came. Oh the sequels.
They've yet to get to Kingdom Hearts 3, but they'res been a handful of useless filler games about Sora and his increasing army of Anime rejects as they add even more convoluted pieces to the story. Some fit between 1 and 2, others between 2 and 3, but overall it feels like milking the franchise for all it's worth. What's sad too is that they also changed the game play. In one game the battle system is based on cards, so essentially we're playing Yu-Gi-Oh! now. In another they combined the skill tree, inventory and level gauge for some reason into one equip type system, so essentially in my pocket I can have a potion, my ability to shoot fire, and my memory of all my previous battles, which implies that if I un-equip the level that it didn't happen or I didn't remember it...
Do you see what I'm getting at? To me this entire series is like a cake someone made, and everyone loved it. So the person wanted to make the cake again but believed that the reason the cake was so good was that he was gifted at making cakes and not the fact that he just had a really good recipe, so he starts adding things like onion and cow tongue to the cake, and after not getting it right he kept subtracting and adding ingredients trying to find a way to make the cake better than the original, when if he just went back to formula he may be able to get his friends to like him again.
In conclusion, I got a Playstation 2 for a game that was totally worth it, but after that nearly everything attached to the product has been completely ruined. The sad part is that this thing had infinite potential, since it could tap into any Disney or Final Fantasy game ever for interesting characters and plot lines. Kingdom Hearts 3 is confirmed to be the next game to come out, and I'm open to it being amazing and going back to the original recipe, but I'm not buying a PS3 for it.

1 comment:

  1. Kingdom Hearts was an incredible game. I like 2, and I've played Chain of Memories and parts of 358/2 days. Kingdom Hearts is start to feel like Final Fantasy. Each game has a very different feel and system for combat.