kingdom hearts. The series that mixed the universes of Final Fantasy and of the Disney it’s been around for 18 years… and in the meantime, it’s gotten more and more confused.

a necessary effort

Even fans can end up lost in the story and chronology of the series. And no wonder: although the main series has only 3 games listed (remember our review of Kingdom Hearts III), there are almost a dozen spin offs, released for different platforms, that expand the universe and introduce new characters. Not to mention manga and other media products.

And game titles — and even compilations —, let’s face it, don’t make life any easier for us. Titles like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue they can be quite confusing for someone who takes the tram and tries to understand where each game fits.

Not to mention the weirdly named characters (Xehanort, Vexen, Demyx, marluxia), mysterious hooded figures, time-traveling villains, different versions of characters coexisting in parallel realities… the list of “complicating factors” is long.

Thinking about summarizing the history and chronology of these 18 years of tumultuous narrative — and for good measure, taking the franchise to a new path —, Square Enix released this week Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, a rhythm game, that tour the franchise’s flagship soundtrack, while kairi narrates the most important events.

whereas the kairi was, for much of the saga, the “damsel in distress”, it’s nice that she has a bit of a prominence in this new game — although, “prominence” here is basically the role of narrator. But, seeing events from her point of view brings a certain freshness to the story.

Does it work as a summary? Yes and no. It is possible to have a base of key moments in history, but everything is very superficial. who never played kingdom hearts in life it will probably continue to float, but those who know the series and its “lore” will be able (more or less) to recall the common thread that connects the intricate plot of the series’ games.

musical brawl

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory it’s not a traditional rhythm game, but once you understand how it works, you’ll see that, in practice, it behaves like a distinguished Guitar Hero. What happens is that your party is running on the screen all the time (automatically), and the “music notes” are enemies coming your way. You have to hit them in the timing of the song to do well, with hit rates that vary depending on your accuracy.

Mechanically, the action comes down to 3 main actions: simple attacks, spells/special attacks and jump/glide. Attacks can be done with L1, R1 and X (at the PS4), but even if you can use the same button to attack with any character, it’s good to be comfortable using the 3, because when enemies arrive “lined up”, they need to be repelled using the 3 buttons at the same time.

I’ll leave a gameplay video down here for you to understand how the game works. The music is slower, but it’s on the highest difficulty, which means more enemies on screen.

In the main game mode, we travel in a Gummi Ship, accessing the worlds in an order consistent with the narrative. Disney/Pixar characters make ends meet in their certain worlds: when to play in Agrabah, O Aladdin Join your party. At the Olympus, who accompanies you is the Hercules. The main team is Sora, Goofy and Donald, but as we progress, we unlock other trios, like purples, Axel and Xion.

In boss battles — yes, they are present here — the formula changes a little: directional commands become part of the music, and correspond to the avoidances of your team. Basically, we see a snippet of gameplay as the music plays, and our mistakes and successes are reflected in a more or less fierce battle.

IT’S an interesting retelling of rhythm games, which proves to be quite challenging in more upbeat songs and higher difficulty levels. When he wants to be really challenging, he forces you to glide with Sora, collecting floating musical notes, while dealing with enemies on the ground with Donald and Goofy, something that requires a lot of attention. Each song has 3 difficulty levels, and the “Beginner” to “proud” can be huge — lack of finger to handle so many notes/enemies on screen.

A game with a lot of content

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory count with more than 140 songs of the entire saga. Who knows the series — or any game from the Square Enix — knows what soundtrack they understand. So, be it original songs from the game, be it reinterpretations of classic themes Disney, the game’s repertoire is just wonderful.

The main game mode is the World Tour, which is just a summary of the saga, and goes through scenarios/situations of all games in the franchise. Also there is a free mode called Track Selection, where you simply choose a song and play. There is also cooperative play, and even a competitive online game mode.

When the game becomes a PvP competition, it does something like Tetris 99: as you accumulate points, fill a “tricks” bar to make life difficult for the other player. Duplicate targets, invisible… effects are random, but can really make life difficult for the opponent.

The fact that it has a lot of songs is good, but it’s worth mentioning that the tracks need to be “unlocked” in mode World Tour to be accessed in other game modes. It’s not exactly a problem, but before stirring up friends to play with you, having played the “campaign” before makes a difference. The advantage is that releasing the songs in the mode World Tour no matter the difficulty, so you can play everything on the Easy if you prefer.

Another point that gives a “bloat” in the game is the part of synthesizing items. kingdom hearts always had workshops of Moogles, but here the items are just not that important. Considering that each stage/song has 3 challenges, and in several of them one is something like “pass without using any items”, the items become even more superfluous.

Audiovisual

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory it brings a decent look to the current generation, without being particularly impressive. As he “reuses” several cutscenes from franchise titles, what we have here is a game that, in terms of visuals, is consistent with what has been presented in the franchise over the years.

the soundtrack, as already said, it’s wonderful. If in the main games they run the risk of going unnoticed in the heat of the action, here they are the stars, and they sound more amazing than ever. Even the “traditional” tracks — like the theme song for Traverse Town, for example — are delightful to listen to.

Unfortunately, the Square Enix still doesn’t find any content related to the series kingdom hearts. the game has English audio and subtitlesSo, if you want to understand this “short version” of the story, keep your English up to date.

Conclusion

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory may not work as a decent summary of kingdom hearts – but this is more the fault of the show’s confusing history. than a problem of this specific game. However, it is a great rhythm game, with a delicious soundtrack and gameplay that can be more or less challenging, depending on your taste.

Given the quality of the OST of the franchise, fans will enjoy simply savoring each song — and there’s a jukebox just to enjoy, of course. But, it’s good to see that cool mechanics were created to suit kingdom hearts to the “rhythm game” format. And the best part: a game with its own rhythm, which carries the essence of kingdom hearts.

So who is a fan of kingdom hearts — and the music of kingdom hearts — can play without fear. the game is a musical journey full of nostalgia, which brings dozens of characters that marked the lives and childhoods of many people as a “gift”.

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory was released yesterday (November 13), with versions for Playstation 4 (reviewed version), Nintendo Switch and Xbox one.

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