Long ago, I made a list where I discussed the twelve video game franchises I wanted to try. As time went on, I got to try one or more of those franchises. One such example was Kingdom Hearts, a series with absolutely tremendous popularity, a complex storyline – perhaps too complex, for some – and featuring dozens of famous Disney characters. Considering the popularity of Disney and the popularity of Final Fantasy, this HAD to be a record-breaking blockbuster- er, I mean, game.
As a result, I one day found this Nintendo DS game at a store, and decided I wanted to try it. I mean, I kinda knew the story of Kingdom Hearts was complex, but I thought I would still understand the plot, right? I told some of my online friends that I bought Kingdom Hearts Re:coded… and what is the first comment I get?
“Bad idea for your first Kingdom Hearts game.”
Oh well, I’m stuck with it now, I better play it.
Alright! So, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded originally started as a mobile game titled, well, Kingdom Hearts coded. Oh yes, that’s how it’s written, I’m not missing a capital letter. On a chronological standpoint, it is supposed to take place after Kingdom Hearts II, which means that if it references the previous KH games too much, I’ll get lost. Most of the story is a re-telling… of the first Kingdom Hearts… inside a virtual dimension of sorts…
|Nobody likes being caught in the center of a mind screw.|
I know Dumbo didn't like the Pink Elephants.
Let’s jump right into this!
|The animated cutscenes even have subtitles?|
How useful. I won't need to decipher their speech.
|Well, theyt sure are block-ing the view.|
The computer screen, however, shows the events described in the book as being corrupted with big black blocks of data decorated with red lines. Worried, Jiminy brings this up to Chip, Dale, Goofy, Donald and Mickey, who also see what’s wrong in the journals… but they can’t modify the data to clear out the bugs. However, Goofy suggests something: What if they asked for help from a character inside the journal? This could be done, right?
|Such power, so tempting... I'll slice and dice.|
I'll open my mail with this!
When this is done, this means Data-Sora’s… um… data has been rewritten. He is now able to use the Keyblade! Okay, quick crash course: Keyblades are weapons of great power (although their design isn’t actually all that practical when you think about it, as a normal blade should hurt more than dents at the end of a stick, but hey, those things are magical and I haven’t followed the series much, so what do I know?). They’re also directly connected to their user’s heart, so while it is possible to disarm a Keyblade user, it’s still extremely difficult. And that’s before actual swordsmanship comes into play! After Chip and Dale solve another issue in the system, the screen shows Data-Sora meeting a black hooded figure, and in chasing this mysterious character finds himself surrounded by Heartless. What are Heartless, you may ask, if you’ve never heard of the series? It’s simply a little creature of pure darkness. Kill it, it is your duty as a hero! Two and five aren’t bad, but at some point a miniature army of them attacks, and we’re introduced to all the mechanics of this game.
|At the start of the game, the first Keyblade, the Kingdom Key, has|
few abilities. However, as you increase its level, you can turn it
into a formidable weapon. Still nowhere as formidable as the late-game
Keyblades... but still, a cool weapon.
|Three action commands? At first, that's more than enough.|
In the endgame? You'll need at least 5 or 6. Healing spells, items,
Keyblade attacks, magic attacks...
|It doesn't look like much right now...|
But in endgame...
|...In the endgame, THIS is what the ginormous Stat Matrix looks like.|
Good luck filling all those empty chip slots.
It was so difficult to figure this all out when I started, I think I still need help having this all make sense. But if you ever buy this game, I hope this long-winded explanation of the mechanics will allow you to start the game with more knowledge than I had.
As you progress through Story Mode, you can also access special programs on the Stat Matrix called Cheat Tuners that let you make plenty of modifications. The first one is a switch that goes between Beginner, Standard, Proud or Critical (increasing or decreasing the overall difficulty of the game). Other Cheat Tuners include:
-A loot cheat that increases the number of items earned, but reduces Sora’s HP;
-A prize cheat that increases rewards but makes the enemies stronger;
-A CP/EXP cheat that switches up how much CP (money) and EXP you get from battles;
-And an HP cheat that can let you decrease the HP of both Sora and the enemies down to a certain percentage, all the way down to 0% (where everyone, main character and all the enemies, have only 1HP).
All this to learn, and we’re not even thrown into the plot yet!
|I have a feeling I'd know you better in another story.|
|Sora knows the key to asskicking; he has it equipped.|
|Ah, you and your dueling! Will|
you ever think of something else to do?
The hooded figure shows up near Data-Sora again and explains that the Destiny Islands are connected, like the rest of the world, and that Sora needs to look for the Keyhole, Thankfully, instead of bothering the player with endless searching around the island, the scene conveniently cuts immediately to Data-Sora finding the Keyhole, brandishing his Keyblade, and entering the new portal.
This takes him to the first boss of the game, a large black monster named Darkside! This thing has a hole in the shape of a heart on its belly… Gee, could you make it any less obvious? By this point, just have “I AM EVIL” written in red marker all over this guy’s torso, right over the heart-shaped hole! No wait, even better, imply that this is Chernabog’s data-brother! After all, when you decide to throw subtlety out the window, you make sure not to forget a single piece of it!
|Huh, I never thought a "Rubik's Cube Of Evil" would ever|
make its way on the list of bosses in a video game.
Next thing we know, Data-Sora wakes up from a face-licking by Pluto, the most confounding character of the entire Disney mythos, to realize he’s not in
Kansas Destiny Islands anymore.
I’ll continue this in Part 2!