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Simple and Clean:The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective Part 2

Since the first Kingdom Hearts game was a commercially successful product,it’s natural that a sequel was already being made for the series.However,the series takes a detour before the inevitable sequel.Nomura planned to make an intermediary sequel for the franchise. It was being conceptualized by Nomura because he wanted to use the theme of memories for the next game in the series.The intermediary sequel was planned for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance(GBA),a 32-bit handheld system developed by Nintendo.

        

The original GBA

Initially, this raises concerns for Nomura since he was worried how the gameplay would translates to a 2D plane.However,he became convinced when he heard the excitement of gamers on the thought of being able to play a Kingdom Hearts game on-the-go.Thank god for enthusiastic gamers.The team made changes to the core gameplay of the handheld game by making the battle system an action oriented card battle,where each actions are dictate by the cards used by the player.

The original concept art for the handheld game

The game was announced publicly during the Tokyo Game Show on September 2003,along with the announcement of the next installment of the franchise,Kingdom Hearts II.It was appropriately titled, Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories.

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The box art for KH:COM

Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories was developed by Jupiter and Square Enix and it was released in the year 2004.The game was a technical masterpiece for the GBA, boasting with 3D FMV sequence and fluid gameplay.The critics praised the high production values in the game,especially the FMV sequence and the beautiful animated sprites.However,the new card based battle system received mixed reviews from the critics.Some of them called the new battle system as original and interesting,while the others called it awkward and troublesome at best.Overall the game gained an aggregate of 76% at metacritic,a favorable review score.

The battle scene in KH:COM

The game sold reasonably well,with up to 1.5 millions sold worlwide at the end of 2005.The game was considered as important in the storyline of the franchise,as it bridges the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts II.Generally,the story follows Sora as he enters Castle Oblivion,which causes him to lose his memories.His memories are transform into ‘world cards’,where he uses it to help him regains his memories by visiting various Disney locales from the first game.The game introduces important characters such as Namine and Axel,two characters that would appear later in the next installment of the franchise.

Namine

The game was later ported to the Sony Playstation 2 system,remade using the Kingdom Hearts 3D engine and was released in Japan on March 2007,titled Kingdom Hearts RE:Chain of Memories.It was bundled with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.Sadly a game that was not released in North America.It was released without Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix in North America the following year on December 2nd.

This was the first installment of the handheld Kingdom Hearts game.This game indicates that later in the future Kingdom Hearts series would branch into the handheld gaming system,filling the desires of fans alike.Interestingly,the battle system of KH:COM also inspired the battle system of a new IP from Jupiter,The World Ends With You for the Nintendo DS .The team decided for a card battle system for that game,but later modifies it into a new and interesting dual screen battle system.

To be continued to part 3…

Simple and Clean:The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective


It was sometime during the turn of the century,a Square executive and a creative mind from Disney studios step into the elevator together.When they step out,they already making plans for one of the most interesting and creative crossover that ever happened in the gaming industry.That was the  seed of idea that in the future grows into one of the most celebrated franchise in gaming industry,the Kingdom Hearts series.

Kingdoms Hearts was produced by Square with the collaborative effort with Disney Interactive Studios.Both parties visualized a video game where Final Fantasy franchise would crossover with the various Disney franchises.Weird,I know.The unlikely combination of a franchise with characters that has spiky hairs ,swords that has the same height as a human being and family friendly franchises that includes a talking mouse with a dog as his pet really shook the gaming audience at that time.So how would all these elements blend in together? Meet Tetsuya Nomura.

Tetsuya Nomura was a character designer back then at Square.He was the lead character designer in Final Fantasy VII and VIII.He acted as a director,character designer and responsible to the concept of Kingdom Hearts.Nomura was tasked to directed a game which combines the world of Final Fantasy and the world of Disney.So he envisioned a game where characters from Final Fantasy mash into the various distinct world of Disney locales.These two elements would be mashed  together with an original story written by Nomura himself.The story follows the plight of three children,Sora,Riku and Kairi as they’ve been separated by unknown forces and being transported to new world that consist of various Disney locales and Final Fantasy characters.

Interestingly,the original design of Sora uses a chainsaw instead of a keyblade as a weapon.But the design was rejected by Disney as it is too inappropriate with the Disney audience.Maybe the thought of Sora cutting enemies with a freakin’ chainsaw is too gruesome for Disney audience.

Kingdom Hearts was released in Japan on March 28th 2002 for the Sony Playstation 2.Then it was released in the States on September 17th,2002 with some additional contents that are not included in the Japanese version.Then Kingdom Hearts Final Mix was exclusively released in Japan on December 26th,2002.The game was critically and commercially successful,gaining an average of 85% on metacritic.Critics lauded the innovative battle system and interesting themes brought forward by the game.The game had shipped up to 8.5 millions worldwide by December 2005.Fans of JRPG and Disney was in love with Kingdom Hearts.

To be continued to part 2…

FATE/Extra

FATE/Extra is a turn based RPG for the PSP developed by Imageepoch and published by Marvelous Entertainment.

Impressions:

I’m a big fan of the Fate franchise so i’m totally down with this game.This game takes place in a parallel universe  to the universe in the Fate/Stay night visual novel/anime. You played as a boy/girl,who got caught up in the Holy Grail War,a contest which you have to battle other  Masters to win the Holy Grail.It has been said that the Grail can grants the winner one wish.Each contestants are paired with a Servant,basically the souls of legendary and  mythical heroes from the past.

The gameplay is divided in to 2 stages:The investigation stage and the Masters Battle.Each week you will be given a Master to battle with at the end of the week.The investigation stage takes place during the 6 days period leading to the Masters Battle.In this stage,you are free to roam around the hub and try to investigate  your opponent’s Servant.The more info you collected,the easier the battle with your opponent during the Masters Battle.You will also train you Servant during the Investigation stage where you can enter a dungeon and battle with uninspired and generic looking monsters.It uses the conventional turn based battle system,but the interesting part is you have to choose six commands per turn which means your Servant will perform 6 actions per turn and so is the enemy.The master can use some spells(healing,stun and etc) and items to help the Servants,but only one item can be used per turn.

Anyway,I’ve only been playing this game for about 4 hours.I recommend this game to any fans of JRPG especially if you are into the Fate/ series.