So after completing and thoroughly enjoying the first Kingdom Hearts (my last review) I thought to myself “Now let’s come back to this franchise in a while and play something else”.. Well, that didn’t happen. Onto the next chapter of the series. Originally a 2D Game Boy Advance title released in 2004, which was titled ‘Chain of Memories’ until it was remade in 3D for the PlayStation 2 in 2007 (only in Japan & USofAAAAA). Now it is lovingly remastered on the PlayStation 4, yippee!
Now here’s the downside to the story, the game is all too familiar yet very different from it’s predecessor. I found myself in the same worlds battling the same enemies, apart from a few new additions (Creeper Plant). The story is set after the original, with Sora, Donald and Goofy searching for King Mickey when Pluto lures them to a place known as Castle Oblivion (I don’t think we should go in there, Scooby!) This is when a sinister group known as Organization XIII who meddle with Sora’s memories while in the castle. Now he must retrieve his memories through ‘cards’ which I’ll explain a little about below.
Everything in this game is revolved around cards, you are given different world cards to use on each floor of the castle, while the combat is also revolved around cards. You will earn different cards during battle, opening chests and buying as the Moogle Shops. Now you will have attack cards, magic cards and item cards which you can use in battles, which are numbered 0-9. You can also stock up to three cards in a row to either create a combo or use special abilities known as ‘sleights’. This is very important as the enemies you face also use cards, and if your card number is lower than the enemy’s, your attack will fail. This is where stocking cards is the key to battle as let’s say you stock three number 9’s, this would mean your total card power is 27, so most enemies will not be able to stop your attack (unless a 0 is used, which can cancel out any number, but only used late in a battle, at the beginning is useless). You will also gain special enemy cards through battle which you can use by pressing the touch pad on your controller, depending on which enemy card you use, you will gain an advantage in battle.
Now this game is very slow paced at the start, I was quite close to giving up after a few hours. The combat is a cross between real time and traditional JRPGs where the battle initiates on the next screen when making contact with the enemy, then the cards in your deck being chosen to perform actions (you can move freely though so you can dodge attacks). This can make grinding very tedious as each time it goes to the next screen wastes valuable seconds of our precious lives.
I’m glad I stuck through it though, this game becomes very addictive. Boss battles are much easier this time around (I’m looking at you, Ursula) and much more enjoyable. Although the new additions of Organization XIII can be frustratingly difficult (Vexen, you’re a twat) and you will find yourself dying a lot as Sora. I say Sora, because there is another little surprise waiting at the presumed end of the game, you get to play as Riku starting from the basement of the castle! Don’t fret though my dears, Riku’s story is much shorter, with pre-selected decks and leveling up much quicker than Sora did. There is also a different battle mechanic for Riku, but I can’t be bothered to explain it. You can play it yourself and find out my sweeties.
All in all this game may have had a slow start but redeemed itself fully with a very smart combat system, brilliant cinematics and a great, albeit confusing story line.