Mark Marrow
16 Sep, 2004

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Preview

GBA Preview | PALGN steps into the wonderful world of Disney to take a sneak-peek at the next Kingdom Hearts instalment for the GBA.
Kingdom Hearts has been, in my opinion, the only decent Disney hybrid to date. Kingdom Hearts for the PS2 was a wondrous RPG title that, with the mixture of a Disney world, had created a relaxing and refreshing action/RPG experience. With a strong build of story, gameplay, and the inclusion of the comedic appearances of various Disney characters, the game was a completely new RPG experience that had never been played. Maybe it was this uniqueness that had made Kingdom Hearts so fantastic or maybe it was the temptation to taste the forbidden fruit that was the Square+Disney mix. What ever it was we sure as hell know that Kingdom Hearts will be one PS2 game that’ll remain in our minds as being one of best exclusives to hit the console. Naturally, we’re hoping that Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories will maintain this spectacular formula that had made Kingdom Hearts so successful and hopefully such success will reflect on it’s GBA successor.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories picks up directly after the ending of the original Kingdom Hearts game and, conveniently, ends where Kingdom Hearts 2(yet to be released PS2 game) is set to begin. Basically, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the chain between the two PS2 Kingdom Hearts games (no pun intended). Luckily for some, a certain Kingdom Hearts game doesn’t need to be purchased to understand the story of events – good news for all those money-savers out there.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories follows the story of the main character of the original Kingdom Hearts, Sora, as he explores the depths of The Castle of Oblivion in search of his lost friend Riku. Soon enough, he is meet by a mysterious hooded figure that explains to him that the walls of The Castle of Oblivion drain the memories of those who wander into its walls. Hence the name of the game – Sora must travel through his memories in search of the true purpose behind his arrival at the castle.

Fans of the past action/RPG element of fighting of Kingdom Hearts will soon be disappointed to hear that the game has taken on, for reasons unknown, the newly popular card-based fighting(seen in games such as Lost Kingdoms and Phantasy Star Online III). Action remains in ‘real-time’ format ( Zelda style), except that now rather than hacking away at enemies like in the past, you must now use a deck of cards to access your abilities and moves – physical attacks, spells(magic attacks and healing) and summons(past Final Fantasy characters, Cloud for example, or various Disney Characters). When you run out of cards you must quickly recharge your deck by holding down the attack button. This causes a deck meter to begin filling up - once it's full, your deck is replenished and you can continue attacking. However be weary, since each time you use up your entire deck, it takes longer and longer to restore your cards back.

The new card feature certainly expands on the level of strategy required for each battle greatly, compared to the slash and hope for the best battling featured previously. Gamers will now have to plan and time their attacks to succeed in battle. Some cards can be combined during the battles to form powerful combos and/or larger magical spells, depending on what cards you decide to combine. Whilst in battles, enemies will be able to challenge your cards with their own deck of cards. Each card in the game has a numeric value that determines its priority, this feature comes into practice when battling the enemy’s card. You see whoever has the highest numbered card breaks the other’s attack. Timing is also important with the card tactics, because even the highest valued cards can be broken by the weakest attack if it’s countered at just the right time. Once falling victim to a card break the character becomes vulnerable to attacks, making it the ideal time to land a number of attacks. However, card breaks can also be dealt onto Sora leaving you vulnerable to a number of enemy attacks.

Battles themselves take place on a different screen than the level exploration, and can be avoided entirely by not running into enemies. Similar to Paper Mario 2, when gamers are confronted by enemies in the wild you can avoid them, engage them, or strike first. Engaging in combat is simple –bump into them – however if you’re seeking the extra advantage you can easily smack them with the attack button. Of course the enemy can receive the upper hand if they engage you, allowing them to strike first. The actual areas themselves are shown from an isometric perspective, and are apparently random in design. Assuring a new backdrop for every battle.

Like previously, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories will allow Sora to collect various little baubles dropped by the enemy, including HP and experience points. The further you get in the game, naturally, the more experience Sora will gain. The experience points will allow you, the gamer, to expand on Sora’s abilities as you wish. Sora will be able to level up in one of three categories: Hit Points, Card Points, and Stock. Hit Points will increase Sora’s health, Card Points will increase the number of cards Sora can use in battle, whilst Stock points provides Sora with the ability to unleash more powerful special attacks by stocking his cards – also known as card-combos(when you combining three cards together).

Probably one of the most fascinating features of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is how beautiful the game’s graphics are and how surprisingly fast it runs with these highly detailed graphics. The game features extraordinary cinematics that liven up the game's experience completely – astonishing is an understatement for the cinematic witnessed. Even though we’ve only seen the single cinematic thus far, it still is amazing to see the GBA producing something so crisp that looks like a replica of it’s PS2 counterpart. Square-Enix has also included a nice little visual designed FMV that melts the screen away and gears you up for the intense battle ahead of you.

Amazingly enough with the amount of characters and items flying around in each scene and battle it’s somewhat surprising to see that the GBA doesn’t suffer from a single slow down at all, even with the ten plus characters jumping around and the twenty or so experience baubles rolling around.

Of all the environments seen from the game so far we were quite happy to admit that Square-Enix has done a superb job on the Disney environments throughout the game – seeming like close replica as seen in the animated movies. The Disney worlds we’ve witness thus far range from Aladdin's Agrabah , Captain Hook's pirate ship from Peter Pan, The Nightmare Before Christmas's Halloweentown and even the stunning ballroom of Beauty and the Beast. This time, Square-Enix has truly outdone themselves with their amazing job on the overall production of the graphical side of the game. Easily one of the freshest GBA games we’ve seen in a long time – at all for that matter.

Whether you’re a fan of Kingdom Hearts or are someone looking for a unique RPG adventure, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is beginning to look like a game that’ll unquestionably satisfy the masses. Certainly a game that shouldn’t be underestimated, PALGN is even going to the lengths of saying that this could be the greatest title to hit the handheld console this year.
Looking to be one of the most promising titles to hit the GBA this year. A good game to keep Kingdom Hearts fans happy until the release of Kingdom Hearts 2.

Related Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Content

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9 years ago
i cant wait for this game... but do you know the release date?
9 years ago
Looks very good indeed. The GBA has become a surprisingly good prospect for RPG games. Good to see Square Enix get in on the bandwagon. icon_smile.gif
9 years ago
i know it sounds a little bit YU-GI-oh but kingdomhearts is the best game i've ever pladed its goin to be cool
9 years ago
It should be good, won't be nothing like Yugioh in terms of card play I can assure you.
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