So we’ve come to the end of Kingdom Hearts 2.5.
As I’ve said many times before I loved these two games when I was growing up, I was slightly disappointed that the first game didn’t kind of live up to my memories of it but I was certain that KH2.5 would fill a void in my life that not playing it for so long had created.
It didn’t unfortunately.
The three games I’ve so far played for the Gaming Babble blogs have all been childhood favourites. FFVII was hardly going to disappoint that much because up until very recently I’ve played it nearly once a year anyway. Kingdom Hearts I played about three times when I was younger because I didn’t own the game but Kingdom Hearts 2 I played so much I knew the story inside out until I was about 19 and I lost the disk.
The play through kind of made me rethink how I look at games or at least how I remember them.
So where did KH2.5 fail for me?
I think it was mainly the story. I kind of got used to the boring maps but the story never kicked off. I remember this epic tale of Sora vs Organisation XIII but in actual fact even with some added scenes with Organisation XIII they weren’t really that important to the main story. Not as much as I remembered anyway. They were of course important but they showed up once or twice to leave cryptic messages and got beaten very fast. Maybe I just filled in the random blanks myself because after playing the games and the years since I’ve researched everything there is to know about Kingdom Hearts and the Organisation. I’ve grown to love all of the members and I’m extremely interested and invested in their existence but KH2.5 never really gives them the centre stage.
I question why I was ever that interested in them. Or how I ever found out as much as I know about them.
I have a burning love for the Organisation and I really hope that we see them again in some form. As I said though I’m remembering them differently from how they were and that is probably the first thing that stopped me enjoying the game.
So the story wasn’t really about them and seemed to not be about much else if I’m honest. You always had the same stories flowing through KH1 but this one didn’t seem to have anything to it. Added to the fact that when we visited the worlds they seemed to have no real importance to the story and it wasn’t like the first one where Sora was learning and asking everyone if they’d met both Kairi and Riku and I just become disengaged with the whole thing.
If that wasn’t bad enough it wasn’t even like half the time you had any idea what the game wanted you to do! All the levels were pretty much self contained and there was no story telling device to tell you what the next port of call was going to be. There was no urgency, no importance to anything that was happening. By the time we had to repeat all the levels again I had no interest in what was going on in them.
When we got to the World that Never Was the Organisations story started to kick off but it was too late as we were killing them off pretty fast by that time. We got a few little bits here and there and then giant cut scenes but no real answers to anything.
The other big problem with Organisation XIII was that they made no sense. I feel like a good deal of them FELT things, I don’t even think you could PRETEND to feel the things they actually seemed to feel. Axel truly seemed to feel loyalty and love as well as loneliness. Saix had a longing for a heart and someone like Demyx was able to feel both boredom and enough emotions to want to be passive. We are constantly told though that they don’t feel anything but their actions and their speeches didn’t join together.
I honestly felt there was so much more that could have been explored there that was missed because the story didn’t seem to want to settle down to one thing or the other.
So with a bad story the pieces fell to the game play to pick it up.
To be fair I loved the new commands and I liked the freedom of being able to change characters because we didn’t have trinity marks to worry about. The problem with KH was that you never got to play with the world character if you wanted to do the trinities because the world character couldn’t help you with them. They did away with trinity marks but instead of getting to choose your party you then got lumbered with the world character whether you wanted them or not.
Personally I liked the trinity marks but I wanted the freedom of choosing my own party. I guess the problem lays in animation, you won’t want to animate X amount of ways to open a trinity mark because of differences in parties which is fair enough. Niether the loss of the loss of the trinities or the ability to actually pick my team really ruined the game experience but it’ll be interesting to see what they do in KH3.
The fighting was way to simplistic though. With the added function of drive forms and action commands in battle it makes the battles extremely easy. Especially the boss fights, it was only really the book of absent shadows (or whatever they were called) and some of the other pick and choose fights that were difficult. The whole last third of KH1 was pickled with difficult bosses but these just felt way too simplistic. Not only that but it looked terrible most of the time. So much was going on it always looked cluttered to hell. I never got that with KH, you were in the middle of a battle but it never looked like crap.
Saying that again it didn’t ruin much for me, as a button masher anyway the fights looking pretty doesn’t matter much, it was disappointing that the fighting was much easier but at the same time it was quite fun. Some of the commands were interesting to watch and it was nice to see some joint attacks too.
I didn’t really use the drive forms much, they were good when I needed some extra oomph but to be honest it didn’t really do much for me. It made the command box difficult to use because there was too much in it, you literally had to have two command boxes that you could change between. I don’t think that’s the best way forward but I wouldn’t want to lose the command box either and have a system like Dragon Age.
The drive forms were cool but I guess it really depends on your play style. I’m not a big one for doing anything but attacking head on, I don’t even use the summons very much and other then to collect them in the first game I never really notice them.
I guess what the command button did was let the be more cinematic in fights, something I fear for KH3. After playing FFXIII I’ve become completely bored of FF games that use cinematic scenes for fights and would hate to see that happen more in KH3. KH2 kind of had it right but it still felt clunky and boring for the most part.
When it comes to the worlds themselves they suffer from the same fate as the first game, they were much too small and there was much to much running about the place. It really annoyed me at times having to run around in tiny little circles. I feel if there is anything I’d change for KH3 it would be making the maps a little more free. Its probably my biggest bug bear is that the maps get so samey all the time.
It was still beautiful though and it was nice to have new worlds mixed with old worlds and even just some new worlds from old friends.
My favourite thing about it all though was that the command boxes changed in every single world. That little touch was just beautiful, some were really cool and some were just all right but it was something they didn’t have to do and I’m happy they did.
If you put me on the spot and asked which world I enjoyed the most it was probably the Pride Lands for the unique feel of it and Halloween Town / Christmas Town for the freedom of the map. I don’t really have a favourite though, I feel like some of the worlds didn’t have the same amount of love as the first games worlds did (Hollow Bastion FELT hollow as well, there was just nothing but bland buildings to run around, same with Twilight Town, they had the market square or tram central or whatever it was called and it was just bland and empty buildings, the buildings didn’t even usually have doors or anything to them they were just orange and bland) and others were wonderful (the detail in Halloween town added to the booby traps all over the place was fun.)
I liked that they tried something different with Atlantica having the musical area and still kept Pooh Bear and the Coliseum. I don’t think you could really do the same with Atlantica in KH3 but if they’ve pushed back the game, or if they make a KH4 they could always do that whilst introducing Frozen. Not that I like Frozen but its known for its songs like The Little Mermaid.
If there were worlds I’d obliterate in a heart beat it would 100% be Agrabah. Please no more Agrabah! I don’t know why they keep going there!
After seeing the Pride Lands though I’d like to see them tackle a Jungle Book world, it would be quite similar I guess to Tarzan’s world but it would be interesting.
The characters were much of a sameness. The main trio of kids from Destiny Island stayed pretty much the same character wise. Kairi and Riku were in it a lot less as the focus really was on Sora. It would be nice just to have a game with the three of them together because I’m fed up of always running to find them.
Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Leon, Cloud….. All just the same. They have their personalities down to a t anyway so it shouldn’t be hard to make them fun to play with.
When I was young I remember a vastness about KH2 that I didn’t feel with KH, now as a adult its the other way around. It felt like we explored much more on a tighter story then we did in KH2.5. There was much more magic about it not least because we got to go to some rather magical places. I feel KH2.5 spent too much time on a romance angle for no reason, every land we went to pretty much had couples at the heart of it. It would be nice for KH3 I guess to step away from that. I mean especially now we have so many Disney properties that don’t revolve around relationships even if we’re working on the older stuff still I’d give anything to see something a bit different. We’ve had the friendship angle, we’ve had the romance angle now lets see something a little less cheesy.
Overall it isn’t a terrible game. Its fun and its possibly more replayable then the first game but it disappointed me and its too easy. Its funny to say that a game is too easy but I got so bored with the repetitive maps, the simplistic game play and the boring characters that I basically stopped playing for a month or two and had to FORCE myself to play it again.
Its hard to judge this one. If we start at 5 out of 10 (average game) I’d give it a plus for the Organisation then a minus for not giving us enough of them. A plus for little things like the drive forms, command boxes and all other little details we might take for granted. It would be a minus though for the little things that make us pull our hair out. A 5 hour long tutorial? Minus. A musical area and more Pooh Bear? Plus.
Thinking about it I love KH2. I love KH2.5. But it is a extremely average game.
Its easy to play, the story isn’t important, there is nothing there that engages you that much unless you are a die hard KH fan, it isn’t something you’ll want to replay the second you finish it but it isn’t a game you’d throw to one side and never play again. Its very much a muchness if I’m honest.
Game Chart :
1. Final Fantasy VII – 8
= Sam & Max Season 1 – 8
2. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 – 7.5
3. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 – 5