Sunday, 16 January 2011

Game of the Week: Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded

Disney meets Final Fantasy once again in Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this video game franchise, Kingdom Hearts is a collaboration between video games developers' Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios, and the game features a mix of Final Fantasy and Disney characters over a series of storylines.

The main character is a young teenager called Sora  who becomes separated from his friends when their world is invaded by evil creatures known as The Heartless in the first game. Sora obtains a powerful weapon known as The Keyblade, which is the only thing that can destroy The Heartless.

With the help of a whole host of Disney characters including King Mickey (Mouse) and Donald Duck, Sora explores many classical Disney locations and some brand new environments, tracking down enemies and helping to free his people.

Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded takes place after the events in Kingdom Hearts II. Jiminy Cricket has just finished writing up his journal of Sora's latest adventures, but just as he gets to the end, his words disappear and are replaced by a single message: "Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it..." 

The digital journal has become corrupted by The Heartless. Sora must step inside the computer and correct glitches and find missing data chips in order to repair the journal, as well as fighting The Heartless and Nobodies.

As anyone who has already experienced a Kingdom Hearts game will know, the graphics are truly cinematic, which is something of a rarity for DS games.

The game controls are very simple. Most of the actions are controlled by the D-pad. Use A to attack with the Keyblade or to chat with the in-game characters, B to jump, and the directional buttons to move.

Battles are very varied and include everything from shooting fireballs at enemies to real-time battles to turn-based battles with various big boss creatures at the end of each level. This leads to varied gameplay and makes this title a worthwhile purchase for new fans to the series.

During the game, Sora will encounter several 'Data Blocks'. The Silver Star blocks contain special computer chips, which can be placed in the computer matrix (in the Main Menu) and these will increase Sora's abilities and help repair the digital journal.

The pink/yellow blocks contain health points to refill Sora's health meter and can sometimes include potions to restore health.

Red blocks are an indicator of corrupted data and must be destroyed with the Keyblade.

Glitches may occur in any location at anytime. Glitches are identified by a blue data stream appearing on both sides of the screen. Sora can find 'back door' compartments during these times. Here, he must face off against various evil data chip creations including a data block snake!

The plot is fairly simple, which makes it perfect for newcomers to the series. A helpful tutorial keeps you up to date with new elements during the game.

Nevertheless, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is the DS version of the existing videogame, Kingdom Hearts Coded. However, unlike the original (Japanese-only) release, this version will combine elements from all the previous Kingdom Hearts titles into a single game. Therefore, it does go over a lot of old ground from the previous games, which could be slightly off-putting to hardcore fans of the series so far.

Overall, this is a brilliant game. It has an easy-to follow storyline, great graphics and interesting gameplay. If you enjoy RPG games but have not yet experienced the Kingdom Hearts series for yourself, then this is the perfect game for you.

If you have already played the past titles in this series, you will still find some refreshing new content to interest you, but you will also experience some inevitable deja vu, which could spoil your enjoyment a little. Overall rating: 9/10.

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