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Review: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

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By Iris the Keyblade Master

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is one of those games that probably shouldn’t work as well as it does.  The first game in the series was this big, epic adventure, involving Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy traveling all over the universe to stop Maleficent and meeting all kinds of Disney characters along the way.  Kingdom Hearts II was another a big, epic adventure that continued Sora’s quest.   He searched for his lost friends, befriended more popular characters like Captain Jack Sparrow and Tron, and fought an evil organization.

Chain of Memories limits the adventure to one castle made of illusions.  Every floor that Sora visits is designed to look like a Disney world from his memories.  So almost all of the levels that you complete are areas that you’ve already explored from the first game.  (Little did we know that this would be a recurring problem in future games.)  It’s not necessarily what a person would have in mind if you told them to check out the sequel to Kingdom Hearts.

However, I love the story of Chain of Memories, so it’s probably the entry in the series that I replay the most apart from the first game.  It picks up where the first game left off, with Sora, Donald, and Goofy on the trail of their lost friends, Riku and Mickey.  They come across a castle inhabited by a mysterious organization that claims to have something- or someone- that Sora wants.  Sora takes the bait, only to find as he progresses through the castle that he’s losing his memories.

First, the story’s fantastic.  It’s one of two games in the series that involve a group of villains trying to trick Sora into working for them, and this one executes the idea much better.  The other game more or less saves the mind-bending shenanigans for the final level.  In Chain of Memories, it’s a steady progression of Sora forgetting his previous adventures and becoming increasingly obsessed with rescuing Naminé and Riku from the Organization.  Sora’s been previously established as somebody who cares deeply about his friends and the promises that he makes to them, so his change in personality makes complete sense.  The new characters are also well-written.  It’s the game that kicked off Axel’s popularity, and it’s easy to see why.  Naminé is wonderful too and a good example of a well-written “damsel in distress.”

I thought I would hate the battle system when I learned that it would be card-based.  Every attack that you make and magic spell that you cast is limited to the number of cards that Sora has in his deck.  However, I found that it was very manageable and does force you to strategize a little.  You can only carry so many cards in your deck, and the powerful ones are more expensive than the weaker ones.  You can also create special attacks called “sleights,” where you load three cards and use them together.  But the first card that you load for the sleight will not reappear for the rest of the battle.  So spamming sleight attacks will only take you so far.

Oh, and Donald gets to be just as useless in this game as he is in every Kingdom Hearts game.  Only this time, he doesn’t just fail to heal you.  If you don’t watch it, he can heal your enemies.  Yeah.  You read that right.  You’ll be desperately fighting Axel or Hades, who both use Fire spells, and he’ll happily hit them with Fire spells that bring their health back up.  Try to avoid using him in a fight with a magic-based enemy.

I also find it interesting how the difficulty level of the bosses and the usefulness of certain cards did change in the GameBoy Advanced version and the PlayStation 2 version.  See, the GBA obviously has a small screen, so big enemies aren’t hard to fight and Summon cards have a wider reach.  Cloud Strife was my favorite card in the GBA game.  All I had to do was summon him and he’d wipe out enemies with two slashes of the Buster Sword.  But the PlayStation 2 remake puts you in a bigger, three-dimensional area, so it’s a matter of getting close to an enemy, hoping that enemy stays put as you summon Cloud, and hope that Cloud moves in the right direction to slash said enemies.  If you’re in the wrong place or facing the wrong way, he’s completely useless.

All in all, I think this game was much better suited for the GameBoy Advanced over the PlayStation 2.  It has a smaller story and the levels are mostly the same as the first game.  In a way, it’s kind of impressive.  In terms of world design, it plays like a GBA remake of the first game.  Yet it has its own unique story, which supplies a reason for why you’re playing through the same locations again.  If you play the PlayStation 2 remake without that context, it comes off like a cheap, lazy sequel.

Nonetheless, I love playing the PS2 remake due to the improved graphics and voice acting.  Sora’s character arc and his relationships with his friends go to interesting places.  The series got two new fabulous female characters.  The soundtrack mostly rehashes the first game, but Yoko Shimomura composed some beautiful new tracks, i.e. “Naminé” and the final boss battle theme, “Lord of the Castle.”

Although it’s not an entry in the series that you absolutely must play to understand the rest of the plot, I highly recommend Chain of Memories.

Chritter’s Top 10 Celebrity Appearances in Games

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Chritter’s Top 10 Celebrity Appearances in Games

Go outside and pick up a rock.  Heft it in your hands a few times to make sure that it has a good weight.  Then, as hard as you can, chunk that rock at your nearest powered on internet-enabled electronic device.  Chances are pretty high that you just smacked a picture of, an article about, or news of a celebrity of some sort.

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

….

I really hope you didn’t do that.

Anyway.  *ahem*

Celebrities are everywhere.  Some have even infiltrated our video games.  WHICH WE LOVE.

I have listed here 10 examples of celebrities showing up in our games.  You will note that none are listed because they showed up in their own games.  That’s cheating.  No.  Bad dog.

These celebrities have graced us in games that have nothing to do with their own egos.  Or, maybe everything to do with their egos.  Who am I to say?

1. Kevin Spacey – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Look at any list that involves celebrities in games and you will see Kevin Spacey listed.  Because it’s Kevin-fucking-Spacey.  The man who ruled House of Cards on Netflix.  And that guy who is constantly trying to get us to invest our money.

His appearance was as Jonathan Irons, the game’s antagonist.  Most celebrities play themselves, even if it isn’t in their own game.  Spacey played a character.  You know… like an actor would.

2. Bruce Lee – EA Sports UFC

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Giving respect to Bruce Lee, you couldn’t just play the game as Bruce Lee.  You had to earn Bruce Lee.  You had to play and BEAT the game on Pro difficulty or higher.  You had to earn him by winning.  Or, as tends to happen in games of late, you could earn him by buying the access to him.  Because why not?

3.  Drew Carey – The Sims:  House Party

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It’s an old game.  But he was popular back when.  Remember the Drew Carey Show?  Ok… maybe not.  What about Whose Line Is It Anyway?   I hope so, because that show was THE BEST.  Anyway.  Back in the day he was popular.  So was this game.  All you had to do was have a house party for more than 135 minutes and make a score of 55 or higher, and BAM!  There he was.  In all his NPC glory.

Nifty.

4.  Ricky Gervais – Grand Theft Auto IV

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He isn’t an active character in the game.  By he is still in there.  Ricky Gervais can be seen performing a stand-up act when you have your character sit down and take a break from stealing and killing for a little while.

Wanna see?  You can view it here.  You’re welcome.

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