A kingdom hearts rant (BBS is actually good)

Yes, I’ve enjoyed the Kingdom Hearts games… The only one I’ve truly disliked is 358/2 days and that’s just because it was dull.

The major complaints about the series (for me) are the plot is largely dull, and the interesting pieces are sparse through out it, despite the fact the story is actually interesting when it’s telling you it. But I think the story of kingdom hearts is an issue for a later date.

The other major complaint I have with the series on the whole is that it seems forced to dilute the experience with a lot of needless content that you have to trudge though. The 2 core titles with their gummy ship sequences and Chain Of memories (CoM) while having less of the garbage, can get quite annoying with opening doors (which later on require very exact assortments of items which can lead to a lot of tedious grinding).

I was fortunate enough to have an Action Replay and hack in all the door opening cards for CoM, and it moves from being a good but flawed game to being an amazing game.

You could fault the series for a lot of other reasons, like bad platforming, annoying camera, being made by Square (at least that’s what some people will tell you), and how the games have many systems which you can ignore. And these are mostly true of BBS too. But in this day and age I don’t expect a pure experience from most things, and BBS keeps these sequences brief and painless.

So, given I hate so much, what is it I love about Kingdom Hearts, and BBS in particular?

Combat.

The Kingdom Hearts series has really fun fast paced combat, making mass slaughter for various absences (heartless, nobodies, unverse) a lot of fun. KH1 is a little slow paced, and has a few nagging annoyances in how some of the systems work. KH2 is frantic and insane, but can be far too automated, along with magic, summons and team attacks competing for your MP, and team attacks or healing were the best options for the most part, meaning KH2’s fights could be summed up by

Mash Attack
if not hurt and team attack appears
Reaction command team attack
if hurt and has MP
heal

Presumably Proud (hard) mode forces you to use a little more cunning, but given it’s a long game with many annoying minigames and sequences meant I didn’t care, and will never play through it again.

So, now you’ve read half an essay you want to hear about the latest game in series, right. Well you’ll be pleased to know that the game starts much quicker than the first two’s horrendous starts.

And what’s more, it allows you to skip the starting tutorial the 2nd time you play!!! Sure, SE know you’ll play the game 3 times to play with each character, however, too many games force awkward long and dull tutorials on you meaning the chances of you playing them a second time are slim, so removal of these is always a welcome thing.

In Birth By Sleep, you play as one of 3 keyblade masters, Ventus (Ven), the Roxas clone who is the fast and full out aggro character who looks up at others, Terra, the slow but deadly character whose plot line seems to mimic riku’s battle with the darkness, and Aqua (pronounced Arkuwa by the cast, not Ackuwa), the nimble mage who is devoutly loyal to her duties.

All three plots run concurrently with each other, and each character plays a different role in the story, but, having only played Aqua’s story fully and half of ventus’ it seems that Terra gets everywhere first and does something that looks evil, Ven fixes that thing, but something is left unresolved, Aqua then arrives to save the day… after everyone else.

I’m placing my bets that aqua’s story is the weakest link of the 3, there is no hook to her story to keep you there, no mystery for her to solve, just to get the other 2 back. Ventus actually has stuff happen, meets characters who are going to be important later and so on. About the only interesting thing in Aqua’s story thematically is that Light creates Darkness, however, at the same time, I’m willing to assume Aqua’s story makes much more sense when giving the context of the other 2 stories…

But, overall the tale of birth by sleep is not terribly interesting. On the plus side, the amount of unneeded cutscenes is remarkably few outside of the shared but slightly extended/shorted cutscenes in each characters story. It’s a compelling enough tale to give purpose though.

Hmm, that might be pushing it for length as it is,  I’ll talk about combat in another post.

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