Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing game that mashes up the Disney and Final Fantasy universes. You play as Sora, an optimistic young boy who goes on a search for his friends with the help of his keyblade.
Pro Heartfelt story about the bonds of friendship
The story in Kingdom Hearts is strong because of how well it features the characters. The main protagonist, a young boy named Sora, initially goes on a quest to find his friends, Riku and Kairi, while meeting Donald and Goofy along the way, who are looking for King Mickey.
Throughout Sora's journeys with Donald and Goofy, the three of them meet more friends who either stick with them and aid their quest, or turn against them in unexpected ways. Each of the characters' reasons for their choices and actions all revolve around friendship, usually with losing friends to the darkness in their hearts that they must somehow overcome. It's a touching narrative that knows how to pull on your heartstrings.
Pro Wonderful soundtrack
The soundtrack is incredible. The music goes above and beyond to convey any given tone or theme wherever it plays.
Battle and boss themes are catchy even in their classical influences, with epic final boss songs that tell a story about the main villain through music. Songs for Disney worlds stay true to their original material and are sure to make longtime fans nostalgic for their favorite movies and characters. Even the song that plays on the title screen, "Dearly Beloved", is a quiet but emotional song that stays in your heart. The composer Yoko Shimomura does a fantastic job with the music across the series, putting her background in classical music to use here in the best ways possible.
Pro Fun real-time action combat with keyblade swords
The combat is a lot of fun with the unique keyblade weapons: swords that are shaped like keys. Attacking enemies with your keyblade feels swift and smooth, with plenty of abilities to help you dash quicker, jump higher, and more. Elemental magic spells are snappy and pretty to look at; leveling up unlocks cooler and more powerful spells, with giant flare explosions, thunderstorms, and blizzards with detailed particle effects. You also get rewarded for using certain magic spells, letting you chain faster, flashier keyblade attacks where you're practically invincible until the effect wears off. Combat is really enjoyable, especially as you unlock new skills over time.
Pro Tons of Disney worlds to play in
There are many authentic Disney levels in the game. They look like they were pulled straight out from the movies in how recognizable they are, too. Places like Agrabah from Aladdin, the Deep Jungle from Tarzan, the Olympus Coliseum from Hercules, and Halloween Town from the Nightmare Before Christmas are all fully-playable. Playing around with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and everyone else from the 100 Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh, for example, is a great storybook adventure that feels like you're part of the cartoon itself. Experiencing these authentic worlds with their characters is great and feels true-to-life.
Pro Interesting premise of combining Disney and Final Fantasy characters in one universe
The idea of putting Disney and Final Fantasy together seems like it would never work, but it actually does here. While each of the settings are in many of the Disney worlds, the characters you meet along the way are from both Disney and Final Fantasy. Seeing Donald and Goofy interacting with Cid, Cloud, and Yuffie from Final Fantasy VII, for example, is entertaining because of how novel it is. Even villains like Maleficent have screen time with other Disney characters they'd normally never speak to in the canon lore, like Hades or Jafar. The whole experience is surreal in a good way, with plenty of possibilities for cameos from both franchises.
Con The game hasn't aged that well
There are a few things here that feel outdated. It's hard to keep track of specific quests or even know where you're supposed to go most of the time. Your journal only gives you a broad overview of why you're in any given world at a time. Attacking enemies and jumping around feels a bit sluggish at times, with a strange delay between your button press and Sora actually doing what you want. The worlds also seem too small and empty without much detail. Luckily, these problems are improved on in future games, so it goes to show that the developers learned a lot from this first entry.
Con Some annoying JRPG tropes get in the way of the story
There are some JRPG tropes that bog down the storytelling. The most prominent one is the idea of the characters coming together to defeat gods with the power of friendship. There are a few other ones that will only get on your nerves depending on how much you either tolerate or enjoy the tropes.