Disney meets Square in this inspired RPG.
Have you ever seen a Disney film? Have you ever played a Final Fantasy game? If you answer yes to any of these questions then I have just the game for you. I can’t understand what possessed Square, the makers of the final fantasy series, and Disney to create a game that contained characters from both of their fields. Whatever it was I think they have hit a real winner. To be honest this game defies any kind of real explanation. You play Sora (voiced by none other than Halley Joel Osment) a young boy who lives on an island with some friends, Riku and Kairi. Sora has a real obsession with Kairi and Riku is the elder of the two lads and fancies the pants of Kairi, too! I then need to tell you that Sora has been having some pretty screwed up existential dreams recently where his gloriously animated body is falling through sky and water and all manner of crazy hallucinogenic stuff. He finally ends up on a stained glass window of Cinderella and you then have to choose your weapon (sword, shield or wand) and you are told of a group called the ‘heartless’. He tells his two friends, who then question what is beyond their island and if their existence is real. They decide to leave the island by building a boat but some nasty big shadow people come along and cause loads of agro. We then get a cut-scene of Donald going to visit King Mickey who has gone AWOL. The heartless have dropped you away from your friends in a new world and you meet up with Donald and Goofy who keep calling you the keyblade master. You then have to travel to lots of different worlds as the heartless are destroying them one by one. All the worlds happen to be related to Disney films. Phew… I think that is about the measure of it. What you actually do is very broad as well. I chose the sword as my weapon and I am not sure how much that affects the story but you basically have to run around hammering the hell out of various huge monsters, which once defeated increases your power level. The monsters are generally themed to the world they inhabit; for example, in Agrabah they all have turbans. You then have smaller missions to do in each world and on-going missions that keep reappearing like finding all 99 Dalmatian puppies or fighting in the various tournaments at Hercules’ Coliseum! To travel from one world to the next is also a game within itself. You have a Gummiship which you can add many different parts to, such as armour, engines, weapons, cockpits and warp drives, and then fly it through space dodging through obstacles and shooting other ships until you make your way to the world you desire. What it has to do with the grand scheme of the game I’m unsure but it is a pleasant relief from the hacking and slashing. The graphics of this game are superb and it is understandable why Disney went to Square, as the characterisation of all the Disney characters is unreal. They are brought superbly to a 3D environment without you ever questioning for one moment if they look like the real characters. The way in which old characters such as the wicked witch from Snow white and Hades from Hercules interact even though they are from an entirely different time is incredible. The non-Disney characters are also expertly crafted and it shows that real effort has gone into this game. The music is unfortunately a bit of a let down. It is very well made, but very similar, and the amount of times one can listen to Winnie-the-Pooh or the infuriatingly anonymous tunes as you fly through space can be grating. I guess in its defence the music in the Disney films is purposely designed to be jingoistic and to get into your brain. It is also fairly quiet in the background, so if you want, you can chose to ignore this little annoyance. As confusing as this game is, it is terribly addictive for a host of reasons, the main one being continuing in the game to see what the next Disney character is you will meet on your journey. The only thing that I really wasn’t sure about was what age group the game was aimed at. Is it aimed at kids who like Disney films? No, the controls are too difficult and the story is a little too dark, for example, it is more than a little disturbing when you meet Winnie-the-pooh on his own thinking how he is going to say good-bye to himself as all his friends have been consumed by the heartless. Is it aimed at teenagers who like Final Fantasy style games? It’s more plausible but what 15 year-old would be seen dead playing with a game that had the Little Mermaid in it! Is it aimed at 20-somethings then? Possibly but it is still doesn’t sit quite right, but regardless, this is game that can be enjoyed by all if given the opportunity to impress. The only real flaw the game has to be the annoying camera angles which are never quite right and the fact that whilst battling you may have to fuss around with the camera. That is the last thing you want to worry about when defeating a Genie-sized Jafar in a flaming lava pit! In every other respect this game is an utter a masterpiece.