Review Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, note e tenebre

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Steven L. Ken
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We've thoroughly played Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory for you; in our review, we see how Sora fares with music

For a historical fan of the saga, write one review di Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory it is an almost surreal experience. On the one hand, the fingers that are galloping on the keyboard at this moment must untangle the ballast that brings with it the knowledge of a series capable of confusing even the fans with a delirious narrative sector. On the other hand, a less distorted and more objective look at the series takes over for the first time. Even so, however, avoiding recognizing the merits - and, at the same time, the gaps - of this title would be like lying to oneself.

In this game (or rather its incarnation for Nintendo Switch, which we will analyze here) coexist two contrasting and distinct souls. First, it is a celebration of the composer's musical flair Yoko "the Osaka pianist" Shimomura (Street Fighter II, Mario & Luigi, Final Fantasy XV) has always poured into the series as well as the franchise in general. The possibility of making the narration an ideal entry point for newbies, even if present, takes a lot of importance. We are undoubtedly dealing with a product born with enthusiasts in mind, as you will see shortly.

Previously on

The narrative of Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, at 98%, consists of a summary of the entire series from Kairi's point of view, narrated by the always good Alyson Stoner. At this juncture, we must break a lance in honor of the game designer's good intentions Tetsuya Nomura: after the botched, confusing and excessively laconic summaries seen in the third chapter of the main series, this time the right time is dedicated to each game. An idea that already sprouted with Kingdom Hearts 3D on Nintendo 3DS in 2012, this one, now brought to its maximum potential.

With the exception of the mobile episode and its non-interactive transposition within II.8: Final Chapter Prologue, in the course of her self-inflicted coma Kairi brings us back in step with everyone the crazy twists to which the saga has now been able to get used to. The only bitter aftertaste we can talk about, if nothing else, is that for players without the other consoles this "ideal starting point" risks ruining the experience in a possible port of the previous chapters on the Nintendo Switch. Our (we admit) fussiness extends to the few hints of weft progress for which the spinoffs are now known, kept as always last; Beyond this, however, we have very little to complain.

[Image shot in still version]

Teatro ritmico – Review Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Moving on to the "meat" of the review, let's talk about the gameplay of Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. Tetsuya Nomura, this time, also involved the development team mainly specialized in Nintendo consoles, indieszero (NES Remix, Sushi Striker, Elektroplankton), following the proposal (accepted years later) by Square-Enix to Disney regarding a sequel to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Kingdom Hearts themed. The result is a rhythm game that pays homage to the music of the saga excluding an almost negligible number of passages, in which the style of indieszero emerges both for good and for bad.

In the opening bars, just like in Theatrhythm, this spiritual successor introduces us to the various modalities little by little, in such a way as to allow us to become familiar with an altogether good number of variations on the theme. This extends both to the modalities themselves and to the types of songs, which in pure Theatrhythm style (with which comparisons will not fail) are divided according to the different ways in which they can be played. The short version consists of three kinds of songs: an automatic runner where you hit enemies in rhythm, a more traditional rhythmic experience, and boss battles.

[Image shot in still version]

Un’avventura tra le note – Review Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

After the tutorial, which understandably leads us to run among the solemn windows of the "Dive into the heart" that the series has taught us to know, for the first minutes of the game we can only extricate ourselves from the worlds of adventure mode. The latter, which combines the map design of Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep with the melody of the level select of the progenitor of the series, is called World Tour, and progress is tied hand in glove with the completion of sub-goals for each track. Such challenges can only be met here, and their challenge rate rises very quickly.

The songs in fact soon begin to ask to set the difficulties to its highest rank - Hero - and rarely do they just ask us to get to the finish all in one piece. In fact, in Theatrhythm style, it is the health bar that measures our ability to keep time: each mistake corresponds to an attack that the enemies will be able to land. The result, at least as regards the "battles on the field" (the runner levels) can prove challenging enough: never permissive like the two Theatrhythms, but not even satanic like Harmoknight by Game Freak for Nintendo 3DS.

[Image shot in still version]

Real RPG elements - Kingdom Hearts Review: Melody of Memory

Whether you have access to the other chapters of the series or not, in the review phase we could not deny a merit to Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. The game often manages to emulate the experience of a main series game with the most disparate tricks, starting from the cast of playable characters. Or rather: more than any character, we should talk about each trio. There are four teams available, starting from the "classic" (Sora, Donald, Goofy) and later unlocking the "Days team" (Roxas, Xion, Axel), the "3D team" (Riku, Miao Wow, Pipistrory) and the " BBS team "(Aqua, Ventus, Terra).

Any trio can earn experience and level up, but the only advantage present in this option lies in a reduced amount of damage for each of our mistakes. The moves outside the physical attacks, in fact, are relegated to the "skill crystals" (Kingdom Hearts re: coded) present in the standard levels, and result in a mere difference in the required input. They shuffle the cards on the table a little allies present in the various Disney worlds, whose entry into the team is determined by cryptic rules, e King Mickey who maintains his status as a lone and unpredictable warrior with disposable tools to summon him before starting a song.

[Image taken in portable version]

A Tracklist That Misses The Academic Kiss - Kingdom Hearts Review: Melody of Memory

Even before this review, we got to talk about the Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory tracklist. What you saw in that article still holds true, as long as Disney e Square-Enix do not change their mind regarding DLCs (currently not covered). It is therefore an impressive selection of songs, which really reduces the cuts to a minimum. If you allow us a fussiness, what perplexes us most - after the already known exclusion of The Deep Jungle, Port Royal / The Caribbean and The 100 Acre Wood - is the absence of The Symphony of Witchcraft.

Ironically, this last world, coming from Kingdom Hearts 3D, is the real adaptation of the original Fantasia (1940). However, we also understand that Yoko Shimomura's emphasis on music is aimed at putting his compositions (plus any rearrangements, such as This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas and One-Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII) in the spotlight, instead of classical music in the public domain. Speaking of One-Winged Angel, we had assumed that his presence involved a cameo of Sephiroth as the boss: we were wrong.

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I tipi di brani – Review Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

The "battles on the field" consist of three types of targets to hit to the rhythm of music: the standard ones to hit once, the special ones that need to be intercepted in the air and / or several times, and the green trails to accompany with a glide. This triptych of "notes", divided between standard, special and elongated, is another remnant of Theatrhythm. This extends into the other two types of songs, which represent the minority: the "Memories" and the boss fights. Both boast a more markedly classic musical gameplay, but they are ironically contextualized as mere digressions.

In diving into memory (image above), our trio glides along a deep trail, while a video plays in the background. With this expedient, the development team has been able to implement the worlds of Kingdom Hearts III in each version of the game. Arranging the line horizontally, however, we have the battles against the bosses (below), a true 1: 1 scale replica of the two Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. A sore point: although a source of hype in the trailers, the bosses that we will be able to face do not exceed the threshold of four.

[Image taken in portable version]

Song Collection and Free Play - Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory Review

Access to the modes (done with the dropper) sees free selection of songs as the second menu item to be unlocked. It will also be here that, testifying to the arcade soul of the title, we will spend most of the time once the world tour is over. Choosing a song adds another nuance to the three difficulties present thanks to the play styles. These are two additional variations on the theme capable of subtracting or adding inputs to what is requested of us. We indeed have the style Standard, style Only one and finally, the style Artist.

With Uno Solo, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory limits inputs to a single button, in favor of a rhythm game experience pure and essential. Artist, for his part, does the exact opposite, adding extra targets hit with the required button (or stick tilt). The game does not boast the dreaded "Critical" difficulty, but by combining Hero and Artist it is possible to take the challenge rate to its zenith even with the very first songs of the story mode.

Even on "Beginner" difficulty, the Artist mode is no joke. [Image taken in portable version]

Multiplayer, tails and delight or excruciating delight - Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory review

Being a rhythm game in the guise of an action role-playing game, this title also boasts a component multiplayer. This is a variant of Theatrhythm's VS mode, in which you can face an opponent (locally with multiple consoles, online or CPU) undermining his timing with combo shots. The Nintendo Switch version also boasts an exclusive “battle royale”, in which up to eight players (with three life points each) can face off locally. The concept brings to mind Tetris 99 and Super Mario Bros. 35, but organizing a full game is sure to be challenging.

Honorable mention also for the co-op mode, more or less. What we saw in the game demo hinted at the possibility of tackling the unlocked tracks together, but the reality is quite different. Songs here must be unlocked regardless of main game progress. This also means that, of the more than 140 tracks in the game, only 21 have been rearranged to play together. If you were hoping to go through the entire campaign with a friend, then, we have bad news. This is a real wasted opportunity, while still being a fun mode.

[Image taken in portable version]

“… And in front of the museum” - Review Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

To make the Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory package greedy is the museum. However, this is perhaps where we go to touch one of the real flaws of the review. The “museum” menu extends the homage to the entire series even beyond the mere musical aspect, with one collection of artwork and render, two selections of movies (dedicated respectively to the summary of the saga and to the videos of the dips of memory), the show room jukebox he target. If nothing else, videos and songs are unlocked simply by playing the relevant songs, contrary to the grinding seen in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call.

The negative side, however, we find it with the item "collection". The indieszero development team doesn't seem to have learned anything from Curtain Call. The "rhythm points" obtained after each song are still present, but they do not guarantee not to be found duplicates. The latter are also present when forging new "packets" of content at the Moogle shop, fortunately recalled from every menu of the game. The collection is mammoth, and among cutscene illustrations, renders and screenshots the fanservice is truly at the highest level; it is a pity, therefore, that progress is completely throttled by the element of fortuity.

[Image shot in still version]

Final considerations

We've somehow managed to delve into every side of the game in this long Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory review, and it's time to take stock. At the level of graphics, this is the classic graphics engine from PlayStation 2 that still makes a good impression today. The only bitter aftertaste we can talk about, if we really have to, is that of the scenes taken from Kingdom Hearts III in the movies. A little gluttony, when we go back to the first 3D model of Sora, comes to us. An applause, however, we must really do it with regard to the runner levels. With "abstract" exceptions (we allude to the sporadic buildings suspended in the air), in many cases it seemed to us to revisit the original versions of the various worlds.

As regards instead the sonoro, there is very little to complain: we are talking about Yoko Shimomura, after all. However, this is where we would like to touch on three points. Sometimes, the audio occasionally tends to "blow up”, Unseating the player's timing. This brings with it even a small part of input lag, which we largely solved by reinstalling the game. Taking a hit can lead to suffer many others, in the presence of so many enemies. The songs that make their return here are also part of theirs classic incarnations: if you're here for the orchestral variants of the two HD Remixes, then, you might be a little disappointed. As much as Yoko Shimomura may disappoint, of course.

Il gameplay however, the game remains a fun hybrid between classic Kingdom Hearts and musical runners. Unfortunately, however, among a few bosses and other subtleties there is no lack of wasted opportunities. The only real note of disappointment, however, we owe it to longevity. The arcade soul of the title would put every opportunity to play the game to the bitter end in the race for the best score, but the randomness to which progress in the museum's (laudably) monumental collection is subject turns completeness into an unpleasant stretch. Given what we have said about the second Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, however, unfortunately we are dealing with a bad habit of indieszero.

For this review that's all, we are always waiting for you here on techigames to talk more about video games!

8 A must for fans of the saga and / or rhythm games

Points in favor

  • A total celebration of Kingdom Hearts ...
  • Yoko Shimomura always in shape
  • Great hybrid between rhythm game and action RPG
  • Almost every world from past games makes a return
  • Uncompromising backdrops for an ageless graphics engine

Points against

  • ... castrated by a lethargic unlock of extras
  • A timing that is sometimes too severe
  • A really minimal plot advance
  • Little exploited the mechanics of the bosses
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