A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while there is constant fighting, it's of the cartoon variety. There's never any blood, just action. While the game is full of classic Disney characters, the story is can be dark. Goofy and Donald seem more like maturing teens than kiddie characters. The game also features characters from the Final Fantasy series of video games.
What's it about?
Kingdom Hearts series of games is a strange one that combines Square-Enix's crew of Final Fantasy characters with many of Disney's most well known cartoon personalities, everyone from Donald Duck to Simba from The Lion King. In KINGDOM HEARTS RE: CHAIN OF MEMORIES, this remake of a Gameboy Advance offering sees young warrior Sora exploring a large and mysterious castle where friendship can be regained and memories just may not be what they seem. Joining Sora for this role-playing journey are Goofy, Donald, and Jiminy Cricket.
You'll spend the better part of an hour learning how to play Chains of Memories. Running, dodging, and jumping are simple touches of the controller. But you'll collect cards with various powers along the way, too. Wielding the proper cards in the magical deck that allows you to win in battle takes serious strategy. You can cheat this a bit to regain your card powers by pressing up on the D-pad and the 'X' button at the same time. As the story unfolds with pretty video cutscenes, you'll battle bosses and discover places in which to save your game.
Is it any good?
If you don't think a PlayStation 2 remake of a Gameboy Advance game is worth your time, think again. Not only is there charm to this story, there are so many characters that the twists and turns never seem to end. While the graphics still have some jaggies, they have been redone to the extent that you'll never think this once was a handheld game for an outdated Nintendo system.
Yet there are challenges for the player. Many of the minor battles done in an effort to level up your character are repetitive and, therefore, border on being boring. (The boss battles, however, are generally compelling.) Although voiceover work is done by actors Haley Joel Osmont and David Gallagher, there's not enough of it. Most of the time, you'll be reading lines of text and seeing characters silently mime words. In this day and age, that's fine for a handheld game. But it's lazy and inexcusable for a console game, even when it's a last generation model like the PS2. Still, the joy of exploring various lands, especially the Nightmare Before Christmas environment, can't be denied. Whatever the flaws, you just keep coming back for more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it would be like to live with Disney characters who could cast spells. What spell would you cast to help protect your family? Knowing the more mature personalities of the Disney characters in Chain of Memories, which one would you choose to be and why? Or would you rather be one of the Final Fantasy characters featured in the game? Why?
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