February 1, 2011
Pap the Disney Gamer's
Highlights: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
What started out as a quirky experiment in
crossover storylines ended up becoming one of Disney and
Square's most popular video game franchises. Since 2002, the
Kingdom Hearts franchise has delighted both Disney
and RPG fans with its deep, emotional storylines that pay
tribute to some the best stories both companies have ever
told. Players get to do battle against enemies called the
heartless in a wide variety of worlds, each based on a
different Disney film, as well as explore original ones.
Despite being the fifth game released under
Hearts name, Birth by Sleep is actually the first in
the timeline, featuring Terra, Ventus, and Aqua as its main
characters. The game tells the story of how the events in
the entire franchise came to be as the characters travel
through each world in hopes of finding Master Xenahort, a
man who is playing with the powers of darkness for his own
selfish needs. This is the first Kingdom Hearts game where
you get to play as three different characters, each telling
their own side of the story. Together they form a huge
narrative where friendships are questioned and fought for,
danger lurks around every corner and the balance between the
light and darkness must be obtained at any cost.
Kingdom Hearts fancies itself for being an
action style-RPG, and Birth by Sleep follows that tradition
proudly. Using a lock on system seen in games like
Nintendo's Ocarina of Time you can lock onto an enemy and
attack it using the keyblade, the series' weapon of choice.
In Birth by Sleep you can unleash a flurry of special
attacks such as a target lock attack. To add more depth to
the gameplay, you can equip different commands and abilities
to create your own personal character as well as fighting
style, depending on the situation you are about to face.
Finally, you can link up with the other characters and use
their abilities and attacks. Disney characters like
Snow White and even
Maleficent can lend their powers should you need
Speaking of which, Disney's first three
princess films are highlighted in Birth by Sleep. You will
get to follow the storylines of
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and
Sleeping Beauty, from the minute they yearn from for
their dreams to be real until they experience true love's
kiss (though to accommodate the original storyline, some
scenes were altered). Other Disney films such as
Peter Pan and
Lilo and Stitch are represented in the game's levels.
Square Enix is a company that fancies itself
for being able to get the most out of the system they are
working on, and Birth by Sleep is no exception. All Disney
worlds and characters are faithfully rendered to resemble
the look of the original movie. Small details such as the
size of the Dwarf's cottage to the grim, dirty look of
Maleficent's dungeon, no expense was spared when bringing
such colorful universes together.
To add even more Disney magic to the game,
Disney and Square Enix have hired the original voice actors
to reprise their famous roles. Even the animation of the
characters stay true to the hand drawn animation done on
them years ago.
The music, composed by
Shimomura, also pays tribute to the timeless
collection of Disney songs, while creating its own themes
with a Disney flavor. Hits such as â€œBibbidi Bobbidi Boo,â€
â€œIt's a small world,â€ and â€œThe
Mickey Mouse Club Themeâ€ adorn some of the game's
worlds. This adds a grand level of authenticity to the game,
and thus it becomes more valuable for the Disney fan in
sheer nostalgia alone.
Hearts franchise is one that is aimed at the Disney
gamer rather than the regular Disney fan thanks to its high
level of challenge and RPG mechanics, and Birth by Sleep
adds even more mystery to a plot already brimming with it.
But everyone can appreciate all the effort that went into
creating a game that pays a deep tribute to the Disney
legacy while creating a polished RPG experience that is
synonymous with Square Enix.
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