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Kingdom Hearts: The Rundown of the series in release order! *SPOILER ALERT* but whatever that means! January 20, 2011

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 10:02 am

So with the awesome upcoming release of Re:coded released today!, I though it’d be nice to y’know go through the games that have been released (on consoles) starting with the one that started it all!

Kingdom Hearts

Ahhh the memories from the first game in the series.  Who knew SQUARESOFT and Disney would’ve collided so soon for this almost made in heaven mixture of an RPG and cherished Children’s movies.  To me this game sparked a whole lot of awesome for me even though at first I did think it was a bit strange seeing these two companies mix it up because it’s so strange. 

Basically, the game tells of a story of a young boy named Sora and his two friends, Riku and Kairi.  However, a mysterious door on the island they live in was opened and Sora gets seperated from his friends and ends up in a strange land. Now here you might think, oh typical RPG fair of something based off of friendship.  Yes, it’s slightly typical and somewhat cheesy, but Disney of course had to have something to do with it.  Now even before you get to the main hub of the game, you get to meet young version of Final Fantasy characters!!!  I mean Wakka, Selphie, and Tidus in the same game WTF!!! was my initial thoughts. 

Anyways getting to Traverse Town (the main hub like I said), you meet more FF Characters like Cid, Squall (but going by Leon for who knows what reason), Aerith (that’s the right name), and Yuffie.  The storyline kicks things up when Squall explains what the Keyblade is and sort of why it chose him, but things get weirder when Donald Duck and Goofy go searching for this person “with the key”.  So here is where the story finally moves.  Of course Donald and Goofy are searching for someone else (The King, who we don’t know at the time is) and Sora for Riku and more importantly Kairi.

Of course, since it’s half-Disney everything from here on out is mainly interpretations of various classic Disney films.  I mean we have: Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan (only appearance because of some wacky rights clause or something), Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Hercules, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Winnie the Pooh.  All those worlds are based off very memorable Disney movies (maybe not Tarzan since it was kind of newish) but the biggest surprise was Nightmare Before Christmas since I thought it would’ve been too dark for the game (even though the game itself is dark in place).

Anyways during your travels you learn a lot about friendship and the ideas of light and darkness in which basically you can’t have one without the other, but there are people that want just one and that’s bad.  I mean to me Sora is light and Riku is darkness, but then again there’s other things messed up during the story that kind of ignores that.

Anywho, right towards the end of the game Riku totally betrays Sora, steals his keyblade, get’s controlled by “Ansem” (though we figure out later something else and basically gets separated from everyone.

Anyway the main storyline for the game is that most of the Disney villians are capturing the “Princesses of Heart” which includes: Jasmine, Alice, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast), Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty) and Kairi, but the final princesses heart was inside Sora, but no one exactly knew that until Sora connected the puzzle and sacrificed himself and turned himself into a Heartless to get her out and back in the right place and of course being typical Disney fodder, she saves him by hugging him. 

Now I haven’t talked about Heartless, but that’s what they are.  I mean they have hearts but lack emotions so they’re this cold monstrations.  Mostly black in color too, but they have different looks and colors as well. 

Back in the story, after Sora returns as a human (trust me, this Heartless moment whips up another batch of drama), he goes and stops “Ansem” from taking full control of Kingdom Hearts (which is the door the ultimate light/darkness whatever).  Sora defeats him, and they close the door to the light but closing Riku & The King (which is King Mickey as we all guessed in time) inside (though strange that it looked like darkness inside the door).  Sora and Kairi talk and then they get seperated as Kairi goes back to Destiny Islands and Sora is well….they never really explained where he initially ends up and so ends the story.

Of course, the game isn’t over and it shows the three amigos walking along and out of nowhere Pluto pops up and runs off leaving the three to chase him down and so ends the game

Now you may think wow, that’s a bit off for SQUARE and Disney, but to be honest, it was a match made in heaven and there were definitely things I learned from this game!

  • 1. Heartless are just everywhere – Yeah, there was just no stopping them, though the experience and level grinding was pretty damn good and the variations to them were awesome! for the most part, especially the ones you find at End of the World!
  • 2. Button Mashing + Awkward Camera = Dizzying dynamics – Likewise, the game wasn’t like the Final Fantasy series where you have battle systems like in FFX.  It was a new idea at the time and it was great, making fighting simpler, easier transitions since there was none for this game and such, but the camera mixed with the hectic field and auto-locking made this a bit tough in places, especially like the battles in Olympus Coliseum. 
  • 3. Fanservice FTW – Basically this game was the first so it had to be mentioned here, but it was fanservice for fans of both SQUARE games and Disney movies.  It’s great to have them talk to each other and such and to see them fit in through each world like butter.  I mean there were oddities like Cloud with Hades, but for the most part, it was amazingly done and couldn’t have done any better!
  • 4. Kurt Zisa should not be a name of a boss, PERIOD – Let’s be honest, it’s great to see that we got more things than in the original JPN release of the game.  I mean more bosses whoohoo for one thing.  However, they really tested my patience.  I mean Kurt Zisa was very defensive and used a lot of keep-away tactics while Phantom was definitely one of the tougher bosses in the series because of the need for Stop Magic.
  • 5. Lance Bass is Sephiroth and he’s near-impossible to defeat?!? FFFFFFFFFFFF. – Yes it’s true the game’s superboss that isn’t “Ansem” is Sephiroth and by god is he tough.  I’ve never beaten him since his stupid Heartless Angel move is just a pussy move.  Though knowing Lance of NSYNC voiced him is very strange…then again Mandy Moore voiced Aerith (and let’s be honest she did a better job than whoever voiced her in KHII. 
  • 6. Darkness/Light…Friendship…Oh I see, a little education I guess – I guess when it comes to stories, SQUARE kind of keeps of with various themes around good/evil, light/darkness so it comes at a surprise that KH came with an ending that basically says “you can’t have one without the other” and so that’s where it came from.  Though Disney with their kid-friendliness overloaded the friendship bar quite a bit to the point where things got ridiculous.  Still, pretty nice of them to have something that teaches the young’ns.
  • 7. Hikki totally found her ace! – Of course we’d have to mention that Hikki really gained her fanbase through this game with Hikari/Simple and Clean.  Those songs really put the game into a great mood.  I mean the remix to open the game was unheard of, but damn that was pretty sweet with the great CGI opening.  Nowadays, it’s a little eh because there’s only two songs to choose from.
  • 8. Final Mix?!? WTF WHY DIDN’T WE GET IT?!? – That said, it was announced that after the NA KH was released Japan was gonna get it rereleased over there.  Of course they have tons of added knickknacks and things that carried over into other games that left maybe a small chunk of the people confused over here…like the battle against Unknown (turned out it was an Organization member).  Still, new cutscenes, a trailer for FFX-2, and Gummi Ship missions being tougher with various other small things.  Why didn’t we get this?!?
  • 9. Another side, Another story… – Basically, if we completed the game by doing the things that we needed to do to unlock it, we get a secret movie (though at the time it was unknown if it anything to do with it) but nonetheless it was a preview for KH2 well for all we knew it was.  It was shocking to see the dark and gloomy side, but it was strange seeing a seemingly new character show off dual-handed keyblades and Riku in a blindfold diving from a building.  And of course the mysterious guy asks “Where’s Sora” so it left us kind of lost a bit.  FINAL MIX had a much more interesting ending with deep dive, but it showed more of the battle with Ro…I mean mysterious guy and the infamous scene with him running up the building and throwing a keyblade at blindfolded Riku.  Of course there’s a discussion in this dark world with someone else, but it ends with “He looks just like you”…what?!?  Anyways that’s how it ended, well Mickey popped up and Sora flying across an ocean so…weird stuff.

That’s basically KH1 for ya!

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

Released about two years after the original, SQUARE (now going as SQUARE ENIX and Disney paired up again for the second chapter of the series (well…I can’t exactly call it a true sequel, since there’s a KH2).  Anyways, for most this was passed up by a lot of people because they didn’t have a GBA for this and it was only on until way later (but that’s a different story told later).  Chain of Memories does continue the story as if it was a true sequel though, but I can see why it wasn’t 2.

Story continues where we left off with Sora, Donald, and Goofy chasing after Pluto but lose track and find themselves at a crossroad.  Doing some looking, Sora sees this guy in a hood (though I wonder if he quickly forgot the battle with Unknown in Final Mix or that was omitted here (who knows).  Either way, they follow him to this castle called Castle Oblivion. 

Anyways moving on, we meet out antagonists, a rather strange group of people in black coats.  We learn their names as the game goes on like The icy scientist Vexen, the sarcastic Axel, bitchy Larxene, and their leader of what’s going on Marluxia.  What they know that Sora doesn’t is that every time Sora moves up a floor his memories are slowly fading away and filled with lies by a witch named Namine (though we learn later in KH2 that there’s something different with her). 

Of course most of the game is basically backtracking through the Disney worlds (exception being Tarzan’s because of legality) and added a new place called Twilight Town (which becomes more important in the series later on).  Still it’s nice that the areas look different but that’s because of the physics and workings into the game, but I felt somewhat bored.

Back to the storyline, Namine filled Sora’s mind with the notion that he must protect her and at the same time she’s getting him to forget Kairi, but that plan fails as Axel starts going back on what he was supposed to do (but there’s reasoning later on in a diff game), and on that kills off Vexen for trying to “spill the beans” even though his Riku Replica was still moving around.  Larxene perishes under Sora’s defeat and meets up with Marluxia and Namine.  Though the Riku Replica joins with Sora to try to defeat him, it’s kind of no use and insert good vs. evil shtick and we get to the end.

However, the damage Namine created by messing with the chain of memories has done enough and the only way to fix him up is putting Sora & Friends into a sort of coma so she could piece back what was messed around.  Not the kind of ending you’d expect coming from SE/D, but it’s interesting nonetheless and makes for a good cliffhanger.

That’s not all however, once you beat Sora’s story you also have to go through Riku’s story.  Even though it’s basically the same except the memory erasing, it’s good to see he made it out of the darkness and it’s awesome to see that Mickey is somewhat with him as well.  The thing that’s bothering Riku though is “Ansem” since he did overtake his psyche and such.  We meet even more of these hooded members.  The quiet Lexaeus and smart Zexion however they were both made short quite easily.  Riku taking out Lexaeus like sliced bread and interestinly Axel turning Vexen’s creation against Zexion.  Talk about backstabbing right.  While his ending leads him out of the castle, it was interesting to see that Sora and Riku in the same place

So what did I learn?

  • 1. Cards for Battling is a terrible, terrible idea – While I will admit that I never owned the GBA version (even though I have the system and played it though I own the PS2 version) and even then, cards for battling is just a poor system.  I mean it’s roughly the higher the card value the better and when you have a deck of not so good cards, you’re in for a hurting, unless you mix three together for a higher value then your good, but you lose cards doing that and it SUCKS!  Even I can’t get through Marluxia!!!  It’s just not fair!
  • 2. Memories??? psh who needs em! – Of course since the main point of the game is “never forget your true friends”, it really started to annoy me that everyone even Goofy and Donald were talking about memories like scattershot…it’s like OK we get it…he’s losing his memories and gettin them replaced by false ones!
  • 3. Who are these unknown bitches? – At the time of release, I really never understood of the reasoning for Lexaeus, Zexion, Axel, Larxene, Vexen, and Marluxia.  It’s kind of the most random placement of baddies ever, but somehow for beings that lack emotion they sure had enough to stand out for me. 
  • 4. Lack of new places?  At least the idea for them was nice? – Like I said, they reused most of the Disney places, but none of them had the same rooms like their former looks, which is great, but the lack of swimming in Atlantica and Olympus Coliseum actually having more than just the front doors, inside, and in the coliseum itself was different. 
  • 5. GBA, first time for everything – Like I said this was a first being a KH game on a Nintendo system more or less the GBA which is great since it was the first with FMVs on it.  Likewise, the lack of buttons kind of hurt it and it had to have some time to get used to (I’ve played it on the GBA, I just never owned it)
  • 6. Worst game of the series – I’ll say it, this and it’s upgrade on the PS2 are the worst iterations because of how difficult it is to get used to the card battling system, and the fact it was such a frustrating experience, but the story is so good though, which can make or break an RPG, to me I just bypass the action for the FMVs. 

Of course there’s Re:chain of Memories, but I’ll get to that later.

Kingdom Hearts II

Yup, the official sequel was released next and it was what everyone was basically wanting with a few small things here and there that changed around.  The biggest things were that the story was more deeper and longer than the first one.  Though I will say something later, but let’s get into the story!

We begin the game playing as Roxas and what seems to be his summer vacation.  Though I found it ironic that it’s Twilight Town and is always in sunset mode which kind of is lame and strange but whatever.  We meet his friends Hayner, Pence, and Olette and their rivals Seifer, Fu, Rai, and Vivi (the middle two are of course Fujin and Raijin from FF8 with Seifer also from FF8 and Vivi from FF9).  It seems like your typical summer vacation filled with fun and adventure, but Roxas has something going on.  He’s getting memories of Sora going through various parts of KH1 and ending at him standing in front of Castle Oblivion.  During this period, we learn that Roxas also finds himself holding onto a Keyblade and that Axel is searching for him.  While it doesn’t set in what the relationship between the two is before the end of the tutorial (Yes, Roxas’ story is a tutorial basically) We figure out it’s something deep since Roxas finally learns that he wasn’t meant to exist and needs to go back to Sora.  At first he’s wanting to be his own merit, but soon caves at the end and finds Sora in his pod still in the coma.

So finally we enter the real game and Sora and the gang reawaken, not knowing where the hell they were.  I don’t even think Sora remembers Castle Oblivion…maybe a little bit, but he prolly won’t remember the name.  After clearing out the sleepys, we find out Jiminy’s journal was erased and only had “Thank Namine” written in it.  So getting out of the mansion, they return to searching for Kairi, Riku, and King Mickey, but quickly they actually do find Mickey but it was a shortlived visit and he sends them off to Yen Sid who was the Keyblade Master (explained better in another game).  We learn of what we needed to know from KH1 and learned more about Nobodies and the Organization XIII (the former are leftovers that weren’t taken from a Heartless which is basically the body and soul, meaning they have their humanesque forms, but they lack emotions.  The latter is the strongest kind of Nobodies and they are the smartest of their kind, however they’re only 8 members left since 5 vanished during the Chain of Memories arc.  Unbeknowst to Sora and everyone in the Mysterious Tower, Maleficent (one of the major villians from the first KH) has returned as well also raising the stakes for Heartless to return which doubled the danger for Sora, Donald, and Goofy. 

So here’s where we start again like we did with the first game by flying the Gummi Ship to places based off movies like the returning: The Little Mermaid (which is purely optional and is a mini-game world), Nightmare Before Christmas (which got a total change-up by adding in Christmas Town), Hercules and Aladdin’s lands were expanded greatly, and Winnie the Pooh returns as well.  New movies represented include: Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Disney Castle/Steamboat Willie, Lion King, TRON, and Pirates of the Caribbean were represented.  We also got original worlds as well like the return of Hollow Bastion and Twilight Town and new world The World That Never Was.  Each world had a different spark and feel to it and it was great to see new styles going like the black & white Timeless River, playing as animals in the Pride Lands, and even the almost life-like look of Port Royal.  It was definitely an upgrade from the previous titles! 

Anyways, after getting through all of the worlds once, all hell breaks lose as everyone who’s presently there at Hollow Bastion has to take care of the place because of the fact that Maleficent sent all Heartless to attack them all, of course TRON’s world also had a part of this because it was creating them and they had to figure a way to stop it.  So begins the Battle of the 1000 Heartless and boy was that long since they also had to defeat the bipolar member of the Organization, Demyx.

Afterwards they learned that they never fought Ansem themselves said Mickey and some other people, but they fought a Heartless of Xehanort who was at the time Ansem’s assistant (though that turned out to be not right either in a later game).  After the shocking revelation, Mickey soon disappears to continue fighting and the gang actually meets Axel, Saix, and Xemnas.  They tell Sora of their plans and it totally messes things up because they’re using him to complete another entry to Kingdom Hearts this time by collecting the hearts of defeated Heartless to mesh together to produce such a thing and it leaves Sora in a twist because he doesn’t want to help them get there, but he has no choice in the matter since Maleficent sent him away at the last minute.

At this point of the game *inserts breather* you have to go through all of the levels once again to finish up storylines that were left unfinished basically.  Also along the way you slowly meet the rest of the Organization, by the beginning of the second run-through you’ve already met the obsessive to anger Xaldin at Beast’s Castle, the power hungry Saix and the leader Xemnas.  Adding that Axel is also still floating around chasing Kairi as well.  Though in the run-through, you meet the rest of the members: Luxord and his interesting mindgames and Xigbar (kind of the most important of the Organization IMO after Xemnas). 

After the defeat of Xaldin and going through the Disney-themed worlds again, this is where things start to become quite convoluted and strange and very hypocritical in the sense of dealing with things.  However, with the known fact that the real Ansem is also out on prowl, it makes things so confusing!  Also, Hollow Bastion’s real name is shown as Radiant Garden after clearing Tron’s world again and some data was shown and the team consisting of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Sora return to Twilight Town to work the machine, Roxas (in his computerized dimension destroyed) and escape to The World That Never Was.

Now I know I’ve missed another story and that’s Riku’s and King Mickey’s.  It seems during the beginning of the game (before Sora’s Reawakening) Riku was working for a mysterious man only named DiZ.  While Roxas was in data form, DiZ showed no compassion to either Roxas or Namine (the latter only used for her powers), so he was kind of prejudiced towards Nobodies (Xehanort’s fault perhaps?).  Anyways I guess because of Riku finding this out he let Axel take Kairi, and then Saix took her and then she escaped with Namine…talk about damsel in distress x.x

Anywho back to Sora, he enters the portal called Betwixt and Between and fights a horde of Nobodies.  Sadly, they get overpowered and before they get their asses kicked Axel comes in and does a “suicide attack” (thanx SQUARE for showing what’s happening in the middle east eh?) and ends up losing his life.  Before he does leave, he mentions to Sora how he reminds him of someone he once knew (*cough* Roxas *cough cough* and he opens the portal further to TWTNW. 

Once there, the game takes an even more WTF turn.  At Memory’s Skyscraper (this is where KH1’s secret ending takes place) Sora is taken away and his mental space gets into a confrontation with another hooded character who turned out to be Roxas and he was trying to figure why he has the Keyblade and he finally got his answer and admits that he “made a good other”.  In FINAL MIX II, there was an actual battle scene, but the original just made it a cutscene.  In the castle, they meet up with Xigbar first and they battle him and of course defeat him, but in the midst Xigbar left them with cryptic stuff, but it only successfully pisses Sora off since he’s not Roxas at all.  We all finally get to see Kairi and Riku (although he took on Xehanort’s Heartless body) get reunite with Sora and the gang and more surprisingly Kairi gets a Keyblade as well.  We do see Rikunort save Kairi beforehand, but I don’t think we see whatever happened with Namine or Pluto for that matter…also King Mickey catches up to DiZ who is at this point now Ansem the Wise and he planned to digitize the almost complete Kingdom Hearts. 

Everyone gets together and blah blah blah good times and then Ansem the Wise sets his weapon on and lights it up, unfortunately it proves to be too much for the weapon and it basically explodes taking him into the darkness, however in some Deus ex Machina-like matrix, Riku ended up turning back into his teenage real form and that was a bit odd.  Though it got weirder when they entered what could be best described as the cemetary for the Organization XIII members.  The only surviving members though left were Luxord, Saix, Roxas, and Xemnas (Roxas being alive in Sora’s body is the reason why his was lit).  Also, the members’ graves showed their weapon of choice on them and mysteriously, Zexion’s at the time was destroyed fully (not sure why, besides the fact we didn’t get to see his weapon until FINAL MIX II.  After defeating Luxord and Saix and watching Sora get pissed off more at the Roxas talk, we finally get to Xemnas THE BIG BAD HONCHO!  While Xehanort has a Heartless (albeit defeated, Xemnas is his Nobody, however…this is due because these are from Terranort (will explain later)). 

While Xemnas was defeated (sort of), Riku opens a portal to send the characters back and Sora and Kairi talk to Roxas and Namine and absorb them back into their hearts.  Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Kairi walked into the portal home, but suddenly Xemnas attacks again and leaves Sora and Riku to fight him off for the final time.  Unfortunately after Riku gets hurt, Xemnas finally is defeated but it leaves the two friends in the Darkness to roam around.  (To me, things kind of get weird storyline wise, but I’ll explain later)

After some heart to heart talking, a bottle washes up on shore and it’s the one Kairi wrote to him midway in the game.  Somehow that opens the path to light and teleports them back to Destiny Islands where they finally meet back with the rest of the characters and so ends the game…

Well it did, but the game actually ends with Kairi finding another bottle with a letter from King Mickey, but we never got to figure out its contents, but we know he’s going on an another adventure.

The secret ending, “The Gathering” as it’s called…left many, many questions that probably made the story even more confusing.  I mean three characters in armor walking with keyblades along a path that’s surrounded by multiple and multiple amounds of keyblades.  It never really made sense as an ending at the time, but it does have its importance later.

FINAL MIX II’s secret ending: “Birth by sleep” was a lot more action-packed and a lot more shocking since it includes many new faces…though many people thought one was Roxas and it made people go crazy since it didn’t make sense storyline wise especially when King Mickey once again shows up at the end…Either way…

After that long ass story, what did I learn from the game?

  • 1. Triangle button is your best friend – I swear this game’s difficulty was definitely lightened up by the new inclusion of Reaction Commands since they did various things with various enemies, of course there’s still the traditional hack n’ slash, but these helpful abilities took a lot out of the game.
  • 2. Even more FF and Disney cameos you can shake a fist at and moreso at making Yuna, Rikku, and Paine…fairies of all things – Of course it isn’t really a KH game without cameos and SQUARE and Disney threw in a lot of WTF-ers this time in the sense of Setzer and Vivi and TRON and Jack Sparrow…it’s another batch of colorful characters and the already well-known ones added more interesting characters.  Still the SQUARE characters have become strange like “We totally owned you lamers!” as quoted by Seifer and the FFX-2 heroines becoming golddiggers and the craptastic VA action for Aerith >.>
  • 3. Roxas…Sora…hmmmmmm.. – Of course we had to figure out what the connection was between the two characters when we first started out besides the amalgam of the names being Sora + X.  We figure out how Roxas came to be, but it’s still one of the weirdest ways.  It’s a bit bittersweet though that Roxas did end up becoming non-existant (to a slight degree). 
  • 4. Was friendship actually the point of KH2? Or was it something deeper?!? – I mean KH and CoM had pretty straightforward storylines, but with 2, it got lost when it got to the second run-through the Disney lands.  I mean the topic of friendship was written all over the prologue and throughout most of the Disney stories and a tad bit in the ending, but it’s like there was something more to it.  I mean yes, light & darkness and the chain of memories fit as well, but I’m guessing the sense of origin was placed since most of the characters talked about the past. 
  • 5. Hikki strikes again! – Seeing Hikki making a new song for the game was a great move and Passion/Sanctuary seemed to have made more sense for the game and it had edge where needed to.  I actually love this one better than the first game’s tune. 
  • 6. Oh what did they do to you Sephiroth?!? – Since I mentioned Sephy difficult kills in the original, KH2 proved to be even more of a cakewalk when the games hardest boss, was actually subsided to become one of the easiest ones.  I mean dodging, reaction commands and generally having good abilities stacked on, made this fight a cinch and the cutscene after making it a tad odd…leaving poor Tifa behind again WTF.
  • 7. And so begins the convoluted story… – Let’s be honest, Chain of Memories did leave us with Sora sleeping, but KH2 left more questions then answers in the game like, what role does Pluto really play in the game since he goes everywhere, but becomes missing again… and how did Maleficent return…or is the Organization XIII really gone, and many more.  I found this game very weird and such at least there’ll be some questions answered I guess.
  • 8. W/O Chain of Memories, you’ll be lost…for a little bit – I will admit that I was a tad lost beginning this game because I didn’t know anyone like we had to obviously know Namine, DiZ, and Axel right from the start.  I mean we did get computerized memories from the prologue, but it was rude and left us at the doorsteps of Castle Oblivion and it ended there so we once again had to figure out things online since the journal of KH2 didn’t say much of anything that dealt with CO, cept the fact that all 13 members of Organization XIII were present…weird.
  • 9. ANOTHER 2 GUYS/1 GIRL GROUP??? possibilities? – What is it with this series and this.  I mean the first game we had Sora, Kairi, and Riku….this time it’s Pence, Olette, and Hayner.  I mean they weren’t totally important to the story, but it just seems that the games after this has a conenction with the parties that consists in threes.
  • 10. Magic? What magic? – Seriously, magic was just not important in this game and could’ve been overlooked (maybe except for the Cure spell, but that was used once in a while since the game was a cakewalk as it was). 
  • 11. FINAL MIX II, wait another one of these that we won’t get…shiiiiiiiit – Yeah, I’m sure all of us thought the same thing we got word that Japan would get an updated version and leaving us cold.  There were a lot more things updated, but I think the biggest things were that you were able to go against all of the Organization members over and over again to your heart’s desire, new weapons, new scenes, and of course a new secret ending.  I do wish they had released this sometime after, but we only got half….wait half what does that mean?

Kingdom Hearts: Re:chain of Memories

Of course, bundled up with FINAL MIX II in Japan, was a basically a ground-up remake of Chain of Memories.  Everything was changed except for the storyline which is above. 

The game though had so many things changed since it went from the GBA style and look to something more along the lines of the original Kingdom Hearts look (and let me tell ya, it’s noticeable after playing KH2).  Besides the new look, the game included voice overs to new scenes (which is basically everything but things inside the worlds), but we learn how bitchy Larxene can get, and Marluxia is pronounced Mar-loo-sha and not Mar-lucks-ee-uh.  Oh and the same guy that voice Uryu in American dubbed Bleach voiced Vexen, sweet!  I’m sure it also showed a lot more questions/answers throughout, but either way it was Chain of Memories 1.5. Also, the best thing to come from this is Theater Mode and that’s when you’re able to watch the voiced videos anytime you want…PREVIOUS GAMES NEED THIS!

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (or Days for short too many people) is the first of two titles that kind of bridges the gap of the story to make a bit more sense (or to confuse more people with more questions).  Days is actually chronologically placed right between when Sora turns into a Heartless in the original and before the prologue to KH2. 

The story goes as it is, you begin as Roxas who’s very quiet and introverted since he was just created right after Sora stabbed himself with his keyblade and turned to a Heartless.  Of course, Xemnas gives him his name and makes me wonder if he named all the members.  After going through a tutorial with all the members, he gets paired up with Axel and they become quick friends.  However, Axel, Zexion, Vexen, Marluxia, Lexaeus, and Larxene are sent off to Castle Oblvious and that ends up with the storyline for Chain of Memories, however Roxas is left with a new character Xion and is left to be known as a new member.  As soon as it shows, she is also able to weild a Keyblade but this happy time ends quite quickly when Roxas ends up in a coma due to Sora going into his sleep.  He does reawaken and find out that Axel survived CO and they all become fast friends. 

Things quickly go downhill however when Xion meets Riku, Axel gets yelled at for trying to be friends and not take things seriously and Roxas starts to ponder the reasons why he exists (almost similar to Xion after her first meet up).  Unfortunately, the trio end up going seperate ways, Xion to find out who or what she is and Roxas later on because he got tired of questions not being answered. 

It turns out that Xion is an imperfect replica of Roxas and she wasn’t meant to exist, but at the same time she’s gaining Sora’s memories a lot faster making Roxas even more weaker.  Also, in one of her failed attempts at capture, Xigbar noticed Xion looked rather familiar to a certain someone (though once again there was no name yet).  Either way, Xion figured if Roxas took her out, he’ll survive go back to Sora’s body and become whole again.  Sadly, Axel knocks her out after a grueling battle and after fainting from the fight, Xemnas took her away and planted devices that made her powerful.

Once Roxas escapes The World That Never Was and left a beating on Saix, he encountered Xion and they fought and he of course won.  Sadly, I think it’s one of KH’s more profound and emotional scenes of the series she starts to fade away and tells him Xemnas’ plans of what he’s gonna do with Kingdom Hearts.  Dying, he remembers but it’s too late and his rage takes over and aims to take down his leader. 

At Memory’s Skyscraper with both the Oathkeeper and Oblivion in hand, he’s ambushed by Neoshadows and starts to fight them before he sees Riku on the top of the skyscraper.  Of course what plays out is most of “deep dive” the secret movie of the first FINAL MIX.  Of course going through these scenes is old since they’re also featured in KH2.  We do learn however how Riku ended up turning into Rikunort and he let his blindfold come off and let the darkness take over and ended up strangling the hell outta Roxas.

Anyways the ending shows that Rikunort brought Roxas to DiZ and they transported him to a computerized Twilight Town while Axel is bummed that Xion is gone and so is Roxas but finds an ice cream stick that said WINNER.  Just a very sad ending unlike other games in the series, well Birth by Sleep is sad too I guess, but was saved by the secret ending, which 358/2 didn’t have.

  • 1. OMG, I can play as people besides Sora and Roxas?!? HELL YEA! – Yup you heard it, this game right now has the most playable characters which include the entire Organization, Xion, Sora, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and Riku.  They come with all the intricates that made they characters stand out and they all have different limit breaks as well.
  • 2. Leveling up wastes space people! – The new leveling and ability system is really nice don’t get me wrong, but the fact that leveling up doesn’t make space better really dampered the experience somewhat since I could have put a Cure spell. 
  • 3. Uhm, what’s in that sea salt ice cream? Cocaine? – I will say that the most annoying part of the story was the overly obsession of the ice cream.  I mean they mentioned it slightly in KH2 seeing it’s Ansem the Wise’s favorite and the kids (Roxas, Pence, Olette, Hayner) enjoy it as well, but this…THIS was just too much.  It was like every cutscene almost dealt with this stuff or had them eating it…why aren’t they getting fat?!?  Oh BTW, Roxas, you did not have to say “But who’s gonna have ice cream with me” when Xion is friggin dying in your arms….NOT CLASSY!
  • 4. Friendship is da key! – Yeah, OK we get it, friendship is needed to move forward, but damn the tribulations with Xion, Roxas, and Axel were just beyond shaky and later parts it was confusing to tell who hated who.  I mean who knew Saix and Axel were friends before.  Sad that Xion perishes in this game and both Axel and Roxas in KH2. 
  • 5. Xion, what was up with her during the game – She’s an odd character in this game.  I really don’t think that there was anything that made total sense with her around except the fact she was a creation made by Vexen.  I didn’t get why in some shots with Axel and Roxas, when she was talking to Roxas she looked normal but when Axel talked she was hooded.  Then later on when Xigbar sees (Ventus) and even later when she takes her hood off before the final fight and she looks exactly like Sora.  She’s an odd one, but then again she is Kairi in some aspects, but from Roxas’ mind.
  • 6. Mission-based game, prolly wasn’t kosher – Unlike previous games, Days took a new approach.  Since you were working for the Organization and collecting hearts, you did missions which ranged from Bosses, heart collecting, defeating certain enemies (Emerald Serenade missions were the worst) and Reconaissance which were interesting, but lame questioning FTL and some gem-thingies.  It wasn’t too smart, but whatever it gave the game some kind of leverage.
  • 7. The second of rehash-o-mania – Hear me out though, some of the worlds in the game had “new” areas added, the most being Never Land, the rest of the worlds were pretty much rehashed from previous entrees and it really was disappointing.  Especially playing through KH1 worlds again!  Oh and Passion/Sanctuary was used in this game, but it was OK since it dealt with Roxas. 
  • 8. First game with multiplayer?  Oh wait, no one is really gonna get the game for that *rolls eyes* – Who really bought the game for the fact it’s the first multiplayer KH?  I know I didn’t since I was more interested in the storyline.  Though I guess if you wanted you can to missions together with the character choice.  It’s cooler that you can have up to 4 people playing it simultaneously, but does anyone truly give a damn?
  • 8. Another 2 guy/1 girl thing?!? – I wonder why we get another group of three, this time Roxas, Xion, and Axel…Is there some kind of hidden thing going on here?  Maybe it’s me, but somehow I think they’re tied together somehow.
  • 9. Uhm….this is KH so where’s my damn FF and Disney fanservice? – I mean god forbid, I think this has the least amount of fanservice between the games.  I mean there was a real low amount of it here.  I mean from SQUARE the only thing that came close was a Moogle dressed like an Organization member (which was too good BTW! ^_^) but Disney slacked up and the characters had like what…three lines maybe?  Then again it makes sense since they were supposed to be like sneaky and not get noticed…strange, but damn it made the game feel empty character-wise…

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

So our next release comes in the form for a first for the PSP.  Birth by Sleep should be called Kingdom Hearts 0, simply because it takes place 10 years before the first KH begins.  Great, even more backstory that we really need. 

What’s new though is that the game follow brand new characters Ventus (Ven for short), Aqua, and Terra.  Even better is that the game is split into three different stories following each of the mains. 

Anyway, Birth by Sleep starts out similar enough with Aqua and Terra about to take the Mark of Mastery test which determines who will become the new Keyblade Master.  Now, reason why Ventus isn’t doing this test is because he’s too young for such a test yet.  So I have no idea why Master Eraqus (their teacher/leader…head honcho) didn’t know that Xehanort (who in this game is portrayed as a frail yet sneaky old man) was there and was evil.  Anywho after Xehanort manipulated balls of light into a mix of darkness, Aqua and Terra finally battle each other, but it seems that Aqua won this battle because Terra showed lesser control over the darkness in his heart.

Now this is where the story starts to split.  After Xehanort walks off and his a little chat with his unknown-named apprentice, Terra seems to run off and meets up with Xehanort.  They talked and blah blah, So all of a sudden, it’s announced that Xehanort was kidnapped by the Unversed (which I will explain towards the end of the story) and Terra is the first to go to Eraqus and somehow make him hope that doing this mission to find him will get him to change his mind and let him be a Keyblade Master.  Aqua is also called by Eraqus, but she’s told to watch over Terra since he could fall into darkness.  Last but not least, Ventus was actually met by “Xehanort’s Apprentice” and kind of used mindgames to go follow Terra and search for him.  Unfortunately, Ventus leaves breaking the rules and before Aqua leaves she’s told to follow and bring back Ventus

So leaving the Land of Departure, the three travel to Disney-themed worlds like returning: Destiny Islands (though not fully playable once again), Peter Pan, Hercules, the Mysterious Tower, and Radiant Garden (most places got changed).  The also brought in new worlds like ones that represent Snow White, Cinderella, Lilo and Stitch (but no Lilo >.>), and Sleeping Beauty. 

During the course of the game the characters meet together a few times like Aqua/Terra at Cinderella’s ball and all three at Radiant Garden.  During this time we come to find out that Terra has been oblivious to what he’s doing since he’s helping the villans, while Aqua and Ven seem to clean up his messes.  According to plot occurance though it seems Ven is in the middle of the story while qua kind of clears the story and finishes up, but sometimes the roles switch between the three.

Terra also figures that Master Xehanort is searching for the Princesses of Heart (if you remember they’re one way to show Kingdom Hearts in full from the first KH, also remember, Heartless barely existed in this game and Maleficent had no idea about it until this game, devious aren’t we?). 

Anyway they next meet up at Radiant Garden and we figure out that the masked apprentice that’s been bothering Aqua and Ven is named Vanitas and well he’s just being cryptic all-around.  They meet and they try to tell Terra to stop, but he just ignores it and continues leaving Ventus to continue following in which Aqua also follows.  Though she meets a very young Kairi and talks about light and touched her keyblade to her (which leaves for a good explanation to later games if there were questions at how she got a keyblade).  Ventus meets Lea and Isa (later known as Axel and Saix, respectively) and that was interesting thing to see and we also see Even, Eleaus, Dilan, and even a rather young Ienzo…Oh yeah (Vexen, Lexaeus, Xaldin, and Zexion in that order).  It’s pretty awesome to show their normal forms.  Though for Terra he finds Master Xehanort chained up to a wall and is forced to fight Braig (Xigbar).  We also get an explanation as to why he wore an eyepatch and we can thank Terra for that cookie HAHAHA. 

After some more Unversed ass kicking and Disney drama, the story finally comes to a leeway as we find out Aqua and Terra find themselves at Destiny Islands meeting Sora and Riku (of course they’re still very young).  Terra actually talks to Riku and it seems like he made him next in line for a Keyblade while Aqua kind of looks at the two from afar and says they’re special.  Unfortunately for Ventus, he doesn’t come here and ends up at the Keyblade Graveyard and finally gets an explanation to why he doesn’t remember his past.  Turns out that Ventus is actually the key for a special kind of keyblade called the “χ-Blade” (pronounced “keyblade” though still <.<).  Xehanort twisted his mind and kind of made Ven confront Master Eraqus about this thing and sadly does return to Land of Departure. 

Though it’s kind of sad in a way because Eraqus attacks Ven since I guess he wasn’t supposed to exist and without him they wouldn’t have to deal with another Keyblade War (which Xehanort wants).  However, learning that he wasn’t supposed to exist kind of struck him down and Eraqus was going for the kill before Terra intercepted and blocked the move and made him disappear in a portal leaving Terra to fight Eraqus.  Sadly the fight is in Terra’s favor and Eraqus admits he was wrong, but as quickly he realizes it, Xehanort makes a low blow and takes him out…not sure if he’s like every other character where somehow they survived, but in the process Terra escapes and watches in horror as his home is turned to ruins.

Ven is sent to Destiny Islands where he meets with Vanitas again and is reminded of his memories of how they both came to be, and boy it’s a shocker to know that Vanitas is basically Ven’s darkness which means he’s all light….strange.  Anyways he tells him to meet him back at the Keyblade Graveyard and so Ven goes there. 

You must be wondering where Aqua is in all of this mess.  Well, Aqua was flying out of Destiny Islands when she finds an unconscious Micky floating round.  She took him to the nearest place and finds out that Mickey is Yen Sid’s Apprentice, however that good news is cut short when Yen Sid tells her that Eraqus has fallen and finds out that her friends are at the Keyblade Graveyard. 

They reunite and they talk and Ven tells then to destroy him but they can’t because they’re friends.  Now the next scene is basically “Birth by sleep” even in full FMV format.  It basically split the party up with Terra going up against Xehanort, Ven being frozen in ice and Braig going up against Aqua.  Let’s talk about the least confusing first.

Aqua vs. Braig is interesting because I kind of am curious to why Braig teamed up with Xehanort in the first place, he’s actually quite the interesting guy with this going on and it sort of explains why he saw Ventus in 358/2.  After him running off and saying he was just a distraction, but since Ven was frozen, she stopped chasing him but is attacked by Vanitas, but luckily Ven snapped out of his frozen state and battles him and wins. 

I will say this next part is quite weird.  Vanitas admits that he’s the reason that the Unversed exist and were created by his negativity and such.  He also took off his mask and what a surprise it was to know that Vanitas looked a whole lot like Sora (which adds more to the question, why did he look like him?).  Before we could really ponder that, Vanitas goes into Ven’s mind and they have a fight inside while Aqua and Mickey are forced to fight Ven (but Vanitas controlled).  Of course good always wins here and sadly during it Vanitas is destroyed but it leaves Ven in a coma and Mickey takes them back to The Mysterious Tower.

However, for Terra is battle is so much more complicated all-around but I’ll try to explain it.  Basically he defeated him but Xehanort fused with Terra to become this kind of “Terra-nort”.  They have their inner battle as well with Terra once again victorious, but it seems his mind got discarded into his armor while his heart kept fighting Xehanort’s in which Xehanort ended up with amnesia.  Complicated right?

That’s where the game ends, but there’s one final chapter with Aqua leading it since Terra is in conflict with his body and Ven is in coma-land.  She takes Ven to the destroyed ruins of the Land of Departure and finds a safe place for him.  Taking Eraqus Keyblade, she safeguarded the place even more and that’s how we ended up with Castle Oblivion ^_^ so that’s where Ven lies right now.

Aqua then focused on finding Terra, but she soon finds out that Xehanort took over his body and fights her but he loses and starts to fall into darkness and Aqua dives in to save him but she figures there’s no other way so she gives him a keyblade and sends him back out while she falls into darkness.

Scene goes back to Riku and Sora walking and Riku notices Sora leaking a tear, and by now I’m sure it’s Ven being sad knowing Aqua is the darkness and he makes the connection to Ven as well.

Next we see the members of the well soon to be Organization XIII and Ansem the Wise talking to Terranort/Xehanort and asking if he can remember anything but he can’t since Terra blocked his memories.  Of course Braig doesn’t know this.  They also show Aqua’s armor on the ground (which slightly explains why Xemnas in FM2 was talking to the armor…now we know why!

Also it shows us Aqua walking in the strange new place and almost being killed off further but Terra’s and Ven’s keyblades gave her new hope and “There’s always a way” and then cue Simple and Clean.  After the credits stopped rolling we get a scene with young Sora talking to Ven and he asked if he can rest in his heart until he’s better and now that’s how Sora was chosen to be a keyblade wielder.  Cute ending for such sad endings for the main characters.

Of course it’s no KH without a secret ending and with Blank Points, it brought a whole lot of weirdness.  It starts with Xehanort and Terra having a conversation about “property” as so Xehanort calls it over the heart of Terra and it also seems Eraqus is in it too.  Next is a quick convo between Braig and Terranort and while he’s still under amnesia Braig was trying to make sure it wasn’t Terra.  Oddly enough Ansem the Wise and Ienzo kind of noticed this weird connection between the two.  And finally Aqua finds herself on the beach talking to someone (who is more than likely Ansem the Wise, Ok it’s way into the future unlike the previous two scenes).  They talk about about one person that could save them all which includes Roxas, Xion, Namine, Ven, and Terra (and possibly Axel, but he didn’t say Sora’s name).  At last Aqua says his name and it switches to current aged Sora, Riku, and Kairi and Sora telling her that he’s going on an another adventure and so it ends there.

HOWEVER, with Birth by Sleep being released in Final Mix, the new secret ending is quite the odd one.  It starts with Aqua talking but the video reverses to where in between the Heartless attack and the Beach scene.  Being called “Zero point”, the secret ending here has her continuing the walk in the darkness, but something appears and she freaks out because it’s Disney Castle!  Though after it is kind of a hodge podge of the main characters in various locales.  I’m very intrigued at seeing Hayner, Pence, Olette, and Kairi together, but then again seeing various scenes through the games is odd yet fitting like the Terranort, Xehanort’s Heartless, Xemnas, and Master Xehanort appear and Sora and Ven removed from their spots like magic…it’s wtf…but Birth by Sleep -Volume Two- eh? ok…

PHEW…..this game….

  • 1. Three stories in one was smart – Seeing the story told in three perspectives really gave light to a whole lot of the game and I still was pretty sad how it all came together in the end.  Ven’s comatose, Aqua’s in the darkness, and Terra is basically taken over by Xehanort.
  • 2. Ven, Terra, Aqua…really another three teamer? – I wonder if Nomura really has some kind of plan with the groups of three in the series so far because it just seems really freaky at this point. 
  • 3. Hey!  another different battle system AND IT WORKS! – Bringing in the new D-links and Deck Commands take over the game and while it removes quite a bit from the original formula, I liked the changed things and it came off as a great style and more flashier for the game. 
  • 4. Vanitas… – God was he badass, even though the fact he was a Sora look-a-like really bothered me because I’m not sure where he ended up looking like him.  I don’t even remember Ven knowing Sora before meeting Vanitas so it’s kind of a weird thing…even weirder was Xehanort created him so it must mean something else then….?
  • 5. Weird explanation of Xehanort sort of explained – Yes this game did bring us that old man Xehanort took over Terra’s body and became Terranort which lead to the creation of Xeha’s Heartless and Xemnas which was explained in previous games, but now we know how he looked so young…but the question becomes, where is Terra now and the REAL Xehanort.
  • 6. So…the Princesses of Heart really weren’t that important? –  It seemed like it was the start of something different since a good portion of the Princesses that were already asleep by KH’s start was awake and Maleficent’s world was there so I thought there’d be something going on behind the scenes with that and maybe learn how she was able to control the Heartless.
  • 7. Master Eraqus is such a bad parent! – I never really understood his role in the game besides being the teacher to the three main characters, but the fact that he kept so much away from some of them kind of makes him look bad, understandable but still poor choicing.  And you really don’t tell a kid he shouldn’t exist that’s just bad right there….sorry
  • 8. Ahhhh fanservice how I missed you – Yep, new worlds were introduced and while they lowered on the SQUARE cameos, I was happy with seeing Zack appear in the same place where Cloud later appears. 
  • 9. Point of Birth by Sleep? – Basically don’t listen to old guys, they just are bad juju and they will control your body and send a power ranger to kick your ass XD.  Also, some friendships will hit quite a large amount of obstacles…kind of like the trio from 358/2 ended up xD
  • 10. Convoluted story with too many look-a-likes happening…couldn’t get any better!!! – While this is the KH0 of the series, this didn’t help with the series outline.  It brought a lot more questions, but it did answer quite a bit as well strangely enough.  The Xeha clones are a bit weird to how they got there and the whole Sora/Vanitas and Roxas/Ven ties are just confusing.  Add in it ties all into what Sora has to do next…talk about blech.
  • 11. FINAL MIX?!? NOOOOOOooooo! – Yep since it’s Japan and all that, they just released a final mix of the game which didn’t have as many new things about like the previous two, but it did have new bosses, a new secret ending, and some other small inclusions but to me it’s important for the ending.  I will say Monstro as a boss is a nifty idea!!!
  • 12. Ok, Sora what’s with that damn bottle and WTF is on it?!? – Yes, we get this sort of scene again and it continued to question me on what’s the contents of such letter….but…

Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded

And finally, the most recent game to come out, Re:coded is actually a video game take of a cellphone game released only in Japan and now was redone and released.  Of course this game is interesting nonetheless and turned out alright, but it wasn’t the best.

The story starts with Jiminy Cricket looking through one of the journals (there’s two one used in KH and one in KH2, but during CoM, the book lost all its contents and was left with just “Thank Namine”.  However, this time around Jiminy looked through it and found another page that had writing on it and it said “Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it”.  So he took it to King Mickey and let him look through and of course Chip and Dale have a contraption where they could check it out and seems that there’s bugs in the journal (don’t ask me how such a physical object has that problem, just go with the flow) and with the machine they created somone; Data Sora.  Of course he has no memories so he’s also just going with the flow and helping out.  Of course later on Data Sora runs through the door and somehow Mickey, Donald, and Goofy (and later on admitted, Pete as well) ended in the journal as well, but the gate to the outside world is closed and of course Data Riku helps out as well.

Going through worlds like Traverse Town, Wonderland, Olympus Coliseum, Destiny Island, and Agrabah they find themselves going through similar KH1 storylines (sadly) and it seems Maleficent becomes the main antagonist by destroying the keyblade, but later on regaining it before the final match against her and Data Riku.  Odd enough he sort of tried to save them before Data Riku caves but Data Sora saves him.  Of course King Mickey and group had to leave which also meant everything they did in the journal will reset leaving everyone going back to an original state. 

That happens, but a new part of the journal opens and King Mickey once again asks Data Sora to help (who went back to not knowing what was going on) and was sent to Castle Oblivion to basically redo the entire game but there were three possibilities to how things could end.  At the end of it all, it turns out this hooded guy was Data Roxas and he faced off with him and won of course.

D-Roxas gives him the card and it led to Mickey and D-Sora meeting with Namine, but she talked about the people that were tied to Sora and how he has to save them, also in a funny kind of way, he thanked Namine XD.  So at the end of it all, Mickey started to write this letter to the real Sora and sent it to him…

So the secret ending here is basically confirmation that since Sora defeated Xehanort’s Heartless and Xemnas, he’s about to really return since two halves make a whole XD and to call Sora and Riku for the Mark of Mastery test (something that happened in Birth by Sleep).

So here’s where I lead off with

  • 1. Was this game necessary? – I honestly think this game was actually not needed because they could’ve put the letter content section in the ending of Birth by Sleep and that would’ve cut 90% of the game’s inportance out.  Also I felt that reusing KH1 worlds once again even moreso was poor decision making and just felt bland at this point even though seeing Destiny Islands, Hollow Bastion, Traverse Town, and Castle Oblivion again was nice.  Still too much recycled ideas.
  • 2. The new ideas were good enough to kind of take away things – I did love the new things they did bring in for Re:coded.  Let’s start with that command deck returning from Birth by Sleep, I thought it was done well, not as good as the original, but it’s definitely workable.  The new game mechanics like the Mario-esque styled mechanics, the RPG turn-based style, and the rail-shooter style were done quite nicely.  I thought the 2-D section was a bit wonky, but they other two were sweet.  Last, but not least were the Data Worlds, which were kind of bland at times, but it was fun and the music was the coolest thing from it.
  • 3. Was there a slight not for SQUARE eh? – Yes, the Stat Matrix was sooooooo the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X.  It was just quite the weird sense of dejavu I had with the game.  Still I had fun with that and it gave a lot of interesting “cheats” if you say.
  • 4. Are we done yet? – As much as I love the series, I wanna move on from the side stories and get back into numbered stuff, but it doesn’t seem like we will with Dream Drop Distance and Birth by Sleep 2….ehhhhhhhhh



HIROKO – GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~

Filed under: HIROKO — solarblade @ 3:12 am

Track Listing

  1. GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~
  2. Baby
  3. Clever Lady -Cruise around the World ver.- (AILI thanx to HIROKO)
  4. GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself (Instrumental)
  5. Baby (Instrumental)

1. GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~

Ahhh, I kind of knew that HIROKO was going to step out into the spotlight on her own and with her debut A-side, GIRLZ UP is actually quite a catchy track if I may say so myself.  HIROKO’s vocals are kind of nasally in places, but she gives a lot of oomph to the song and I’m happy with that at least.  The song is just an edgy dance song and I’ve been kind of wanting to see this style from her since mihimaru’s “Switch” single.  It’s sexy and kind of fun to listen to, good enough debut IMO.

2. Baby

Of course we can’t forget that HIROKO comes from an R&B background and with Baby, we slightly return to that.  While people have said that it sounds like Miliyah Kato’s “Sayonara BABY”, I can actually say it kind of does, but luckily this is just a B-side.  Compared to “GIRLZ UP”, I don’t like this as much, but I can see HIROKO as an R&B type as well…I was actually expecting miyake to be somewhere hahaha.

3. Clever Lady -Cruise around the World ver.- (AILI thanx to HIROKO)

First Dream, now HIROKO?  I should probably take a listen to AILI at this point, but then again I have no idea how the original sounds since this is a remix and all.  Hey, if we can synth up another song, I’m happy we ended up with what we got with Clever Lady.  It’s definitely got this outer space flow to it that I love and HIROKO’s vocals are a bit lighter than in the previous songs.  I must say I’m curious about the original because I like this.

HIROKO finally also gets her debut single like miyake and I must say I love both of their debut singles, but I kind of liked HIROKO’s more since there were good B-sides as well.  With a second single announced, I actually have hopes for her since I usually like the songs she sings with miyake XD


miCKun – D.N.A

Filed under: miCKun — solarblade @ 2:42 am

Track Listing

  2. Complete Love feat. miray
  3. Little STARR feat. Speech & JAMIL
  4. Ima no Boku Janai feat. ghostnote
  5. Kyouka Suigetsu feat. Maika
  6. O-Z-3 feat. Crystal Boy
  7. Love Car Chase feat. mini
  8. Koi no Hanasaka Night★Fever feat. SEAMO & Missing Link
  9. Heaven’s Lover feat. Aoyama Thelma
  10. Kimi ga Kite Kara feat. Marié Digby


Being a bit shorter than it’s original form, BEGINNING got remixed for the album release and it’s quite easy to tell the differences, from the extended opening to the synths that fluorish the song.  I mean the beat it awesome and the slight tempo upgrade was a bit more workable with miyake and 55MONKEYZ.  I’d say it’s better than the original ^_^

2. Complete Love feat. miray

Starting with the new tracks, the whole album is filled with collaborations, some I recognize and some I don’t.  miray is actually one of those artists I do recognize and I like her reggaeton style of music since her vocals fit it nicely.  While the song is not in her style, Complete Love is good enough to showcase her vocals and since miyake is also in it, it really reminded me of mihimaru’s songs, even miray reminded me of HIROKO.  Still it’s a pretty lighthearted song and I thought it turned out well.

3. Little STARR feat. Speech & JAMIL

While I rather listen to the female collaborations than the male, Little STARR seems to be more for miyake’s roos since it’s a bit like hip-hop in a party atmosphere.  It’s kind of difficult to tell who’s who between the three guys since miyake sounds a bit more lively…but I like that he’s making it sound like he’s into it.  I don’t know why but it reminds me of YAZIMA’s “Nihon ni Mikata” for some reason.

4. Ima no Boku Janai feat. ghostnote

Taking a slight directional change into a more hip-rock kind of sound, Ima no Boku Janai seems to be two ideas that doesn’t sound right and it’s true because ghostnote’s lead singer’s vocals are a whole lot stronger than miyakes…I’m just surprised miyake decided to collaborate with a J-rock group for this song.

5. Kyouka Suigetsu feat. Maika

Being the lone A-side to represent the album, Kyouka Suigetsu feels more like it should be Maika feat. miCKun.  Though I will say that this song has some pretty cool experimentation going on for both artists.  Of course once again, it depends on if the listener likes Maika’s unique vocals since miyake only really appears in one part of the song so it’s a hard listen for some people, but I actually liked this song…Iono if it was a smart choice for A-side, but I still enjoyed it.

6. O-Z-3 feat. Crystal Boy

Now, I’ve never heard of this Crystal Boy, but guessing, I’m sure he’s another fellow R&B kind of artist.  So far, I’m liking the nice amount of synths in this song for sure, but I’m definitely surprised at Crystal Boy’s amount of auto-tune since it actually fits the electro-like atmosphere.  I like the song, but it seems very congested for some reason and I couldn’t really tell what miyake was saying in his rap. 

7. Love Car Chase feat. mini

Ok, mini is in no way a new artist to me nowadays.  While I wasn’t surprised this collaboration feels like a mix of both styles she’s done so far in her career, but I actually enjoyed this kind of synth-based R&B track and miyake also once again sounds nice to hear in his rapping.  While it isn’t as strong as any of her solo songs, it’s still kind of catchy and one of the better album songs.

8. Koi no Hanasaka Night★Fever feat. SEAMO & Missing Link

Since this is the last male collaborators for the album, I’ve heard of SEAMO, but not of Missing Link.  It’s kind of like a lighter version of “Little STARR”, but strangely enough…I think Missing Link is a girl group or something?!?  While I think both miyake and SEAMO are the MC’s while Missing Link take over the main focus.  It’s actually quite catchy…though SEAMO kind of is meh here for me.

9. Heaven’s Lover feat. Aoyama Thelma

Of course I wasn’t expecting a lot with a collaboration with Aoyama since they always seem to be R&B ballads and it’s no different here.  Though I’ve always admired her vocals since they’re pretty and soft.  miyake’s part is just in “Kyouka Suigetsu” where he doesn’t do alot in the song…Iono it’s nice and all, but Aoyama needs to get out of the ballad zone.

10. Kimi ga Kite Kara feat. Marié Digby

We finally enter our last song of the album and Kimi ga Kite Kara sounds the most relaxed from the album and I love that she’s the only American artist singing in English except when she sings the title of the song.  I was half-expecting miyake to rap in English, but he doesn’t and it’s kind of strange…but either way, the song is simple and quite cute and has a lot of heart to it.

Tracks Recommended

  • Love Car Chase feat. mini
  • Kimi ga Kite Kara feat. Marié Digby
  • Kyouka Suigetsu feat. Maika
  • Complete Love feat. miray

Song of Avoidance

  • Heaven’s Lover feat. Aoyama Thelma

For being miyake’s debut album as a solo artist, D.N.A is actually not that bad of an album actually.  I thought he chose enough people to really make a strong album with a lot of interesting choices like miray, ghostnote, and even mini.  I wonder if it’ll be his lone release before returning to mihimaru GT…but for the time being I was kind of impressed by the album.