I’ve a bit of a love-hate relationship with Kingdom Hearts jetzt richtig.

While I used to be initially scorching on 2019’s Kingdom Hearts III, the Disney-Square Enix crossover collection’ newest mainline entry, and nonetheless keep that it’s an wonderful sport, I’ve come to look again on its story far much less favourably over time. At this level, it’s no secret that the franchise has a ridiculously convoluted overarching narrative, and that was made solely extra difficult by KH3‘s maddeningly obtuse secret ending and epilogue add-on ReMind.

Das ist, warum Kingdom Hearts Melodie der Erinnerung (Mama) is so intriguing. Although it’s set after the occasions of KH3Mama offers the collection a much-needed narrative breather by primarily specializing in revisiting earlier video games’ occasions from the attitude of longtime Kingdom Hearts tritagonist Kairi by the framework of a rhythm sport.

And fortunately, it’s principally profitable in doing so. While its story leaves a lot to be desired, Mama‘s rock-solid gameplay mechanics centred around the series’ magnificent music make it an total worthwhile expertise.

Kairi continues to be underwhelming

Spoilers beneath for Kingdom Hearts 3:

With longtime KH collection hero Sora having vanished after rescuing Kairi on the finish of KH3, it’s now as much as the plucky younger heroine to avoid wasting him. To do this, she enters a deep sleep to relive her reminiscences in an effort to seek out clues as to Sora’s whereabouts.

From there, the marketing campaign places you on a surprisingly prolonged guided tour by dozens of levels impressed by all of the earlier video games within the collection’ practically 20-year historical past, beginning with Kingdom Hearts and main as much as KH3. Das macht Mama unwieldy for collection newcomers, particularly as the sport does a poor job of retelling what got here earlier than it. That’s since you’ll solely often get temporary flashbacks from the earlier video games consisting of woefully uncharismatic narration from Kairi.

These older scenes make up the majority of Mama‘s campaign, with virtually no new story developments to be found until the final 30-odd minutes, resulting in awkward pacing overall. While the finale does tease some promising developments for the series’ future, it’s not sufficient to make up for a way little Kairi is truly given to do right here.

To make sure, the flashback conceit no less than serves as a enjoyable approach for followers to wax nostalgic about earlier video games. As somebody who grew up with the franchise, I used to be constantly smiling over the fond reminiscences. Unfortunately, this additionally implies that the story’s highlight is positioned on different characters like Sora and his good friend Riku reliving their most heroic moments, making Kairi — an already thinly-written character — really feel ever the extra sidelined.

Come for the music, keep for the gameplay

Thankfully, whereas Mama‘s story is both lacklustre and impenetrable to anyone but the most stalwart of KH fans, the game more than redeems itself with everything else. Above all, Mama serves as a showcase of the series’ completely incredible soundtracks, largely composed by the great Yoko Shimomura. This is what makes the sport nice for followers and newcomers alike, not the retelling of outdated story beats.

All informed, Shimomura’s music is transcendent, that includes an eclectic assortment of tracks (many of which make spectacular use of violins) to create some of gaming’s best tunes.

Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory Let It Go

While the collection has a number of hundred compositions at this level, Mama encompasses a well-rounded lineup of greater than 140, together with standouts like ‘Dearly Beloved,’ ‘Fragments of Sorrow,’ ‘Monstrous Monstro,’ ‘Darkness of the Unknown,’ ‘Rage Awakened,’ and ‘Vector to the Heavens.’ In holding with previous KH Videospiele, Mama additionally encompasses a handful of iconic Disney/Pixar film songs, similar to ‘Under the Sea’ (Die kleine Meerjungfrau), ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ (Toy Story) and ‘Let It Go’ (gefroren).

These are all used to appreciable impact within the appreciably various roster of unique worlds and people hailing from Disney/Pixar movies. It’s in these worlds that it turns into evident simply how properly indieszero (the developer of Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy rhythm video games) Mama interprets the KH collection’ signature action-RPG fight to a rhythm sport. Impressively, nearly all of Sora’s core moveset from earlier video games make an look right here.

In apply, every degree has Sora and two pals — normally Donald and Goofy, with the occasional substitute of world-specific visitor characters like Aladdin or Simba — as they combat signature Kingdom Hearts monsters. As the characters run by the stage, you need to assault the enemies by efficiently hitting all of the notes. Missing notes will outcome within the get together taking injury — lose an excessive amount of and also you fail the stage.

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory gameplay

Essentially, hitting primary notes in time could have Sora and his pals strike normal enemies, just like the ‘Shadow’ Heartless. More superior maneuvers come within the kind of leaping to keep away from incoming assaults, gliding to hit a series of notes or urgent a face button to execute a traditional highly effective Sora finisher on bigger enemies (like Thunder or Ars Arcanum).

Sometimes, you’ll additionally have to press a number of buttons without delay to permit Sora and his pals to assault teams of enemies concurrently. Altogether, these mechanics are a sensible approach of holding levels dynamic whereas remaining trustworthy to the collection’ core mechanics. Most ranges are normal ‘Field Battles,’ though extra selection is accessible by the occasional ‘Memory Dive’ (with oh-so nostalgic cinematics from sure components of older video games because the backdrop) and frenetic, difficult Boss Battles — all of which require their very own totally different button inputs.

Even higher, there are three issue choices per world alongside non-compulsory challenges like reaching a specific combo. Further, you’ll be able to equip objects that can assist you mid-battle, like therapeutic Potions or a summoning attraction to have King Mickey hit some notes and restore your well being. All of these choices supply a exceptional quantity of flexibility to allow you to fine-tune issue and maximize your enjoyment of the sport, particularly when you’re somebody like me who’s not all that good at rhythm video games.

Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory Simba

The solely draw back to Mama‘s core gameplay is that some of the RPG elements feel superficial. While you can level up your characters, this never really has a tangible impact on your performance in levels. Likewise, the guest characters and ability to unlock other playable teams from the series (like ‘Team BBS’ that includes Geburt durch den Schlaf‘s Terra, Aqua and Ven) make for some welcome fan service, but they unfortunately only function as skins with a few unique animations, as the core gameplay isn’t modified in any respect once you swap to them.

Outside of the marketing campaign, I constantly discovered myself coming again to the sport to earn extra supplies, which I might flip into the Moogles’ store. Doing so unlocks all types of goodies, together with new objects, new music levels and collectible paintings. Meanwhile, with the ability to play tracks at will exterior of the marketing campaign (and even add new modifiers to make them simpler or more durable) is an particularly good contact. For much more replay worth, there’s additionally some welcome native co-op and on-line versus multiplayer modes, though Mama‘s competitive modes are bafflingly limited to random matchmaking — private matches with friends aren’t supported.

All for enjoyable and enjoyable for all

Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory Memory Dive

As video games proceed to get bigger and denser, it’s refreshing to have the ability to choose up a sport like Melodie der Erinnerung that provides a easy, laidback expertise. For that purpose, it’s simple to advocate. Despite a poor, unwelcoming story and some inconsequential RPG parts, Mama gives a calming, charming expertise stuffed with unimaginable music, compelling rhythm mechanics and a strong quantity of content material.

At this level, it’s exhausting to care anymore in regards to the collection’ bigger story, however distinctive and engaging experiences like Mama present that Kingdom Hearts nonetheless has quite a bit left to supply.

Kingdom Hearts Melodie der Erinnerung is accessible on PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Bildnachweis: Disney/Square Enix