Rhythm action games, whether can be fun and hopelessly addicting. I’m no stranger to them. I’ve stomped on a mat with Dance Dance Revolution, furiously tapped PC keys to O2Jam, mashed PSP buttons to DJMax, and danced along to Persona All Night. I even have Fitness Boxing, which is super similar to Just Dance, but boxing. But KH: MoM doesn’t feature Sora, Donald, and Goofy dancing. Nope. They’re flying and taking down Heartless to the beat of Simple and Clean.
As an avid fan of the series and a defender of Kingdom Hearts’ convoluted plot and timelines, should you buy Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory? Here’s my take.
The tutorial tells you everything you need to know. Using a three-person party, players need to press buttons at the right time to get an “Excellent”, “Good”, or “Miss” on a moving staff line. By leveling up, you can increase your health points and attack power. Pretty standard stuff. It’s not a game where you have to contemplate the story at all, even with a story mode named World Tour. Also on the Start Menu: Memory Dive (vocal or character themed tracks to play through) and Boss Battle (boss-themed stages).
As you progress in the World Tour, Kairi swiftly narrates events spanning from Kingdom Hearts to Kingdom Hearts III. The gameplay isn’t really difficult unless one is rhythmically-challenged. You can also go multiplayer mode and challenge your friends to a “fly-off” of sorts—you can disrupt them with tricks and combine strategies. As a reward, you get collectible cards and also keep the song you just completed.
I would say the best one is the jazzy version of Dearly Beloved when you open the game. The rest are OSTs from the previous installments. I waxed nostalgic about starting out Kingdom Hearts 1 when I was ten years old when I heard Traverse Town and Destiny Islands. I remember the moment Hollow Bastion was restored to Radiant Garden, thanks to its soundtrack of the same name featured in Birth By Sleep. There’s a lack of Kingdom Hearts 3 music in general and Pirates of the Caribbean (shame).
Expect mostly Kingdom Heart versions of Disney tunes and original worlds. Finally, Utada Hikaru’s Simple and Clean (sadly not a remixed version) is my favorite out of the bunch, just because. It’s fun to know while you’re playing it, you actually memorize not just the lyrics, but the rhythm, too.
The game is more about Kairi dreaming after the events of Kingdom Hearts II: Re Mind. Sora disappears, so Kairi searches for clues within her dreams under the supervision of Ansem the Wise. Everything else aside from this is just a recollection of all the other titular Kingdom Hearts games, narrated with Kairi’s monotone voiceover. There are no surprises in store for fans who have somehow made sense of all that’s happened in Kingdom Hearts; the lightness, darkness, hearts, keys, worlds, clones, best friend trios, existential dread, all of it. We have an article that sums this up as well, so you don’t need to buy the game just to remember what happened.
However, for the completionists, you are rewarded with a post-credits scene. Slight spoiler alert: I won’t deep dive into it, just know that it features Kairi training under Aqua and the rest of the gang going off to Scala ad Caelum.
Fun fact: Kingdom Hearts II, my favorite KH title, just recently celebrated its 15th anniversary! On that note, Kingdom Hearts 4 won’t be released anytime or year soon, but at least we know that Tetsuya Nomura is cooking something up for the 20th anniversary of the KH series, so maybe we can hope for Kingdom Hearts IV by 2023.
The verdict? No need to shell out unless you really enjoy the usual Gummi Ship minigames or the Symphony of Sorcery world in KH Dream Drop Distance. Maybe you liked the arcade game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival, love rhythm games in general, or collect every title that Tetsuya Nomura directed—like Kingdom Hearts Re:coded—I would recommend to skip this title and just save towards the next main title or spinoff that features Kairi training under Aqua. Of course, you can always own it for the sake of fun despite its repetitiveness.
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