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Portable Kingdom

DATE: -0/5-/2004
COMPANY: Buena Vista/ Square-Enix
PRODUCT: Kingdom Hearts: Chain...

While Kingdom Hearts II wasn't playable on the show floor, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was out in full force.

One night, after traversing endless grassy fields, Sora comes to a crossroads. His mind begins to drift as he remembers friends lost and all that the Heartless have taken from him. Weren't they all supposed to come home at the end of the journey? That's how the story always ends, isn't it?

A man emerges from the shadows and speaks a cryptic riddle.

"Ahead lies what you seek... but to claim it you must lose something dear..."

When the man vanishes, the crossroads form one road. At the end of the path lies a castle filled with a vast nothingness. Sora's memories remain, shattered.

What lies ahead? What must be lost?

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories bridges the gap between Kingdom Hearts and its sequel. Although it is still an RPG, the game employs a unique battle system unlike anything seen before.

At its heart, Memories is still an action RPG. You once again guide Sora through both the Disney and Square worlds. A major difference this time around is that Sora is alone in a majority of his battles. After coming across Heartless in the game world, the action switches to a battle mode. Both Sora and his foes can freely move about the area and attack in real-time. Here's where the unique card-battling system kicks in.

In the bottom left corner of the screen is a hand of 12 cards which can be cycled by pressing the left-shoulder button. Each card is marked with a special mark, such as a Keyblade with a number, a spell or character. Each card represents a battle action that Sora can pull off. Choosing a Keyblade card causes Sora to swing his blade. If you can match like-numbered cards in succession, Sora can pull off special combo attacks. Spell cards work much the same way.

Character summons, on the other hand, are an entirely different animal. Once you call a summon, Sora leaves the battlefield and is replaced by that summon. Many of the available summons haven't been revealed yet, but the demo allowed Sora to summon Cloud from Final Fantasy VII.

Graphically, Memories looks great -- especially for a GBA game. Memories will also include high-quality CGI movies.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories should hold fans over nicely during the long wait for the sequel.

GameVortex :: PSIllustrated :: TeamPS2