Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory abandons the fight for rhythm

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Square Enix today announced a new Kingdom Hearts game, though it’s unlike anything the series has seen before. Melody of Memory is a rhythm game coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch later this year. In fact, it will be the first entry in the franchise to head to Switch. You can watch the Japanese trailer above.

Most Kingdom Hearts games are action RPGs. Melody of Memory is more about pressing button controls to the beat of the music. The franchise has always had strong soundtracks, so the series should be well-suited to this type of game. And while Kingdom Hearts includes arrangements based on classic Disney songs, its best bits are originals. The trailer only showed those original songs.

Square Enix has already given its Final Fantasy franchise the rhythm game treatment with Theatrhythm games, so this move isn’t all that surprising. But Melody of Memory still seems to have many Kingdom Hearts hallmarks, including visiting Disney worlds and having characters like Donald Duck and Hercules by your side. The rhythm genre isn’t what it was back when Guitar Hero and Rock Band were giant hits in the mid to late 2000s, but those games still have their fans. It’s also a relatively easy way for Square Enix to create a new Kingdom Hearts without creating another massive triple-A action RPG.

The latest Kingdom Hearts game, Kingdom Hearts III, was released in January 2019 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It became a big hit, selling over 5 million copies just two weeks after its release. Melody of Memory’s story appears to be something of a sequel, with Kairi delving into Sora’s past. Exploring Sora’s memories is a popular trope for the franchise, as it allows new games to tell stories of past entries with new mechanics. We’ve seen this setup before with Chain of Memories and Coded.

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