Kingdom Hearts is a series of games that holds a special place in my soul. The characters are memorable and the plots are moving. They create a mixture of childish joy and melancholy sadness. The original tapes of the series, composed by Yoko Shimomura, perfectly capture these moods. It’s exciting that we have now Remembrance melody, a game that is a total celebration not only of the series but of Shimomura’s music in particular. The game is a nice trip down memory lane, but it unfortunately falters when it comes to enticing to keep playing beyond unlocking more songs and collectibles. That is, it doesn’t have much history so far.
I find it odd that the game simply starts off with a tutorial before going into the main gameplay loop. There is no intro cutscene and no plot is set. There is no reason why you walk through Kairi’s memories or travel through different worlds. Thank goodness these worlds are fun to walk!
Most of the gameplay takes place during field battles. Sora, Donald and Goofy (you can unlock other trios later) perform a musical staff in a Kingdom Hearts world, meeting different types of enemies from the series. When a villain approaches, a circle focuses on him, telling you when to attack him for the best result. You can press any of the three buttons to attack. When more than one enemy shows up at the same time, you press two of these buttons, and when three enemies show up, you hit all three. Attacking these enemies at the right time matches the beat of the specific song you’re playing. You will also have to press a button to slide to collect notes and jump over enemy projectiles. If you get hit too many times, you run out of HP and the level ends.
There are three difficulty settings to choose from: Beginner, Standard, and Proud. I ran through the game in standard mode and found it to be a perfect balance of difficulty. The game also offers options to further adjust the game with particular styles. The “one button” style allows all actions to be performed with the press of a single button, while the harder “performer” style adds additional triggers on the track that make the songs even more difficult.
Completing certain tasks on each track earns you stars, which unlock doors leading to new levels. Eventually, you’ll beat all of the worlds in a specific Kingdom Hearts game, and that’s when you’ll encounter a boss battle. Boss Battles are different from Field Battles, in that the notes flow towards you and you have to press or hold a button when they reach the end of the line. The way you match the ratings determines whether your onscreen characters can dodge attacks bosses throw at you. I’ve only encountered one boss battle so far (Ansem from KH1), but I liked its more simplistic style.
Finally, there are memory dives. These are music video style levels that have your trio of choice hovering in the air as different notes approach. I played “Simple and Clean” and found it extremely difficult on standard difficulty. It didn’t help as the notes sometimes got lost in the background, blending in with the footage in the video. Nevertheless, I still had a good time with it.
Cooperative mode is also a feature. If you have an additional PS4 controller, you can join a friend in a field battle. I’ve played it a few times and enjoyed it, but it’s not much different from solo fights. There is also a versus mode, where you can play against the system or online opponents. I couldn’t play online, but I did play against the computer a bit. Your opponent is able to throw obstacles called “tricks” at you. I found these cheats heavy, but you can turn them off for a clean battle.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic rush, Remembrance melody delivered. It’s great to hear all the songs from the previous games as you play through difficult levels. You even unlock various goodies like cards and collectibles to look at! But the story is nonexistent so far, and I’ve heard that it only appears during the last two missions of the game. I also know that the campaign only lasts about ten hours.
That’s pretty short for a $ 60 game. The cutscenes are live on Youtube, so if you’re not a fan of rhythm games, save the money and watch them there. If you like music games, you will have fun playing Remembrance melody.