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The Problem With Kingdom Hearts
Posted: Posted February 6th by Laxan

Now, this video right here... THIS is exactly what I've been saying about this series for years. Kingdom Hearts 1 is possibly my favorite game of all-time for various reasons. As I've grown older, I have to admit to myself that the sequel I loved so much in my teenage years isn't quite up to snuff. Let's not even delve into all the crappy spinoff titles....

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Insightful, if you ask me. And isn't it just a lovely video to share after finally posting my review for Final Fantasy XV?



I know this tackles mostly the writing, but no, Kingdom Hearts II gameplay is not better to me than the original. The combat feels like flying anime super hero madness with less thought and strategy (unless you play Critical Mode, which is irrelevant since all modes of combat difficulty should feel strategic like the first game) and the worlds feel hallow and with nothing to interact with unlike the first game. A good game overall, but lackluster design in levels and combat.

There are 7 Replies

I would be curious in terms of the dialogue how much of that might be writing versus translation. Or even voice acting. He makes a comment at one point about how it doesn't sound like they are real people actually talking to each other, but that could be due to mediocre/poor voice acting.

While I will never disagree that the writing isn't great, and that the narrative just loses itself entirely and is a big problem, I'm not sure I agree that that is the biggest problem with Kingdom Hearts II, at least. I agree with you that the gameplay is pretty lackluster. On the technical side, I do think they tightened it up. Using the right analog stick instead of L1 R1 to move the camera was great. Controls felt smoother. Appreciated they changed the action button so when you go to open chests, you aren't constantly striking it because strike and open are the same button.

But it just got too ridiculous with the combine powers thing and the triangle attacks on some enemies. Can't tell you how many times I went to do triangle attack, but at the very last moment, Goofy or Donald got close enough that it split second changed it to combine powers (because they're the same button). And boss fights always had a "schtick" that usually weren't based off the normal playing styles. I'm all for changing it up, but it never made sense to me why they would force you to play a different way only at the most challenging of times.

And ultimately, KH2 had a horrible pacing problem. The opening in Twilight Town went on for way too long (and it had you doing literal chores!) But then everything else was poorly paced too. Cut scenes went too long. Narration felt like forever. Mini-games tended to last just a tad too long. But to me, the biggest issue was how frequently you would get a cut scene, then one fight, and then another cut scene. Then another fight. Then another cutscene, then another fight. Then another cutscene, and then maybe a boss. That stop-go aspect of KH2 was bruuuuutal. I think from a game perspective, that was way more problematic than the writing.

Posted February 6th by Jet Presto
Jet Presto

Admittedly, I also did start to get sick of replaying the pot of Disney movies by the mid-way point of KH2. It was maybe fine in KH1, but when it carried over into another game, I was kind of bored with it. Didn't help that the original story of Kingdom Hearts had completely collapsed on itself by that point too, so there were no redeeming qualities to the narrative.

Posted February 6th by Jet Presto
Jet Presto

Everything you wrote about the gameplay is true and I'm not arguing that. But fantards defend this shit like it's an improvement over the original in every way, when it's actually worse in every way minus camera and opening treasure chests! The worlds felt more tangible and intractable in the original. They didn't feel empty and simply hallow maps with treasure chests plopped into them. The combat was more grounded and you could FEEL every hit you landed on an enemy, whereas in the sequel you don't really feel that impact of landing a hit. The story and writing is equally as bad. The Disney aspect in the first game was better integrated in the overall plot and then in the second game onward it's just kind of...there and meaningless. The dialogue, while not super intellectual or thought-provoking, had stronger writing in the first game and it turned to crap in the sequels. Both gameplay and story are drastically inferior from KHII onward is what I'm getting at.

I still hold that KHII is a very good game (especially Critical Mode in Final Mix), but it lacks so much of what made Kingdom Hearts 1 a masterpiece. And I don't agree the dialogue is possibly bad because of voice work. The voice acting is generally good across the board. It really comes down to poor writing and little thought put into the plot and character development.

What the video gets at the most that I think is very true is Tetsuya Nomura's inability to direct games with competence. I have been saying this for years and it seems people are finally starting to realize that it's true. He is a problem and he needs to go away as a director and writer.

Edited February 6th by Laxan
Laxan
 

But it just got too ridiculous with the combine powers thing and the triangle attacks on some enemies. Can't tell you how many times I went to do triangle attack, but at the very last moment, Goofy or Donald got close enough that it split second changed it to combine powers (because they're the same button).

I never used the shortcut, I saw it as too problematic as well. Thankfully it wasn't the only way to do Limits.

And boss fights always had a "schtick" that usually weren't based off the normal playing styles. I'm all for changing it up, but it never made sense to me why they would force you to play a different way only at the most challenging of times.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. I thought it challenged you in a new way each time, much like how a Zelda game would (and I do love me some Zelda games). Maybe that's just me.

Everything you wrote about the gameplay is true and I'm not arguing that. But fantards defend this shit like it's an improvement over the original in every way, when it's actually worse in every way minus camera and opening treasure chests! The worlds felt more tangible and intractable in the original. They didn't feel empty and simply hallow maps with treasure chests plopped into them.

Ugh so true. I hated how small the worlds in KH2 felt compared to KH1. Sometimes the KH1 worlds felt like mazes. Even in the map sizes were comparable, the maze-ish feeling made the worlds feel much bigger in KH1.

The combat was more grounded and you could FEEL every hit you landed on an enemy, whereas in the sequel you don't really feel that impact of landing a hit.

Don't see how you can "feel" a hit landing on an enemy. I have no issues with the combat system in KH1, but KH2 did seem to take things a step forward.

The story and writing is equally as bad. The Disney aspect in the first game was better integrated in the overall plot and then in the second game onward it's just kind of...there and meaningless.

I will admit it was weaker than KH1 but bad and meaningless?

The dialogue, while not super intellectual or thought-provoking, had stronger writing in the first game and it turned to crap in the sequels. Both gameplay and story are drastically inferior from KHII onward is what I'm getting at.

Story, yes, gameplay is a no. I think KH2 had the most fluid battle system I've ever seen. Birth By Sleep had a short but compelling story - gameplay I'd rate close to KH1.

I still hold that KHII is a very good game (especially Critical Mode in Final Mix), but it lacks so much of what made Kingdom Hearts 1 a masterpiece. And I don't agree the dialogue is possibly bad because of voice work. The voice acting is generally good across the board. It really comes down to poor writing and little thought put into the plot and character development.

I am pretty sure KH2 got an award for the voice acting, and I've never had an issue with the voices in this game. Whatever issues these games have had, voice acting wasn't one of them.

What the video gets at the most that I think is very true is Tetsuya Nomura's inability to direct games with competence. I have been saying this for years and it seems people are finally starting to realize that it's true. He is a problem and he needs to go away as a director and writer.

Yeah, if KH3 isn't at least as good as KH2, he needs to sent back to be a character designer and never allowed to direct anything ever again.

Edited February 7th by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

I think KH2 had the most fluid battle system I've ever seen.


I don't think the combat itself was particularly bad. I thought there were improvements from the first game. But the fluidity of the game was not great at all. I felt like every time I got into the flow of battling, the game interrupted me for a cutscene, then threw me back to a boss. When in combat, I thought it was pretty fine. Just thought it was way too choppy. KH1 at least gave you some time between cutscenes to engage in multiple battles and really get going.

Posted February 7th by Jet Presto
Jet Presto

That sounds like preference and not necessarily a real issue. Just about any game can do that. But that is your preference and you can criticize whatever you like, I just don't see that see that as a huge problem that would stop you from playing it or a similar future installment either?

Posted February 10th by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

I mean, sure. That can be said about all of this. I'm talking about how KH2 frequently puts you in a single battle, then goes to cutscene, then puts you in a single battle, then cutscene, then maybe gives you room to run around, then cutscene. Then boss battle. Then cutscene. By no means is that the entire game. There are definitely areas where they allow players to actually play the game without constant interruption. I'm just saying there are more instances in which the game is constantly interrupting you, which I found really irritating and made the game drag from a pacing perspective. (I still think the first third of KH2 might be some of the worst pacing of any game I've ever played.) And yeah, just about any game can do that, but most of the good ones I've played do not. Which is sort of the point when discussing design elements of a game.

Posted February 10th by Jet Presto
Jet Presto
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