Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Retrospective

I'm going to be straight with you.. I did not technically complete Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories.. Here's the thing, I'm just not that good at video games. I also don't have a lot of patients for grinding levels in RPG's. So when I got to the third to last boss fight, and had to both grind and retry it tons of times... I just didn't have the desire to keep going. And you know what, that's ok! I don't have to complete every game I start. Games should be fun to play gosh darn it!

With that off my chest, here's some memories this game stirred up.

Memory: Not enough time..

I kind of forgot how much of a Kingdom Hearts fan I was as a kid. I played a lot Kingdom Hearts 1, Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 2, and the weirdly named one on the DS. But much like my recent experience with KH:CoM, I don't think I actually finished any of these games. Every time I would get to the final story segment, then get stuck on a hard boss! I guess some things never change.

Another very specific reason I remember not being able to finish these games was that for a period my parents had a daily time limit for video games. I was allowed 20 minutes. 20 minutes was not enough time for me to beat those late game bosses. The funny thing was that my parent were not hovering over me counting down the seconds, I was just a rule follower. So I would start up the game, try to beat the boss quickly, run out of time, then turn off the console mid fight. I totally could have just kept playing...

At least my wife and I had a good laugh at younger me.

Mechanic: Cards

At the beginning I said I was no good at games and disliked grinding levels. However somewhat unintuitively, I actually really enjoy action RPG's. Maybe its because they strike a balance between immediate skill and out of combat planning. I tend to be able to scrape by with little to no grinding, and the bit of skill I do possess. I really like the card based combat in KH:CoM, enough to consider trying my hand at re-implementing it! It perfectly strikes that skill/planning balance of a great action RPG.

why do I like it?

Firstly, in combat each attack matters. You cant just spam the attack button, since...

  1. Your attack may become a spell, or heal, or something else may not want.
  2. Enemies will block your attack with higher valued cards.

So you need to balance picking the right card, while dodging enemies attacks, while ALSO building up the right sleight (3 cards combined into a special move) for the encounter. All good stuff.

Out of combat is all about building your deck of cards. There's an incredible amount of flexibility in how you organize your deck, and that matters since there's no shuffling of cards in this game. Do you put all your strong attacks at the front? Or do you organize them according to the sleights you'll want to use. And then where do you put heal cards? Those always need to be close at hand. Plus you cant forget about 0 cards, which have the ability to stop any incoming attack... I could keep going, but suffice to say organizing decks is fun.

I'm reminded of the many deck builder games like Hearthstone and Slay the Spire, neither of which I was able to get into. I bounced off those games I think in part because they were missing the "action" part. I guess I just like being to dodge enemy attacks.

Hopefully I'll be able to actually finish my next games. My plan is to play both Drill Dozer and Mega Man Zero simultaneously! I wonder how these 2 platformers will compare.