Recently on November 13, Square Enix published the newest game in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. And just like each game in this series, the combat is tweaked slightly. In the case of Melody of Memory, a rhythm-based aspect is put into place, making it one of the black sheep of the Kingdom Hearts series.
Around a month ago, Square Enix released a demo of the game, which I reviewed on Geekly Goods. The demo featured only 6 songs, which allows the full game to feel fresh, something that I will talk about later.
Something that is interesting about this game is the fact that it is a celebration of the music from Kingdom Hearts, including around 150 songs from throughout the series. However, they decided to make this game have a story and take place after Kingdom Hearts III. It only ties into the game at the end.
The game starts with a flying segment, where you are flying through memories from the series while listening to “Simple and Clean” from the first game. This sets the tone of the game as it celebrates the entire series and its music. After the intro, you are able to explore the world map by flying a gummi ship. There are songs from every game in the series, including DS games, 358/2 Days, and RE:coded.
The main method of progressing through songs is through missions. Each song has 3 missions that you can do. There are a total of 352 missions. After playing through 10 songs, a gate appears, where you have to have completed a certain number of missions to progress. This means that the missions are crucial to the completion of the game.
There are around two songs per world, with some only having one. Each world has its own unique theme, that makes it look like you are running through and visiting that world. The enemies found in the level are also based on the world that you are in at the time.
Also based on the world are guest characters, which are characters that replace one of the team members from your party during that particular level/world. Examples of these characters are: Hercules, Simba, Aladdin, Beast, Ariel, Mulan, Peter Pan, and Stitch. These characters are only cosmetic changes and do not effect gameplay.
In Melody of Memory, there are also four different character parties that you are able to unlock throughout your journey. These teams include: Team Classic (Sora, Donald, and Goofy), Team Days (Roxas, Axel, and Xion), Team DDD (Riku, Meow Wow, and Kamory Bat) and Team BBS (Aqua, Tera, and Ventus). The teams don’t play very differently and are only based on looks, just like the guest characters. However, it is exciting to choose to play as different teams from throughout the history of Kingdom Hearts.
You can also summon King Mickey as a fourth character in your team while using the summoning item.
However, if you are here to play as Kairi, tough luck, as she is only available to play during the final stretch of the game. This seems rather disappointing as the game was marketed to be all about her and it is… sort of.
The game revolves around a simple rhythm-based gameplay style. If there is one enemy onscreen you press one button when the attack timer is at the right area. If there are two enemies onscreen, you press two buttons together, with the same going with three buttons. There is also a jump attack move, where you press B (in the Nintendo Switch version) and then A, L, or R. Giant enemies will appear throughout levels, where you have to press X to activate an ability crystal in order to defeat it. There are also flying sections in these levels, where you hold B, allowing the character you are playing as to sour and collect music notes. If you fail to defeat an enemy, your health goes down. Miss too many times, and you die and are kicked out of the level.
However, that is not the only type of level found in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. There are boss battles, mainly at the end of each “game”, which mimic the boss fights found during the game it’s referencing. For example, for Kingdom Hearts’ boss fight, you fight Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. For Kingdom Hearts II’s boss fight, you fight Malificent.
Boss Fights are fought by having your chosen team circling the boss, while notes come towards a certain line. Once the note hits the line, you press A/R/L in order to attack. There are also notes where you have to hold a button until the long note passes the line, along with a joystick note, where you move your joystick in the direction that the note states. After a while, the boss with attack, making you have to dodge in order to not be hit. The boss fight ends when the song ends, meaning that the health of your character is more important then the health of the boss.
There are also memory sections where you are flying through memories of past games. However, these are mainly found throughout the worlds of Kingdom Hearts III. These control pretty similarly to the boss battles, with many of the different notes acting the same. The only difference is that Sora, or the character you choose to play as, is flying throughout the memories.
Something that annoyed me personally is that one of the songs available in this mode is Let It Go from Frozen. This level features the entire “Let It Go” cutscene from Kingdom Hearts III, meaning that you have to listen to Elsa sing the song every time you play the level.
The memory levels are slightly distracting, as they are displaying a “movie” in the background and your eyes want to focus on it. Obviously, you can’t because you have to focus on the notes that are coming closer and closer to your character.
I have found that sometimes inputs do not respond as well as they should. But a simple setting change was able to fix that issue for me.
Story (NO SPOILERS)
The story found in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory does not develop until the end of the game, where you reach the final level titled, “Melody of Memory’s End.” Since this game is new, I am not going to reveal what happens during that level, but I will say that it makes me excited for the future of this franchise.
The main story that is found throughout Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is Kiari explaining the main plot points found in the games that you are playing through. These explanations or recaps are very brief as they only cover big and important moments found in the past.
The reason for Kairi’s narration is revealed in the final level.
The main story of Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is around 9-13 hours long, depending on if you choose to complete all of the songs that the game offers.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a love letter to the series and its music. While the gameplay may be difficult at times, due to input timing, the love and care that the series is known for shines through.
The gameplay is fun and addicting but gets boring after playing for a while. The story found within does not get “good” until the end, but the ending is so worth it. The graphics look straight from the PS2 era of Kingdom Hearts games, which is not a bad thing, and the music choices are top-notch.
This game was extremely enjoyable as a Kingdom Hearts fan, and even some of my family members, who know nothing about Kingdom Hearts, were able to find fun in its simple gameplay and story.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory Review:
Have you played Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory? Tell us in the comments below, and let us know what you think about it!
PixarNerd Studios is a writer for Geekly Goods and an artist. You can contact him at @pixarnerdstudios on Instagram and @pixarnerdstudio on Twitter.