Kingdom Hearts is an amazing series, we all know that, and well it being around for ten years shows it is doing pretty well since it’s launch on the Playstation 2 in 2002. Through the span of seven games, two have only been on home-consoles (Playstation exclusive of course) and those are it’s two most recognized games: Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2.
A big thing to mention, before I get into both games is that here in America, we don’t receive the luxurious copy of a Final Mix for either game. A Final Mix copy is a re-release of whatever KH game, but with many bonuses; for example, different colors for Heartless, Gummi Ship Missions, new weapons, new enemies, and of course new moves. In Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, the infamous Dodge Roll was brought back by popular demand . But since we do not have this luxury, we are stuck comparing Kingdom Hearts 1 to 2.
Alright now onto why Kingdom Hearts 1 is better than Kingdom Hearts 2 (though I will list KH2 positives). Kingdom Hearts 1 does not start off slowly like Kingdom Hearts 2. In KH2 you play as Roxas for a long time in the beginning and turns off many of the not, devoted fanboys of the series (my older brother almost stopped playing KH2 because of how slow and boring the game is with Roxas even with that dumb Struggle game). Kingdom Hearts 1 in comparison gets you accumulated with the game right away with you with the ability of freely running around the island, fighting Selphie, Tidus, or Wakka (or all together). I also forgot to mention the battling of Riku and learning of guarding as well. One main aspect I liked in Kingdom Hearts compared to 2 was the choices you chose in the “Awakening” stage. Those choices not only affected your characters ability, but really put a deeper aspect in the Kingdom Hearts game. Unfortunately in KH2 you are mainly running around town, doing your Spyro/Tony Hawk impression on a skateboard. Another BIG BIG comparison is that of the abilities and overall battle gameplay. In KH2 the battle gameplay is dumbed down ridiculously.
First off, they add so many combos to Sora’s attack that your practically pull a 10 hit combo to do minimal damage. I don’t think trading attack power for fancy looking combo’s is one I would trade. Second, would be you can’t kill an enemy without doing a “finishing blow” (also known as Finish Plus, if you don’t believe me attack an enemy without doing your two finishing moves against a boss, it won’t end until multiple hits). Third and maybe worst of all, they also have the action button (press triangle; for those who have never played think FFXIII-2 the cinematic scenes). But here’s the catch…there is no need for time trigger….you can just spam the triangle button with no skill necessary, in addition they took out dodge roll [well it came back for Final Mix].
Olympus Coliseum is much worse in KH2, as they tournaments and challenges aren’t that fun and alluring as they were in KH1. In the first game after defeating Cloud and then fighting the Cerebrus; you had the opportunity to come back multiple times and fight in different tournaments, with different bosses each time. Hades, the Titans (of Hercules), and Sephiroth, really were an awesome experience. I will say Sephiroth is equal in both, his style may have changed but he’s equally as fun. What did make KH2 more fun was it didn’t have any drop-dead boring” as paint dry worlds such as Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan, and borderline Pinocchio whale level. KH2 levels were large enough for exploration but at the same time short and sweet, so it wasn’t a huge waste of time each area. KH1 did have two secret bosses who were difficult and very fun (Aladdin and Peter Pan level). In both games summons are useless but I was glad of the addition of Drive Forms in Kingdom Hearts 2.
I finally felt I can upgrade Sora truly and actually use all my keyblades! With the ability of Valor, Master, Wisdom, Anti, and Final Form (limit form is only for KH2 Final Mix users), you are able to put Sora’s abilities to your wildest dreams. Personally, I thought Wisdom form was useless, but that is only because I always give up magic and keep the sword in ever game.
My last point has to be about magic. In KH1, magic was actually based off your MP, so the more MP you had the more you can use. But apparently, KH2 did not get that memo in Kingdom Hearts 2 you have a magic sidebar that only allowed one spell what was the point of that!? In addition, sometimes your magic “increased” but all in all you could only use one spell, per time range, which isn’t something we need when we need a Curaga and Donald is casting it on himself! So instead of having a steady balance of 2-3 curaga’s which magic came back per hit you had to run around and pray for Donald to heal you during some fights.
All in all, I am not downgrading Kingdom Hearts 2 in anyway, in fact that game is so good, that these negative notions just show how picky I am being for a series I love. KH2 is my second favorite game in the series, and seriously the story, graphics, music, and some of it’s gameplay are really some of the best out there to offer. In fact if Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix was given to us instead of KH2, I wouldn’t be writing this right now, that’s how good Final Mix is. While the handhelds, obviously, can’t compare to the two home-console ones, don’t forget the home-consoles use the same gameplay style in level-abilities, so it is obvious both would be compared. Not to downsize, Birth by Sleep, or the other handheld games, but Command Decks kind of suck and I don’t like having to wait for a command to be fully restored, to use it again; but then again we aren’t Sora and each character has their own specific abilities while Sora is a jack of all trades. So, go pick up a copy and play some Kingdom Hearts if you haven’t, and for players who have, what do you think? Does KH2 have some sort of secret fun activity I missed?
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina