Kingdom Hearts has been a beloved series to many. With Kingdom Hearts 3’s DLC not being the best received after the long awaited release of the main title, Square Enix has launched a rhythm game combining the whole series together into one adventure. Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is a first for me as far as rhythm games go. But being a long time Kingdom Hearts fan, I jumped on the opportunity to try something new.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory starts players off with a tutorial to get used to the several different controls. I played on the Nintendo Switch, which is my console of choice. This was slightly difficult to do at first because the symbols on the screen when an enemy is near are still the symbols for the PlayStation. So, the A button was the X button and the Y button was the triangle button. Everything seemed slightly shifted from how it would work on the PlayStation to work for the Nintendo Switch.
The game also uses the L and R buttons, which are the smaller of the bumper buttons and not where the hand naturally settles when the player holds the controller. I found myself hitting the ZR and ZL buttons at first because it felt more natural than the smaller L and R buttons. The ZR and ZL buttons worked, but the L and R buttons were more responsive for keeping a combo streak going. Once I got a chance to get past the tutorial and get into an actual game, it became natural to handle.
There are two songs per stage. The main theme of the stage, and the theme when players are in a battle. This allows players to relive all of the iconic levels and remember songs they may have forgotten. Each song has three difficulty levels: beginner, normal, and proud, along with goals to complete. Sometimes, goals are as simple as beating a level with 50% or more health. When you miss a note, the enemy attacks the player, lowering their overall health.
There are potions, mega potions, item boosters, and experience boosters that players can activate before a level starts to make sure that they make it to the end of the level. Each time a note is hit, that note gets an individual score of Good, Excellent, or EXCELLENT that adds to the overall score and grade of the level at the end of the song.
Some goals per level are also difficulty based, making the player try different difficulties to get a feel for the levels themselves. I actually found myself having a harder time with the beginner levels because I know the songs inside and out. I know when the beat is coming and I press the button to when I think the enemy should be attacked.
This led to a lot of low health, bad scores, and occasionally failing a level because I got ahead of the song. I became more comfortable with the standard levels because it fit up with the music more. With proud levels, I had issues with my controller keeping up with the speed I was pressing them to play the song, but I still had fun because I felt like I was playing the song as well.
There are different areas the player can find songs to play. The World Tour mode is the story mode, where players enjoy iconic songs from each world of each game to get the whole story of Kingdom Hearts. After completing a song in the World Tour, the track will become available to play in the Track Selection area, where players can repeat songs over and over until their hearts are content. A song must be played in the World Tour for it to be played in the Track Selection.
This encourages players to go through the store mode and relive all of Kingdom Hearts over again in a simplified style while still understanding the complicated storyline of the game series.
Other types of songs are available. Another type of style is called a Dive song. This has players watching a movie, or opening sequence from a game while still playing notes along the way. I found this type of game harder because I was distracted by the movie. They are also longer. Like the song “Simple and Clean” that opens the first Kingdom Hearts game. Players get to play the whole song while in the standard arcade version, only part of the song is played.
However, with Dive songs, there are directional queues as well that players have to hit at the same time as the attack button. I would try to hold the toggle in the direction before hitting the attack button and would constantly miss notes, making for many failed attempts. Plus, there are some notes that are two directional notes together. This means the player not only has to hit the double attack button, but move both toggles in the same direction at the same time.
I played this game in handheld mode because I was able to attach my headphones and really get into the music. When these kinds of notes came up, I fumbled miserably and tried not to drop the console in an attempt to hit all the notes.
Overall, I’m really happy at how this game turned out. It was wonderful to relive the Kingdom Hearts series and envelope myself in the wonderful music again. Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Images provided were captured in game. The game was purchased by the reviewer for review purposes on the Nintendo Switch.