In Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory we explore the memories of Kairi and our author René Lübeck, a real Japan game fan, has tried it for you. First a note: If you have not yet played Kingdom Hearts 3, you should skip the "Story" section, because there will be spoilers for Kingdom Hearts 3 and Melody of Memory. Otherwise, you can read the review without any worries.
KH and rhythm game? Can that go well?
So far, Kingdom Hearts has not shone particularly well in the field of rhythm minigames. So far, it has always been more about reaction cutscenes than a rhythm minigame. But is Melody of Memory a real rhythm game? Yes that's it! Every now and then you have the feeling that the inputs are slightly offbeat, but that is not due to the game, but solely to either an input delay or your own reflexes or your own sense of rhythm. Should you not know what "offbeat" means – it means something like "deviating from the beat". Should you notice that you are always a small step ahead or behind the beat, you can even incorporate a negative or positive delay into the game. This allows you to adapt the beat of the notes to your rhythm. I would advise against this, however, as it might hinder you later in the game once you have got used to the gameplay.
Beginner-friendly or pro-oriented?
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory (buy now ) offers three levels of difficulty; these are called beginner, normal and professional. In fact, they are very well balanced too. While beginners often only play the very noticeable notes, in professional mode you play entire stretches of the song later. On the normal level of difficulty this is more in balance. However, the levels of difficulty differ not only in their basic structure, but also in speed. At the beginning, you are challenged significantly less on professionals than is the case, for example, from the middle of story mode.
However, it goes much further. To round off the gameplay a bit and to fill in the remaining gaps in the songs, there is also the performance mode. This mode creates additional notes that you have to press. This mode also depends on the original level of difficulty. So in the end we actually have songs in which we play almost all the notes ourselves. Because of the structure of the game, we can play up to three notes at a time. So it will never happen that four instruments sound at the same time and we have to play all four and their rhythm.
What modes are there?
There shouldn't be a problem with game modes. We have three different modes to choose from. Starting with the story mode, which is called world travel. In this we deal with the story and go through the memories of Kairi step by step. We also digress into the songs that have nothing to do with Kairi. In this mode we have missions for every song. We have to complete these missions in order to play through the game. The tasks range from "Hit every simultaneous note" to "Complete the song with 55% HP or more" to "Complete the song on normal with a perfect series". If you successfully complete such a mission, you get a star and you always need a certain number of these stars to get further. Not all stars are required to complete the game. However, if you want to complete it, you have to collect all the stars in order to unlock all the songs.
There is also the "song selection" mode. Here you can freely choose which song and which level of difficulty you want to play. Here you can see in the overview which ranks you have reached at the end of the songs and you can also play unlocked songs. For example, special songs from the different worlds that were not built into the story mode. However, these must first be unlocked. You do this by completing the songs in story mode, thereby receiving a key item and converting it into a new song in the forge. We'll go into the forge again later.
In addition to the world tour and the selection of songs, there is also the VS battle mode. In this mode you have an online VS function, a CPU VS function and you can create a profile card. On this map you can see, for example, your progress in the game, your playing time, your rhythm points and how many achievements you have already unlocked. We will also go into the achievements again later. You can see almost all of your statistics in the game. In addition to this data, it also shows an avatar and a background that you can choose. The CPU battle is quite simple. Here you get five CPU opponents with different ranks, songs and rewards. The rank determines the level of difficulty of the song. You must have three victories to advance in rank. The ranks are formed from typical patterns. You have a main division (bronze, silver, gold, etc.) and you have subdivisions (1, 2 and 3). If you are bronze 1 and you manage to defeat three CPU opponents, you either rise to silver 3 or Silver 2 on. A defeat reduces the increase. However, a descent in rank is not possible. There is also a co-op mode. In this each player has his own HP, but at the end of the round the points are added to a common score. This mode also only consists of two characters, which means: you only play one note individually.
The story behind the game
I'm not going to spoil what happens in the game and what is relevant to the story. This game is about analyzing Kairi's memories and looking for a way to save Sora. Sora disappears at the end of KH III, which is the trigger. The game consists largely of flashbacks, but smaller and sometimes very important information about Kairi is revealed. Many fans of the Kingdom Hearts series have been waiting for years to finally be able to play Kairi and this is possible here, but only in certain levels and not in the way the fans wanted. However, the game gives one or the other hint that this could be changed in the future. So maybe there will be a group of Sora, Riku and Kairi in KH IV? Unfortunately we can only speculate about this at the moment.
Quality of the songs
I have often read the question on Twitter or in Twitch chats about the quality of the songs. Whether these are upgraded pieces or the originals from the games. I couldn't find an exact answer to this, but the community by and large agrees and says that the quality of the songs corresponds to the respective games. Means: The songs from Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 correspond to the PS2 version and not the remastered version. In my opinion, that doesn't reduce the fun of the game, because they still sound good. I played the game on a Logitech G935 headset and the sound was absolutely great. The sound on my television always seemed clean and pleasant.
Only for connoisseurs?
Of course, Kingdom Hearts fans can do more with the story than someone who just buys the game for the rhythm game. If it is all about the game factor, I would definitely recommend the game. The songs are very consistent across the board, beautiful and just fun to play. Please consider that I am writing from the perspective of a player who is interested in such games. Of course there will also be players who do not enjoy a rhythm game and the game would not be for them. In any case, for the sake of the story, I wouldn't buy it.
Forge, Achievements and Teams
Now we are getting closer to the end of this report. As already mentioned, the game features a forge. In this, we can use the items gained in the songs and by completing the objectives in world travel mode to create items. These items are divided into usable items for the songs, songs, profile cards, trading cards and materials. As usual, we have a moogle in the forge, whose level we upgrade by forging items. With each level we get new bonuses and / or new recipes. We reach the forge via the team menu.
We can also change our team in the team menu. The selection is expanded here in world travel mode as soon as we have unlocked certain story sections. The teams themselves consist of Team Classic (Sora, Donald and Goofy), Team Days (Roxas, Xion and Axel), Team DDD (Riku and two dream catchers) and Team BBS (Ventus, Aqua and Terra). The teams all have their own levels and skills, but these do not change the gameplay. So you can freely choose and enjoy here.
The achievements in this game are partly kept quite simple and partly very grindy. They vary between normal story achievements and tasks like "defeat x opponents". The achievements alone will spend a lot of time with the game, but I would say not that much more time than with other games.
Kingdom Hearts: Memory of Melody is a coherent piece. It offers a lot of nostalgia, a lot of entertainment, a lot of grind and is an all-round good game of its genre. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you are in good hands here. If you are thinking about buying the game just for the sake of the story, I would advise against it. There is very little new information about the Kingdom Hearts story here, even if these few are very important. However, if you are of the opinion that you might enjoy a rhythm game, I can warmly recommend this game. I myself just had a smile on my face with so many songs and reminded myself in so many places how much I love this series of games.
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