It started off kind of like, "Whoa, what's going on?" Kingdom Hearts II did the same thing, but in a very different way. Usually these games start at an original world, but not this one. Well, we knew it wouldn't, because they told us as much in Kingdom Hearts 0.2. So we went to Olympus! Not Olympus Coliseum, just Olympus! And it's huge! Because everything in this game is huge, and ridiculously detailed! Aaaaahhhh!
Anyway, so far, everything is very pretty, but I think they made Hercules's muscles too big. We remember reading interviews with his lead animator on the movie where he said the directors kept telling him to slim him down--they wanted more of a swimmer type body than a weightlifter. It's not a big deal, but we prefer the not-too-muscly types, and Herc has always been a favorite. We were also pleased that of the very limited selection of Greek gods that made it into the game, Athena was one of them! Woohoo!
What was less pleasing was that we got to Olympus, and suddenly we're in the middle of saving the city from mass destruction! What! This is way too epic and dramatic for the beginning of a game! ...Well, it is supposed to be the final installment of the Sora arc, so I guess it makes sense to start big. But we felt so off-balance. Still, they had us collecting ingredients, and we didn't know what they were for, but it was awesome, so we liked it.
Then we got to the Gummi ship, which was a bit of a relief, because going straight to a Disney world had us wondering if the Gummy ship was really going to be a thing. It was! ...But it was weird. And completely counter-intuitive. I mean, it was for us. I don't know if it's the more common way to do things these days, so maybe for the rising generation it makes more sense, but we were lost all over again. This was the part that had us really going, "I don't know if I like this game..." Especially! because the fancily rendered versions of Chip and Dale are not very cute! They looked perfect in all the other Kingdom Hearts games, so it's very frustrating to see this happen to them now. Like someone came along and was like, "No, chipmunks are known for having fat cheeks, so you have to make those cheeks fatter." Or something. It's just blegh blegh blegh, and since Chip and Dale are two of our favorite characters, this made us extremely unhappy.
But then we made it to Twilight Town, and all was right with the world. It was like coming home again, especially because, now that the town has even more super fancy details, it struck us just how much it resembles our favorite place in the world, Tokyo DisneySea. And then! that's where they explained about the hidden Mickeys! We had seen them all over Olympus, and we were like, "Ugh, we know it's a thing in the real world, but do you have to put them there just as an Easter egg?" Well, they weren't just an Easter egg, they were a mini quest!
And now that they serve a purpose, we think they're the best ever. Especially! because now Sora has a smartphone (basically). And it's great because, as expected from the technologically challenged Sora, he had no idea how to use it at first. It was so cute, because it started ringing, and he's all, "Where's the music coming from?" and then he pulled the phone out of his pocket, and he was like, "I can't get it to stop!" Oh man, Sora is the best. And now he can use the phone to take pictures of hidden Mickeys, and! and! AND!!! you can make them selfies! And Sora takes the cutest selfies of all time! Oh my goodness, it's my new favorite thing. And you can take pictures of Donald and Goofy, and Hercules and all the other characters, and they pose!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! One of Donald's poses has him going, "Wait, don't take the picture yet!" so you can get him all flustered. It's so great.
Twilight Town is also where you meet Remy, who had us a little unhappy because he's a Pixar character and you know how we have our bias. But of course, he's the one who cooks up all the ingredients we've been collecting! Only he doesn't, he makes Sora do it, and it's probably supposed to be him controlling Sora like he does Linguini, but we like to think it's just us playing as Sora as usual, especially because it's super easy to mess up, and Remy wouldn't mess up like that. (I may not be a fan of Pixar, but I am a fan of consistency.)
And Scrooge is there, too, and he's the best, because his Japanese voice sounds just like Alan Young, and it feels so nostalgic. And he had a little spiel about using the synergy effect to make more money, and then he laughed evilly, and we were like, "Oh my gosh, that's such a good example of what Disney has been doing the last several years!" We loved it.
We saw a scene with Kairi and...I guess he wants to go by Axel now, but we're thinking that might be because he's finally starting to remember Xion. That's right! That's a huge spoiler! But you knew it would happen, since he's training with Kairi. But the only reason I mention it is because Axel is so super awkward around Kairi that it's completely adorable and I love it, except that it means he doesn't talk very much, which is sad, because I love his voice.
Finally we went to Toy Box, which had us significantly less than excited, but we were glad it was one of the first worlds so we could get it over with (I'm guessing Frozen is going to be towards the end...). And we were annoyed enough that Toy Story has to be in Kingdom Hearts at all (the way they connect it to the main story has us going, "Okay, yeah, that makes sense. Fine."), but then Sora's toy form is kiiiiiind of ridiculous. Why is his neck hexagonal? Was that ever a thing with toys? And he's still twisting at his waist, which he doesn't seem like he should be able to do in that form.
But worst of all, there was one good character in Toy Story...okay, thinking about it, Rex and the Green Army Men are pretty good, and pretty much everybody but Hamm, Mr. Potato Head, and Woody are decent people. But Buzz was always the best, and now they've gone and given him Woody's stupid personality. He's all, "We can't trust them, they're more super awesome than me." At least his suspicions are more rational than just petty jealousy, but he's all, "Nope, we're done with these people. They clearly can't be trusted," at any little thing that comes up. And the problem is, all Sora wants to do is rush to the rescue of Buzz and Woody's lost friends, so when Buzz is like, "I'm done with this," it doesn't make any sense with his character. Buzz is also the type to rush into any danger to save his friends. ...At least, so I thought from watching, you know, the movies that he came from. Although to be fair, I swore off those movies like ten years ago. (Wow, was it really that long? No, Athena tells me it was summer 2010.) Buzz is also the one who was like, "We can't go to the toy store--we have to wait for Andy!" And that should have been Woody saying that, too. So it's all just extremely arghful.
And I remembered the other thing that has us a little "hrrm" about this game, and it's the music. All the preexisting music is still there, just not as much as we think it should be. And it's fine to have new music, of course, but it just doesn't have quite the same spark as Yoko Shimomura's music. And she's still listed as the main music person, so it's possible she wrote all the new music, too, but I don't know. It feels off. And since we didn't start out in Olympus with the familiar Olympus Coliseum theme, and it was this really dramatic but not-exactly-adventurous thing, it just didn't have the same mood as most of the Kingdom Hearts games. Fortunately, once we got to Olympus Olympus, they brought the old theme back, so that was a relief, but oh my goodness, the Gummi ship music is like what are you even doing? And the fight music in Toy Box has a part that's like, "Okay, we're just going to kind of fade out, and then have a nice, easygoing bit like we're out for a morning stroll." It doesn't make any sense. And if they're trying to say "yeah, we don't want the music to mimic the action too much," I want to say "THEY CALL IT MICKEY MOUSING FOR A REASON! IT'S WHAT DISNEY DOES!!!"
...But I'm sure I'll get over it eventually. Sora, Riku, Kairi, and all the rest continue to be their lovable selves and aren't swapping personalities or anything, so as long as we focus on the main characters, we think we'll like the game just fine. And we still love searching for those hidden Mickeys!
Le sigh. Well, I'm glad I didn't take too much time typing that up. We need to go to sleep. Oh, but first I have to mention that Page was a little distraught because we upset our routine, which upset her play routine. Athena usually plays with her while we work, because you can swing a wand toy and still focus on translation. So to give Page her usual playtime, I brought the wand toy into the bedroom, and while Athena was busy fighting bosses, Page was running all over the room chasing that toy. It was super adorable. She seemed extra playful today, too.
Today I'm thankful for getting to spend the whole day playing Kingdom Hearts, getting to play with Page, remembering to stop for food and water, the lightning storm not getting too too close, and having plans to play more Kingdom Hearts tomorrow.