Developed By: Indieszero Published By: SquareEnix Categories: RPG, Rhythm Game Release Date: 11.13.20
I like rhythm games. I like Kingdom Hearts. I also like Kingdom Heart’s music. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a mixture of all three and I am all for it. Much like SquareEnix’s earlier forays into rhythm game spinoffs in the form of the Theatrhythm games for Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, Melody of Memory is developed by indieszero, who is also noteworthy for developing the fantastic Game Center CX games on the Nintendo DS.
It’s what everyone feared most, a Kingdom Hearts spinoff that is actually story relevant. You won’t see any of the story until the end of the game however, so spoilers won’t be discussed here. The game for the most part is taking you on a tour through the series up to the current release. From Kingdom Hears 1 going all the way up to Union Cross and Kingdom Hearts 3 With over over one hundred and forty songs you’ll get a nice selection of the overworld songs, battle songs, boss themes, live orchestral renditions, the opening themes, to even a few songs from the Disney films that were never actually in any of the games. If you want to play a specific song right away though, you are going to have to play for quite a bit to get to it, as you will be playing the games in order. That said, some games like Re:Coded get very little representation in songs, with only two being available, and KH3 is also lacking.
Songs have three formats, Field, Dive, and Boss. With field, much like the Theatrhythm games, you’ll be walking automatically and you’ll need to time your button presses when enemies come right at you. L, R, and A all attack and are mostly interchangeable, but you’ll occasionally be tasked to press multiple together for times when you see multiple enemies at once. There’s also Abilities, which are reminiscent to reaction commands from the games with the X button (Triangle for majority of the series on Playstation), as wel as jumping and gliding moves with the B button. In Dive stages, you’ll be doing most of the same, but you’ll have the occasional direction input to put in. Boss Stages are similar, but now with a segment that grades you on how well you do in order to not take damage from the boss. Each stage has a set of three challenges, from doing a long enough chain, beating the level with a certain amount of health left or certain number of enemies defeated of a type, or even hitting every of a certain beat. You’ll need the stars you get from these to proceed, and if you just get all three in every stage, you’ll never have a road block. Like the games before, you can play on Beginner (Easy), Standard (Normal), and Proud (Hard) as well styles such as a true one button mode, and a performer mode, which adds more beat and targets to pay attention to. I stuck mostly to Standard unless the game outright asked me to play on Proud for a challenge, but so songs, especially overworld songs might feel a bit under-charted on anything but Proud. If it’s up your alley, you can play all of the songs with a friend, competitively or cooperatively too.
Beating stages not only grants you to play the songs in free play, but also gives you synthesis materials and items for the museum. The materials you get can be made for item to use in stages like potions, EXP boosts and that fun stuff, but is mostly used for items for the museum. Theses being key art for all of the games, character and enemy renders, keyblade renders, and even extra songs. Don’t expect to get everything at once, you won’t. Just play through the game as you would and focus on all of the synthesis stuff once you’re more into it, since that’s where the grinding comes from.
If you don’t much care for how Kingdom Hearts 0.2 and 3 looked, you’re in luck, since most of the game outside of near the end in terms of cutscenes is styled off of the classic artstyle, and some enemies even have the original colors from before Final Mix recolors, which is nice to see. I assume they did this mostly to make it easier to asset flip and especially to get it running well on Switch, but it’s pleasant either way.
The game feels more like a celebration of the series if anything. All of the songs, the art, the enemies, it’s really great to see it all together, even if some people would rather we just get ports of the older games, I’m glad to see a new game, especially with one that shows so much love to the series. Some songs might not be as fun as others, but there’s such a large number of them, you’re not going to be stuck playing the ones you dislike for long.