It’s not enough that November is seeing the launch of two next-gen consoles and numerous triple-A titles – we’re also getting a new Kingdom Hearts title. Unlike previous titles though, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a rhythm game and will be coming to Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch on November 13th worldwide. Here are 15 things you should know before picking it up.
The Dark Seeker Saga, Retold
The short version of Melody of Memory’s story is that it retells the Dark Seeker Saga, starting from Kingdom Hearts 1 all the way up to Kingdom Hearts 3. Players will relive key moments from each title through Kairi, following the epic conclusion of Kingdom Hearts 3 ReMind. This is more than just an homage though.
Continues Kairi’s Story
According to series creator Tetsuya Nomura, Melody of Memory is a continuation of Kairi’s story and following her memories of events thus far, a “timeline that will connect to the future” will begin to form. Though Melody of Memory isn’t a huge step forward for the overall story, it does go into more detail on Kairi’s childhood with characters like Riku making appearances. For all intents and purposes, however, this is a greatest hits version of the series, both in terms of story moments and music so don’t expect too much plot.
QTE sequences in various games aside, the concept of a rhythm action game for Kingdom Hearts isn’t necessarily new. It was actually Masanobu Suzui, who created the Theatrythm Final Fantasy series, that approached Nomura for a Kingdom Hearts take on the formula. This was several years ago and it took Disney’s intervention to ultimately approve the idea. The gameplay should be familiar to any rhythm game fan though – you press the corresponding button as it appears on the track in line with the beat to take down enemies. Aerial attacks and skills from the series also come into play.
Missing inputs will cause one’s HP to deplete and there are three different input schemes to choose from – Normal Style with the standard inputs; One-Button Style where one single input is used for every action; and Performer Style that features much more complicated inputs.
Along with different schemes that change the complexity of inputs, each song has three difficulties to play at – Beginner, Standard and Proud. If this is similar to other rhythm games, then the difficulty influences the number of inputs and how badly a miss affects your HP. It should also be interesting to see how, say, a Proud difficulty song functions in Performer Style versus Normal Style.
Each stage is played with a party of three. There’s Sora, Mickey and Donald, the mainline series’ staple team; Terra, Aqua and Ventus from Birth by Sleep; Roxas, Axel and Xion from 358/2 Days; and Riku with two Dream Eaters (for some reason). You’ll start out with Sora and friends but once the other teams are unlocked, they can be used in any song at your leisure.
Over 20 Playable Characters
There are more than 20 playable characters in the game but you’ll also team up with various Disney characters who act as guests in your party. Thus far, Simba, Beast and Mulan have been seen participating in battle but Aladdin and Hercules are also included. What other Disney characters could pop in for cameos? We’ll have to wait and see, though it’s probably safe to discount characters like Elsa who weren’t playable in the games they appeared in.
World Tour is the main story campaign. It sees players venturing to several different worlds in the Kingdom Hearts universe, and playing their songs while fighting enemies. Different story movies are also featured in each world. Though the Gummi Ship is used to travel between worlds, it doesn’t have its own dedicated shoot ’em up game.
In total, there are 47 worlds to explore with 31 based on famous Disney locations. You’ll explore worlds through Field Battles, playing different songs while rhythmically dispatching foes and completing different “missions” such as clearing a stage with 50 percent HP or more without using items. Along with these worlds, there are also 33 locations categorized as dark holes, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Memory Dives see your party essentially diving into cinematic scenes from the series set to music while playing to the rhythm. These Memory Dives aren’t just confined to vocal tracks like Utada Hikaru’s Simple and Clean either – some may be as simple as navigating Kairi’s memories while an instrumental track plays.
Of all the sequences in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, boss battles may be set in the most traditional perspective. They see your party battling against foes like Maleficent in the aforementioned dark hole locations and pressing inputs in line with the music to execute attacks and avoid special attacks. We haven’t seen too many boss battles thus far but we expect foes like Ursula from Little Mermaid and Pete from the Mickey Mouse series to also be featured.
Once you’re done with the World Tour mode, there’s COM Versus to tackle. This sees the player facing off against the AI, competing against “five parties” (as Square Enix describes it). It’s an offline mode with the ultimate objective being to hit Platinum Rank 1. As a pseudo-ranked mode of sorts, it’s pretty interesting and could keep players busy for a decent amount of time.
Over 140 Songs
This all probably wouldn’t work without a huge selection of songs and fortunately, Memory of Melody has fans covered. It features over 140 songs, from Simple and Clean in Kingdom Hearts 1 to “Let It Go” from Frozen featured in Kingdom Hearts 3. Tracks from Birth by Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, 358/2 Days and even the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- Album are also here, and you can unlock and play them via Music Select or the Museum Mode.
Double Play and Online Versus
If you feel like playing alongside a friend, then there’s Double Play which sees two players controlling Sora and Riku and racking up the highest score together. The more competitive-minded players have Online Versus which involves competing against a friend while also using “Tricks” – like switching HP bars or hiding the timing indicators on inputs – to trip them up. Switch players can partake in Friend Versus which is described as a local mode to play against friends, though it features the same content as Online Versus.
Friend Battle Royale
But that’s not all. The Switch version also has its own free-for-all local mode called Friend Battle Royale. It sees eight players on a single Field Battle, competing to earn the highest score. Players who miss a certain number of inputs are eliminated. It’s an interesting mix of battle royale and rhythm game mechanics that should prove fun, though getting eight friends together for maximum hijinks could be tough.
No Secret Movie
Unfortunately for Kingdom Hearts fans, there is no “Secret Movie” to be had. Nomura confirmed this to Famitsu so don’t go expecting a hidden ending or cutscene that teases the next title. It’s a shame but perhaps for the best, lest Nomura sneak in more Final Fantasy Versus XIII references.