Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is once again resurrecting the rhythm-based genre, and hopes to hit a higher note than other recent releases. With a strong franchise behind the experience, and a good slew of songs to enjoy, everything is set up to propel this spin-off Kingdom Hearts game to the top of sales charts.
With a strong following, it would not be shocking to see Melody of Memory push sales records for rhythm based games. However, when you strip away the fantastic source material, is this Kingdom Hearts experience worth your time and investment? Let’s take a look and find out!
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action, Rhythm
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
A walk down Kingdom Hearts memory lane
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is a love letter to the entire Kingdom Hearts franchise. From the get-go, each of the various tracks you will play through hearken back, at least for those that have played through the entire franchise, to nostalgic memories. And, that’s the only place where Melody of Memory is held back. If you have no knowledge of the franchise, or the soundtrack that makes it so special, there isn’t a lot to cling onto outside of it being a fantastic music based rhythm game.
The franchise knowledge also extends to the story. The game centres on Kairi, who must relive memories from Kingdom Hearts 1 through 3, in order to get information that might help find Sora. This all exists after the end of Kingdom Hearts 3, for contextual purposes. As Kairi, you jump across various universes from each of the three numbered Kingdom Hearts titles.
Everything is basically rehashed content and footage from the previous titles, albeit shaped into a rhythm game. It’s not until you finish playing through all the main story, called the World Tour, that new information is delivered to you. Interestingly enough, this lengthy cut scene eludes to where the Kingdom Hearts franchise could be heading to. I won’t go into any more details but I will say it is incredibly well done, and worth the 6 or 7 hours it takes to unlock.
Play as your favourite Kingdom Hearts and Disney characters
If you have played a Kingdom Hearts title before, the battle system will feel very familiar. That is except for the fact that you are playing a rhythm game as opposed to an action adventure game. Attacking is mapped accurately to the same buttons from the mainline games, which makes it an easy pick-up-and-play title for longtime fans. Getting the beat down and attacking enemies when required is what will take time to master. It is easy when you first get going, but the difficulty ramps up at a decent pace.
For the most part, the majority of your time in Melody of Memory is running down the track with two companions, attacking as you go to the beat. These are called Field Battles. Each of the enemies on screen that you attack represents a beat you must perfectly press. The more accurate your press, the higher your score. These moments are broken up by Boss Battles and Memory Dive modes. Boss battles will have you taking on various bosses, attacking and defending, while perfectly pressing the beat as they fall along a curve.
Memory Dive sequences are a bit less demanding. They offer a lot of nostalgia to longtime fans as you watch key memories from the series play off in the background. In the foreground, you glide along as if hovering above the memory, continuing the beat with each button press.
More than just simple button presses
There is more to the gameplay than just simple button presses. Special moves can be activated by pressing ‘X’ at the appropriate time. And, there are always three objectives per song that can be completed. Earning players more stars to progress faster through the World Tour.
There is an additional layer of depth to the gameplay that will have you collecting items on various stages and synthesizing them to create something new. It ranges from potions for healing to concept art. Additionally, it keeps the memory of Kingdom Hearts alive, while also providing an additional gameplay element for those who might be more inclined to play a Kingdom Hearts game over a rhythm based title. The potions are especially helpful, and can be the difference between completing a track rather than failing.
Familiar and loveable soundtrack
All of the 140+ melodies are outstanding, and sound incredible. While the character skins and fighting animations are top notch, some of the environments could have used a bit more polish. Occasionally, they get bland and boring to look at. That is with the exception being the Steamboat Willie background.
It is nice to see the development team pull everything together based on the characters you are using. For example, with Peter Pan on your team, you’ll be moving along a track above Neverland and fighting pirates as you go.
Numerous multiplayer modes
There are a number of great multiplayer modes to enjoy long after you have exhausted the single player content. These modes really give Melody of Memory longevity and helps to bring players back on a consistent basis.
In Online Versus mode, players compete 1-on-1 in specific tracks to see who can get the highest score. Alternatively, the Nintendo Switch allows you to find players to play in Friend Versus mode. What makes this interesting is that it doesn’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play. Although it does require two Nintendo Switch units locally, both with a copy of the game.
Finally, the game offers another Nintendo Switch exclusive mode in Friend Battle Royale, which once again uses the local network feature. Up to 8 friends can battle it out on specific tracks, with the lowest scoring player being dropped from the running. In addition, players on all systems can enjoy the main story in cooperative play.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is a can’t miss musical journey
How much you will get out of Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is likely tied to how well you know the Kingdom Hearts franchise. For those who are invested, and have played through all the numbered titles, there is a ton of depth here.
Even for those unfamiliar, I believe that Melody of Memory is a superb rhythm based game with lots of great tracks. The included licensed Disney songs draw interest in the game as people are familiar with the songs. Regardless of your Kingdom Hearts knowledge, this is a game everyone can enjoy.
+ Relive Kingdom Hearts from the very beginning
+ All your favourite Disney characters make appearances
+ High replayability
+ Fun for the whole family
– Environments can get bland and repetitive
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF KINGDOM HEARTS MELODY OF MEMORY
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5