Last week was a big one for people who enjoy mobile games based on their favorite RPG series. Both Tales of Link and Kingdom Hearts Unchained X were released. While the former is more of a puzzle game, the latter is an action RPG that borrows characters, settings, situations, and battle systems from many other Kingdom Hearts games, in particular Chain of Memories.
First, before we even start talking about Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, let me offer a warning. This game takes up a lot of space. The Google Play and iTunes listings may say it only needs 47MB and 59.3MB, but the initial downloads bring that up to 1.1GB on both devices. It’s an investment.
In Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, you create an original avatar and fight your way through iconic Disney locations, defeating Heartless and saving familiar characters. That is, as long as you still have action points. (You’ll either need to pay for energy refills or take forced breaks every fifteen minutes or so.) As an example, the first assortment of missions is set in Snow White’s realm, where you’re helping to defend her from her wicked stepmother. This scene should seem familiar to people who’ve played Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
In fact, all of the areas I’ve seen so far are recycled spots and similar storylines. Every 15 missions, you’ll find your avatar taking part in a new plotline. The Dwarf Woodlands are the setting for the first 15, then Wonderland, and Agrabah. I haven’t gotten past mission 33, though, so this could change. However, seeing as how most Kingdom Hearts games recycle locations, you can expect to see many familiar faces and spaces. Your time in each area is brief, and a bit more detached than it is in the major installments, so it comes across like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. You’re getting a brief window of opportunity to reexperience familiar situations.
The battle system, however, is very much like Kingdom Heart: Chain of Memories. Only here, Medals are used instead of cards. You get these randomly by giving Square Enix Jewels, which can be earned by completing missions or logging in regularly. The Huey, Dewey, and Louie Support Medals are typically mission rewards and used for leveling up other Medals. Initially, your keyblade can only hold three Medals, and you’re allowed a fourth by “borrowing” one from a friend or stranger before heading into a mission, but you can eventually get to five of your own via keyblade improvements. This means you’re initially allowed four attacks per each turn in battle, but eventually can get up to six attacks per turn.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained X’s Medals belong to three different types, which means we get a weapon triangle! Power (red) attacks are strong against speed and weak against magic. Speed (green) bests magic and is susceptible to power. Magic (blue) trumps power and flails against speed. Each enemy has a certain type assigned to it, so it’s wise to check your target before a mission to see if it has a red sword, blue spell, or green wing on it. You’ll want to switch your Medal layout accordingly.
Actual fights are rather rudimentary. You tap on an enemy to target a specific one and attack, or swipe across the screen to attack an entire group of enemies at once. If you have enough points in your special gauge, which is full at the beginning of every encounter, you can hold and drag the current Medal outward to perform a special attack. Once all Medals have been used, your turn is over and the enemies attack. Even early on, it’s quite easy to wipe out all foes in a single turn, and most missions reward you for having only one-turn wins that mission.
But, I think the biggest way in which Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is how it can make you feel disconnected from the series as a whole. It isn’t like Kingdom Hearts, II, Birth By Sleep, or even Dream Drop Distance, where the story is continuing and characters seem to have some sort of actual influence in the adventure. Like Chain of Memories, it’s a more passive experience. Players’ avatars are heroes, but not to the same degree as Sora and Riku. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a good a game, but there isn’t the same sort of bond with the people you’re helping as in the major installments.
Still, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is a game fans of Kingdom Hearts should try. That is, if you have the 1.1GB of space for it. It isn’t earth shattering or amazing, but it’s an amusing enough adventure with a competent battle system and cute character designs. It’s immediately available in both Japan and North America for Android and Apple iOS devices.