Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with 'Kingdom Hearts'

Confession: I am terrible at playing video games. There are only a handful of games I’ve actually completed, and most of them are from the Lego franchise. I get frustrated when games are complicated or the boss levels are almost impossible to beat. I’ll be the first to admit I like easy games--games like Animal Crossing where I can’t lose or Roller Coaster Tycoon where I can just have fun. (Though, I still stress myself playing Roller Coaster Tycoon because I’m worried I won’t reach the objective by the end of the time limit due to tiny, whiny avatars that complain about everything.)

But that doesn’t mean I won’t try to play harder games. I do, and I usually end up screaming and hitting random buttons. Take for instance, the Attack on Titan game. I cannot for the life of me play that game without screaming because I'm afraid a Titan will grab me and eat me. Or Sly Cooper. Those games have some of the worst mini-game type levels, and I have yet to complete one of the games because I cannot survive. (And plenty of frustrated groaning follows.)

Then there’s Kingdom Hearts.

I first played Kingdom Hearts about ten years ago when I received a used copy of the first game for Christmas. I fell in love immediately. I mean, it was a game all about Disney worlds where you team up with Disney characters. How could I not love it? Plus, the story lines and the new characters are all amazing too. Then I received Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, played it for a short time, and gave up because I didn’t understand how the game worked. I borrowed Kingdom Hearts 2 and Birth by Sleep from a friend and mostly beat those.

Recently, I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which consists mainly of Dream Drop Distance. It’s been so fun. I’ve loved the worlds and the story line. I like the Dream Eater buddies and that I can play as Sora and Riku. But I still find issues with the game, as I do with every Kingdom Hearts game thus far.

First, Dream Drop Distance functions with two storylines that crisscross throughout each level. You start as Sora and you have a “drop gauge” that is basically a timer. So for a certain amount of time you go through the levels as Sora until the meter runs out. Then it “drops” you, and you switch to Riku, play through the levels until that meter runs out, and switch. On and on. Which is cool because, as I said before, I can play as both. But it’s also irritating because just when I get going in the level, get used to the commands on Sora’s list and the Dream Eaters I’ve paired with Sora, I drop and have to rethink my entire fighting style. In addition, without fail, I always drop while I’m in the middle of a battle, which means when I drop the next time and pick back up I’m immediately thrown into a frenzy. It’s been stressful. (I also hate that if you leave a “room” or location in a world, usually by accident, and return all the bad guys return and you have to fight them three, four, ten times as you try to figure out where you’re going and/or collect all those dumb treasure chests!)

In addition, some of the controls of Dream Drop Distance annoy me as well. While the reality shifts are cool, they are hard for me to do because no matter how I hit the circle and triangle button, it always does a command instead of reality shift at least twice before I can hit them correctly. I don’t know if it’s my fingers, the controller, or how the game works, but I get easily frustrated trying to do that function. Also, I always forget I can link-up with my Dream Eaters, so I never use those power-ups, which is a shame because they’re really cool. #wastedpotential (I also like to not pay attention when I’m learning a new skill, so I’m poking around the level going “What do I do!??!” for way too long. That one, however, is on me.)

But the aspect of every Kingdom Hearts game that annoys me the most are the boss levels. Normally the boss levels in the earlier worlds aren’t so bad. As long as my skill level is higher than the level, which it usually is because I like to waste time finding collectibles instead of following the main story line, I’m good. But when I get to the final level with the big boss (usually Xenahort or Ansem or whoever), I get mad. Mainly because I can’t win easily. I have to actually think about the buttons I’m pressing and pay attention to the pattern of the boss’ fighting style. I hate when I get hit a single time and my health drops significantly or when I hit the command for “cure” and Sora or Riku just stand there like an idiot and do nothing (or get hit again by the boss and I die).

Then, after I finally beat the boss after several attempts (and I’ve probably thought about chucking the controller across the room or I’ve laid on the floor and muttered angry curses at the TV), guess what happens next? You have to fight another boss, or the same boss again only this time he’s stronger. And that’s when I get enraged. You’re telling me I just defeated this dude with several health gauges and gave my all and I have to do it again for a bigger boss? Nah, man. Nah. I don’t want that. I want to defeat a boss and move on.

This has been the case for every Kingdom Hearts game I’ve played so far. While I haven’t played them all, I can’t imagine this pattern would change too much. This is the main reason I never finished Birth By Sleep. I finished the story line for Ventus, but I got to the final boss with Terra and Aqua and could not for the life of me defeat the bad guy. (And since I was borrowing the PSP and game from someone, I had to give it back at some point.)

In addition, after I finished the baddies of Dream Drop Distance, becoming so angry that I was pumping with an adrenaline rush, the game didn’t end. It didn’t end. I still had to play more. And I wanted to scream. Because I already spent way too long wandering the final world with Sora trying to figure out where to go when I just had to jump off the other side of a building rooftop to continue and then fight an annoying bad guy. And then I had to continue?! Nah, man. Nah.

So while I love Kingdom Hearts with my whole heart because the worlds are fantastic and the interactions with Disney characters are exciting, I do get frustrated with the games. Does that mean I’ll stop playing them? Does that mean I’ll give up and never finish? No. I will play. I will finish. I’ll just get super mad about it and scream while I smack the bad guy in the face with my Keyblade.

What video games frustrate you? 


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