As the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, Kingdom Hearts quickly sets itself apart from traditional action role-playing games in many ways. Kingdom Hearts is a third person viewed action role-playing game that implements strategic 'button-mashing'.
When you first start off you're forced to pick one of two difficulty levels - Standard Mode or Expert Mode (later, when Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is released you're presented with three new difficulties - Beginners Mode, Proud Mode, and Standard Mode). If you chose Normal Mode, you receive the normal amount of experience for each defeated enemy as well as losing the standard amount of damage. However, if you chose to go with Expert Mode, you'll find that you gain less experience for each defeated enemy, you'll also receive more damage from enemies, and that you deal less damage to enemies. The difficulty you chose also has a play on what qualifications you must meet in order to be able to see the Secret Movie that is watchable once you beat the final boss.
Once you choose your difficulty, Kingdom Hearts is the only game so far to allow you to manipulate how you grow. Sora is presented with a sword, staff, and shield. You're made to take one and give up one. The sword represents attacking and strength, the staff deals with your magic, and the shield deals with defense for both you and your party.
As with manipulating your growth, Kingdom Hearts is also the first and only game so far to allow you to manipulate how much experience you receive. When Sora is asked questions by Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka, depending on how you answer, you'll receive a message saying that you will be leaving at either dawn, noon, or dusk. If you are given the dawn message, you gain more experience, at noon, you'll be receiving the standard amount of experience for each defeated enemy, and as for dusk, you'll have a slower time gaining experience.
In Kingdom Hearts, Sora has two different gauges, a green gauge, which represents Sora's health points (HP), and the blue gauge, which represent Sora's magic points (MP). If Sora's HP bar is depleted you are faced with a Game Over screen (at which point you must decide whether to load the game from the last save point, or to continue). HP can be restored by collecting HP orbs which drop from enemies once they're defeated, using items such as potions, tents, or elixirs, or you can recover HP by using any variation of the Cure spell, provided you have sufficient MP available. If your MP is depleted you can restore it by attacking an enemy or using certain items, however, you are unable to use any magic spells until you fill at least one bar.
Sora is controlled using the standard left analog stick. If you push lightly on the left analog stick Sora will walk if you push the left analog stick all the way, Sora will run. The camera can be rotated using either the L2 button (which rotates the camera left), or the R2 button (which rotates the camera right). Pressing down on the right analog stick (R3) will center the camera automatically for you. Pressing the Select button will give you a first person view which will automatically be exited once you press any other button. The start button functions as both a pause button and a menu button (the latter of which is only accessible when there are no enemies around)
Sora can also jump using the circle button, the circle button is also implemented when Sora receives the Glide ability, at which point you press the circle button once to jump, and then hold it down in order to glide. When Sora obtains certain abilities such as Dodge Roll and Guard you can then use these by pressing the square button (while walking/running pressing the square button allows you to Dodge Roll, if you're standing still, pressing the square button allows you to Guard)
During certain worlds (Atlantica, Neverland, and The End of the World) Sora can either swim or fly. During these certain worlds you use the circle button to swim/fly upward, and the square button to swim/fly downward.
On the bottom left corner of the screen you're likely to notice a menu with four different options. Attack, Magic, Item, and '?'. By default the menu is set on the Attack option, pressing the X button allows you to swing/attack your keyblade, which is the primary means of dealing damage to enemies. The top menu also changes from Attack to other out-of-battle actions such as 'Talk', 'Examine', etc. However, you can scroll through the menu using either the Directional Pad (D-Pad) or the right analog stick.
Using Magic is the secondary way of dealing damage. Throughout various points of the game Sora is granted a number of spells, all of which eventually upgrade themselves. The most common way to deal damage is by using the Magic shortcut by means of the L1 button. This is where you can assign four different spells to the X, circle, square, and triangle button. Within the Magic menu is the Summon menu, which allows Sora to summon various Disney characters that each have different abilities.
The Items menu speaks for itself, it allows you to use items that are either obtained through shops or by defeating enemies. Most items either recover HP or MP, or even both. The last bar on the menu is by default shown as '?', this changes when battling, and allows Sora to use different abilities that are obtained through leveling up.
©2012 KHInsider. KINGDOM HEARTS official artwork, trailers, characters, merchandise, and music is copyrighted to Square Enix and Disney.
Original material is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.