Kingdom Hearts gameplay details

[03.17.02] » Spoiler warning: Almost no bizarre Disney / Final Fantasy juxtapositions within!

   With the Japanese release of Kingdom Hearts a week away, Square is following its usual "just short of a text dump" policy of releasing plenty of details right up until a game ships. While most of the past information has focused on the many cameos from both Final Fantasy and past Disney movies, Square has now had to resort to disclosing some actual gameplay details.

   Kingdom Hearts will employ an ability system similar to the one used in Final Fantasy IX. As in that game, new weapons and armor will give characters access to new skills. Characters earn Ability Points in battle, and those points can be spent to permanently learn the skill. Some of these special skills are are default abilities for "guest" characters which join you in the game. Learning them permanently will give you access to these skills even after the characters have left the party.

   New magic spells in the game are attained by defeating certain bosses or solving puzzles. All spells will level up with use, growing stronger as they do, while their casting cost remains the same. In addition to the previously revealed summon spells, Dumbo and Mushu (from Mulan), Sora will also be able to summon Bambi to heal the party in battle. Much to Disney fans' chagrin, still no mention has been made about a possible Aristocats summon.

    Square also revealed new details on Kingdom Hearts' magically delicious mode of travel, the Gummi Ship. The ship is constructed out of modular Gummi Blocks. Once the player has gathered enough blocks and found the necessary Designer Diagram, different ship configurations will become available. New ship shapes will enable the vessel to travel to specific areas of the game world. For example, configuring the ship in the shape of a Chocobo will allow players to travel to Tarzan's jungle. Disney's Chip and Dale will deal with manning and reconstructing the ship, leaving the GIA with the nagging question, "Just where is Gadget?"

   Kingdom Hearts is due out in Japan on March 28th. Look for full impressions from the GIA then.

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