Kingdom Hearts III may have concluded the RPG’s core story, but the franchise is far from over. In classic Kingdom Hearts fashion, a new spinoff game with a dramatic title is coming. The fourteenth installment is a departure from anything else the series has seen, trading in RPG mechanics for rhythm action gameplay. Here’s everything to know about Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a rhythm game that features music and locations from the franchise’s history. Much like Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy series, the game blends battles with button-timing gameplay to create an on-rails, musical-action hybrid.
Trailers have shown off how stage variations will work. In Memory Dive levels, players fly over cinematics from the series, moving their character from note to note while hitting buttons on the beat. Other stages are more battle oriented, placing characters on a Guitar Hero-like rail. As enemies approach, players need to hit buttons at the right time to hack enemies and unleash special attacks.
Boss battles have a slightly different format. Instead of moving forward on a set path, characters move around wider arenas to dodge attacks and move in closer to slash.
Players can choose between three different play styles, which adjust the complexity. A simplified mode is available for players who just want to experience the music, while hardcore fans can opt for a more skill-focused control scheme.
The game contains a World Tour mode where stages appear on an overworld map. Players control the classic Gummi Ship to navigate between levels.
The game releases November 13 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and fans can pre-purchase a digital edition of the game on those platforms now or pre-order a physical copy. PlayStation owners will also receive a special PS4 theme for purchasing the game by December 31, 2020.
Despite the late fall launch window, Square-Enix has yet to announce any plans to bring the game to next-generation consoles.
There will be over 140 songs in the game, collected from Disney movies and the Kingdom Hearts series itself. For example, Simple and Clean, the beloved anthem from the first Kingdom Hearts game, appears in the game. A host of overworld and battle themes from the series’ history are included, like the Olympus Coliseum theme. The game contains a jukebox where players can select songs from different installments of the series.
Not many Disney songs have been shown yet, but one notable earworm is confirmed: Frozen’s Let It Go. A trailer shows Sora flying over footage of the iconic movie moment.
Melody of Memory is full of throwbacks to the franchise’s history. The game features 20 playable characters, including favorites like Sora, Goofy, and Donald. Other Disney characters like Hercules and Aladdin have popped up in trailers, as well as Kingdom Hearts staples like Riku and Axel. Heartless and Nobodies appear on stages as enemies, while Maleficent and Xemnas are the only confirmed bosses so far.
The game includes a variety of locations that should be familiar to long-time players and Disney fans alike. Destiny Island and Traverse Town are among the many of the Kingdom Hearts worlds shown thus far. Places like Monstro, Agrabah, and Wonderland can be seen via a shot of the jukebox in one trailer.
The game contains several multiplayer options for both local and online play. Players can submit their high scores and compete for the top spot on online leaderboards. A versus battle mode provides head-to-head gameplay with other players online or locally. The game’s website mentions a co-op mode as well.
Nintendo Switch owners will receive an exclusive “Free For All” multiplayer mode, which allows up to eight players to compete locally. One trailer’s fine print notes that additional Switch units and copies of the game might be required.
Melody of Memory is part of Kingdom Hearts’ second “phase,” which includes Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind and Union X Dark Road. While it’s unclear whether it fits into the series’ storyline or is just a way to showcase music, the game does contain a new cinematic “Chapter.” Both of the game’s trailers revealed footage from the scene, which continues Kairi’s story following Kingdom Hearts III.
Much like the jukebox feature, players can unlock cutscenes from the series’ past by completing levels. That’s especially useful for Switch owners, considering that none of the mainline Kingdom hearts games are currently on the system.
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