We’re Not Flying. We’re Failing with Style!

So, in my retrospective for the first Kingdom Hearts game, I mentioned the Gummi Ships as the way Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel between worlds. I also mentioned the flying mechanics. Upon review, I realize I forgot to discuss both of these mechanics. Talking with one of my friends, I realized there are two mindsets for these mechanics. They’re either fun and enjoyable, or absolute garbage and boring. Well, in the first game, I can safely say both of these mechanics were straight up GARBAGE!

Let’s start with the flying mechanic you use in a couple worlds (Neverland and End of the World, to be exact) to fight bosses. Holy Arceus above is this mechanic poorly programmed. It’s way too sensitive. It’s impossible to stay in place to attack enemies so you’re almost guaranteed to take hits when you don’t want to. The camera is too erratic at times so you’ll quickly lose sight of your targets even when you’re locked on. This will inevitably lead to many unwanted deaths that aren’t even your fault. On higher difficulties this becomes increasingly frustrating when you have to go back through the same bosses and enemies fifty times before it finally works out in your favor. And the controls. Oh my god, the controls. You press Square to descend and Circle to ascend. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea but it feels very awkward to use when trying to also attack with X while flying at varying heights.

On a more positive note, the mechanic is fun when it works. Flying through Neverland when there are no enemies is very relaxing. The music is cheerful and it’s actually a great place to get used to the controls you’ll be fighting with the entire rest of the game.

Now, onto the Gummi Ships. The best way to describe this is the bland dinner you have to eat as a kid, even though you don’t want to just so you can have the amazing chocolate cake that was made for dessert. The mechanic works, it’s functional, there are no glitches or anything bad about it. It’s just… boring. It’s the most boring thing about the game. The flights between worlds are bland, slow moving crawls with some very poor-AI enemy ships that will rarely hit you, a few obstacles, and changing backgrounds. You can customize your Gummi Ships and make them look cool with lots of weapons, shields, and extra little tools for item collection and stuff, but honestly, what’s the point? It’s actually proven you can beat even the hardest flights with just a cockpit and an engine. There’s even a mission where that’s required!

Missions, oh yeah, the missions. The Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts added little missions to the Gummi Ship flights, which added a bit of spices so they weren’t quite so repetitive. It didn’t help much, but it was something different from the original. The Gummi Ships were definitely fixed in Kingdom Hearts 2, but that’s something we’ll save for that retrospective, for organization’s sake.

And there you go! Two features I neglected to complain about in the retrospective. In such a great game, it’s a crying shame two of the biggest and most required features are so trash. But hey, nothing is perfect and even with these flaws the game is still great. I’ll be back here for Chain of Memories later on, but for now stay safe and see you later!

-Screaming Rowlet

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