Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Town in Kingdom Hearts: A Very Square Halloween

Happy Halloween!  It's time to celebrate the scariest holiday of the year, pop in a creepy game (if you need some help choosing, feel free to pick a game that I've covered this past month), turn off the lights, and prepare to be scared!  Today we're going to look at a game that isn't very scary at all (wait, what's going on?!), but is still fitting for the 31st of October.  That game is Kingdom Hearts, and more specifically we're going to look at the Halloween Town level which is based off of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

For the uninitiated, Kingdom Hearts is a game that combined characters from Square-Enix games with those of Disney films.  It sounds very odd, but it made for an awesome adventure.  Besides, who doesn't want to see Donald Duck kick some ass?  Each world you visit is based off of a Disney film, such as the underwater city in The Little Mermaid, the jungle in Tarzan, and Agrabah from Aladdin.

Now, the Nightmare Before Christmas might not seem to be a Disney film, but it was developed by Touchstone Pictures, which is owned by Disney.  Therefore the developers of Kingdom Hearts made a good choice by reaching into this film's universe to construct a spooky and fun world to explore.

This level begins by dropping protagonists Sora, Goofy, and Donald Duck (yes I know it sounds absurd) right into Guillotine Plaza, which you'll immediately recognize from the opening of the film.  The signature guillotine is there of course, as are multiple Jack O'Lanterns and dreary-looking buildings.  Also, an instrumental version of This is Halloween plays in the background most of the time.

Indeed Goofy, indeed.

From here, we can access multiple locations, such as Doctor Finkelstein's lab, where the doc himself is trying to discover a way to implant hearts into "the Heartless" (the main grunt enemies in the game).  You'll also be able to enter Halloween Town's graveyard in all its creepy glory.  It's probably even more creepy in the game due to the multiple battles with ghost-like Heartless monsters.  Also making an appearance is the iconic Moonlight Hill, which you'll recognize from the film as the curled up hill which unrolls as Jack Skellington walks across it.

Last but not least, you'll get to visit Oogie Boogie's Manor.  Here you must scale the imposing structure while fighting off multiple Heartless.  This eventually leads you to Oogie's torture chamber, where you'll find the man himself (technically he's not a man but you know what I mean).

All these locations in Kingdom Hearts are very well done, not surprising given the quality Square-Enix is known for, and should make fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas grin with delight.  The locales definitely feel as though they were pulled right from the film, despite some changes here and there (such as an occasionally reddish-colored sky).

Locations alone wouldn't be enough to convey the spirit of the film, there needs to be characters, and the game delivers on that front too.  At the start of the level you immediately meet up with Jack Skellington and the double-faced mayor.  Jack even joins your party, which is awesome enough on its own.  As mentioned earlier you'll also see Doctor Finkelstein in his lab, as well as his creation (and Jack's girlfriend) the stitched up Sally.

Since Oogie Boogie is present in the game, his minions Lock, Shock, and Barrel are present and causing mischief.  Speaking of Oogie, he serves as the level's main boss, where you must battle him in a couple different forms.

When all is said and done, the developers at Square-Enix did an awesome job integrating the world of The Nightmare Before Christmas into this game.  Fans of the film will enjoy seeing their favorite characters and exploring their favorite locales.  For me it was worth it just to have the iconic This is Halloween theme music playing in the background (my favorite song in the film).  If you're looking for a mostly non-scary way to spend Halloween, what better way than to visit Halloween Town in Kingdom Hearts?

I hope you guys have enjoyed this past month of spooky-themed gaming posts, thanks for reading!

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