Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Dec 142020

Over the weekend, I finished Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, the Kingdom Hearts rhythm game that came out for the Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.

(I played the Switch version because I like the convenience of playing handheld.)

Going into Melody of Memory, fans had a lot of questions. How much new story content would there be? Is it worth buying? Do you need to play it to stay up to date on the series?

In short, I would say this: if you love rhythm games and Kingdom Hearts music, it’s worth it. If you’re only interested in the new story content, you’re probably better off looking up the scenes. Melody of Memory is about 95% rhythm game, 5% new story… but what new story content it does have will probably be very important to the series going forward.

Since I played Re:Mind, I knew that the basic story premise for Melody of Memory is that Kairi is going back through her memories for any clues about finding Sora. It’s a good thing I knew this ahead of time, because the game doesn’t bring that up until the end. It doesn’t frame the story at all, just throws you right into the rhythm game like there is nothing else. I’d imagine the ending must have felt like it came out of nowhere to anyone who didn’t have that context.

If you’re a rhythm game fan, there’s a lot of content here. It retreads every Kingdom Hearts game except the mobile games, generally with two songs per world, plus additional songs for key moments, bosses, etc.

…Until you get to the Kingdom Hearts III section, which has one song per world, plus the songs for the ending scenes. It really surprised me that Kingdom Hearts III got substantially less content here than the other major games, but it might be because the presentation is different.

Most of the songs in the “World Tour” (story mode) have you running along a track, hitting the correct buttons to the beat to defeat enemies that appear. There are a handful of boss fights that include different mechanics and show a boss fight from the series in the background, with the rhythm game determining how well you attack or defend. But the Kingdom Hearts III Disney worlds all use the “Memory Dive” format instead, where you play a sequence similar to the boss fights while cutscenes from the game play in the background.

This format is also used for certain songs you can unlock for the Track Selection mode, but it felt odd that World Tour went to that only for Kingdom Hearts III. I guess they wanted to show off the cutscenes.

Anyway, as you progress through worlds, you’ll occasionally get a cutscene that summarizes part of the game in question. This is not gradual, so I wouldn’t say it’s a good way for someone new to the series to get a recap.

However, as a celebration of the series for someone who is already a fan, it’s fun, and it reminded me that I really love Kingdom Hearts music. I’m surprised it took them this long to make a rhythm game.

Then once you get to the end of the World Tour, you finally reach the new story content that shows where the series is going next. I’d say it takes about an hour, and it’s very interesting. Part of it involves Kairi’s memory of her past in Radiant Garden, covering the events previously only ever referenced in Ansem’s Reports, and the rest takes place after the end of Re:Mind, dealing with the results of the characters’ search for Sora… and it’s going in wild directions that left me very excited for the next game in the series.

I am never getting off this wild ride.

Once again, if you’re looking for a celebration of Kingdom Hearts and its music, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is worth playing. If you’re interested in the story, you need to at least look it up to see what’s going on. As for me, I can’t wait for more!

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