Main Street Mobile Arcade: We’ve come to the end of the (Dark) road…
I want to start off this column by saying I really love the Kingdom Hearts series. I say this while fully admitting its flaws. The Gummi Ship sucks, the story is a lot of nonsense, the women of the series absolutely get the short shrift, especially Kairi. But I’ve been into the series from day one, I’ve beaten the majority of the games, my PS4 has a Kingdom Hearts theme, I’ve owned multiple versions of the games, etc. I have spent a lot of time and money investing in Kingdom Hearts.
After finishing Kingdom Hearts III, we all know it was going to be awhile to we got to see the next entry, be it a proper numbered entry or some side story thing. Though I had dabbled in mobile games here and there it wasn’t really until I started this project last year that I really decided to more fully explore the world of mobile games and have it be something I was at least kept a casual level of interest in, because hey that’s where a lot of Disney’s games are these days. You’ll rarely find games starring Mickey Mouse and his friends on the traditional console platforms, mobile is pretty much where it’s at.
I’ve tried a number of Disney mobile games in the last year, really the only ones I’ve stuck with are ones that have some sort of overarching progress and some RPG elements. And hey there are a whopping two Kingdom Hearts mobile games, Union X and the more recently released Dark Road. I knew these wouldn’t be the full console experience obviously, but I thought that it would be an easy way to get some kind of Kingdom Hearts fix while waiting for the next home console entry (and yes I’m counting Melody of Memory, so that’s not too far off really) and something I was familiar with and already had an interest in would be a good way to keep invested in the mobile gaming scene. That has turned out to not be the case.
And to be fair, both Kingdom Hearts; Union X & Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road don’t fail because of some predatory monetization tactics. Honestly, as far as I can tell, the only thing you can spend money on is “jewels”, which as far as I can tell in my time with the games, certainly can unlock stuff faster but is hardly necessary, and hey give it points for that.
The real problem is how much of everything there is and how poorly it is explained. I’m pretty familiar with currencies and resources and different skill trees but both these games introduce tons of this stuff at a time with little to no explanation of how it really works and if beyond some meaningless numbers it actually does anything. What does my little pet do? I have no idea, I guess I can train it, but what does that even do? Does this avatar board actually mean something or is it just costumes? And don’t even get me started on the badges. Like I can not play other mobile games for weeks on end, come back and still pretty much now what I am doing or remember pretty quickly, I take a few days off from these games and I am completely lost.
Sure I could read/watch some in-depth article/video explaining all the nuances to me, but honestly, unless I’m trying to be some sort of expert-level player, that’s not something I should be expected to do. Maybe there’s some great game buried under the surface here, and I certainly might be willing to give them another go at some point in the future, that’s actually a cool thing about mobile games: since they constantly update as long as people are actually playing them, they could be very different in six months to a year from what the are now. But at least for the time being, I’ve uninstalled the Kingdom Hearts mobile games from my phone and don’t have much incentive to re-install them anytime soon. Hopefully, I’ll find some other Disney game that really keeps my interest like Disney Heroes Battle Mode, a game I have consistently played and stuck with since last year, has. That’s all for now, see ya real soon!