Kingdom Hearts 2 – Official Guidebook

At first glance, the guide can seem a bit daunting, and that’s without even opening it. The thing is huge, and it weighs a ton. Just feel glad that this isn’t the free Mini-guide. Upon opening the guide, it is instantly apparent that this game will last you a while. All 244 pages of the guide are filled with various tables, vibrant screenshots, and detailed paragraphs. The prospect of playing the game becomes exciting, and so much more interesting.

For all those players (me included) who have never played a minute of Kingdom Hearts (the original!), you’ll be glad to hear that the guide features a quick summary of the events, the characters, the bad guys and where they all came from. This is a well introduced alternative to sitting through the game’s confusing and lengthy set of cut scenes that try and explain what happened.

Turn the page and you’re in a lengthy explanation of how the game works – it feels like an insult to your intelligence as a gamer, with similar statements to ‘START pauses the game’ and ‘If your HP bar runs out, it is game over’. But beyond this, you get to the scarily long tables with every conceivable statistic on characters’ development, strengths and weaknesses. These are accompanied by a complete list of every single item and weapon available in the game. Reading these should be enough to put a smile on any self-respecting gamers face, simply because there are so many possibilities; it’s like a maniacs dream.

Past all this, you finally get to the pages you’ve really been looking for: the walkthrough. From start to finish, KH2 is well documented throughout in the guide. Lengthy, but ultimately invaluable descriptions of bosses, their attack patterns, and their weak spots pop up every two or three pages. You need not fear any bosses as, thanks to the guide, you can enter the arena armed to the teeth and ready for everything you know that the enemy’s going to throw at you. Also, helpful and accurate little notes that describe the difficulty of the boss crop up to warn you beforehand. Levels and objectives are explained methodically and simply on every page. This is of special help when you reach one of those frustrating puzzles, or get stuck on searching an entire level for one little item, because where most people would be forced to give up, you can grin devilishly and hold your head high as you complete it with ease.

But by no means does that mean that the game becomes too easy with the guide just simpler. This is an important quality as RPG’s of this style can easily overwhelm you with the amount of game there is on offer. Instead, the guide acts as your Jiminy Cricket, gently nudging you in the right direction. The accurate descriptions of enemy placement and the best ways to defeat them mean you can easily progress like a pro, overcoming all obstacles.

As a game guide, you’d expect this book to be slightly dull and stereotypical RPG player style language. Very much to the contrary, the guide is worded like a fantasy story in most cases, which is very much suited to the style of the game. It really manages to give you the sense that the game and guide belong together.

Some of the most appealing things about the guide, aside from the wonderful pictures of characters that appear frequently, are the meticulously drawn maps that feature at the beginning of every chapter. In-depth 3D models of every room in every room, and the ways they link to each other are recorded in such a way as to stop them from looking cluttered. The preciseness and enjoyableness that’s been entertaining you up until this point remains untarnished and you remain one step ahead of the evil heartless. Even the locations of every item possible are located on these map pages for straightforward find-ability. Rare and secret items can be hunted down and retrieved, which proves priceless later on in the game.

Overall impressions are pretty good. Before this, I’d never used a game guide in my life, seriously doubting how much use they could be to any half decent gamer. I emerge from this review safe in the knowledge that there is so much more you can get from your games, if you know where to look. In the case of Kingdom hearts 2, you need look no further than the guide. In general the book was good quality. The walkthrough sections were imaginatively written, the boss step-by-step sections were tremendously useful and the maps were intricate. In terms of presentation, the guide is just stunning. Cute, fearsome and nostalgic pictures of all your favourite Disney and FF characters are all over the book, as well as bios for all of them. You couldn’t want more from a guide, unless you expected it to play the game for you. This is the best, most accurate guide to KH2 you’re likely to find. Don’t call it a guide; call it a friend.