'Kingdom Hearts Unchained X'
From: Square Enix
Who it's for: Kingdom Hearts Fans looking for a casual time-waster.
Console: iOS, Android
Up to this point, I have eschewed mobile games. With half a dozen game consoles hooked to my TV at any one time, not to mention a PC with an overflowing Steam library, it seemed like an exercise in excess to start playing games on my phone.
Lately, however, mobile games have gotten more serious. The casual ease of "Angry Birds" and "Candy Crush" has led to more serious endeavors. And while those casual games still have their audience, newer "hardcore" games abound.
So I decided to dive into "Kingdom Hearts" in order to see what all the excitement is about.
"Kingdom Hearts Unchained X" felt like a logical place to start. The melding of Disney properties with "Final Fantasy" has appealed to me for years, and those I know who played the game promised it was easily accessible and fun.
Indeed, getting into the game was easy. You start with a free download, design your avatar and equip one of the series' signature keyblade weapons.
You are then given some medals to put into slots on your keyblade, each based on a Disney or "Final Fantasy" character, and these medals give you your attacks.
The point of the game is to traverse various worlds via quick, bite-size levels, fight enemies and get stronger.
You'll need to employ some strategy when deciding how to strengthen your medals, as well as choosing which medals or keyblade to use in what situation. None of it is terribly difficult, but it contains an admirable amount of depth.
Some medals are used strictly to enhance other medals, so choosing where to use them becomes crucial to high-level victories.
There are hundreds of medals to collect and power up, which is where the addictive part of the game takes hold. There's a thrill from randomly uncovering a rare medal and adding it to your collection and then making it incredibly powerful.
During the game, you win jewels that can be used to purchase medal packs, storage capacity (so you can hold more medals) and more.
And that's where they get you.
Earning jewels during the game is a slow proposition. Finish five game levels, and you'll get 150 of them, with smaller amounts during some special quests. But the daily three-medal special will cost you 600 jewels, and every time you need to add additional medal storage, you'll pay 100.
There are other uses for jewels including powering up the special attacks on your keyblade (which costs 30 but can be done for free during play) and even buying the right to keep playing if you run out of Attack Points (AP).
You have a limited number of AP, and every level you play costs a certain amount. They regenerate all at once when your character levels-up, and they regenerate slowly over time, but if you are playing a lot and want to continue without interruption, you'll have to cough up 100 jewels to do so.
As you might guess, jewels can also be purchased for real money. A weekly deal of $15 for 3,000 of them is your best bet if you must buy them. But be careful. Those costs can add up quickly.
This is really my only problem with "Kingdom Hearts Unchained X."
The game is fast paced and fun, and collecting and powering up medals is addictive. The story, while light, is great with animated cutscenes that bring the characters to life. Even the mild multiplayer segments enhance the game and offer an interesting, unusual element.
But it's hard to ignore the money. In two weeks, I have spent $30 on a "free to play" game in order to get things going a little faster. They lured me in with an event called the "Epic Medal Carnival" in which I was guaranteed at least one rare medal for 3,000 jewels (I actually received three out of a total of 10).
If you can restrain yourself, you'll find a lot of fun here. Just take it slow and watch your wallet.