I just got this game, and I've been playing it for several hours. Allow me to say that it's really...really...really good.
I didn't think I'd like it, because, I'm not big on Disney, but I lurve Final Fantasy games so I thought I'd pick it up seeing as I have NO intrest in MMORPG FFX-1. I sure as hell am glad I got it. From the cute little FF cameos (which if you've never played Final Fantasy XVII-FFX will probably not hamper your gameplay at all seeing as who they are isn't important unless you know WHO they are. They'll just be "other" characters who aren't Disney), though Tidus and Wakka being childhood friends kind of threw me off. There are some iffy parts and...Hell...I'll just run down a few things.
Good. Not superb but good. Very much in the vein of Disney, although the characters make the transition perfectly from 2D to 3D. The Final Fantasy guys take a bit of a blow though, because they end up down at Disney level. If you're expecting FMVs like the ones from FFX, forget about it. They're all very Disney styled, but very well done. The backgrounds and NPC characters, also fit the Disney style to a T, and are extremely well done. The one beef I have (and almost everybody will have, I imagine) is that the camera is aweful. I'll get to that in a sec. Overall: A-
Gameplay: The game isn't turnbased at all, in fact all the random encounters are seemless with the exploration portion. All the enemies, with the exception of bosses, are pretty much little guys named "The Heartless". They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and appear either by magic portal or by bleeding up from the ground. Music and the change of the onscreen panel from blue to red indicates the presence of baddies in an area. Which is one reason why the camera sucks. Sora, the hero, is fairly intuitive when it comes to target locking, but unfortunately, the camera isn't. So you'll often find yourself hacking away at guys you can't even see, until the camera catches up to you. And given the rather fast paced nature of many battles, this can be rather annoying.
Another problem is that for an RPG, there are a TON of jumping puzzles. In fact, one of the first things you do, a race with another friendly character, is one big jumping puzzle (sort of, I've found it better if you just let yourself fall and run from the ground ). Though the other few jumping puzzles I've found could be avoided, I guess, by just not going after all the neat stuff you can get from level to level. If you're not really into getting EVERY spell or weapon or armor, I guess you can skip most of the early jumping puzzles. The camera here too, is annoying at best. Hell at worst. I've many times gotten myself perched on a ledge near a wall and having to blindly jump from one platform to another, because the camera won't swing far enough to let me see the next ledge. The game tries a few things to save this. By pressing select you enter a first person mode that allows you to look 360 degrees to plan your next move, however you can't actually move in this mode. If all else fails, options B and C are a nice little feature that allows you to grapple and hold ledges on near misses and the fact that, no matter how long your fall, it never seems to hurt.
Fighting is...interesting. There are no turns, if you really need to equip a spell or an item in battle, you have to do it in real time, there is no pausing (exept to pause the whole game). Goofy and Donald (your two main companions) are fairly annoying at first (and can get in your way often in the afformentioned jumping puzzles), but their use gets greater as the levels increase. First, they seem to increase in ability as you do, making less and less errors the better you get at fighting. One pet peeve is that they tend to use items (you can equip up to three at one time for battles and general use) like they're going out of style. Throwing around potions to only slightly injured party members, just because they have them. However, their actions are very customizable (as to what they will and will not do and when) and you can find the settings that annoy you the least. Fighting is best compared in general to a game like Onimusha, with it's autolock and slash gameplay, although here it seems to be a bit more fluid and simple. Overall: B
By the by: If you're anything like me, you'll HATE HATE HATE the mini-game that happens in between levels, which is basically a "Starfox" like rail shooter in Goofy and Donalds space ship (if you want, you can make your own later and scratch their design). It's just really tedious and unneccessary, and I take heart in the fact that I understand later that you can skip these.
Sound: AWESOME voice acting. All the people are very believable and genuine to the roles they play. The evil people are evil and broody and the good people are good and mostly cheery. Haley Joel Osmont does a fantastic job as Sora in getting you to believe Sora's disbelieving determination to help out Goofy and Donald. Donald is pretty friggin' annoying though. As a fan of Angel I couldn't have thought of a better voice to play FFVIII's Leon that broody David Boreanaz. I cracked up when I heard him mope. The soundtrack is pretty lame, as it's mostly the same three minute clips played ad nauseum until the level is done, but they all fit very well with the levels. Sound effects are iffy, because there aren't really a whole lot to speak of. Sora's "Sword" clangs if you whack it agains something. Water splashes. Things crash. Not much else, you know? Overall: B+
Story: I'll give a go at summing up the intro for you in a nutshell: Three kids (Bright eyed Sora, Odd/broody Riku (no not FFX's Rikku), and the object of (both?) their affections Kairi) decide to set sail from the island in a makeshift raft (they seem to think they have it well thought out, but they really don't, of course) to visit the native land of Kairi. However, one night Sora has a dream (the intro sequence, where through a series of choices Sora makes in the dream, you determine your starting stats) about some crazy stuff that's about to go down. When the kids get ready to leave, Riku pulls out some old fashioned majicks and pulls Sora and probably Kairi off the world just as it's about to be destroyed. On another planet, "King Mickey" has found out some disturbing news that bad guys (the Disney Villains) are pulling some bad mojo to get rid of the planets that various Disney characters inhabit, including stealing people's hearts. Donald, the chief wizard and Goofy, find out that Mickey took off to stop them, and decide to follow. However, Mickey also leaves them a note, telling them to pick up the key on their way to meet him. Of course it just so happens that Sora is now in possession of said key (and is using it like a sword), and thus begins the story, as Goofy, Donald and Sora take off to the various Disney Planets to try to foil the bad guy trying to destroy that planet. It's all pretty light and fun when it doesn't seem like a muddled mess and when you can just throw off your "serious thinking" mantle and enjoy it for what it is. Overall: A.
If you're into Disney, or Final Fantasy, or both, or neither, I'd say pick it up. It's really low key and really pretty fun if you can get past it's few minor little flaws.
VC/WW Japan (last Tuesday) - Final Fantasy III (Famicom, 500 points) - Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (WW, 1-4 players, 800 points) - Rolling Thunder (arcade, 800 points) VC/WW Europe (last Friday) - Detana!! Twinbee (Turbografx, 700 points)