Just thought I'd keep this forum alive with my two cents.
I love the series. I love all the Kingdom Hearts games, I literally like them all. Some more than others obviously. However, after finishing the first game with 2 100% complete save files, I feel personally, that KH1 will always be the best out of all the games in the series. Not saying it's a perfect game. It's ****ing not lol. Overall though, it's the best fundamental KH game.
-KH 365 Days
-KH X (Played it barely but put it down.)
With this in mind, let's begin a comprehensive look at how and why KH1 Does what the others do and don't do far better.
The KH franchise now has one of the most convoluted stories ever. Seriously. It goes ****ing everywhere. This is mainly so that the developers can keep pumping out the games. Otherwise, looking at KH1 standalone, it's story is fine. It leaves the "cliffhanger" ending with the aspects of Riku and Mickey but that's all good and dandy. The game in itself is a well crafted tale, it's simple and for young and old individuals it's harmless. Every other KH game tries to make their story ambiguous and over the top. They're trying to take what KH1 did and make it "more" when you could have just kept the low-line elements without making it crazy. KH2 in itself with the opening of Roxas. BBS with the introduction of past characters and the nobodies origins, all that jazz. They are fleshing out the world which is great, but in translation they are losing the heart and soul of what made KH1 just a fun game to pick up and play.
Here comes the real meat and potatoes. Let's take a dive at what KH1 does compared to all the other KH games. First and foremost, it creates the fundamentals of the combat system. The lock-on, basic attacks, abilities to integrate with your combos, abilities that are later changed to "commands" for the command slots, and Magic. First we'll start with melee combat. Sure, the future games add flashy animations and whatnot which is all good and dandy, especially since Sora is technically progressing with his Keyblade skills, in KH1 it feels so natural. He's a basic Keyblade wielder who steadily learns more and more adept skills. Having the one command slot in the bottom for all your commands is completely fine. The distance and Magic you had available changed which one you could use. I do like the command deck, but I feel it takes away from the overall flow of the simplicity that was present in KH1.
ABILITIES. Simple, easy to learn, nothing crazy. As the games progressed, there were more abilities. Which is awesome. However the games became more and more convoluted with how you use these abilities and receive them. Take GLIDE. ****ing Glide in KH2 being one of the hardest abilities to obtain. It takes so much time out of your way to get the actual ability. KH1 is very streamline and even the questions dictate the streamline of skills, as it's been in most of the games if I'm not mistaken.
MAGIC. I could talk about Magic forever. It got SUPER nuked in KH2. Like, it's ridiculous. Also, I miss the long bar and gauge with each individual segment. It was far easier to selectively know how much magic was left, build it up with MP Rage stacked, etc. etc. It's a far more useful system in KH1 and it feels fluid and clean when you mix it with your combos. The same can't really be said for me in the sake of the other games. It feels like the commands and "wait times" make me feel more like I'm in a different game. MP shouldn't have been changed but that's just my opinion. Also, Fire in KH2 is ****ing horrible. Why did they switch Fire and Blizzard. Why not keep Blizzard as the shotgun and just made a new type of shield instead of making Fire the shield!?
SUMMONS. My only drawback honestly in the first game. The summons are pretty worthless. I never found myself using them (Especially since I grinded at Destiny Islands forever) so basically they didn't have any real potential to make me want to use them anyway. They're a waste of Magic. However they look flashy and cool and for a weaker player they could come in handy.
OVERALL WORLD AESTHETIC:
Let's just compare the overall quality of worlds. KH 1 has a general, base line level of detail. Sure, Monstro could have honestly had more texture, Neverland was essentially just a boat, etc. etc. But this was a PS2 game and quite frankly I'll give them a pass on that. I think that overall the structure of everything is well done and how the worlds have a much more streamline base of progression as opposed to the KH2 return and do something else unnecessary for EVERY world... Also in KH2 the worlds are far far shorter than the other games. The same goes for BBS which is a PSP title, still...
Please let me know if I missed something or just didn't go over enough. I will gladly add more. I will gladly talk more about my overall opinion. Cheers.
EDIT: OK OK I remember now. Gummi Ship in KH1 is pretty bad though. It does wind the game down. At least for most levels you can set the controller down and not die, but again, it's still a chore if you want to play through the levels and find something enjoyable out of them.
Such a shame this thread is now dead. Kinda crazy to think how much time has gone by now.
If anyone is still potentially into dueling please let me know. I will gladly take anyone on. Nowadays in 2018, we've got Dueling Nexus to replace Dueling Network as well as Dueling Book which is decent but just not as clean as Nexus in my opinion. Otherwise I'm on those sites if you are up for a duel.