It’s been more than 10 years since the original Kingdom Hearts showed players world wide what can happen when you combine two loved franchises, in this case Disney and Final Fantasy. With the recent announcement of Kingdom Hearts III, fans have been chomping at the bit to play anything new to the series. However, the more non-hardcore fans might still need to wait a bit longer.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX (PS3)
Developed by Square Enix – Published by Square Enix
Considering the game consists of three separate entries, the best place to start is the beginning with Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. Having only been released in Japan until now, other fans are supposed to be greeted with new animated cut scenes, interesting new enemies, and new abilities to utilize in battle. Well, technically those are true, but overall it feels like it was a lot of hype for a reskinned game. The game sure does offer new abilities, some I find incredibly useful in the heat of battle, but in terms of the other things, I feel a bit cheated.
In terms of the cut scenes, I only found maybe one or two that had not been shown in the original, and they were relatively easy to identify as they lacked voices. In hindsight, it’s not too surprising they lack voices as this really proves to be the first time the game has seen an English speaking country. Why not include the option for Japanese audio? Why not give Kingdom Hearts fans something else they’ve never had before?
Luckily, it’s not all bad, the game actually did a fair amount of impressing. The remapping of the camera controls to the right thumb stick almost makes the camera perfect to use, except for the obviously dated sticky feeling it gives off. The visuals look okay for an HD version, but considering all the work I’ve seen Square putting into the Final Fantasy X HD version, I can’t help but ask why not put as much into this? Kingdom Hearts seemed to be a lot more popular, or at least from everyone that has bothered to speak up about it.
The button configuration, the shortcuts, and the simple battle system are all wonderful, a breath of fresh air. Square really improved on the strong points of Kingdom Hearts, making the battles the most fun part again. That combined with the new abilities make it fresh and exciting to play. But the topic on combat systems brings us to the next game in the collection and series.
Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories dropped in the US around December of 2008, and in Japan over a year and a half prior. This actually proves to be the first time the game has been released in EU as well and I must say I’m glad it reached there. In a similar regard to what Square did to Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, the game has been translated into widescreen format, and it actually does look a bit better. But as for changes, I had a rather hard time finding anything else.
Sure the game looks pretty in HD and in widescreen, but the combat is the same card based system from the SD and Game Boy Advance version, there are no new enemies, skills, powers, abilities or anything even remotely close of that nature. It feels rather disappointing and bare bones. Even the extra content with Riku after completing the game felt just like the PS2 version all over again, just prettier. Again, this isn’t a terrible thing, just incredibly disappointing. It feels like Square really missed an opportunity to add in a lot of extra content.
I do not and still cannot quite understand why Kingdom Hearts 358 / 2 Days remains absent from the line up of HD games. If Square had the right mind to update the visuals for all the cut scenes, then why not just go for the entire game? The original release on Nintendo DS did not utilize what the system could do, as in it did not require the touch screen or mic.
Around 3 hours of cut scenes are still rather nice, interesting to watch for those whom haven’t played the game before or know Roxas’ back story. However, the lingering feeling of, ‘why can’t I play this,’ haunted me throughout it all. Square really can’t have a good enough excuse for this.
All in all, the collection is okay, it’s not incredible and a must have item, but it is rather nice to go back and play the first two Kingdom Hearts games in a widescreen format. I do hope to see a 2.5 collection in the future, containing hopefully three of the remaining four Kingdom Hearts titles to see HD. For the hardcore fans of the series, this is a perfect way to play the games again and even some of the casual fans as well. The price tag is a rather cheap one considering the amount of time you can sink into both games, but if you still have the PS2 versions, give them a go first.