For much of the console generation, we’ve seen plenty of video games from previous generations remastered in high definition, such as God of War, Jet Set Radio, Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid 3 and much, much more. One of the most desired was the PS2 classic RPG, Kingdom Hearts. Square Enix answered everyone’s prayers by announcing the development of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix at last year’s Tokyo Game Show. The compilation comes with HD remasters of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
The original Kingdom Hearts launched for the PlayStation 2 in 2002 and has since spawned six successors across multiple platforms. Players take control of a young boy named Sora who spends his days on Destiny Island with his friends Riku and Kairi. At the start of the game, the trio have hatched a plan to build a raft and sail to new worlds. After a few hours, the world will be swallowed by darkness, Sora and his friends will be separated from each other and this is where the hero’s journey begins. Along his way, Sora meets Donald and Goofy who were instructed by King Mickey to find the key bearer in order to deal with the darkness that has been swallowing worlds. Donald and Goofy aid Sora in his quest to look for his friends, along with trying to fulfill their own mission of finding King Mickey. The trio travel to different worlds, meet a number of characters from classic Disney movies and battle for the light.
Right off the bat, players will notice how crisp Kingdom Hearts Final Mix looks for a game its age. The game boasts new character models, control settings that are similar to Kingdom Hearts II and content that was previously exclusive to Japan. Despite all these amazing changes, the game still suffers from an annoying camera and those who haven’t beaten the game a dozen times in the last decade may get frustrated over the game’s inability to give players a clear objective. I’ve spent more time than I needed in Agrabah searching for ways to enter the Treasure Room and the game gave me no indication that that’s where I needed to be (though it was) or how to get in the room. This can make an otherwise enjoyable experience a stressful one.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix packs 30+ hours of content for those who don’t try and rush through the main storyline. There are plenty of treasure to collect, optional worlds to explore and even a keyblade that can be crafted using materials found from defeating heartless.
The second game available is a direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, a remake of the original Game Boy Advance title (remaster of a remake?). The gameplay in Re:CoM differs from Kingdom Hearts, boasting a card-based combat system rather than a real-time combat system. It may put some gamers off, but the card-based system is thoroughly enjoyable. Re:CoM looks just as beautiful as Kingdom Hearts does in HD. It features two storylines where players control either Sora or Riku and fight their way through Castle Oblivion. With Re:CoM being released in North America in 2008 and taking place just one week after the events of Kingdom Hearts, it’s a little off-putting hearing Sora’s voice sound much older (older than it did in Kingdom Hearts II, which takes place a year after Re:CoM).
The third and last title in the collection is Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2009. 358/2 Days takes place over the course of a year and follows Organization members Roxas, Axel and Xion. Unlike the other titles available in the collection, 358/2 Days isn’t playable, rather, players will be able to sit and watch cinematic cutscenes for 2 hours and 50 minutes. Most scenes are a bore. For the first 200 days, you’ll mostly see the three main characters sitting on top of a clock tower eating ice cream. There are even times when a character will go up to the clock tower alone and say, “I wish my friends were here to eat ice cream.” There’s one point in the game where a character seriously asks, “Who am I going to eat ice cream with now?” Watching 358/2 Days is similar to watching cutscenes of a game on Youtube, as scenes will fade to black for three seconds and transition on to the next. However, sitting and watching the game for three hours is better than having to spend ten hours playing.
Whether you’re new to the series or returning, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is an amazing collection. The three titles included are perhaps the most crisp HD remasters ever made available and, despite the camera issues, it would be worth dishing out $39.99 for Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD, alone. But you get two games (and a three-hour cutscene) for $39.99! And to think, we’ll inevitably have a second HD collection in the future!
- Looks amazing in HD
- Aged well over the years
- Formerly Japan-exclusive content available
- Camera is still tricky
- Sora’s voice in Re:Chain of Memories is a pain
- 358/2 Days is boring