DEVELOPER(S): Square Enix
PUBLISHER(S): Square Enix
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3
RELEASE DATE(S): September 13th, 2013
I know, I know, this review is really late, and I agree, you have my apologies. But in my defence, it’s mostly because I kept playing the game and well… sort of “kept” forgetting to write the review. I’m sure you understand, it’s Kingdom Hearts after all.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (KH1.5HD) is a culmination of good, better, best, and that’s a formula you’d be hard pressed to beat. KH1.5HD is compilation collection of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories and an almost 3 hour theatrical telling of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. And all of it has been upscaled and remastered to better suit the larger screens PS3’s largely make use of.
While it would be a mostly wasted pursuit to try and re-review the games contained within the compilation when they’re largely the same as the games they were originally sourced from, and in turn it would make for an incredibly bulky and unnecessarily verbose review, there is some room to comment on why a Kingdom Hearts compilation just seems so right.
Kingdom Hearts Final Remix: The Collaboration that Won Us Over
Ultimately a little light on the RPG side of things, for those of us who expected a deep RPG experience from Kingdom Hearts 1, we were found a little wanting. And so too are the platforming elements of the game, they’re a bit fiddly I mean. Sure you can manage them just fine with time invested into the game, but it sadly mitigates a little of the experience Kingdom Hearts sets out to establish. And then there’s that bastard of a camera who works about as well as you could expect from a slightly older 3rd person experience, but who can be a bit of a hooligan when given the chance and, occasionally, spins too far, looks on from a rather frustrating angle or just doesn’t move smoothly enough. Happily however, they’re no more than coding shenanigans, if you could call them that, as they are never going to infuriate you too much, but they will cause the odd bit of annoyance.
Kingdom Hearts doesn’t sound so brilliant then does it. Well no, that’s where you’re wrong as it is easily the greatest example of cross-franchise storytelling to have ever been written and developed for a video game. Kingdom Hearts is a fantastically amalgamated and realised world and I couldn’t possibly imagine a more wonderful setting. Everything just sort of clicks and an affection and interminable love for the story’s development is easy to spot. If you’ve never played Kingdom Hearts and you’re a fan of Disney, Final Fantasy or RPG’s in general, you need to play this game.
And if that doesn’t sell you, the always loveable Donald and Goofy will easily seal the deal. They not only act as the bridge between Disney and the much more committed world of Final Fantasy, but they are well thought out characters who lend themselves to their Disney selves as well as their now more serious roles in Kingdom Hearts. And best of all, like all things Disney, they give everything a needed sense of humour, a torch in an otherwise dark and dystopian world. Trust me when I say that Kingdom Hearts is a solid RPG experience, if a bit light headed at times, and will consume you for hours on end.
As for the port to PS3, well the controls are a bit iffy at first, though that might just be you readjusting to a “classic” PS2 scheme and feel. That said, I’m not really sure why the control layouts can’t be modernised. Nostalgia doesn’t require half-assed controls, and if that’s what you remember most about a game, then it probably isn’t worth remembering. Graphically however, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix gets slightly more detail in its textures, a nice smoothing out and is certainly much easier on the eyes with an HD screen than it would be trying to use your PS2. The lip synching issue is still there, where the models were animated according to the game’s Japanese voices and so seems a little out of sync with English, but the voice acting is top quality and hits the nail on the head for both Disney and Final Fantasy characters.
All-in-all, this version of Kingdom Hearts is both a welcome upgrade to anyone with the original game and a great start to the series for those who have yet to delve into one of Square Enix’s greatest franchises.
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories: A Portable Console Iteration Done Right and a Port Done Better
By being a relatively good, if not excellent, GBA title when GBA versions of games from the bigger consoles at the time, like the PS2, usually went pretty pear-shaped meant that Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories did a good job as a game in itself. And serving as a bridge between Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts 2, in a now celebrated franchise, made Chain of Memories a must-port for Square Enix. And so Re:Chain of Memories was brewed up and it did a fairly good job of impressing.
And with its updated visuals in this compilation, a much better control scheme thanks to the gamepad of the PS3 and a very enjoyable card based set of mechanics, well it’s a sure fire thing. In fact, in spite of having a card based system developed for it, initially adopted to best suit the strengths of the GBA at the time, the system plays out really well and is a fast-paced, strategic and enjoyable experience as a fully fledged console game. The only real issue is that the card system can be a little intimidating at first, but it’ll eventually grow on you and you’ll find it tough to dislike. Finally, and to top off the deliciousness of this port, the music is fantastic and deserves a shout out all over again, even knowing that it would have been mentioned within reviews of the original game.
While there isn’t much to say about Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, as a theatrical retelling rather than actually giving us the game, other than we would have much preferred the game Square Enix, if you’re into anime, you will very probably enjoy the inclusion. It’s easily the weakest aspect of KH1.5HD but is by no means bad.
So should you buy KH1.5HD? Yes, it’s as simple as that. Kingdom Hearts is too good a franchise to pass up. And this is about as good as Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories is going to get. Seriously, it’s awesome.