I’m a massive fan of both Final Fantasy and various Disney characters., so bringing them together in one game was always going to have me hooked once Kingdom Hearts was released on the PlayStation 2 a few years ago. Kingdom Hearts 3 is just around the corner for next-gen consoles but, before that, Square Enix has released a little collection called Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. Does it bring back some fond memories? Read the full review to find out!
Game: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
For those entering into the Kingdom Hearts world for the first time, the story focuses on a young boy named Sora who lives on a island with friends Riku and Kairi. Also living on the island are familiar Final Fantasy characters Tidus and Wakka (Final Fantasy X). The island gets attacked by a group called the Heartless, an action that sees Sora lose friends and himself drift off to another world. It isn’t quite what Sora expects as he is met by Disney characters Donald Duck and Goofy who are in fact on their own quest to find a ‘key’ from instructions by none other than King Mickey. Equipped with the Keyblade and bundled all togetherSora, Donald and Goofy all decide to travel together, visiting the various Disney worlds in order to find this ‘Key’ and also reunite Sora with his friends. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX tells the continuous story of Kingdom Hearts, especially in the two playable titles Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Chain of Memories. It’s a great story, and one that certainly brought back many fond memories.
The two playable games in this collection to be honest quite disappointed me at the graphical side of things. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell both have been given a HD slick of paint but for me, that’s all it is. It all feels shinier but that’s all I can say. The various worlds you go through in Kingdom Hearts are visually great, but again they are not much different than they were in the PlayStation 2 days.
Seeing all the various Final Fantasy characters again in the game from Alice in Wonderland down to the Little Mermaid was great and reminded me why Kingdom Hearts gripped me in back in my youth. I would of liked to see more work go into the graphical side of things to make me feel like each title in the collection really was a HD remastered title, not just a bit better. The cut scenes are probably the highlight of the games, which all look pretty good.
There was nothing the developers had to do in this department. All the laughs and fun I had listening to the sound back in the PlayStation 2 days came flooding back in abundance. Ok, the voice acting isn’t probably the best it could be, but when your listening to the fantastic voices of Donald Duck and Goofy most of the time, when does it ever get serious?. However, the game can be serious when it wants to be in the sound department. I am most looking forward to getting my hands on Kingdom Hearts 3 and I just hope that the developers will keep the core sound similar than they have in previous titles, shown off in this HD collection.
Those who are venturing into Kingdom Hearts for the first time or reading this review out of curiosity will find that Kingdom Hearts core gameplay is that of a traditional RPG. The first title in the collection, Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix captures all the basic elements that we want in an RPG fantastically well without going into much depth at all. Controlling Sora, you are equppied with the Keyblade and are able to thrash out attacks to the heartless using the X button. Simple enough right? Sora can also use magic in his attacks with are useable in the battle menu beside when you are fighting. Those wondering, Kingdom Hearts isn’t a turn based RPG, as it used real time in order to create some fast paced fights, especially against the harder bosses you come across later on in the game. That doesn’t mean Donald and Goofy are plain useless however as they will deal out their own attacks. You can also attach items to each character which can be used in battle to help aid one of your fallen allies. There are some fantastic puzzles to have in both playable games which will keep you entertained yet frustrated at the same time.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, whilst similar in some aspects, takes a different approach when it comes to the battle system. I’ve not played Chain of Memories before this review so I was interested to see how I would take this new battle system but I have to admit, it’s not one that I enjoyed and feel that the traditional, more beat-em-up approach in the first Kingdom Hearts title in the collection was the way to go. Basically, your whole battle are determined by which cards you have at your disposal. Whether its attack/defense or using an item, everything has to be carried out by cards. Even when not in battle, if you want to open up a door, you need a card to do that. It all felt like a chore to go around collecting cards and although you could bring the cards up again by holding the X button in battle, I really didn’t see the attraction of it all.
Whether your a newcomer to the series or a veteran, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX will certainly keep you occupied for a long while. The collection features three titles, with the third being Nintendo DS title Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Unfortunately this doesn’t come in playable form, instead it comes in the form of cinematic story which lasts for just under three hours. It would’ve been much better if Kingdom Hearts was included but sadly that wasn’t to be.
With next-gen and Kingdom Hearts 3 around the corner, this collection is a great way for newcomers to get into the series or for veterans to refresh their memories. However, while each title still plays well enough, the HD gloss isn’t the best. Just like Aladdin, I am now ready for a whole new world, and hope Kingdom Hearts 3 delivers.