The Chain of MemoriesKingdom Hearts was originally met with sneer and apprehension. However, many people’s hearts were softened at the chance to visit the worlds of our beloved Disney characters and to hang out with idolised Final Fantasy protagonists such as Cloud Strife. It was an attempt to draw in fans from both worlds, and it accomplished that wonderfully so. Tugging at all the right heart strings, people from all fan bases managed to look over the corny dialog and found a wonderful action game with engaging characters.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX consists of three games rolled into one blu ray disc. The first of which is the HD remake Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, followed by the HD remake of the Ps2 3D remake of the Gameboy Advance game Chain of Memories Redubbed Re:Chain of Memories and finally, the DS game Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (look don’t ask me, I don’t understand that title either). With the recently announced Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX, SquareEnix is making it much easier for the masses to understand the ever convoluted storyline of the Kingdom Hearts timeline. This particular journalist very much appreciates having all of the stories playable on one platform (Ps3).
Kingdom Hearts places you in the (Overly large, Clown-like) shoes of Sora, a young boy who finds himself becoming a Keyblade wielder who travels to different worlds righting wrongs as all protagonists should. True to the spirit of Final Fantasy storytelling, the protagonist has a plethora of characters supporting him in the Light’s battle against Dark. In Kingdom Hearts, Sora will meet many of Disney’s favorites who will support him accomplishing his hero’s journey. With Goofy and Donald Duck personally accompanying Sora as he travels to many of Disney’s nostalgia-inducing worlds such as Alice’s Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods.
On its own the, previously Japan-only release, “Final Mix” version of Kingdom Hearts is a selling point for veteran fans and newcomers alike. Final Mix added in additional content such as new weapons, items, abilities, cutscenes, bosses and a reworked difficulty system. The enemies have also received a rework, making the experience not how you would remember if you have not played Final Mix previously.
Newcomers may be put off by the game’s inherent issues being a HD rework of a game over a decade old. Although Square did an absolutely amazing job at reworking the character models and environment textures, there are a few areas that are not up to par giving testament to the game’s Ps2 origins. The Gummi Ship travel system is also completely unnecessary and cumbersome to play through, clearly it has been left in the game for the nostalgic element. Also many dedicated fans would take up their torches and pitchforks at the exclusion of the system.
The intro section of the game also takes over a full hour to get through, so you had better get used to seeing Destiny Islands and Traverse Town before being able to explore the game’s rich world/s. Many improvements to the game’s mechanics have been implemented making it much easier to play through for both veterans and newcomers alike. Not only can you now skip the feature length cutscenes on your first playthrough, the old clunky L2/R2 camera movement system has been replaced with the much more fluid right stick camera movement system.
Next up in the compilation is the, Originally for Gameboy Advance, Re:Chain of Memories. Re:Chain takes everything you know about the Kingdom Hearts battle system and throws it out of the window and gives you a card system instead. Wait what? card system? yes a card system, admittedly it is much more action oriented than the title of “Card system” suggests.
“Fans of the series will enjoy reliving old memories and revisiting old friends in this rework of a beloved franchise”
Rather than having a Magic: The Gathering styled combat system, combat stays in the 3D action battle system but you are given a set of action cards which you can use to perform attacks. The system allows you to stack cards to perform stronger attack combos at the expense of your front placed card. Cards do run out but they restock at a rate that still gives the combat a pace that is playable to even the most impatient of gamers. The card system really adds a refreshing tactics based dynamic to the old battle system.
The final part to the compilation is the, Originally for DS, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Rather than being a remake of the original game, Square has turned 358/2 into a fully voiced, non-playable feature film. The playback system itself is your typical everyday movie system complete with chapter selection, which is handy considering it runs for almost three hours and is still as confusing as the first time I played through the original game. As far as the story goes, 358/2 is set after the first game and is parallel to Re:Chains of Memories.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX really delivers where it counts. Although a few textures here and there could have used a little more work, as a whole the rework looks absolutely amazing. Fans of the series will enjoy reliving old memories and revisiting old friends in this rework of a beloved franchise. For many this will be the first time playing the Final Mix version of the game and that on its own makes it worth picking up. If you have never played a Kingdom Hearts game before, the HD 1.5 ReMIX is definitely the place to start. If you can get past the completely unnecessary Gumi Ships sections and long winded intro section you will experience an emotionally engaging story you will cherish for years to come.
Whether you are a fan reliving or a newcomer experiencing Kingdom of Hearts - many will cherish an emotionally engaging story.