Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix Review

 Developer: Square Enix 1st Production Department Publisher: Square Enix  Console: PlayStation 3  Release Dates: (JP): March 14                            (NA): September 10th                            (AU):  September 12th                           (EU): September 13th  Genre: Action Role-Playing  Player(s): Single  Rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)

 Developer: Square Enix 1st Production Department

Publisher: Square Enix 

Console: PlayStation 3 

Release Dates: (JP): March 14 

                          (NA): September 10th 

                          (AU):  September 12th

                          (EU): September 13th 

Genre: Action Role-Playing 

Player(s): Single 

Rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)

Kingdom Hearts... a video game franchise which has spanned for over 11 years seems to be coming to a close. Well, one arc of the story anyway but it would seem Sora's hardships concerning the "Dark Seeker" saga is coming to an end. To recap from the beginning, Square Enix released 1.5 Remix and this HD remaster does a fine job of reminding people what they may or may not have forgotten. As for myself, I never got into the Kingdom Hearts games like I should have. I played and beat Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Birth By Sleep, but as my friends said, I was missing out on a large piece of the puzzle. Hearing about Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix  (long name right?), I figured this would be the best time to hop back on the Gummi Ship and get caught up to speed on what I missed and forgot. Judging from the amount of games Kingdom Hearts spawned, this in itself will be an adventure.

Sora against the infamous Sephiroth  

Sora against the infamous Sephiroth  

 1.5 Remix consists of two full games, one of which has never been released in the US until now, as well as three hours worth of redone cutscenes from Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days . It's been years since I played the original Kingdom Hearts, so that was priority number one. Except this isn't the original KH I played as a kid but the Final Mix edition, the once exclusive to Japan title. While the majority of the game remains untouched save for the HD improvements, there are some noticeable differences here like additional cutscenes that foreshadow future events, new moves and different varieties of Heartless to combat. This is definitely the main attraction for folks looking to invest in the HD collection. Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories is also included here but, at least in my opinion, is the worst of the KH titles to be released. Combat in Chain of Memories is reduced to a card-based structure; limiting players to a set of moves based on which cards are in play. The problem arrives when players must wait for the card deck to reshuffle before performing any more actions. Most problematic when dealing in boss fights and harder enemy variations. In short: Chain of Memories is just a recap of what has already transpired in KH but with a limiting card mechanic for combat. It does introduce players to Namine and Organization XIII members, so that's a plus.

It goes without saying that Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix is the real reason for purchasing this collection. Not only is the gameplay still fun after all these years but returning back to where it all began filled me with such nostalgia that I felt 12 again. The HD facelift was handled properly; you can see the crisp visuals the moment the opening cutscene commences. I noticed no graphical issues throughout my time spent here, everything ran smoothly and without a hitch. Granted, I really wished a different camera approach was used for each game. It often obscures the action behind objects especially when indoors. Thankfully, the shoulder buttons aren't needed to guide the camera but instead, the right analog stick plays the role of camera managing. The AI could have used a bit of tweaking too since it's just as bad this time around. Donald, Goofy and whichever guest character joins you, don't really aid you much in terms of combat unless Sora needs to be healed. Instead of waiting on one of them, I generally healed myself, which I found to be a much simpler solution.

Screenshot for Chain of Memories

Screenshot for Chain of Memories

Both Final Mix and Chain of Memories play out like their PS2 counterparts just with minor differences. 358/2 Days  doesn't have any gameplay but acts as a theater for players to watch cutscenes which span over three hours. The purpose here is to explain what happens during KH, CoM and to set up for Kingdom Hearts 2. That is where the story starts to become confusing as plots weave between games, linking everything together. It's a safe bet to say watching the cutscene movies will prove vital for a true understanding of the story.

"Is the HD collection worth buying?  I personally think so without a doubt. If it were a $60 purchase, I would have to say no but for $40 plus tax; I don't see why anyone would have a problem here. The HD was done exceptionally well seeing how you can automatically tell the difference between PS2 and PS3 visuals. Even though CoM is a weak point in the series and 358/2 Days became a movie rather than game, the details needed are a much welcomed addition. Not once did I think about returning the game and even newcomers are sure to enjoy. Hardcore fans probably have everything KH related so I would say not to waste your money.

Cons:

  • Same bad camera  
  • CoM is the lesser game here
  • AI still terrible

 

Pros:

  • Exceptional HD makeover
  • Kingdom Hearts still as fun as ever
  • $40 is pretty cheap for this collection

Axel, Roxas and Xion over looking The World That Never Was 

Axel, Roxas and Xion over looking The World That Never Was 

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Even as I played through both games, I felt myself coming down with the same bittersweet sensation I experienced during my childhood. I knew I would have to wait for the inevitable 2.5 Remix to come out before I could continue with the KH story. I foresee the collection to come out within a year's time, allowing some breathing room for 1.5. Until then, I have to be content with what I have and piece together what little of the puzzle I know. I for one, am glad this collection actually came out because it saves me the trouble of having to buy (or re-buy) handhelds and games to catch up. Everything I need is accessible on one disk.   "The door is open Sora... don't be afraid of the darkness."