Kingdom Hearts impressive, but not enough for long time fans
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 21:09
The Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix compilation, available exclusively on Playstation 3, brings together HD remastered versions of the classic Playstation 2 titles “Kingdom Hearts” and “Kingdom Hearts: Re Chain of Memories,” along with the cutscenes from the Nintendo DS entry “Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.”
For the uninitiated, “Kingdom Hearts” is a long-running Japanese action RPG franchise which combines classic characters from the “Final Fantasy” video game series, classic characters from various Disney films and original characters to present a mash-up quite unlike anything the industry has ever seen before or since.
Developed by Japanese developer Square Enix “Dragon Quest,” “Final Fantasy,” “The World Ends With You”), the series revolves around hero Sora, as he fights the forces of darkness while encountering various “Disney” and “Final Fantasy” characters and worlds.
The original title (presented here in its “Final Mix” iteration, with bonus content), already a graphical showcase upon its release in 2002, still holds up today as a stunningly beautiful artistic achievement, made all the better thanks to the more powerful and HD capable Playstation 3 hardware. Combined with a well written story, fantastic musical score and well done voice acting (which features many of the original Disney voice actors), the game can be called nothing less than a labor of love.
The combat system is also fun, and its action oriented style makes the game far more accessible than the typical slow pacing of a JRPG. It is far from perfect, however, with camera issues and combat “flow” problems sure to arise.
That being said, its age is incredibly apparent. Mouth movements don’t exactly match up with dialogue. The platforming is floaty and can be a real nuisance. The game starts off excruciatingly slowly before the pace is picked up and the real action begins. And while well written, the plot can become somewhat convoluted.
“Re: Chain of Memories,” the PS2 remake of the GBA title “Chain of Memories” adapts the same impressive visuals and presentation of its other PS2 counter parts. Unlike in “Kingdom Hearts,” you do not fight enemies in real time, but are rather taken to a separate battle screen after they are encountered. This interrupts the pacing, and when combined with out of place card mechanics, the game is drastically slowed down. And while its plot is essential to the overall series arc, the somewhat tedious gameplay, makes it only a much play for super fans of the series.
“358/2 Days” is barely included in the compilation. By that, I mean you are presented with hours of cutscenes from the game in the form of some type of film, but the actual game itself is unplayable. This is a huge disappointment, its not explicitly stated on the box that the game isn’t included, and it overall makes the compilation feel rather incomplete.
The package of the game includes a half baked art book. And by book, I mean a few pages of admittedly great artwork bound to a hardcover game case.
Kingdom Hearts remains as charming and novel an idea as it did when it originally launched well over a decade ago. If you have yet to jump on board the series, there is no better place to start than with this HD compilation, the games have simply never looked better. However, if your a longtime fan and looking for a worthy helping of fan service, you’ll be left wanting more from what is overall an underwhelming compilation, and at $39.99, an overpriced one at that.