Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX Review
Eleven long years the fans of Kingdom Hearts have been waiting patiently – or perhaps rather impatiently, for a glimmer of hope. It had taken some time, but Square Enix finally delivered with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX. And what is a remix exactly? It’s most simple definition is to mix something again, and that’s exactly what Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX has done. All of the good from the original PS2 Kingdom Hearts title, as well as what was experienced in Chain of Memories – originally released on the Gameboy Advanced. The main differences this time around are that the graphics have been polished, giving them a more refined and lively look, and for anyone who is a trophy tri-hard – or those who merely like having proof of their accomplishments, have been given a nice trophy system.
Graphics and a trophy system isn’t all that Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIx comes with, however, seeing as it is a collection of games. Included in the package is a remastered version of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix – a title that was only available in Japan previously, an HD redoing of RE: Chain of Memories and an unplayable version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Yeaaah, unfortunately if you were looking forward to playing through an HD version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Any of the playable elements of the game have been taken out, and instead gamers get to enjoy close to three hours of cutscenes that include Roxas, Axel and Xion eating ice cream together on top of a roof, other story lines, and in between the feels – or more suitably dubbed cutscenes, are text wrap ups of the missions that Roxas completes along the way.
The story of Kingdom Hearts centers on a young boy named Sora, and his adventures with his friends. As the Heartless – and the darkness, begin to engulf worlds whole Sora, along with Kairi and and Riku, are caught in the middle of it. Each are thrown into their own world, and Sora’s journey to find his friends begins. Little does he know that fate has a plan for him bigger than himself, and bigger than the search for Riku and Kairi. The young boy soon finds out that he’s the keyblade wielder, and the only one capable of closing the keyholes that each world he travels to possesses, as well as defeating the Heartless. With Goofy and Donald by Sora’s side, the trio is a forced to be reckoned with and one that the Heartless, as well as various villains attempt to contend with.
The mechanics that were previously implemented in Kingdom Hearts had returned, but have been given a bit of fine-tuning to achieve that sense of fluidity. Being able to assign, and customize certain abilities to certain buttons – such as fire to x, or having dodge roll equipped to square, make executing moves, as well as rolling out of the path of attackers user friendly. The menu players access to the bottom left of the screen is easy to scroll through, and navigate and the same could be said for the start menu that allows players to switch out and equip items, obtain new abilities, scroll through different keyblade options, and much more. The true elements of an RPG game are there, thrown in with a mix of nice combat scenes that allow for a gamer’s inner hack and slash lover to enjoy. Perhaps one gripe some might find with the game is that the transition from live action to cutscene is not smooth, and abruptly cuts from gameplay to cutscene. Another annoyance that players might have is – due mostly in part to how spoiled gamers have become, is that there are no set mission statements, or guide to tell you who to talk to or where you would need to go. Unless a player has got a knack for solving things like Sherlock Holmes, they might find themselves running in circles looking for enlightenment on where to head next, causing one to give into googling walkthroughs or even cracking open a strategy guide.
When it comes to RE: Chain of Memories, the title offers players a card game with a twist, and one that might take more than a few minutes to get the grasp of – granted you did not play the title when it came out on the Gameboy Advance. Even though the change in mechanics and gameplay is a bit offsetting at first, once you get into the swing of things being able to play through and pick and choose your attack moves and magic abilities with cards, as well as summoning your buddies into battle quickly becomes fun.
Previously, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was a playable title on the DS. In the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX edition, any and all of the interactive game has been taken out. The only option a player is given is to press square in order to hide text during the text wrap up scenes thrown in between the extended cutscenes. Essentially, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has been turned into an animated movie that ensures all the angst you can anticipate from a Kingdom Hearts title.
Can you say wow? The graphics, even when they were only running on a PS2 engine, were something worth noting. The opening cutscene that had set the way for the rest of Kingdom Hearts was a marvel, and with an upgraded view in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX? It’s hard to come up with a harsh critique. Everything in Kingdom Hearts, RE: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has only been kicked up a notch, and beautifully so. Even though each title was released on a console, or handheld lacking the advances developers are spoiled with today, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX makes each game look as if they were constructed specifically for the PS3.
The music and sounds of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX bring you right back to where gamers left off eleven years ago. Instead of taking away from the plot, the music seems to only add to it, and cleverly so. Each world and adventure have been given their own tune which helps to suck the player right in. Each hit of a piano key tends to tug on your heartstrings, and seems to add to the dramatics – whether the characters are mid-battle or engaging in a cutscene. The musical layers in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX are a constant, as there is always music playing in the background.
The voice acting adds uniqueness to the title as well, with each character having their own voice – and in turn their own identity. Characters that have been taken from Disney or Final Fantasy do not all have their original voices, though that was to be expected considering they did not the first time around either, but have done a good job with recreating the mannerisms of the characters they have taken on. Noises as simple as opening a chest, or a grunt from Sora have been done in a manner that is believable.
Is Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX everything a gamer should expect in an HD remastering? Do human breathe air? Now, that doesn’t mean the game does not lack its flaws – for there are still a few quirks that that needed to be worked out. All in all? The collection is a great blast from the past, and will have gamers drooling in front of their televisions, controller in hand, due to the combination of Disney, Final Fantasy, uniquely created characters, and a story that will have you sitting on the edge of your couch. And at forty bucks a pop? Completely worth the hard earned cash, or throwing your dignity out the window in order to beg your parents to lend you a couple of twenties.