The Kingdom Hearts series first debuted in 2002 to much confusion and intrigue. Before this series, anyone who came up with the idea of combining such difference franchises as Disney and Final Fantasy would have been told they were crazy. I still remember my first exposure to the series was through a gaming magazine, which I cannot remember at this time, that I had gotten for a trip. I can still remember seeing the preview of the game for the first time, which led to me asking for a Playstation 2 that Christmas with the game. Since that first time playing, the series has had a special place in my heart. When Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX was announced, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to have it as soon as it came out.
Does this remaster of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days live up to expectations? Keep reading to find out as we look at the HOTs and NOTs of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX.
The original Kingdom Hearts looked quite good for its time on the Playstation 2, especially the CG scenes, but began to look dated as time went on with other games coming out on the current generation of consoles. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories was a game that was originally only an addition to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix in Japan, but eventually received it’s own release in the US for Playstation 2. This game also looked quite good for its time, especially as just a side project. The Playstation 2 just could not handle the level of detail that was designed by the development team, but now we finally get to see what they originally planned. As a result, you can see a lot more detail throughout the games as everything is crystal clear. The graphics in the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days section of the game also looks fantastic, especially considering the original was a game for the Nintendo DS.
Changes Small and Large
One of the big selling points of this game is the graphical remaster discussed above, but that does not mean the game does not have a lot of other new changes and content as well. There are changes that may not effect the game itself, like the addition of trophies to all three games as well as remastered background music. Then there are the changes that effect the gameplay that you will be using throughout the game, a majority of which were found in the this version Kingdom Hearts. The developers chose to standardize a few elements from Kingdom Hearts II that would make the experience more enjoyable. In this version, you are given free control of the camera by using the right analog stick. The original game suffered from wonky camera angles and this helps to cure that issue. I did notice it was a little sensitive at times though, so avoid pushing it in either direction too fast.
Another major change is the addition of triangle as the action button, just like Kingdom Hearts II, rather than you having to select the action from your command bar. That extra command slot is now filled by summons when you obtain them in the game. These two changes just make the experience more streamlined, especially if you plan on playing the sequel anytime soon as well. I really enjoyed this change as I replayed the original game a little over a year ago and got frustrated multiple times with having to choose an action from the command bar. One more small change is the ability to skip cutscenes if you so choose. Other than the updated graphics, there are very few changes in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories. The new release adds four new attack cards to the mix. Obviously there is also the major change of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days only being a series of remastered cutscenes rather than a full game.
The Kingdom Hearts series has had multiple re-releases under the name Final Mix in the past. This all started with the original Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which was a Japanese reissue of the game with English voices and Japanese subtitles that featured extra content. As a fan of the series, I always wanted to play the Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. However, prior to this release, none of them were released outside of Japan. I honestly thought about getting a Japanese console in the past just to import the games, but never pulled the trigger. As a result, this instantly became one of the biggest selling points of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX to me as soon as they announced the west would be receiving the Final Mix edition of Kingdom Hearts. The Final Mix release includes additional boss battles, weapons, cutscenes, as well as a secret movie at the end. I still remember watching the secret movie, Deep Dive, way too many times online as a result of not being to see it in the game itself in anticipation of Kingdom Hearts II. It is just so satisfying to finally be able to play the version that I had begun to think I never would almost 11 years after it originally was released.