• Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix: A Review

    Back when Kingdom Hearts was first released in 2002, the concept seemed strange. Squaresoft collaborated with Disney to create a game which saw Final Fantasy characters coexisting with Disney characters and worlds. Despite the strange concept, the unlikely collaboration went on to become an immensely popular series spanning 7 titles and 5 consoles. With the third “main” title in the Kingdom Hearts franchise just announced for next generation consoles, Square Enix has begun to remaster the older games for the Playstation 3.

    The games included in this collection are Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and a cinematic version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

    Kingdom Hearts Final Mix

    Donald and Goofy will look like this a lot

    The most important thing to note is that this is the only time Kingdom Hearts Final Mix has been released outside of Japan. The additions you will find in the Final Mix version are:

    -New start screen
    -Recolored and New Heartless
    -New weapons
    -New accessories
    -New abilities
    -New Gummi Ship missions
    -New optional boss
    -New (voiceless) cutscenes
    -Deep Dive secret ending

    Aside from this additional content, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix also includes three difficulty levels: Final Mix Beginner, Final Mix, Final Mix Proud. Even for Kingdom Hearts veterans, Final Mix Proud should prove to be a significant challenge as it is even harder than Expert difficulty from the original game. Another important thing to note is that you will not gain access to either secret ending if you choose Beginner Mode.

    Final Mix also updates the controls. This time around, the camera is controlled through the right analogue stick as is the case with most modern games. Actions such as opening doors, talking to people, and certain abilities have now been relegated to Triangle button whenever the button prompt appears. Both of these features may take some getting used to for those who have played the first game as much as I, but they do help this game better match the controls of future games in the franchise. Aside from the controls, much of the soundtrack has been updated with a full orchestra as well, and cutscenes are now skip-able. As is the case with each game in this collection, you also unlock a theme for you PS3 upon beating the game.

    This game does have some negative aspects, though:

    - While the game looks beautiful, characters will often times go from fully animate, expression-filled faces to having a blank, poorly animated face. Sometimes a character can switch between these states multiple times in the same scene, and it feels even more jarring now in HD than it did with the original release.
    - Despite the update to controls, the camera and lock-on system can still be a bit clunky.
    - Several people (including myself) have come across audio issues in the game in which audio will completely drop out. Sometimes this will be for short periods of time and sometimes it will last until you turn the system off. This seems to happen at random, and most people seem to be unaffected. This does not happen with the other two games in this collection.
    - Gummi Ships. Few people found this mini-game enjoyable with the first release, and it can be even more tedious with the increased damage your ship receives on harder difficulties. Also, if you want to get all of the trophies for this game, you will need to complete the Gummi Ship missions.
    - Speaking of trophies, beating the game on Proud will only give you the trophy for Proud mode. You will have to beat the game in Final Mix and Beginner mode as well to get their prospective clear trophies.

    Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories

    Believe in the Heart of the Cards

    As this game has been available outside of Japan for a while now, I won't spend a lot of time talking about it. For those unfamiliar with it, Re:CoM is a PS2 remake of the Gameboy Advance game, Chain of Memories. It serves as an immediate sequel to the first game, picking up right where the first game left off. It's story is an interesting one, and it contains important information for fully understanding Kingdom Hearts II. Aside from the updated graphics, this remake also includes several fully voiced cutscenes. Just like the first game, this game looks very beautiful in this HD remaster.

    Rather than the button mashing nature of the rest of the series, this game has a card battling system. The basic gist is that each card denotes a certain type of Keyblade attack, ability, item, or even character. Each card has a number on them from 0-9 which depicts the card's strength. An ability can be stopped when you place a higher numbered card on top of your enemy's or vice versa. The game holds a lot more strategy than the original game with some truly challenging battles. While a very different system, it still feels somewhat familiar and is a lot of fun.

    Another fun thing to note is that when you beat Sora's story, you unlock Riku's side of the story with a very different and probably more interesting story being told. The battle mechanics change a little bit as well with Riku having different abilities from Sora. You also cannot edit Riku's deck, his cards automatically changing from floor to floor.

    And now for some of the negatives in this game:

    - Sora's voice. This is a little unfair considering Haley Joel Osment was older and had a deeper voice when this game was made, but it is a little jarring at first having a much deeper voice for Sora when this game takes place immediately after the first one.
    - The Disney world designs are pretty uninteresting and start to feel too samey by the end of the game.
    - This is where the story begins to get more convoluted. I personally love the story of the series, but a lot of people don't like how confusing the story can get after the first game.
    - Same trophy issues as the first game.

    Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

    "I swear, if you make me eat
    one more sea-salt ice cream..."

    The most important thing to note here is that this is not a playable version of 358/2 Days; rather, Square Enix opted to only remaster the cutscenes from the Nintendo DS game. These scenes do not look as good as the other two games in the collection, but they still look impressive considering the source material. I will note that the mountains in the background of Twilight Town look atrocious, but it is rarely noticeable and everything else looks great.

    While a lot of care was obviously put into this movie version of 358/2 Days (including adding voices to some previously unvoiced scenes), there are some awkward moments in the story telling. None of the major battles from the game are shown, and this creates awkward skips in the story where you feel like you missed something very important (and you did). For people who hadn't played the original, these moments can feel very confusing. This can also kill some of the emotional buildup in certain scenes.

    That being said, 358/2 Days has never looked better, and this is probably the most enjoyable way to experience the story since most people had issues with the pacing and gameplay from the original DS game. The repetitive missions from the game are delegated to short text blurbs between cutscenes, cutting down a lot of what many people consider filler. Aside from the cutscenes, 358/2 Days includes all of Roxas' journal entries, Secret Reports, and the Character Database.

    Here are the negatives:
    - Only the cutscenes. Most people will probably prefer the movie version, but this is a huge negative for people like me who actually really enjoyed the original game.
    - No major battle shown, creating noticeable gaps in the story.

    Final Thoughts

    These three Kingdom Hearts games have never looked nor sounded better than they do in this release. That alone would probably be worth the purchase for most Kingdom Hearts fans. For those who already own these three games, keep in mind that this is the first time Final Mix has been available outside of Japan. I would still say it's worth a buy just for that reason.

    For people who are just now gaining an interest in the Kingdom Hearts or have only played the two numbered entries, I would consider this a must buy. With this release and the upcoming 2.5 ReMIX, you can now experience most of the story without having to invest in 6 different gaming consoles. You will now be able to have all of the games (except Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS) on your PS3 in preparation for the release of Kingdom Hearts III on next generation consoles.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Review started by Scotty_ffgamer View original post
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. Night Fury's Avatar
      Night Fury -
      Excellent review Scotty, thanks for doing it! I'm going to just edit this post up a little to change it visually, and then promote it! I think it's wonderful and hard work deserves such praise!
    1. Jinx's Avatar
      Jinx -
      Re:COM is on PS2? You lie!

      Also, great article, Scotty! I really liked reading it. I see a bright EoFF future for you if you continue to write articles of this caliber.
    1. Freya's Avatar
      Freya -
      Re: CoM was on ps2! This review just makes me want to play it even more (if that's possible) I'll probably be getting a ps3 for christmas so i'm sure i'll get to play it then.
    1. Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
      Scotty_ffgamer -
      Re:CoM was indeed on PS2, but I'm pretty sure it was released after the PS3 was already out. I feel like it just kind of appeared in Gamestops and other stores without any real fanfare. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure Re:CoM ever got a European release before the HD ReMIX.

      In other news, I do have some ideas for other articles in the future if I have time. Hopefully with those I'll be able to spend a little more time editing as I've already noticed a couple of errors I missed in this one.
    1. Aulayna's Avatar
      Aulayna -
      Wait, what, people didn't like the Gummi Ship sequences of KH1? :o

      Other than that, this is a bangin' review
    1. Fynn's Avatar
      Fynn -
      Great review, Scotty Though personally, I would love it if it focused more on the differences between this bundle and the originals. While you do focus on that, in my personal opinion to much space is devoted to describing the original (unchanged) gameplay of the game. By that, I'm only referring to CoM - basically, what you describe and criticize is left there from the PS2 version, which is kind of jarring for me, but this is a very personal view, so do with that what you will.

      Still, that was a very enjoyable read (I really need to play this! Hope the PS4 is backwards compatible, since I don't see much point to getting a PS3 at this point) and I hope you find my criticism useful
    1. Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
      Scotty_ffgamer -
      I thought about that while writing it. Honestly, I don't know what I would have said for CoM aside from "It looks and sounds as good as Final Mix." No other changes that I'm aware of between the PS2 release and this. I could be wrong though since I had never played Re:CoM before. I also ended up going into a little more detail because I noticed there weren't any Re:CoM reviews on EoFF in any form. If we had one of those, I would have just written a short blurb about how the game looks and sounds and then linked to the other review. Either way, there are a lot of tweaks I would make now as I read it again. This is the first time I've ever reviewed something, though.

      I will say that writing a review for something like this is a lot harder in some ways than it would be to review it when it first released. Hard to know where to go into detail and when not to. Part of the reason for this release is to gain new fans from the younger generations in anticipation of Kingdom Hearts III, and there are plenty of people these days who hadn't played Kingdom Hearts before/haven't played anything aside from the two main console games.

      Long story short: Kingdom Hearts is good. Reviews are hard. I feel sick today. Thanks for the criticism though! Something I'll keep more in mind if I happen to write something for another HD release like X/X-2.
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scotty_ffgamer View Post
      Now that I think about it, I'm not sure Re:CoM ever got a European release before the HD ReMIX.
      Indeed we did not. That is pretty much the main reason I actually picked up ReMIX (aside from my love of KH) - I don't tend to pick up HD games that I already own the individual parts of - Re:CoM never reached our shores, so all we got was the GBA cart.

      But this was a good review, and I look forward to your future ones!
    1. Shaibana's Avatar
      Shaibana -
      i have come to the conlcusion that this game is best for PSP :l
      i have played Birth By sleep on the psp, but i just cant push myself to play this 'new' kingdom heart on the ps3..

      the game is anoying the hell out of me, i get stuck everywhere.
      and i think i am done with the whole unbelieveble sweet talking from the characters, i think Anime's are too blame for that...

      i am afraid that this game wil be collecting dust on th shelf soon

      i just want this game for psp :o
    1. Freya's Avatar
      Freya -
      Wait you don't like a ps2 game that's remade for the ps3? You think it should be on the psp? A console game... on a hand held is more appealing? *mind blown*
    1. Aulayna's Avatar
      Aulayna -
      Well to be fair Birth By Sleep came out like 8 years after KH1, and some 5 KH games later than KH1, so they had a lot of time to refine a lot of the mechanics by the time BBS came out. So yeah I can imagine going back from BBS to KH1 is quite a leap. ^^
    1. Rostum's Avatar
      Rostum -
      Porting KH1 to PSP is not going to improve the glaring faults of the game.
    1. Shaibana's Avatar
      Shaibana -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rostum View Post
      Porting KH1 to PSP is not going to improve the glaring faults of the game.
      no it wont, but for my feeling it is a psp game, becaus that is the way i know Kingdom Hearts since i have only played Birth By Sleep before this.

      it is such a shame that i cant get much motivation to continue becaus i really loved BBS.
    1. Aulayna's Avatar
      Aulayna -
      So, I just watched all the 358/2 cutscenes and thought it was generally easy to follow, apart from the bit right at the end with Xion and Roxas which was a bit... ehhh. I like the fact that they also included the diary and secret reports from 358/2 to read as well.
    1. Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
      Scotty_ffgamer -
      The end was mostly what I meant where it got a bit confusing. More than anything, it kind of hurts the emotional buildup at the end without including something for that battle. Plus, I love the music for that fight.
    1. Mirage's Avatar
      Mirage -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aulayna View Post
      Wait, what, people didn't like the Gummi Ship sequences of KH1? :o

      Other than that, this is a bangin' review
      Gummi ship stuff just gets boring because there's no real point to it. Sure, it's a bit fun to begin with, but in the end, there is a huge elaborate gummi system that serves no real purpose because you can reach every course with the starter ship + 2 more weapons. The gummi system is completely isolated from the rest of the game, no matter how good you get at gumming, you'll never see any benefits of it in the rest of the game, and that's why it's dumb.
    1. Aulayna's Avatar
      Aulayna -
      Yeah it's not like the simple act of just building something can be fun or anything.

      Heaven knows people spend hours building elaborate houses in Minecraft that serve no functional purpose beyond what a simple 4 by 4 room with a torch and a door would do.
    1. Mirage's Avatar
      Mirage -
      You're right. To some people, that's not nearly as fun as if you got something more out of it.

      After all, that's often how minigames work. Typically, you get some items that affect main gameplay from doing activities with completely different mechanics than the main game.
    1. Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
      Scotty_ffgamer -
      I will say building the gummi ships is pretty fun. Flying the things between worlds is just kind of boring for the most part, and it can be tedious as well (at least for me). My main problem is that you don't really have access to the cool gummis to build an awesome ship until the end of the game, really. I made an awesome ship at the end of my first play through of Kingdom Hearts, but then I used it once to see it in action and that was it. The flying part just wasn't fun/worth it enough to do after you got the pieces to build an awesome ship. But that's just me. There's nothing wrong with enjoying that part of the game, and really the only reason I put it as a negative is just because most people I know hated the gummi ship segments. I'm mostly indifferent about them myself.
    1. Rostum's Avatar
      Rostum -
      The gummi ship building and flying should be fun, but it's not really. I just finished KH1 with my girlfriend, and we found building a gummi ship at the end of the game was tedious, boring, and uninspiring. Flying it was worse.
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