Re-join Sora and the gang
404SRP: £29.99When Tesuya Nomura initially proposed the idea of Kingdom Hearts (KH), there must have been a fair amount of scoffing going on all round. Not only from board members at Square but also those who read about it industry-wide because, let’s be fair, a combination of Final Fantasy and Disney does not initially sound overly appealing. Here we are though a whole ten years later and Nomura is the one responsible for the exponential success that the KH franchise has seen since its birth.
Launching way back when on the PS2, Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 found an instant home and a loyal gathering of RPG fans, warranting a stream of spin-offs across multiple formats. As it stands, we are still waiting for a full-blown title in the form of KH3 to conclude the main trilogy which thankfully is on its way. Until that time though a collection of three previous titles have been re-released in Higher Definition form on the PS3; Kingdom Hearts, Re:Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days.
Naturally, most will have picked the collection up simply to play the first title in HD and who could blame them? Most (including myself) would still play the game on PS2 just to get their Kingdom Hearts fix, so to finally have it in HD on the PS3 is fantastic. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the version of KH on offer here is the final mix which has only seen release in Japan until now. Boasting some extra content in the shape of enemies, weapons, scenes and story this is unquestionably the most complete version of the title available.
As has been shown previously however, the HD remake business is one that can be very messy if not done properly. Better examples of the remake procedure include Ratchet and Clank, whilst poorer outings include the likes of the Splinter Cell titles, but you wouldn’t expect anything less than 100% effort by Square and Disney Interactive. Let’s get one thing straight, despite having a child-like appearance and premise, Kingdom Hearts had masses of appeal for older gamers as well as younger ones. There was a vast depth to the gameplay and story if you chipped away at it and absorbed every last nugget of information that was thrown at you.
Somehow Kingdom Hearts manages to offer up the perfect balance between simplicity and depth with either option being open at any time to each player. For those brave enough, they could tackle the heap of extras available through weapon and item creation or the additional battles and secret areas. On the flip side, those who weren’t as comfortable doing such could enjoy the game just as much but battle on with the equipment which is periodically unlocked, rather than created, and just follow the main storyline.
The balance doesn’t stop there either because the wealth of detail and character in each world is showcased more than ever in this HD makeover. The worlds were themed on established Disney franchises and crammed with familiar faces and places, all of which look absolutely stunning in this outing. Every effort has been made to ensure this title shines in every single aspect and is unquestionably one of the best (if not the best) example of a game that has received HD treatment. As you would expect, the magic and enchantment of the game has been maintained from the PS2 days; you still find yourself attached to Sora and his crew, and you will end up humming those catchy themes all day long once more.
Some tweaks have been made to the game however, in order to bring it more in line with the improvements found in the second title. For example, the camera is controlled with the right stick as opposed to the shoulder buttons, which reduces the frequency of the previously numerous camera troubles on PS2.
There are still a couple of quibbles though, such as the aforementioned camera which still has its sporadic moment every now and again when you find yourself in a tight spot. Similarly, the Gummi ship section remains as complex and crazy as it ever was way back when, and to this date I can’t make 100% sense of it all. The in-flight sequences seem to have bypassed the HD makeover, as the obstacles still pop in from the distance rather than gradually appearing. Whether this has been skipped, or kept for nostalgia's sake it’s not entirely clear, but the whole section could have been improved upon a little more.
But when all is said and done, Kingdom Hearts has never looked this good or been this complete before and it’s unlikely it ever will. To actually have it on PS3 is an absolute joy and one that should be savoured as a means of whetting our appetites for when Kingdom Hearts 3 finally see’s the light of day, whenever that might be.
Personally, I would have paid the price tag on this package just for Kingdom Hearts in HD on its own. As it stands however, along with the first title comes Re:Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days; the former of the two was not released in Europe, and is a proper sequel to the events that unfolded post Kingdom Hearts. 358/2 Days was an ‘interquel’ that bridged the gap between Chain of Memories and the second title.
Re:Chain of Memories comes to the PS3 having received some of the same treatment as the first title, but its altered mechanic remains; battles are fought out using a card system. The cards you use are ones that you collect, and this proves to be a rather entertaining method in which to conduct your battles. Considering it’s unlikely you will have played this before, it gives you something new to sink your teeth into.
The real disappointment here is the inclusion of 358/2 Days. By rights it should be in the package, given its events take place prior to the second title, but it isn’t an HD revamp of the DS version. Instead, for some bizarre reason, the game has been condensed into around three hours of cut-scenes which you can sit and watch should you have the time and the patience. It’s a nice addition for those diehard fans of the series but it would have been much better if there had been a playable version of the title, whether it had been a HD one or not.
- Looks incredible
- Enchanting as ever
- Complete value for money
- Heaps of extra contents
- Same old camera troubles
- 358/2 Days is disappointing
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix PS3 Review
As it stands, this is still the best Kingdom Hearts package to date and, unless they do a full remake of the original, it's the best version there is and will be. Even if you just buy the Remix package for the first game on its own and negate the others you won't feel ripped off, short of content or value as it really is a game that just keeps giving all over again. Despite being over ten years old it can hold its head up high and class itself as one of the best RPGs out there still.
Even though the third title here is a little disappointing, it's worth playing the other two and viewing the cut-scenes as and when you can rather than trying to sit through them in one go. If there is one thing to take away from this package though it's that the anticipation for the third title is higher than ever and hasn't dissipated one little bit; we can only hope that we won't be waiting much longer for it.
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