Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
The Kingdom Hearts series holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers and Kingdoms Hearts HD Remix 1.5 gives them a chance to experience it all over again. Released by Square Enix and Disney Interactive for the PS2 in 2002 the game saw the worlds and characters of Disney mixed in with characters from the Final Fantasy series all combined into a heart-warming tale about friendship, magical worlds, and the power of the heart. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix is a remastered version of three of the games from the series. This new release gives us the not only a HD version of the Kingdom Hearts final mix (which was only previously released in Japan), but it includes Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and a movie compilation of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days using remastered versions of the games cutscenes.
The original Kingdom Hearts is an action adventure RPG that see’s the player in control of a boy named Sora who sets out on a journey to rescue his friends Riku and Kairi. Along the way Sora encounters Goofy and Donald who become his companions as they search for their King. Together they travel to various Disney themed worlds battling creatures known as the Heartless who serve as the main antagonists of the game. The Heartless are black creatures of various shapes and sizes that are formed from the darkness in peoples hearts. Fortunately the spikey haired Sora is the chosen wielder of the Keyblade, a weapon of immense power that can defeat the heartless and takes the shape of a giant key. The basic premise of the game consists of Sora, Donald, and Goofy travelling to various worlds while battling the heartless as well as classic Disney villains such as Captain Hook, Jafar the Sorcerer, and Ursula the Sea Witch.
The remastering of these games has definitely been done well as graphics look better than ever with the character models being much brighter and smoother and the animation looking a lot more fluid. However these games are not a remake, only a remaster so the backgrounds can still look blurred and some of the games levels can feel a little dated but over all have been given a decent overhaul. The game controls can take a little getting used too until Sora levels up a bit as his combat and jumping mechanisms can be frustrating especially when combined with an annoying auto-camera that can obscure your view at the most inconvenient of times. Thankfully however you can now set the controls to manual which allows you to control the camera with the right thumb stick. However the platforming sections can still serve to be a pain as Sora’s jumping controls are still fairly rigid leading some ridiculously annoying repetition of certain areas.
The second game Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was originally made for the Gameboy Advance but was remade into a full 3D game for the PS2. Chain of Memories begins immediately after the original and explains what happens between the first and second main games in the series and also introduces the antagonists of the Kingdom Hearts II, the secretive Organisation XIII. The story follows Sora, Riku, Goofy, and Donald as they journey through Castle Oblivion a mysterious place that causes its visitors to lose their memories. The game features altered versions of the worlds from the original kingdom hearts, but unlike the first games it uses a card based battle system. Utilizing different cards for attacks, magic, and items as well as map cards that affect what enemies will be featured in each room as the player progresses through the castle. The combat system can take some getting used but it allows for a variety of combo’s to be formed and can be refreshing change from consistent formula of the original. The remix version of Chain of Memories also benefits from some additional story elements from the Final Mix version of the original.
The 1.5 collection also features Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days but not as a playable game. Instead a series of cutscenes and storyboards tell the tale of Roxas from Kingdom Hearts II and his time with Organisation XIII. The inclusion of these cutscenes is a nice touch by Square as the game was generally regarded as one of the weaker additions to the series but contained many important plot points about various characters in the game. A handy feature is the ability to watch the scenes in chapters and the ability to pause scenes meaning you don’t have to sit through the entire thing in one sitting.
Overall the collection is excellent value for money that serves as a great entry point for newcomers to the series as well as a chance for old fans to relieve the magic of the originals. Despite some moments in the game feeling a little bare in terms of action and design, the overall story and momentum of the game still holds enough sway over you that these moments fade into the background. The unlikely mix of characters in such a great setting really does a great job of creating a saga that can entertain both kids and adults alike. This first collection is more than enough to satisfy most gamers until the release of Kingdom Hearts 2.5 and Kingdoms Hearts III.
- HD Graphics breathe new life into the game
- Controls updated
- Two games and Movie Compilation all in one
- Can feel a little dated
- Platforming sections still poorly designed
Written by Sam Babu