Kingdom Hearts is a favourite, so the chance to play a much loved classic from the PS2 era all over again in HD is very welcome indeed. The PS3 is on fire at the moment.
When the original Kingdom Hearts was first announced, it was a title that was anticipated more with intrigue than any actual hype or expectation. The concept felt a bit odd, mixing the worlds of Final Fantasy with Disney. Was this a game for kids? Would it be missing all audiences, who was it for?
Well the truth was, it was a game for everyone, a game that was pure magic. It perfectly blended the ideas of Disney with Final Fantasy and despite a few issues with controls and cameras (which were common place then, but a lot more forgivable than things seem to be now days) the original was loved enough and successful enough to spawn a sequel and eventually a full on franchise.
In this particular package, you get Kingdom Hearts 1.5, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain Of Memories and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2. The first is the definitive version of the game stat started it all. Rather than the game that Europe got to see, it is the Japanese Final Mix version, which adds additional cut-scenes and content. Now we will admit to our memories starting to leave us, as we enter middle-age, as we really couldn’t remember what was new.
What we did remember though was that this was pretty much that same game we played eleven years ago, but looking much prettier. Well we say prettier, but in truth with these HD re-releases, it was the game we remember with our rose-tinted glasses. It always looked good a decade ago and the HD update keeps it looking as we hoped.
By today’s standards though, the controls, the camera and just some of the game in general lacks a bit of polish and quality control compared to what we get today. Which is a shame as it doesn’t really sell the games to a brand new audience. Yet that doesn’t seem to the plan, it comes across as a fan service and it does that perfectly. It is whetting the whistle for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III.
Also included is the direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, Re:Chain Of Memories, an HD update to Chain of Memories. Not to be confused with Kingdom Hearts 2, which isn’t on this package and wasn’t a direct sequel to the original. Chain Of Memories was originally released on the Gameboy Advance and later saw a PS2 remake.
Re:Chain Of Memories introduced a new card battle system to the series. This follows many of the rules you’d expect from other card battle type games, but was played out almost in real time and in all honesty was a refreshing change up to the usual methods employed by other games in the KH franchise. It also more of a dungeon crawler feel to it than the other games, which again made it stand out enough.
The final part of the package isn’t a game at all. Well it was a game, but this is just a video of the game made up of cutscenes. There is nothing playable, you simply watch. It is disappointing that this was included on the all the build up marketing, because as an added extra it is pretty cool and a great way to fill yourself in with some of the lore surrounding the world and the franchise, but as a direct inclusion, it feels lazy and pointless it being there.
358/2 wasn’t the best entry into the Kingdom Hearts series, when it was released on the Nintendo DS, so it’s inclusion really is an odd choice as a main entry to the package. That said, by removing the playable elements, the story can be watched, which was the only good thing about that particular release anyhow.
Overall this is a package that can be had at a fairly budget price, so if you are a fan, then go ahead and pick it up and enjoy reliving some of the your favourite moments. Those who may have missed this upon original release may find it a bit under-whelming as it is a straight reproductions, including all the minor faults. However as an overall package, we are glad it is in our lives. Can we have Kindgom Hearts 2 HD and Birth By Sleep HD next please?