Kingdom Hearts was released back in 2002, to critical acclaim. Finally, a game where one of the biggest developers of the time (Squaresoft) joined up with one of the biggest entertainers in the world (Disney). It became a hit success, and multiple spin-offs came a plenty for every platform on the market. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix is the latest release from Square Enix, grouping many of the titles into one blu-ray disc, many of the titles for the first time outside of Japan. I got the collectors edition for £28, a fantastic deal for the amount of content on board, and considering I never got the chance to play the original, it’s a great start.
After a few scenes in which the game asks you a few questions to get you started (Do you prefer the sword, wand, or the shield?), Kingdom Hearts starts you off on a island, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. You play as a guy with brown hair named Sora, a 13/14 year old teen who lives with friends and family, but dreams of adventuring off the island one day along with his closest friends, Riku and Kairi. Eventually this dream of his comes true when suddenly, darkness invades the island and sucks it up, separating the trio and leaving Sora alone in a new, unfamiliar world called Traverse Town. Whilst all of this is happening with Sora, cut-scenes ensure you know whats happening with Goofy and Donald in their world, and it just so happens that King Mickey has gone missing, and his only advice is to find the key-bearer. Goofy and Donald’s first port of call is Traverse Town, and so starts our epic adventure.
Graphics have dramatically improved since the original, with characters and worlds looking sharp from any angle. There are some levels where you may notice it’s an old game, for example wonderland has a lot of flat, 2D textures that stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the objects you encounter, but overall the graphics are sharp and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a modern game.
The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, with tunes that’ll stick with me for the rest of my life. For those of you that watched me play this on my livestream, you’ll have noticed me humming most of the tunes by the end of the levels, showing how much they had engrained in my memory. What adds to this soundtrack though, is the fact all of the songs were all remastered using a Orchestra, so fidelity is astounding. This is one soundtrack I will certainly be buying and listening too at the gym in the coming years. (If it ever becomes available)
Once you’ve finished Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix, there’s still more here to keep you entertained. Kingdom Hearts re:chain of memories is a port of the 2004 GBA game, remade using the PS2, and re-released in HD on the PS3. It incorporates a 20+ hour story where you use cards to control your character, anything from slicing with your keysword, to summoning magic, all requires cards. It’s a neat mechanic that was introduced due to the GBA’s graphic limitations, but works surprisingly well rendered in 3D on the same graphics engine as the original game.
The final piece of this wonderful package is Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days, the Nintendo DS game. This isn’t the full game though, and is instead all of the cinematics rendered in HD and can be viewed in one sitting. It’s a nice way to sum up all the events of what happened between Kingdom Hearts 1, and Kingdom Hearts 2, for all those players who maybe never owned a Nintendo DS, or a GBA.
The only gripes I have with this HD Remix is some of the gameplay. Being a remastering of a 11 year old game, I understand I can’t expect everything to be fixed, but there are some parts that really stick out in our modern gaming environment. Take for example, the games lack of any direction, it hurts for a first time player like myself, and is reminiscent of a time long since gone. This could of been fixed by some simple text boxes to make sure you’re going in the right direction, or even a hints system. I had many times where I was running in circles, exploring every room of a given world, just to realise I had to initiate a sequence to move on. There was no dialogue or help to tell me this had to be done, which led to frustration and anger. Maybe I’ve just been spoilt by todays gaming mechanics and tutorials, but they’re there for a reason.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix is a fantastic buy for fans of the series and newbies alike. If you’ve never played the games like myself, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment from getting the complete experience in HD. For £28, the limited edition version (with art book) is a fantastic collection of games at a great price point. You’re bound to get at least 50 hours+ of enjoyment from this, just make sure you don’t get too hooked, we’ve got a while to wait for Kingdom Hearts 2 HD or even 3.
P.S. I made a quick look of the game, which can be found below: