The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes…
Kingdom Hearts is the perfect blend of action adventure, with a hint of RPG. It contains all the charm of a Final Fantasy game, without the grind, yet it also offers a deeper experience than most action adventure games. For those unfamiliar with the Kingdom Hearts franchise, you play as Sora, a young boy in search of his lost friends, accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy who are searching for King Mickey. You explore many Disney themed worlds meeting a mixture of well known Disney and Final Fantasy characters along the way, battling the mysterious Heartless. The unlikely blending of the Disney and Kingdom Hearts universes works surprisingly well with Final Fantasy characters looking very at home in the Disney themed worlds.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix contains Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, a version of the original game with some additional content that was previously only released in Japan and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of memories, a HD version of the 3D version of a 2D Gameboy advance game, the 3D version was made for PS2, again only released in Japan. It also contains around three hours worth of cut scenes from the DS game Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.
Kingdom Hearts is definitely a game that has been crying out for a HD remake, and it looks great. The stylised Disney worlds and the game characters looked good the first time around, and it is great getting to see them again with a HD makeover. Unfortunately the Gummi ship sections of the game don’t hold up so well visually, but gameplay-wise are an ok aside from the main action of the game.
The game takes a while to get going, and quite a few boring tasks on the Island and in Traverse Town need to be completed before you get to explore the Disney Worlds. The combat is initially quite basic but improves as Sora, Goofy and Donald level up and acquire new abilities. The Heartless respawn constantly in the game which can get tedious when you are just passing through an area where you have already fought the Heartless before. After completing the tasks on each world you always have at least one boss fight, which are usually either a giant Heartless or a well known Disney villains. Some of these boss fights can be unnecessarily time consuming, such as with Oogie Boogie. Two other problematic elements of the game are the camera, which never goes where you want it to, and the platforming elements. Jumping accurately in the game is a bit tricky and you may often find yourself falling off platforms and having to repeat a lot of tedious jumping.
Apart from these elements the gameplay is fun with occasional welcome asides from the main story, such as the Coliseum tournaments. Exploring the detailed worlds and interacting with the characters is where the real fun lies. The story is a tad cheesy but is gripping enough to make you want to find out what happens next after you have finished the game.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories tells the story of Sora, Donald and Goofy in between Kingdom Hearts one and two. It is nice to have the option to play this game in 3D now as playing it on the Gameboy Advance was fun but did not deliver a full Kingdom Hearts experience. The combat is card based which is an interesting change, but the worlds you explore are similar to the first game, making the experience a little repetitive if you play it straight after completing Final Mix. The 358/2 Days cut scenes last for around three hours. 358/2 is the lesser of the Kingdom Heart spin off titles and this collection of cut scenes should be seen only as some bonus content for fans who want to catch up on the story, as opposed to a whole other game as it seemed to be originally marketed as.
The original Kingdom Hearts had its annoyances that got smoothed out in Kingdom Hearts 2. That said, for those unfamiliar with the franchise, this is a truly original experience and this remake is a great excuse to give the game a try. For those who have already played the game it is nice to revisit the worlds in beautiful HD, but certain issues, such as the camera can be irritating, and the sense of wonder you have when you first experience the uniqueness of Kingdom Hearts will be lessened as you have played it before. This collection is more recommended for those who have never played the game and those who are fanatical about it. Those just wanting a trip down memory lane should maybe wait for a remake of Kingdom Hearts 2 as it has less irritating little gameplay issues.