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Review: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix

Kingdom Hearts. It’s a series many of us love, because it combines two of our favourite things: familiar characters, and incredibly elaborate plots. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix is here now to let us relive the days when the ongoing story of these games got REAL confusing.

A follow-up to last year’s HD 1.5 ReMix, this collection once again covers three games form the ongoing Kingdom Hearts saga – Kingodm Hearts 2 form the Playstation 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep from the PSP, and a movie-style recreation of Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded from the Nintendo DS. Just as it did with HD 1.5, this collection impresses me by the pure fact that Square Enix were able to port, in any capacity, games from the DS. The fact that Re:Coded is presented as static video rather than a playable game may seem to be a loophole, but the content is there all the same.

The three titles represent three very varied entries in the overall mythos of the series. Kingdom Hearts 2 covers the continuing adventures of Sora, Donald and Goofy after the original Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories, as they fight to take down the mysterious Organization XIII and once again prevent Kingdom Hearts from being created. This time it’s a giant heart-shaped moon? I don’t really get what Kingdom Hearts is meant to be, as its form and function seem to change game to game. After that we have Birth by Sleep which actually acts as a prequel to the first game. Three new Keyblade wielders are presented here; Terra, Aqua and Ventus. The first two are all-new, but Ventus strikes a surprising similarity to Roxas from Kingdom Hearts 2 – a resemblance that is eventually expanded on. Kind of? You may be getting the hint that the story has gotten pretty complicated at this point.

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Finally, Re:Coded presents a side-story where a digital version of Sora is tasked to explore the digitised pages of Jiminy Cricket’s journal about their first adventure (Jiminy acts as chronicler for the flagship games, FYI) to remove glitches and bad data and uncover the secrets held within. This presents the final game (or in this case, movie) as a retelling of the original Kingdom Hearts with a twist.

However, don’t take my derision of the series’ story as a dislike of the games! While the plot is convoluted, layered and retconned to hell and back – like any good Japanese RPG should be – it’s still compelling and fun to play along with. The inclusion of familiar Disney and Final Fantasy faces only makes it more fun, but you’ll probably want to pay attention just to be safe. I’ll admit to having to look up the Kingdom Hearts Wiki just to remember what was going on and what everyone had been up to.

Each game is presented as a HD-upgraded version of the Final Mix editions of each title. These versions were never released outside of Japan, and add extra content to the original games. These range from combat tweaks, to all-new dialogue and bosses, to new secret endings to unlock. The Final Mix versions are acknowledged as the most complete editions of each game, so it’s nice to see them arriving on our shores. Visually the games look great – it’s no hyper-detailed modern title of course, but they are tweaked enough to look exactly how your idealised memories of the games would present them. Really, that’s all you can ask of these HD remakes – adjust quality to match nostalgia. Likewise, spoken and musical audio has been remastered to take advantage of the Playstation 3’s increased output power.

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Coupled with the previous collected edition, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix is a great way to relive the games for previous players, or to introduce new players to the series. Collating everything on to the Playstation 3 is also a major plus for gamers who don’t own EVERY system and handheld, and as such may have missed out on Birth by Sleep and Re:Coded. The addition of trophies doesn’t hurt either.

With the arrival of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix, there’s really nothing left to remaster. The only other main-story game released is the Nintendo 3DS’ Dream Drop Distance, which uniquely takes advantage of the handheld’s 3D capabilities. This is as close to a complete collection of Kingdom Hearts as players can hope for, but at least it lets you relive the journey until Kingdom Hearts 3 arrives in the nebulous future. I know that I’ll be making my way through Sora’s full story once again before that time comes.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix was reviewed using a promotional copy of the game on PS3, as provided by the publisher.

 

Review: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix

The good

  • Collects the series on one platform.
  • Fresh coat of paint does wonders for the games.
  • Great for fans.

The bad

  • Storyline is still confusing. A “Previously on Kingdom Hearts” rundown wouldn’t hurt.
  • Subtitles are enormous, still scaled for a 4:3 screen.

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About the author

Matt Gosper

aka Ponk – a Melburnian gay gamer who works with snail mail. Enthusiastically keeping a finger in every pie of the games industry. I'll beat you at Mario Kart, and lose to you in any shooter you can name.