The collaboration between Square Enix (the people behind the ‘Final Fantasy’ series) and Disney Interactive Studios resulted in a series of games known to the world as ‘Kingdom Hearts’. The series (as of September 18, 2013) currently compromises of seven games, (twelve if you consider the remixes and the recently released Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix).
The Kingdom Hearts story revolves around Sora; a boy from Destiny Islands who is thrown into the Disney realm to discover light and eradicate the darkness. Whilst that sounds pretentious, ‘Kingdom Hearts 1′ contains many thematic elements that are aimed for people aged far higher than the pegged ’12 year old’ demographic.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix contains the original story – Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (never before released in English), Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain Of Memories plus a 4-hour cinematic version of 358/2 Days. Beautifully set out in an opening menu, the interface allows the user to pick between the three, ordered how they are within the story. As a lot of players most likely played Kingdom Hearts (2002), then played Kingdom Hearts 2 (2005) without playing Re: Chain of Memories or 358/2 Days, it is certainly bewildering to experience a whole new element to the story I never knew of before.
It is hard to believe Kingdom Hearts was released on the PS2 system eleven years ago. Since then new technology has allowed greater advances within the gaming industry, and I think Tetsuya Nomura (Concept Designer, Game Director, and be story writer) wanted to accommodate that in the recent remix by improving the quality of the game in the graphic department.
Oh the gorgeousness of HD – Kingdom Hearts Final Mix looks absolutely stunning on the PS3 engine. With re-colouring of some heartless, added boss battles, added scenes between Riku and Sora, plus some other additions scattered throughout the game, it feels like an entirely new experience – even if I did play it through 33 times when I was a child. The only thing that needed more work was the touchy camera, it’s extremely hard to get used to and sometimes ignores you when you need to look around your environment. However they have added a ‘see-through Sora’ if the camera locks in front of Sora so you can see the rest of the environment.
Not experiencing 358/2 Days ever before, watching the story unfold about the life of Roxas, Axel and Xion was heartbreaking. The game developers put a lot of effort into toying around with morals of eternal life, death and the connections people have with each other. Whilst the Kingdom Hearts game was breathtaking, the two other games that are on the 1.5 Remix give so much more depth into the story – with 358/2 Days ending where Kingdom Hearts 2 starts.
If you are a newcomer to the series or a dedicated old-timer, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix will not disappoint. It is refreshing, nostalgic and intertwines the beautiful magic of Disney with a complex storyline to suit.
Review: Be prepared for Nostalgia
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars