Another game that I haven’t gotten to play until now. What can I say, I’m poor, I got bills and rent to pay, and I am studious about that. That said, I am such a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. You have no idea how much it bugged me that they did nothing at E3 this year, when they came out so strong last year with a teaser for the third installment that we’ve been waiting over or close to a decade for. Square Enix hasn’t really been jumping on the HD remakes of games for the PS3 the way other studios have. This was their first big production, and up-front, some parts are amazing, other parts are awful. Let’s get to it.
The first thing to talk about is how there are three games in one in this remix. The first is Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. It’s the final version of Kingdom Hearts that had a ton of stuff added on to it. There are new enemy types and some new abilities. The next one is an HD remake of the unofficial sequel, Chain of Memories. Finally, there is Kingdom Hearts 358/2. Or rather, the cutscenes of that game. I’ll get into that soon enough.
So, let’s look at the first game. For the three people who don’t know, the Kingdom Hearts franchise is, quite literally, Final Fantasy meets Disney. So if some of these characters seem oddly mixed, now you know. Let’s discuss the plot. You have a young man named Sora who is living it up with his friends Riku and Kairi. They are on this island and are building a raft to escape and see what other worlds are out there. In the meantime, King Mickey has disappeared. Donald and Goofy are tasked to go and find the bearer of a mysterious “key,” and to follow that person. Just as Sora and the others are about to depart on their raft, tragedy strikes the island and their world is sucked into Darkness, with the three friends ending up separated. Sora is given a mysterious weapon called the Keyblade, which he now must use to find his friends and save all worlds.
A lot of changes were made to the original game, and most of them work quite well. The biggest thing one notices is the expansion of color. The original Heartless and worlds were all kind of uniform. A lot more color depth was given to them, and it pops. Almost every time. The new Heartless designs were awesome. They even introduced a few new kinds, which is kind of cool.
One of the more subtle changes was the new soundtrack. Little changes were made to the iconic tunes, and it almost always works. Some of the tunes became much more appropriate for their world, where they seemed plain before. That’s not to say that all tracks are improved, but overall, it’s still great.
The combat in the game isn’t especially complicated. You have three people in your party, and you can only play as one of them. It is in real time, with the player having to use the d-pad to control what actions you do. With the fast pace of the battles, it can get a little overwhelming.
The best part of the game, however, is the characters and world. Sora, voiced by Hailey Joel Osment, is now so iconic to this franchise that he’ll never be able to escape. Him, Riku and Kairi would be irreplaceable with a different voice actor/actress. Goofy and Donald are fun to listen to. Some of the voice-work for the Final Fantasy characters is awesome. While some Disney voice-work is the same as the films, the people they got who aren’t are often very good and sound good in their respective rolls. Most of the time.
Next up is Chain of Memories, the second game on the disc. This game is…well, let’s go over the plot first. Following the events of Kingdom Hearts, a mysterious organization called Organization XIII is trying to unbind the memories Sora has in order to incapacitate him. Meanwhile, Riku is battling with the darkness in his heart. Yeah, it’s really complicated. That’s something that a LOT of these side-games are guilty of. And I can’t explain it without spoilers any easier.
This game is…awful. Not gonna lie, it’s awful. The game was originally in the for the Gameboy Advance. There, the card battle system was still bad, but easier to work with. Now, it just got worse. Parts of the game are nigh unplayable. While some of the bosses translated very well into 3D, the rest of the game was a mess, and there really isn’t much more to talk about there.
Finally, there is 358/2 Days. I would talk about this game, but here’s one problem – it’s not a game! For real, they removed all of the combat in the game and only put on the cutscenes. That’s it. It’s just a movie, and not a particularly interesting movie at that. This game had no real purpose. For real, every event that happens within it was inconsequential. While it is neat to see the friendship between Organization members Axel and Roxas develop, there is nothing in this game that matters. Nothing at all.
So, all-in-all, this set of games is a mixed bag. I can’t judge this all as one thing, because that would be terribly hurt by the poorness of two of the three parts. However, the original Kingdom Hearts is every bit as awesome as we remember, and definitely worth the time for those who want to play with nostalgia. So, we shall give three Final Verdicts.
Final Verdict: Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
7 out of 10
Final Verdict: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
1 out of 10
Final Verdict: Kingdom Hearts: 358/2
0 out of 10