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Kingdom Hearts: 1.5 +2.5 ReMIX

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX is an HD remastered collection of 6 unforgettable KINGDOM HEARTS experiences in one disc available for the first time on the... read more

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4)

Author: Joseph Ocasio
21-Apr-2017

Category: Review

Keybaldes are back! It is time to save Disney worlds from darkness again! We breath through the Darkness to see if the past few Kingdom Hearts games still have there Hearts filled with Light. This time, in 1080p and at 60 FPS.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4)

iNTRODUCTION

It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since the original Kingdom Hearts debut on the PS2. Kingdom Hearts has had a strange history of in the games industry. The first was mishmash of Final Fantasy and Disney that no one thought would succeed, my 10 year old self included, but turned into one of the most celebrated JRPG's of all time. After its Sequels on the GBA and PS2, fans have since been eagerly awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3. However, due to time working on Final Fantasy XV(Then known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII), the third installment was put on hiatus and the series has been relegated to handheld spin-off's, prequels, and sequels, leading to what many fans and critics called a "wild goose chase" to finally get to Kingdom Hearts 3.

Now, with KH 3 being confirmed to be in development only a few years ago and companies re-releasing old games for new gen consoles, it makes perfect for Square Enix to remaster the original games on PS4. Seeing how they were already ported on PS3, Square Enix decided to combine the two collections(1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix) into one. This collection includes the original Kingdom Hearts, The PS2 remake of the GBA game(Chain of Memories), Kingdom Hearts 2, it's PSP prequel(Birth By Sleep), and turned the two DS titles(358/2 Days and Re:Coded) into hour long films. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get started.

Kingdom Hearts: 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX can be bought on PlayStation Store for 49.99$.

PLOT

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4). That's a nice group shot
The first 3 games in the series has players put into the iconic big shoes of Sora, a spicky-haired kid who's world is taken over by Darkness and goes on quest to restore it and find his friends Riku and Kairi. Along the way, he gains a mysterious weapon called a KeyBlade and teams up with Donald Duck and Goofy to defeat beings called Heartless and Nobodies and save all the various Disney worlds. The original Kingdom Hearts and its console sequel do a wonderful job of defining the various Disney worlds and characters that inhabit them. The writing won't be on par with there film counter parts, but it still does an admiral job re-creating the films they're based on and the overarching story of Sora's quest is touching if a little melodramatic.

Kingdom Hearts does have a tendency to take it's self too seriously at times, and when it does, it can feel awkward or even comical. This is true in Chain of Memories, where the Disney Worlds take a back seat in favor of it's own. Meanwhile, Birth by Sleep is a prequel that has players taking control 3 Keyblade wielders, Ventus, Terra, and Aqua, as they travel across worlds to unravel a conspiracy going on within there mists. If you played the other games first, you'll get a lot of it and it mostly does a good job of setting up the events for future games, and with having 3 protagonists with there own stories the intertwine with each other makes for a fun time.

Lastly, both DS games Re:Coded and 358/2 days have been relegated to mere films. 358 is a bit of an origins story that tells the tale of KH2 character Roxas and his days as a member of an organization, while Re:Coded has Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket attempting to make sense of a secret message by sending a digital version of Sora into a data space. Neither tales are particularly interesting and the narrative isn't strong enough to hold your interest. They're there if you want to see it, but nothing of interest happens to affect the overall story of it's mainline counter parts.

GAMEPLAY

At it's core, Kingdom Hearts is a hack and slash RPG. You'll go around fighting enemies, level up, and partake in the occasional mini-game. The action is fast paced and fun, thanks to a satisfying combat system. It starts off as simple button mashing, but there is a fair amount of depth to, as you level up and equip various weapons and abilities that offer there own unique tactics. it's not perfect, as you'll find the action to not be as responsive as other action games, like God of War or Devil May Cry, and a few late game encounters tend to linger on a little too long. Also, the platforming in the original was never good and time hasn't been too kind, so be prepared to miss a few jumps.

Finally, the Gummi Ship sections where never a highlight of the series, and it's more so here. These simple Star Fox-like sections were never that fun, as they remain incredibly basic and lack any sort of tension. These are small complaints but, luckily, they don't hinder too much on it's overall quality. It's still surprising how well the original Kingdom Hearts holds up, even after 15 years. It's solid combat, mixed with a fun story with some of your favorite Disney and Final Fantasy characters is just as fun as it was back in 2002, which is a testament of how strong game design can give a game a timeless feel, even with it's flaws.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4). Keyblade
Kingdom Hearts 2, meanwhile, improves pros from the original and even fixes some of its issues found there. Platforming has been toned down for the better, there are more combo's to keep combat fresh, the Gummi Ship battles are more fast paced and more visually interesting, and the new reaction command and drive abilities are all fun to use. The only problem is that the game is far to easy on the normal difficulty and ofter feels automatic. It's recommended to pick proud mode for a bit of challenge and, if you still find it too easy, there's also a new Critical difficulty, if you really want a real challenge. Other than those small issues, Kingdom Hearts 2 still holds up and is often considered the best in the series, thanks to it's numerous improvements.

Birth by Sleep continues making improvements by allowing 3 different characters with there own abilities. Terra is more of a brute, Aqua is more faster paced, and Ventus is a solid balance between the 2. The command menu now allows you to use various special techniques and and even combine various skills together, making it easily the best combat system in the series. Birth by Sleep is also a much better experience on consoles, as the game was on PSP and didn't have a right analog stick. Seeing how many may have missed out on Birth by Sleep, it's a much better version of an already impressive game.

Finally, Chain of Memories relies on a real time card system. The higher number cards, the more you'll do attacks and can counter attacks with certain cards. There's a lot to wrap you're head around and it has a lot of depth, though it can get incredibly difficult later on, with some bosses and enemies feeling rather cheap. It also doesn't help the Chain of Memories re-hashes all the old worlds from the first game and most of the cutscenes have been reduced to dull text-based cutscenes. The structure is far more repetitive, as you go into a room, kill all the enemies, and do it over and over for 15-20 hours. You do get to play as Riku, once you beat the game, who has his own abilities, but the repetition is still there. Some of it's problems where excusable on the GBA, but on consoles, it makes for rather tiring, if sometimes enjoyable, experience that starts to over due it near the end. 

PRESENTATION

All content has seen noticeable improvement form both there PS2 and PS3 installments. All games run at 1080p, 60FPS, and support PS4 Pro and 4K TV's. You won't mistake them for current gen games, but the improvements make for the best versions of all these games. There are a few nitpicks, such as only the gameplay runs at 60 FPS, while the cutscenes are only 30 FPS, and a few cutscenes, particularly in Chain of Memories, only run at 720p. The later issue might be small, but seeing how these are PS2 games ported to PS4 makes is just inexcusable. Other than that, these games still look and sound amazing.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4)
Square Enix's take on the iconic animated films perfectly capture the look and feel of each film and really do make you feel like your interacting with the worlds and characters that in habit them. It really feels like the art team went back and re-watched this films till they got each world just right, and it truly shows in the attention to detail. The only real takeaways is that both Birth by Sleep and Chain of Memories worlds look rather barren, given there origins on handheld devices.

The audio contains the same re-done sound tracks that were featured in the PS3 collecitons, and they sound even better than they ever did. The music just sounds and feels much better than the original version of the games. Disney has been known for getting a lot of the voice actors from past films to reprise there roles and they do here. The actors never sound like they're phoning it in and continue to do great jobs. The few actors they didn't were at least given decent stand ins. All in all, Kingdom Hearts has never looked and sound this good.

NEW CONTENT

Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Birth by Sleep are all based on the once Japanese only Final Mix versions of each of the games. They have some new cutscenes to fill in some lingering questions, new extra bosses, and some new abilities. However, if you have played the previous versions of 1.5/2.5 on PS3, there isn't any new content added, other than the increased frame-rate and resolution and some new Themes you can get for each game you finish.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2.5 HD Remix Review (PS4)

CONCLUSION

One or Two nit-picks aside, this collection is one of the best to found on current gen systems and a must have for any fan of the series and fans of JRPG's and Disney. The fun combat, charming characters, beautiful worlds, and wonderful story show just why Kingdom Hearts has become one of the most celebrated beloved series of all time. We may have to wait a little longer for KH 3, but this collection does a wonderful job of reminding us of why so many still wait for its 3rd chapter.

ProsCons
 + Excellent Remaster Job - Some mechanics haven't aged well
 + 4 Kingdom Hearts games that mostly hold up - Chain of Memories isn't as strong as it was.
 + Hundreds of Hours of Gameplay - Minor Performance issues
 + Final Mix Content



SCORE: 9/10

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