Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX is a collection of SIX Kingdon Hearts games. Some are pretty important for the set up of the soon to be released Kingdom Hearts 3 while other your could probably pass on and still not get lost in the convoluted lore and story that is Kingdom Hearts.
Now, since this remaster is actually a remaster of a remaster I am going to assume that the majority of you Kingdom Hearts fans have played some form of the games contained within this ReMIXed ReMIX, see what I did there? Anyway, so this review will mainly go over just how well the games translated into their PS4 counterparts. I will also go over just how vital each title is to the series and if you should even give a damn about certain ones *cough* Re: Coded *cough* 358/ 2 Days.
So, let’s get into it!
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
First up, the game that started it all, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. This game has stood the test of time and is still an absolute joy to play, I mean how can it not be? This game, originally released for PS2, features revamped textures, content and runs at a smooth 60 fps at 1080p.
Gameplay can be clunky at times, but nothing that ruined my experience. Mainly the jump button was a bit unresponsive at times and there was minor lag in my X button during combat. Basically consistently jamming on the X button didn’t make Sora unleash an endless string of attacks as we have grown to expect from games with similar play styles today. I pretty much got a 3-5 button combo and then had to pause for a second before continuing my attack. However, casting magic or selecting another command in between granted more fluid gameplay.
The new, crisp textures make the game extremely vibrant and it made the experience feel like my first time in some cases. Encountering new heartless and realizing they didn’t look like that on my PS4 was a fun little discovery that helped breathe new life into this dated game. There were some instances where the graphics became a bit pixellated but what can you expect from a remastered game that originally released in 2002!
Obviously this one is a must play for anyone that is interested in the series or if veterans of the series need a refresher before jumping into Kingdom Hearts 3 or any of the other games.
Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
While pretty important to the series this one is by no means my favourite. The “card system” they made for this title, in my opinion, is just ridiculous. While I found that the card managing wasn’t difficult, it just felt tedious and unnecessary. Especially since Square Enix has a solid gameplay style that works for the numbered titles.
Gameplay is what you would come to expect from other entries in the series. The UI is familiar, but again that damn card system isn’t my favourite, and to me took away from my over all experience. The game runs very smooth though from the 60 fps treatment and again the vibrant textures made things feel rejuvenated.
The story in this game IS good though. Unfortunately, Sora has all of the events from this game wiped from his memory before Kingdom Hearts 2. So is he has all of these events wiped from his mind why is it important?? Well, aside from that, as a player, the events and characters that happen or are introduced in this game will make anyone more familiar with what is going on in Kindgom Hearts 2. Organization XIII, Namine, DiZ, and the nobodies are all fleshed out and further explained in this title and makes it’s over all contribution to the series pretty substantial and worth at least one play through. The game does a good job of detailing the events that take place between the first and second numbered titles while also providing important context.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
This one is more of a “movie” than anything else, and not a very enjoyable one at that. Luckily you don’t really need to know much about it in terms of understanding the over all story. It’s a collection of cutscenes with little typed up blurbs in replace of gameplay to let the player know what they missed. Because of the port onto PS4, as with the PS3 ReMIX, it wasn’t possible for Square to include the gameplay. So you get a couple of cutscenes, then a description of what happens after then another cutscene. Rinse, wash, repeat annnddd just do yourself a favour and skip this one. If you love the characters in Organization XIII then by all means take a day and sit through it, personally I couldn’t make it through every little scene again. Skipping this title will by no means make you miss anything vital to the story though, so I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix
As with the first game, this one is pretty friggin important, and just like its numbered, ReMIXed predecessor, an absolute blast to re-play and relive.
The refined gameplay felt more smooth than the first Final Mix. The controls are more responsive. This one felt like is translated easier onto PS4. The only issue I encountered was there were a couple of times when I had a crash and was actually booted out of the game. While annoying it happened a couple of times and didn’t ruin any of the experience for me. The brighter textures are again a welcome upgrade and made the game feel like a new experience.
This games importance is right up there with the first Kingdom Hearts. While Kingdom Hearts 2 is the numbered successor to the first one, it also signifies the fact that during the events of the second game there is a physical, artificial ‘Kingdom Hearts’ being created. The sequel is important to understanding not just the continuation of Sora and company’s journey but also clarifying who the actual “big bad” really is. This sequel is a must play before jumping into Kingdom Hearts 3. If not for the story but because like Kingdom Hearts 1, it is a great game and full of nostalgia for Disney fans and returning players of the original game.
Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
Like the previously mentioned Kingdom Hearts 358/ 2 Days, this one is more of a movie as well and really bears no weight on the series as a whole. Jiminy Cricket, as we know, has been the one chronicling all of Sora’s journey. It turns out that his journals have been tampered with, so King Mickey “digitizes” his journal and they discovered the data has been corrupted and tampered with. A “Data-Sora” is created and sent in to wipe out the bugs and save the Cricket’s writings.
I mean really, its Jiminy’s own fault, we live in an age now where you should always have a back up, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive? Rookie move man.
Anyways, shit gets weird and unnecessary in this installation is it literally has 0 significance in the overall story. PASS.
Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep
And finally, we have Birth by Sleep. Aside from how fun and similar this one is the numbered entries, this one is just as vital to the story as the numbered installations.
Birth By Sleep revolves around a trio of characters that are essential to everything being set up for Kingdom Hearts 3. This game is actually a prequel to all the other games and focuses on the characters, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra. These three are all Key-blade master apprentices, under the guidance of Master Eraqus. It takes place 10 years prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts and gives crucial backstory and set up for the rest of the series. It also showcases the series main villain, Xehanort at an integral part of his evil plans. Remember the princesses we heard nothing about in the first game but discovered at Hollow Bastion? Yea, well Birth by Sleep showcases those worlds and princesses and just how that all came to be.
Gameplay wise, this game is just as fun as Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, in my opinion. The subtle tweaks to the UI are easy to understand and learn. X is your basic attack while pressing up or down on the d-pad or L2/R2 cycles through your command deck; then pressing triangle executes them. I found this control scheme easy to pick up and fluid enough that it didn’t take away from my overall experience with this game.
A big thing however, is the upgrade, like with the other titles, to the 60fps. While this makes everything feel smooth there were a couple of sections that actually suffered from it. One section in particular, when you’re playing as Aqua and you need to navigate a valley full of tornadoes. The increase in frame rates actually made them move faster, making this section a lot trickier to get through. Overall this PSP title, translates well onto the more powerful platform.