Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix
When you think of the high-spirited, round-eared mouse known as Mickey, and Cloud, the dark, brooding teenager from the Final Fantasy series, it’s easy to conjure a somewhat unsettling picture. That’s why when Disney and Square Enix brought the silly idea of joining the two companies to create an original game, it unleashed a wave of confusion. Now, 13 years later, Kingdom Hearts has established itself as one of the top-rated game series, spawning multiple games across many platforms and a fan base so large, I have to admit that I am a proud member of, which was why I was beyond ecstatic to get my hands on Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix
KH 2.5 (for the sake of my fingers) is the second compilation of three games, each released on different platforms and now bundled for the Playstation 3 on one disc, which includes: KH II, Birth by Sleep, and Re:coded.
(Oh. And if you haven't played Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix first, I’d suggest to get that played and done with before you attempt to complete KH 2.5. Trust me, you’ll be a lot less confused and save yourself some headaches.)
Onto the review:
Released in 2006, Kingdom Hearts II is the most familiar of the three since it was the only one that ever saw a launch on a console. Kingdom Hearts II is a heart-filled story about a young boy named Sora who, one year after the events of the first HD bundle, finds himself and his two companions, Donald Duck and Goofy, facing a new enemy called Organization XIII while searching for their lost friends. It’s a traditional story of Good vs. Evil, and takes a very lighthearted approach to the genre. Although it’s more cheesy at times than anything, the characters are really the driving force for the story, with fleshed out personalities and a depth to even the least of seen characters.
Now, it returns in glorious updated graphics that is evident as soon as you watch the first cutscene, with beautiful colors and revamped music that radiates from the speakers. It definitely is a treat to return to the world of KH II with a fresh look, and one that not only includes an upgrade in visuals and a completely re-orchestrated soundtrack, but for the first time, Kingdom Hearts fans are able to receive new features that were previously exclusive to the Japanese editions. New bosses, areas, cutscenes, missions, items, and weapons are now available for both new and returning fans of the series, along with beautiful themes for your Playstation 3 upon completion.
If I had to pick one feature of the Kingdom Hearts series that continues to impress, it would definitely be the combat system. KH II uses a basic control scheme of “Press X” but by equipping new abilities and magic, it’s possible to string together flashy combos. The Drive system takes the crazy moves and adds another twist to the combat. Sora is able to acquire a new set of abilities while wielding an additional key-blade at the cost of one or two party members.
The next game in the bundle, Birth by Sleep, follows the same route as its predecessor. Launching on the Playstation Portable back in 2009, Birth By Sleep (BBS) now sees the light of day in an updated makeover that really does it justice. As you play through the story with the three main characters in this title, you’ll experience new worlds that were not featured in previous KH games, and a story that ties together many of the plot lines along with a new secret episode.
Birth by Sleep borrows elements from Kingdom Hearts II and improves upon it. Just like its predecessor, BBS uses basic attack commands and introduces the Deck Command. Using this new system, you are able to equip a certain quantity of attack, magic or item commands to use in battle, and once used, have a certain amount of time before theory can be used again. It’s an interesting system that forces the player to manage their inventory and lets them grow their character in a way that best suits them.
One of the most gracious additions that was implemented into the game is the control of the camera stick, which was previously unavailable in the PSP version; however, what is still lacking in BBS and KH II is limitation on exploration. Although there are new areas to explore, they are condensed to small sections that feel like pit stops each time you enter a new zone.
Unfortunately, Re:coded got the short end of the stick; instead of receiving the same treatment as its counterparts, the game has been surmised into a three-hour length film that does its best to tell its story in the amount of time it has. Although it was released as a Nintendo DS title in 2010, story-wise, it is the least memorable out of the bunch since it didn't offer much in terms of gameplay and no new addition to the story. Even so, it is a wonderful addition to the collection and shouldn't be skipped it if you want to experience the most of the compilation.
Since the release of the first KH game, the series has received worldwide acclaim, and now that it is available to new players in a compilation disc, it would be a shame to miss out on this bundle. With new content for the returning fans, and a richly developed experience for the new players, there’s never been a better time to dive (back) into the franchise than now.
That is why I am happy to give a final score of: A-