Switch Lights

The lights are on

What's Happening

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix

One Out Of Three Ain't Bad

Square Enix’s unlikely combination of Final Fantasy and Disney characters became a megahit following its 2002 release. Eleven years later, Kingdom Hearts holds up surprisingly well in this HD remaster collection. 

Kingdom Hearts looks as good as you recall in your mind’s eye (which is far better than it does in reality when you drag out the PS2). The new-to-us Final Mix bonuses from the long-lost special release in Japan mean that you’re not playing the exact same game again. Nasty new enemies with rare drop rewards await, the extra keyblades are welcome additions, and new abilities add exciting moves to Sora’s arsenal (one of my favorites ends combos with an energy bubble that stuns surrounding foes). On top of these elements, several control tweaks make the gameplay smoother overall. 

After all the years and Kingdom Hearts entries, the first game starts comparatively slow. Early levels like Wonderland have lots of backtracking and unclear objectives, and the combat and navigation controls take a while to blossom. Everything finally starts gelling about a quarter of the way through, when you amass a wide array of combos and magic and the story gains focus. This tale is refreshingly clear compared to later entries, and is full of moments both epic and bittersweet. I even learned to love the gummi ship segments after remastering the confounding building mechanics. My fears that Kingdom Hearts wouldn’t be as good as I remember were fully dismissed: It easily retains its spot on my list of all-time favorites.

Chain of Memories picks up right where the first game ends, but the fun drops off sharply. It’s deflating to lose all of the awesome powers you’ve earned only to sit through tons of tutorials teaching the pain-in-the-ass card battle system. Outside of Castle Oblivion, you play through the exact same places you visited in the original, and meet all of the characters over again since everyone’s losing their damned memories. The sheer blandness and repetition is difficult to endure, and the only payoff is seeing the first appearance of Naminé and Organization XIII.

Even with its problems, at least Re:Chain of Memories is a game. 358/2 Days is merely a collection of remastered cutscenes from the 2009 DS title. Part of me was glad that I could refresh my memory without playing an entire RPG again, but sitting through nearly three hours of characters eating ice cream on a clock tower was torturous. 

The core of this collection is the excellent original game, and that’s where your attention should be. The other two lowly offerings are inessential bonus ­features.

Email the author , or follow on , and .

User Reviews:

  • 8.00
    I loved Kingdom Hearts when I played it nearly 10 years ago.Combining characters from various Final Fantasy games as well as various Disney characters and world into one game and and making them feel like they belong in the story is a wonderful idea/achievement. The story is about creatures known as...
    read more
  • 8.75
    Eleven years later, after some HD remastering and overall upgrades, the original Kingdom Hearts returns and it's even better than you remember. This is an HD remake done right. The version in this 1.5 Remix is Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, a version originally exclusive to Japan. This means that while...
    read more
  • 10.00
    After the announcement of Kingdom Hearst 3, which had the internet out of control, it was a mater of time before we needed something, a collection of some sort, to get fans caught up in the series. And here comes 1.5 HD collection, a collection very much worth purchasing. Presentation: 9.5/10 Both KH...
    read more
  • 9.50
    Kingdom Hearts is back! Included in this collection is Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, RE: Chain of Memories, and the cutscenes from 358/2 Days. The Final Mix version is one that up until now has never left Japan. It introduces new enemies, bosses, weapons, accessories, abilities, cutscenes, bug fixes and...
    read more