It’s been a good long time since I picked up the original Kingdom Hearts. I still have fond memories of being blown away by the concept of the game alone. Final Fantasy and Disney? It seriously blew my brain out the back of my skull. Unfortunately, the game was plagued with lots of little annoyances about the camera and selecting magic during combat (something I just stopped doing because it was essentially suicide), and I didn’t love it quite as much as I wanted to love it. Now, over ten years later, it seems like Square-Enix is doing their best to give me the game I wanted back when I first bought it.
You’re not just getting Kingdom Hearts with Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, but also Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories and a cinematic version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. I didn’t get to see either of the added games in action at the PAX East preview so I can’t really say anything about what upgrades or new features have been added to them, but the rep who played the demo in front of me assured me they were going through some extensive improvements as well.
What if you don’t care about the two added games? Well, I don’t, but I found lots of reasons to want to play the first game again. As I said before, they’ve cleaned up the camera system, mapping it to the right control stick. I can’t even describe how much nicer it is to be using the stick instead of the shoulder buttons, so it’s a very welcome addition that should make the game a lot more playable. I can’t vouch for it much since I was only shown a small section of Atlantis by a Square-Enix rep who’d been playing that single section all day, but it sounds like a great change that would fix one of my bigger problems with the game. With the context-sensitive upgrades to using spells and items (a system taken from Kingdom Hearts 2), I think this game will play a lot smoother than I remembered.
Speaking of smooth, the game looks fantastic. It’s still a little blocky in places as its source material is from a PS2 game, but it still comes out smooth on an HD television. The attack animations all looked really sharp, and I didn’t see any of the muddled cutscenes or colors that have poked their heads up in the Devil May Cry HD Collection and other lackluster HD collections. Again, I only got to watch someone else play it so I didn’t get a chance to explore the environments and push into corners and crevices that the developers wouldn’t want me to see, so I’m taking the rep’s word for a lot of that. Just the same, what I saw looked great, so if they can do all that with the entire game then the looks alone will be enough to merit a new playthrough of the game from me.
I was also told that a new boss was going to be added to the game, and that the Gummi ship battles had been jazzed up to make them a lot more interesting. The rep wouldn’t go into any kind of specifics about most of it, unfortunately, but it sounds like they’re putting a lot of work into making this a re-release that is worth your money and time. I’m not gonna lie – I had no interest in this game going into the demo. After watching the series flounder on handhelds for the past few years I’d pretty much given up on it. Now, I’m not so sure. I’d still want to play it myself before I said how I felt about it for sure, but from what I’ve seen and heard it sounds like the game is on the right track.