Written by Sean Wall
No, we’re not late. Video games live forever… That’s if your Atari still works, however, it was a console that paved the way for many games we enjoy now. Enough of homage paying as it could go on all day with consoles and games that helped shape the industry (i.e. 007 Goldeneye N64). We’re taking a look at ‘Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX’ with its compilation of three great individual games that give some solidarity to further the series for the long awaited ‘Kingdom Hearts III’. Fans of the ‘Kingdom Hearts’ franchise have been waiting and waiting… AND waiting for the new game, but have been entertained along the ride. ‘Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix’, ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep’ are a part of the package, as ‘re:Coded’ is more so a film about the events that occurred in the game. So the meat and potatoes of this will be dedicated to ‘Kingdom Hearts II’ & ‘Birth By Sleep’.
‘KINGDOM HEARTS II‘
Kingdom Hearts II was my favorite entry in the series. Hell, it’s one of my favorite games. Luckily, not only does the HD remake look fantastic, but the base experience holds up very well. It’s still an exciting RPG with tons of over-the-top abilities, challenging bosses, and lots of extra things to discover.
It also features the neatest Disney worlds in the series, especially ones based on the live-action film Tron and another on the classic, black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons of the ’20s and ’30s.
Also, while the original Kingdom Hearts had a pretty straightforward plot (defeat the darkness and restore the light, blah blah blah), the sequel expands the world beyond Disney and Final Fantasy cameos, especially with the addition of the tragic character of Roxas. Other memorable characters like Axel and DiZ also help to make the plot more interesting.
‘KINGDOM HEARTS: BIRTH BY SLEEP‘
First off, it’s great to play Birth by Sleep on a console. The PSP was a limited system that didn’t have a second analog stick or more than two shoulder buttons, so playing a Kingdom Hearts game on the portable was sometimes frustrating. Now, Birth by Sleep is as easy to control as Kingdom Hearts II.
In terms of gameplay, Birth by Sleep is similar to Kingdom Hearts II, although the magic system is a bit more interesting. Each ability and spell has its own cooldown timer, almost like you’d find in a massively multiplayer online RPG like World of Warcraft. They also level up independently of your character, and you can even combine them to unlock new abilities. It adds interesting new layers of customization to the series.
Of the two games, however, Birth by Sleep benefits from the HD Remix more as the HD visuals look amazing and the gameplay is greatly improved thanks to the DualShock 3 – making combat scenarios more fun and exciting as you are better able to succeed in stringing together combos and special moves.
Although you may love the series as much as I do the convoluted story becomes a real problem. Not so much with Kingdom Hearts II, but ‘Birth By Sleep’ definitely has the feelings by telling a tale from the past, but in a confusing fashion. ‘Birth By Sleep’ additions of new clones, body possessions, KeyBlade Wars are some features that just simply complicate the plot as a whole. You need a lot of researching to make sense of everything in the franchise.
To simply place my finger on it the re-experience of ‘Kingdom Hearts II’ & ‘Birth By Sleep’ is still enjoyable even with the mess that goes on. Pace yourself and listen to what Master Xehanort speak on controlling the worlds through Kingdom Hearts. Even with the re:Coded “movie” featured in the game it could be argued that this collection is much better than 1.5 HD ReMIX. However, while 358/2 Days also felt long as a movie, at least, its plot had some heart, while you’re better off refreshing yourself on what re:coded’s story is about by reading a summary online. The addition of Final Mix content provides each game with a renewed feeling and will keep veterans entertained for the entire ride. There is tons of content to explore and enjoy in this package. Unfortunately, it makes the wait for Kingdom Hearts III all the more painful.