Kingdom Hearts is and will remain a beloved franchise to countless fans out there. The franchise combines a wide array of Disney favourite characters with the touch of Square Enix that is known to JRPG fans across the world. This action role-playing series originally launched in 2002 on the PlayStation 2 and has since spawned over several titles in the franchise including sequels and spin-offs.
Get ready for a long, winding road
The basis of the series itself involves hearts and darkness. Kingdom Hearts follows a young protagonist named Sora who is tasked with defending the ‘worlds’ against the heartless. The heartless of course are beings that have given themselves to the darkness. Sora however cannot do this alone and is accompanied by two of King Mickey Mouse’s knights. Goofy and Donald Duck.
As mentioned before the Kingdom Hearts series is littered (in the best way) with characters from all across the Disney line as well as Square Enix’s franchise. Mickey Mouse, Alice from Wonderland, Peter Pan, Jack Sparrow and Cloud Strife are but a few characters from the roster that players will be able to battle alongside, summon them into battle or meet throughout the games. The locations through the game are just as vast as the characters. Players will be travelling to worlds such as Neverland, Wonderland, Agrabah, Atlantica and Hollow Bastion. Every location I found was well developed and inspirited with the exact themes of the worlds they encompassed.
Although players control the main protagonist, they are accompanied by the Disney Kingdom’s two Knights namely Goofy and Donald. Keep in mind though that these characters can be substituted out in most cases for a short time with characters from the “world” that you’re visiting such as Aladdin, Peter Pan or Aerial to name a few. These secondary characters however act on their own during battle, but players can customize their attributes, weapons and equipment. The battle system is quite an intriguing one, combining both turn based battle menus with real time live action battle. Players are able to run around a battlefield striking at the enemy with your Keyblade as well as perform special attacks. Simultaneously during battle players are able to access the battle menu to use items such as elixirs and potions or perform magic attacks. Hot keys can also be set to utilise items and magic attacks instantly.
Another mechanic I enjoyed in the games is the summoning feature that players can perform during battle. Through out the game players will unlock summoning characters who can be summoned during battle, once per battle. These summoned characters perform special attacks to either cause the enemy and immense amount of damage or assist in healing and regenerating MP. Simba, Genie from Aladdin, Bambi and Tinker Bell are a few summons characters to choose from. These summons were especially useful during boss battles which weren’t just a hack and slash sparring match but instead key elements would need to be fulfilled before actually defeating a boss. Every boss is equipped with their own unique set of skills and powers which you the player will have to find and exploit their weaknesses. For instance there are times where I found attacking the boss directly was fruitless when in fact I should be exploiting their weakness which is usually an item on the battlefield to be hit to reduce their magical barrier.
Get your popcorn ready
All in all Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix is an incredible place to start for anyone who hasn’t played the series before. It combines six titles from the series that is a must play to everyone who wishes to dive into the series before jumping into Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue or for those wanting to recap on the entire series before Kingdom Hearts III is released. Keep in mind though that from the six titles offered on this HD Remix edition only four titles are actually playable with the other two being limited to only the cut-scenes from the games. The games that are playable are Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded are both only cinematics from the games.
Players can expect beautiful locations from the Disney world, superb soundtracks, a wide variety of characters to fall in love with and a deep and touching story.
Players can expect beautiful locations from the Disney world, superb soundtracks, a wide variety of characters to fall in love with and a deep and touching story. It is hard not to get caught up in the magic that is Kingdom Hearts. The HD remix offered on the PlayStation 4 does look slightly prettier than the PlayStation 3 versions but the thing players will notice the most if you’ve played the PS3 versions is the faster loading times. Whilst testing the games on the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4 we found that eventually the HD version on the PlayStation 4 would need to be paused for up to two minutes for the PlayStation 3 to catch up. However except for the boosted loading times and a little better looking paint job I don’t think you’re missing much if you’ve already played both 1.5 and 2.5 on PlayStation 3. This version however is most definitely the definitive way of playing this series and a great addition to the collection.