Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMiX review

After Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix introduced the Kingdom Hearts franchise to a new group of players, will 2.5 Remix cement their love for the series of games based on an eclectic mix of Final Fantasy and Disney?

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix brings together three titles in a single collection: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. The Final Mix titles were never released outside of Japan, making this the first time that western gamers have had a chance to try out the extra content. Meanwhile, Re:Coded makes the jump from DS to console. Are these games worth playing again, though?

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
Beginning where the events of Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories ended (and, later, 358/2 Days), protagonist Sora has been placed into a deep sleep alongside Donald and Goofy so that they can recover their memories. Players initially assume the role of Roxas as he takes hold of the Keyblade and has to stop the mysterious Nobodies from destroying Twilight Town. What is Roxas’ link to Sora, and will Sora be able to save the world from the Nobodies, Heartless and the mysterious force that is controlling them?

Of course, this title is a HD version of the Playstation 2 title released in 2005. The graphics may have received an upgrade and the camera seems to have been tightened, but players will find the story and the gameplay very similar to the original release. However, the addition of the Final Mix content has meant that fans of the franchise are likely to want to give this title another look. The new Critical Mode adds a challenge for players that found the original title to be too easy. There are new cutscenes, a new Drive form, new boss battle and new Puzzle mini-game, plus a soundtrack that has been given a refresher. If you want the complete Kingdom Hearts II experience, this is where you’ll find it.

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix
Set ten years before the events of Kingdom Hearts, this title is a prequel to the entire franchise. Terra, Aqua and Ventus are three friends that are training to become Keyblade Masters. They must pass the Mark of Mastery exam, but things don’t go smoothly when Master Xehanort tries to sabotage the proceedings. When the mysterious Unversed start to appear in other worlds and Xehanort disappears, Terra is sent to find him and defeat the invading creatures. After disobeying his master’s wishes, Ven sets out after Terra. Aqua is sent to find Ven and to stop Terra from falling into Darkness.

Making the jump from PSP to console, this title is the one that has the biggest improvements. Again, the graphics have been upgraded, but the game’s controls have also been overhauled to make use of a controller with two joysticks, turning it into a proper console title. The additional Final Mix content adds a Critical mode to this title too, as well as several gameplay additions. However, the PSP’s multiplayer mode has been removed for the HD version, leaving players to face things alone. Whether you will miss the multiplayer depends solely on whether you prefer to play Kingdom Hearts with your friends or not, but the majority of players are unlikely to care.

Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
Anybody who purchased Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix will not be surprised to hear that this third title is not a HD port of the game that first appeared on mobile platforms before making its way to DS. Instead, it is a three-hour long HD film that explains the plot of the title through a series of HD cutscenes. Unless you’re bothered about the additional trophies that you will earn through watching this film, I would recommend finding a DS version of the title if you want to experience this spin-off for yourself.(comment from editor; Or you could get the DS version, play that, and just let the movie run through in the background while you’re doing other stuff)

Is it worth visiting again?
The question that will be on most people’s lips is whether these games are worth revisiting in their HD form? Well, fans will definitely want to play Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep if they want to get the full gameplay experience that was available to players in Japan. For some, the new Critical Mode will provide enough of an excuse, let alone the prettier visuals and the extra gameplay features. On the other hand, Re:Coded can be avoided unless you want to watch a three hour film about events that are not integral to the main Kingdom Hearts series, or you like sea salt ice lollies. As for those who are just entering into the Kingdom Hearts franchise, you may wish to begin with 1.5 Remix if you’re to fully understand what is going on, but this collection is definitely a worthy follow up.

Hit: Europe finally gets to play the extra Final Mix content.
Miss: Re:Coded would be better as a game, not a film.
Need: Is it time for a Dream Drop Distance console port yet?

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I'm an avid gamer across many platforms, and I love to write about them. I'll try most games once, but I draw the line at fighters and racing sims.
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