Kingdom Hearts HD ReMIX 1.5 is SquareEnix's first foray into HD re-releases. The game packages Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (originally released in Japan on the PS2), Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories (originally remade for the PS2), and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days (originally released on Nintendo DS).
The Kingdom Hearts series is a joint collaboration between Square Enix and Disney featuring a unique story built within the Square Enix / Disney universe and featuring characters and settings from both companies. In general the games within the series play out as a typical action JRPG with characters leveling up as they gain experience from winning real time battles, but there are several differences within each game in the HD collection.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is essentially the final cut of the first Kingdom Hearts that was only released in Japan. The game follows the adventures of Sora, beginning from Destiny Island, where he and his friends are attacked by the Heartless. In the aftermath of the attack the island is destroyed and Sora's friend Riku falls into a dark portal. Sora is soon joined by Goofy and Donald Duck on orders of King Mickey to help find the "key" that will stop the Heartless. The three set off on their adventure to stop the Heartless and find their friends by traversing the different Disney universes and by using a keyblade that opens the portal to the "heart" of different worlds.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix includes several tweaks from the original Kingdom Hearts including new cinematics and key scenes that help explain some of the plot in Kingdom Hearts II. The main differences between the original Final Mix and the HD re-release are new HD graphics running at 30 FPS and updated UI to match Kingdom Hearts II.
The new game models aren't merely updated assets from the PS2 Kingdom Hearts. Tetsua Nomura, game director, has stated that many of the old game assets were lost and a lot of work had to be done to build the new HD models. With such great graphics it's unfortunate that the game couldn't run at 60 fps like many other HD re-releases.
Kingdom Hearts itself is a superb JRPG, but some of the gripes of the original carried over to the HD remake including awkward platforming exacerbated by an erratic camera.
Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
Originally a remake of the Nintendo DS Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the PS2. The second game included in Kingdom Hearts HD ReMIX 1.5 follows the adventures of Sora, Goofy, and Donald Duck once again as they enter Castle Oblivion. Once inside they gradually lose their memories and must battle up the top of the Castle to regain them. The original Nintendo DS game featured 2D action with a card battle system. The PS2 and HD remake include full 3D battles similar to the original Kingdom Hearts and still retains the card system from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories also includes updates for new systems such as the "Reaction Command" function from Kingdom Hearts II.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
The third game in HD ReMIX is not a playable version of the original, but a three hour HD adapted cinematic with added voice acting and only 70% of the main plot line. Although the inclusion of the cinematic is appreciated, it is a bit disappointing that the playable game was not included.
Kingdom Hearts HD ReMIX 1.5 is a dose of classic SquareEnix action JRPG nostalgia providing an engaging story, entertaining gameplay and now visually pleasing graphics. This game is highly recommended as a starting point for players new to the series. If you've played the original Kingdom Hearts or missed Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, you may want to take a look at Kingdom Hearts HD ReMIX 1.5 to fill in some of the story gaps present in Kingdom Hearts II, but if you're not interested in the additional plot points there's nothing particularly new from the original (besides the shiny new graphics).
GameDynamo's Score for Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX (PS3)
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