If you’re like me, when you heard about Kingdom Hearts for the first time you were nothing short of ecstatic that you could have your favorite Final Fantasy characters alongside the beloved Disney characters in world after world of magic, monsters, and Disney villains. Then by the end of that same year, 2002, Square Enix had released that same game with even more monsters, magic spells, and abilities… but only in Japan! I was heart broken. Well, on September 10th, 2013 (eleven years later), Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix in the U.S. for the very first time… and let me tell you what they have done makes it well worth the wait.
They call it Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and it is exactly that. Square Enix has taken the entire Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix game and rebuilt it in HD for the Playstation 3. However, they did not stop there. Two other Kingdom Hearts games have been polished and upgraded to HD for release alongside Final Mix: Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories from Playstation 2, and a twist on Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days from Nintendo DS. The best is… They are all packaged inside Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX!
In order to get the release of these games kickstarted, Disney and Square Enix had a launch event on September 8th at the Anaheim Marriott. I was lucky enough to be there and to be there early enough to actually get inside. What Disney had originally planned to be a small gathering of fans with giveaways and a chance to play the game early turned into something that started to look like the lines to get into D23. There were over 3,000 people RSVP’d for this event on the Facebook page and almost, if not all of them, ￼actually showed up.
This is was what the line looked like when I got there at 10AM…
…￼￼and this is what I was greeted to when I was shuffled into the next room three hours later.
The line behind me extended out with hundreds more people, snaked out of the hotel and zig zagged around outside. ￼￼￼It took five hours to get to the actual launch event, but there was plenty of fun to be had amongst my fellow fans!
￼Once inside the first 2,000 people were greeted with a limited edition pin.
￼Inside were several booths were you could do everything from buying the game…
￼￼￼… to even putting yourself into the game! Just choose a world, grab the keyblade, and pose.
Another area had three large posters, ￼￼￼￼each with ‘pixels’ that you could peel off and if you had a gold Mickey on it you won a prize.
Now although I had a lot of fun at the launch event, I was not be able to pick up a copy of the game. However, thanks to Square Enix, I received a copy so that I may review it alongside my coverage of the event.
First thing’s first, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, at launch, comes in two options: Regular or limited edition. I will be showing the limited edition features as well as going over a few changes/updates in the games. The limited edition game comes in a sleeve that looks like the regular game cover, however looks can be deceiving. (I have the original Kingdom Hearts for Playstation 2 pictured here for artwork comparison.) Inside the sleeve is a book that contains a 24-page art book and the game. On the back of the book is concept artwork for Sora (He originally had a tail?). On the front of the book is the same artwork that was (hint hint) the main menu in Kingdom Hearts.
￼The art book itself is rather well designed. It starts with a forward from the games director himself, Tetsuya Nomura, followed by page after page of concept artwork and background paintings from various worlds. The pages that stand out in this book are the concept to release comparison pages. Using sketch paper for the concept drawing, they give us a good look at the differences between the two.
￼￼I’ll let you discover more of the art book’s contents for you to enjoy, but now to the real gem… What does it all look like?
When you first start up HD 1.5 ReMIX you are greeted to a selection screen where you can choose between the two games: Final Mix and Re: Chain of Memories. No matter which one you choose, what follows next is quite beautiful. One thing to remember is that these games are not updated as far as detail and textures, but brought up to the standard that we are to expect from games today. The lines are nice and crisp, and the camera system has been modified so that it is easier to control. Just the intro video to Kingdom Hearts itself is enough to make it all worth it!
￼Upon getting into the game I notice that there are several little changes. For instance, by pressing the start button, instead of only being able to pause the game you can now opt to skip the cinematic. That was a pet peeve of mine about the first game, being forced to watch them again and again, which was eventually fixed in Kingdom Hearts 2. Anybody else know Maleficent’s lines by heart by the end?
Speaking of pet peeves, I felt Chain of Memories was a big left turn for Kingdom Hearts when it came out for the Gameboy Advance… with it being released for Playstation 2 and now in high definition on Playstation 3 it makes it feel more like a normal Kingdom Hearts game. However, the card game aspect still feels a bit foreign.
The story of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is now presented on the big screen in a cinematic mode, featuring HD cutscenes in a movie of sorts.
All in all, playing this version has been like reliving my original experience with the game, but in glorious HD. All of the joy and all frustration of a new game but still being able to hum and even sing all of the background music. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX is a must have for anybody that is Kingdom Hearts fan adding to their collection or someone looking to play these games for the very first time.
Check back soon for a Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX giveaway!