Over the last five years, a variety of different titles from previous generations have been receiving the HD remaster treatment, providing gamers another chance to play games they might have missed or play a refined version of their favorite. With the release Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, Square Enix once again manages to attract the attention of both parties alike.
Just like Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, this title includes the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts II and Birth by Sleep, which up until now were exclusive to Japan. Additionally, it will also include the DS exclusive Kingdom Hearts Re:coded game adapted into a three hour long cinematic retelling, just how Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was in 1.5 Remix.
As expected from the already stunning Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the remastered in-game graphics and cutscenes simply looks beautiful. Granted, there will be parts where you’ll notice the game’s age with occasionally grainy looking textures and character models, but regardless it still holds up pretty well, giving you the illusion that you’re playing a last-gen title.
Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix takes place one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories. In the beginning, the plot revolves around Roxas, a young boy that resides in Twilight Town. During different in-game events, Roxas will have dreams of Sora’s adventures while increasingly mysterious activities begin taking place during Roxas’s summer vacation.
Many cameo appearances from various Disney franchises — including the worlds of Mulan, The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tron — are present in the game. Square Enix’s own characters make an appearance, such as characters from Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X-2, and coming from the first game, characters from Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy X.
Additionally, the game’s soundtrack has been completely overhauled by an orchestra to provide a richer and more beautiful experience. More than 90 of the music tracks have been remastered and it sounds better than ever, as if the original soundtrack wasn’t amazing to begin with. From its battle themes to its town themes, it’s all perfectly fitting.
Talking in terms of a sequel, Kingdom Hearts II offers a number of key differences from the original Kingdom Hearts. While the core gameplay remains the same, new features have been added to improve the experience.
For instance, two of the most notable are Sora’s Drive system, which enables him to fuse with one or both party allies and assume new powers, and Reaction Commands, which allow Sora and/or members of his party to perform special maneuvers in the course of battle.
Additionally, new and revamped Abilities, as well as special abilities have been added, including Glide, which can only be gained by leveling Sora’s Drive Forms. Another thing to notice is that in order to defeat a boss, a combo must be executed.
Sora can also ride a Skateboard to travel through the worlds or as a mini-game in which certain goals must be met. Many worlds now have specific mini-games of their own to complete. Additionally, fighting tournaments are also available as well. Playing through the mini-games is certainly fun and a good way to earn munny.
The second game included in this fantastic collection is Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix which was originally released on the PSP, and just like Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, it was exclusive to Japan. It includes all the updates the Final Mix version brought to the game including Critical Mode, updated cutscenes and more.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep begins with Terra, Aqua and Ventus — three Keyblade wielders and close friends who were training in the Land of Departure to become Keyblade Masters under Master Eraqus.
The game features three different scenarios, with each scenario revolving around one of the three main characters. The gameplay of each scenario varies based on the personalities and abilities of each character such as power, speed and magic.
While Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is just a cinematic retelling of the original game with no form of gameplay whatsoever, it’s still enjoyable as it offers high quality visuals and a new perspective even if you already have played the original port. Additional secret scenes are shown as well, especially one that hints of the re-release of a recent Kingdom Hearts installment.
Just with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, you will be offered dozen of hours of story accompanied with great gameplay, and if you’re a perfectionist who likes to completely beat their games, then you will have hours to no end of fun. Not to mention that the games are worth replaying even after you beat it as they will offer higher difficulties to complete. Include Birth by Sleep and you will be covered for a long time.
For the price tag, you can’t go wrong with this game. As a matter of fact, the game could have your average games’ price tag and it would be absolutely fine.
I am pleased on how Square Enix handled these HD remasters, starting from Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, then Final Fantasy X – X-2 HD and finally Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix. It’s truly a dearly beloved collection.