It has been 11 years since I first played Kingdom Hearts and my love for this game has only grown stronger. Merging Final Fantasy with Disney was one thing Square-Enix absolutely did right over the past decade or so.
Square-Enix was able to pick up a huge new audience to fill the void left by angry Final Fantasy fans who felt like the series had changed too much from the old days.
The entire Kingdom Hearts franchise revolves around the idea that there are multiple “worlds” that make up the universe; and each of these worlds are a different Disney movie. Sora, the main character lives happily on a small island with his best friend Riku and his childhood crush Kairi until disaster strikes. This event forces Sora to leave his world when he finds out that the universe is in danger and he is the only one who can save it because he has become the “Keyblade wielder”. The Keyblade is a sword that takes the form of a key. He teams up with Donald Duck, a magician, and Goofy, a knight, in the epic quest to find his lost friends and save the universe from an unknown force. They have to travel from Disney world to Disney world to lock them all up with the Keyblade.
This review is about the HD remake of the original Kingdom Hearts on PlayStation 2 that is included in the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix package. I tried playing it in standard definition just to check how great the HD improvements were, and to say they were phenomenal would be an understatement. This game is not the same game we saw here in the west, however, it is actually the Kingdom Hearts Final Mix edition which was only released in Japan and comes with extra cutscenes and content. I cannot stress enough just how beautiful this game is. From the opening cutscene, to the endless battles against the “heartless”, all the way to the final cutscene, it pops off the screen in amazing HD quality. Though, if you are really picky, like me, there are several times during a cutscene where they just did not bother to make some facial expressions in HD, which was quite odd in my opinion. You could go from someone’s face being completely HD one scene, to the next scene where all of a sudden their face is pixelated; looking like it is on a PS2 again. This however did not change the fact that the game as a whole was astoundingly beautiful.
The gameplay holds up to the same fun and intuitive fighting system most of us came to know and love many years ago. There is a list of options in the bottom left corner that include Attack, Magic, Items, and Summon. You use the D-Pad to go up and down this menu and click X to use the one you want. It is a very fun battle system once you start to add combos and different magic spells into it.
Your Gummi ship is used as a form of travel from world to world. The Gummi ship part of the game can be annoying to some people, but very fun to others. I happened to fall in the very fun group, because I loved flying my little ship around and shooting asteroids and enemy ships. It is like an old arcade game where you just go around in a circle while constantly moving forward towards enemies, continuously firing your lasers forward. After a while you can design your own Gummi ship with bigger and badder weapons and armor. Building your own ship can be a difficult and time consuming process if you want to make it pretty and strong however.
The Verdict: 9.0 out of 10
This game is a must buy for any original Kingdom Hearts fan, like myself, and for anyone who is looking for a good action RPG or just wants to find a good entry into the long Kingdom Hearts series. It is everything the first game is, but in HD and with extra content including trophy support. The colors are bright and pop off the screen. The story is fantastic, even though at times it can be confusing. You can expect around 15-20 hours of solid gameplay your first time through the story. Now go and save those Disney worlds you fools!