Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX Review: A gorgeous love letter to Kingdom Hearts fans
- Posted September 10th, 2013 at 09:01 EDT by Kyle Prahl
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Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX is the best HD collection yet produced, a passion-fueled love letter to patient fans, and a visually arresting introduction to characters, worlds, and gameplay that deserve every beautiful pixel.
- Gorgeous in 1080p
- Attention to detail in remaster
- Final Mix content
- 358/2 Days: Why is it here?
- Chain of Memories remaster is less impressive
In these aspirations, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX is an absolute triumph and a technical marvel. Not content with merely upressing old games and adding trophy support, Square Enix pored over the original game with microscopic attention. Edges are smoothed. Textures are repainted with more detail to complement 1080p high definition, and in 1080p, the game's colors and cartoon aesthetic are astonishing. New face textures and subtle physics tweaks are the handiwork of artisans, not developers. Even controls have undergone subtle (yet, radical) improvements. Sora seems to move in more tightly defined directions, easing some frustrations with platforming. All context-sensitive abilities, from Strike Raid to Ragnarok, have been moved to the Triangle button, no longer buried at the bottom of your action menu.
But the biggest change of all is the camera. In 2002's Kingdom Hearts, the right analog stick was delegated to action menu navigation while horizontal camera control was handled by L2 and R2. Embracing modern game design and its own innovations, Square has seen fit to place all camera control on the right analog stick. Left, right, up (!), and down (!)--the right stick is sensitive to tender touches, sudden jabs, and everything in-between. The camera moves with a perfect balance between tight precision and slippery momentum, and the ability to look up and down opens new possibilities for exploration and combat. Veteran players will be surprised, even disoriented, by the range of motion, different camera speeds, and new viewing angles, but an hour or two is all it takes for the change to be freeing. I was the most vocal critic of the right analog camera in the months leading up to release; in the original game, I loved that I could use the right stick instead of the D-pad for Items, Magic, and Summons. But I've come around to adoring the new camera control, even if there's no option to revert to the alternative. It's a testament to pitch-perfect execution that I can be convinced any change to my all-time favorite game is a good one.
Indeed, Kingdom Hearts has undergone many changes in its remastering for this collection, not the least of which is its actual identity. You see, the version of the original Kingdom Hearts that appears in HD 1.5 ReMIX is not, in fact, the version I grew up with. This is a remaster of Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, the Japan-exclusive edition that built upon the original release with a host of additions and alterations too extensive for summary here. From Heartless palette swaps to treasure location changes, from additional Gummi Ship missions to altered character progression tracks, the Final Mix changes are, like many things in HD 1.5 ReMIX, subtle, yet impactful. And the more times you've played the original game, the more likely you are to notice them.