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
Re:Chain of Memories, the second game in HD 1.5 ReMIX, adds a few wrinkles. A chronological sequel to Kingdom Hearts and a main series spin-off, Chain of Memories complicated the Kingdom Hearts battle system with cards that represent every action in battle. A number 7 Keyblade card, when played (again, in real-time) will execute an attack and defeat any enemy card of less value. A number 8 Blizzard card cast by the enemy will interrupt that same attack. The visuals are familiar, as you're still freely running and dodging in real-time, attacking and defending when appropriate. But battles in Re:Chain of Memories demand more presence of mind; you must understand not only where the Heartless are and what they're doing, but what cards are coming next in your customizable deck and how you can best play them to counteract enemy strategies. Sleights (card combos with special effects), Friend Cards, deck reload times, and card values are all unique things to consider in this collection's second adventure.
The story of how Chain of Memories has evolved is a complex one. The original Chain of Memories released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004; this incarnation looked and felt very different from the PS2 remake that came much later, in 2008. The game's complexity was originally designed for top-down, linear battle stages with 2D sprites. Translated to 3D environments that require lock-ons and camera control, the battle system gets very hard, very quickly. Since it's the PS2 remake, not the GBA original, that's HD-ified and remastered in this collection, first-time players should be warned: the hit-things-until-they-die strategy that more or less works in Kingdom Hearts simply will not fly here. That's not to say Re:Chain of Memories is unbeatable, nor even unenjoyable. Rather, first-timers should expect a very different beast with Re:Chain of Memories, one that, for its enigmatic characters and crucial story, takes gameplay missteps that its GBA progenitor did not.
Then again, Re:Chain of Memories was always a series oddball. Objectively, the game's dialogue, voice acting, graphics, and music were never quite as good or polished as the main installments (and it's super weird to hear post-puberty Haley Joel Osment voicing Sora's younger character model), but like with Final Mix, Square Enix has done an admirable job of touching up a colorful PS2 game to look gorgeous in high-definition. There's more aliasing and artifacts during cutscenes, and the opening cinematic is significantly less polished than Kingdom Hearts' opening, but, by and large, the game's production values have been ramped up appropriately to fit the outstanding technical quality of this collection. It's abundantly clear that Square approached everything in HD 1.5 ReMIX with a scrutinizing eye for details that needed improvement.