Kingdom Hearts is a franchise that has a huge fan base that has been eagerly anticipating the next game in the mash-up series from Disney and Square Enix. And while fans will have to wait longer to get the next installment in Sora and friend’s adventure, Square is re-releasing the original Kingdom Hearts game on PlayStation 3. Titled Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, the main draw for this title is the improved HD visuals and trophy support, a first for the series. Yet everything in this package is not solely the same experience long-time fans know from the PS2 days. This HD release comes packed with some extra goodies that fans of any of the games will surely appreciate.
Through the madness and fun that was PAX East 2013, I had a chance to get a preview of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix. The big positive that fans of Kingdom Hearts will love is that this version of the game is the Final Mix version originally released only in Japan. Final Mix comes with a ton of new content not included in the original US release of Kingdom Hearts, including new cutscenes that flesh out even more of the story and extend some of the game’s coolest moments. For gameplay content, a few new boss battles and some new items will keep even the most hardcore fans of the series busy for a good while.
In the demo I was shown during PAX East, I was treated to a look at the Atlantic level from The Little Mermaid. The HD visual makeover did wonders for a lot of the set pieces within the level, a lot of the colorful aspects from the original game were enhanced and looked fantastic. Seeing Sora and company battle the Heartless in full HD was pretty cool even though it was something I had seen many times before. Heartless enemies looked just as good as they had before, one neat fact for this version of the game is that a few extra baddies will be scattered throughout that are unique to Final Mix. Another interesting fact is that some of the music tracks have been remixed to sound better in the HD release, something I immediately noticed in the demo shown outside of the visual overhaul.
Some of my biggest concerns and questions I had about Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix were the handling of the trophies included for the game. Since Kingdom Hearts has never been on a current generation console until now, I was interested in learning about what players could expect when going for that Platinum trophy. While a lot details could not be elaborated on in regards to specific trophies, I was assured that many of the task that players experienced in the original release will more than likely be similar when trophy hunting, including all of the new content that comes from Final Mix. Guess this means finding all 101 Dalmatians and Trinity Spots, beating the game on proud difficulty, and defeating Sephiroth in the Coliseum will all be feats players will have to accomplish along the way to a Platinum trophy.
Yet this HD collection goes beyond the original Kingdom Hearts game, the package also includes Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories HD and cutscenes from Kingdom Hearts 358/2. And while RE: Chain of Memories is a full HD release of the remake from PS2, the content from 358/2 is solely the story cutscenes, not the full game that was original on Nintendo DS. I was not shown anything from RE: Chain of Memories in the demo, nor did I see anything from 358/2, but was assured that a lot of the same energy being put into Final Mix was also going towards the other parts of this HD release. Trophy support will also be included for RE: Chain of Memories, but not much of anything was elaborated on in my experience with the demo, other than to expect similar treatment as Final Mix. However in trailers that have been shown prior to PAX East, the content from both RE: Chain of Memories and 358/2 looked real good in HD.
It is no secret that Kingdom Hearts fans are thirsty for a brand new title and continuation of the main story for the series. And while this HD collection is filled with games that hardcore fans have already played many times over, the inclusion of trophy support for both main titles and new version of the game from Japan are welcomed additions that will keep everyone busy for a while. It is a shame that the full gam for 358/2 will not be included in this package, but giving everyone the full story is better than not including anything from the title at all, newcomers to the franchise will definitely appreciate this. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix will be out in Fall of 2013.