22 September 2014

Standard

Now posting here our review on the PS3 title to be released on 2nd October by Square Enix: KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 2.5 ReMIX-.

The title Kingdom Hearts -HD 2.5 ReMIX- is comprised of HD remasters of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix for PS2, and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix for PSP. Other goodies include a cinematic version of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, trophy support, and the reward of a custom PS3 theme after completing the game.

We, both writers fans of the series, will now present reviews of all three titles: Kingdom Hearts II Final MixKingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. With Kingdom Hearts III on the way, whether you are a newcomer to the series or an old fan, we definitely recommend this title!

KINGDOM HEARTS II FINAL MIX REVIEW (Staff writer: Suzutaku)

> Let’s begin that summer vacation once more…

“Looks like my summer vacation is over…” Wait, I didn’t actually get a summer vacation *sadness*. Hello, huge Kingdom Hearts fan and staff writer Suzutaku here. At long last, the release date of Kingdom Hearts -HD 2.5 ReMIX- is less than a month away! Kingdom Hearts II was released in 2005. The extra features-sporting Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ was released in 2007… and now, seven years on, the HD remastered Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix makes its debut!
As I recently had the absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to play this game early, I will first give my review of one of the three titles, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. By the way, I recommend that those who are playing the three works in this title for the first time start with this one~!
This title updates the standard definition of the original to high definition. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting how much just upping the image quality would change my impression during play.  The characters and backgrounds etc. during cutscenes are of course more vivid, and I was impressed by how much sharper the icons of Sora and Roxas’ faces that display in the bottom right of the screen had become. Kingdom Hearts II will always make me think of Roxas’ unforgettable, heartbreaking summer vacation prologue, and seeing that story anew in HD graphics had me tearing up even worse…
Now, there doesn’t seem to be any new abilities or updated controls on top of the HD remastering. I think fans who have played the original version in the past will enjoy the same feeling of the controls. Also, a point that I highly recommend is the remixed BGM! Fans of the series, please look forward to getting to hear an even more magnificent form of Yoko Shimomura’s music ♪
> The Lingering Will might be even tougher than the PS2 version!?
If I were to think of the big characteristics of the Kingdom Hearts series, I would say adventuring through Disney worlds and battles where simple controls unleash flashy action. Both those factors are in top form in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix; over ten Disney Worlds appear during the story, and during battles drive forms and reaction commands and the like are used for exhilarating, dynamic action. These look even more attractive in HD, with the details of character’s expression changes and battle effects shining through even better.

And, as I am sure you haven’t forgotten, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix introduced many new strong enemies to battle! During my playthrough for the purpose of this review I didn’t have time to fight every enemy, but I did try challenging the Lingering Will.

The result was… I got thrashed miserably *sweats*. I’d fought him over and over back in the PS2 version, so I thought I had the moves down, but I must be out of practice. The HD remastering allows you to see the enemy moves with even more clarity, so maybe I was a wigged out by the somewhat renewed intensity of my foe. In the end, after nearly 20 tries I still hadn’t beaten the Lingering Will, but then I remembered that there were all the Organisation XIII data battles too, and couldn’t stop trembling with excitement, haha.

There are various other mini-games included in this title such as the gummi ship and Mushroom XIII, which even on this speedrun were outstanding. Back in the day I played the PS2 version through and through to exhaustion, and there’s no doubt I will devote myself to this HD version just as much… no, even more!

KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep FINAL MIX REVIEW (Staff writer: ZSato)

> You had better understand this title if you want to get the most out of Kingdom Hearts III 

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, one of the titles included in Kingdom Hearts -HD 2.5 ReMIX-, is a HD remastered, renewed version of a title released in January 2011 boasting even more beautiful graphics and easier controls. I, ZSato, will be reviewing this work.

The original title, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (BbS), had big expectations on its shoulders as a depiction of the unfolding battle of the warriors of the key that that surprised fans in the secret movie at the end of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. And, of course, with the plot set in the earliest period of any in the series so far, and the three episodes expanding for three protagonists, it attracted a lot of attention even before release.

On top of that, as a title chock-full of keywords crucial to illuminating the mysteries of the series, I believe that you had better understand this title if you want to get the most out of the the latest title we are waiting to see completed, Kingdom Hearts III.

First, the graphics have received a major upgrade thanks to the HD remastering. Everything on screen looks crisp and clear, and I made my way through the adventure feeling like I was turning pages in a vibrant, colourful picture book. It seems that all kinds of shading and gradation has been readjusted. Metal, rocks, cloth, veils – from hard things to soft things, I got the impression that everything was represented in minute detail.
I can confirm reliably that Terra’s eyelashes are indeed as long as I had heard. (Check it out when he tilts his head up in Enchanted Dominion!). Also, the effects produced by magic and special attacks and to make particular scenes so beautiful are even more gorgeous. I really felt the improved quality of both action and cutscenes.

> Being able to use the right stick in the HD version is more comfortable than the PSP version controls

Moving on, I was interested in some aspects of the controls. The camera is no longer rotated using L and R but with the multidirectional right stick, and locking on and off and shotlock only requires the L1 button. While the basic controls are standard for Kingdom Hearts, there are some parts that have been made even easier to play, and I was able to control it comfortably.

I was a little sad that we are no longer able to do link-up play in the Mirage Arena, but a ‘Bonus Challenge’ feature has been added to Arena Mode which allows you to enjoy it just fine by yourself. In Bonus Challenge there are several bonus requirements, such as Time Attack and Cure Challenge (in which there’s a limit on how many times you may restore your HP), and clearing these earns you medals which you can exchange at the Medal Shop for rare items. It’s pretty tough, so I recommend taking the challenge after having first played through the game.

As the base game was Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, content-wise there are many elements that weren’t in KH BbS such as the ‘battle with the Mysterious Man’ and the ‘secret episode’ upping the volume. You can choose from four difficulty levels – Beginner Mode, Standard Mode, Proud Mode and Critical Mode. The difficulty level you play affects the conditions necessary to unlock the secret movie, where the harder the level the easier it is to see the secret movie.

You may be wanting to play even one difficulty level higher just to see the secret movie, but even on Standard Mode you’ll see Game Over if you’re not prepared! So, I think it’s better to choose the level that best matches your own skill. I centred this review on the main points of difference, but I did like the overall feel too. This is a must for series newcomers, and highly recommended for the old hands who want to review the plot ready for Kingdom Hearts III!

KINGDOM HEARTS Re:coded REVIEW (Staff Writer: Suzutaku)

>  A huge, 3 hour long fully voiced HD cinematic work 

Hello hello, it’s me again, Suzutaku! Following on from my Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix review, I will now present to you my review on Kingdom Hearts Re:coded… and before I do, let’s quickly go over the original title.

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded was based on a mobile phone game released in 2009 called Kingdom Hearts CodedKingdom Hearts Re:coded was later born as a remake for the Nintendo DS in 2010. What is included in Kingdom Hearts -HD 2.5 ReMIX- is a cinematic work of that Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.

The plot is set after Kingdom Hearts II, and the scenario involves a little content from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, so order-wise I think it’s best to play (watch) it after going through those.

Now then, since they went to the trouble of making this cinematic work I watched the whole volume back to back, and whoa~ there was a lot in there, haha. On top of the hour or so of scenes from the original version two hours of new scenes have been added, which means it is a close to three hour long HD cinematic – there’s no way it wasn’t going to be impressive!

You can think of the way the video playback works as the same as Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days from Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5 ReMIX-. You can have it play from beginning to end, and you can also watch any scene you like from the chapter screen (you can also jump to the previous and next scenes during playback). Scenes you have viewed once are colour coded on the chapter screen, so it’s very easy to tell which cutscenes you have yet to watch.

By the way, there are ‘summary scenes’ consisting of stills+text that play between cinematics that let you make sure of the plot developments, but this text is read out for you by King Mickey! The work done to make it fully voiced by Kingdom Hearts characters to the very end is impressive.

> A wonderful reward for those who watch all the cutscenes…?

I completed the DS version of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, so I was aware of how the story went, but watching the whole work as a cinematic like this let me relish it afresh. Being able to enjoy the sequences of Sora visiting Disney worlds, encountering disasters in those lands, fighting enemies and destroying bugs as a voiced cinematic was very engrossing. Scenes that were dialogue-box only in the original version have been voiced, which I think lets you empathise with the characters even more.

If I were to hold up a highlight from among the cinematics, I would have to say the battle scenes. Not every single combat section from the original version has been turned into a cinematic, but you can feel the effort they put into creating battle scenes for all the important points. The battles in Olympus Coliseum and Hollow Bastion in particular were so speedy and stylish that I didn’t want to blink! Also, personally, the scene in Wonderland had me grinning (listen carefully to Sora’s lines).

In the DS version of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded there was a secret movie that was a pull towards KH 3D [Dream Drop Distance], which is of course included in this title too. Furthermore, and this is between you and us, but if you look at all the cutscenes you’ll see there’s a second secret movie… It’s a completely new cutscene of content that’s a must-see for fans, so please check it out with your own two eyes!
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