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News ► KHInsider Reviews KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX-



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Sign

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KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX- was revealed last year at the Tokyo Game Show 2012, a surprise to many returning players but not to those who have actively remained in the community for all those years since the series began.

The latter had been expecting it. The secret message found at the end of the series' most recent installment, KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance] had set us up for it.

The past will be reawakened as a new number in never-before-seen detail.
Prepare yourself for the awakening of the next number.

The awakening of the next number without a doubt refers to the recently announced KINGDOM HEARTS III, but the past being reawakened in never-before-seen detail, that was undeniably the remaster. We waited eagerly at the edge of our seats to discover what changes they would make to the familiar titles that would be included; how far would they be willing to go the distance? 

However, it was especially important for the former, who had missed out in the series' expansion due to loss of interest, inability to experience the newer titles, or refusal to acknowledge that anything without a roman numeral could ever be of genuine importance to the overall story.

Nevertheless, everyone jumped at the opportunity to relive their younger years, but the introduction of the first HD remaster held more importance than many would realize. It promised to address the apparent issues that came with the constant system jumping it's made since 2009 and bring the community back together in time for the grand finale of the Xehanort Saga. 

We would like to thank Square Enix and Disney for giving us the wonderful opportunity to review Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5 ReMIX-, as well as the readers for sitting through that long introduction. Without further ado, let's get started!

 

KINGDOM HEARTS FINAL MIX

The one thing players will notice immediately is the visual enhancement. You cannot even begin to compare this title with the quality of the original, and that goes without saying because this is a remaster after all. True to the advertisements, the game has aged incredibly well, easily passing for a new title created entirely from scratch at this point in time. Assets from the original have all been replaced with their updated counterparts from more recent titles, and almost all of those that were not fortunate enough to have the upgrade were tirelessly given great care and precision to make the change. The few that have remained unchanged are few and far between, though that's not to say you won't notice the differences when placed alongside enhanced assets. It is very clear that this was one of, if not the main priority during development - this focus on the visuals above all else. 

As such, there are various imperfections that you are likely to come across over the course of the game, primarily the audio glitches and model clipping. That's right, glitches, and for those unfamiliar with the term, "clipping" is used to describe assets that cut into one another when they should have a solid mesh. It is a very widespread issue, present in both cutscenes and battles. The worst offender of this in my opinion would be the Opposite Armor that zooms around the Second District of Traverse Town. At one point, half of its body had disappeared into a wall, and provided the most distracting experience. As for the audio, you may find it cutting out briefly for several seconds, or disappearing completely altogether, causing you to reboot the game or possibly even starting over from scratch. 

And then there's the camera. Many players were excited to discover that the camera could now be controlled via the right analog, but was it really worth it? It's convenient and easy to control, but personally, I found that it had actually become worse. It follows you much more closely, but at times it may become a hassle to get it back in control when it veers off course due to quick movements. You'll also find it clipping through the models as well, whether it's a part of the environment (primarily in narrow or cramped areas) or even a party member. 

Certain commands were remapped to be initiated with the triangle button rather than scrolling to the option at the bottom of the action menu in the original. This is incredibly convenient especially after 7 years worth of new titles that utilize this function, though it does act as a double-edge sword. In the past, although it was difficult to manage, special attacks were difficult to use due to the control map, but they were clearly set for battle. This time around, you must deal with trying to time the action just right; it's easy to press Triangle, easy to launch the attack, but when you share controls with one that is ordinarily used to command party members, you will find yourself utilizing the wrong move at least once during your playthrough.

Trying to direct Donald and Goofy away from the upcoming onslaught? Whoops, I'm afraid you've just used Ragnarok instead. Now not only are you low on MP, but your friends are still in the path of Maleficent's meteor barrage. 

A fairly minor issue, but one that can come back around and bite you if you don't pay much concern to it.

The voice acting has remained unchanged from the original, a sure relief to those who thought they would bring back the actors to record over the lines again for consistency with the more recent titles. This also goes for the additional Final Mix scenes - silent in the original, silent in 1.5 Japanese and silent in 1.5 English. Animations are synced with the English version, though they have not been adjusted at all for the remaster. If you decide to play through Final Mix after Re: Chain of Memories or 358/2 Days, you may notice that the movements are stiffer in comparison, sometimes even awkwardly so.

However, if there's one thing about the series that never disappoints, it's the music, and Yoko Shimomura's rearranged tunes performed by gaQdan is beyond impressive. It really is true that nothing can beat the real deal, and although we'll miss the synths we've grown so familiar with in the past decade, these lovely songs had well deserved their own remaster.  

The downside of Final Mix is that although it has the most improvements, it also suffers from the most issues. Hopefully they may be patched somewhere along the line, but if not, let us rejoice that the game that spawned much frustration, agitation and fear from region-exclusive content has finally arrived on western shores, and make the best of it!

Rating: 7/10

 

KINGDOM HEARTS Re: Chain of Memories

As someone who has experienced the title previously, there honestly isn't very much to say. Of the three titles included in 1.5, Re: Chain of Memories is the most unchanged from its original release. No doubt this doesn't come as a surprise to many; this title was the first to begin utilizing updated assets from previous installments, and those that appeared in newer titles were updated accordingly from these as a foundation. 

The most notable changes are the new cards that you can obtain upon completing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and 358/2 Days, as well as revamped user interface and the visual upgrade. However, these cards only apply to the titles within the remaster, and feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity as they could have included characters from later installments while remaining true to the underlying theme of the game as well as the concept of cards created from memories.

It would have also been a nice little promotion for the second remaster, if new players come across these different characters and aren't sure why they would appear on these cards, encouraging them to continue playing to learn more.

The scenes are still synced with the Japanese voices, and little of the music exclusive to Re:CoM have been lucky enough to receive a new arrangement and recording, which is a little jarring when mixed together with the updated tracks. The distance between synths and real instruments becomes quite clear once you have been exposed to it.

I'm sure that fans in European and PAL regions will definitely enjoy the title, or maybe they won't if they were not partial to the card system all those years ago either. You have been more than patient in the past 4 years, so I hope your experiences will be nothing but pleasant. For North American fans, although there is little change from the 2008 release, perhaps you'll enjoy giving it another go. And if not, please look forward to what's to come from the team who had originally developed this title in less than a year, all that time ago.

Rating: 6/10

 

KINGDOM HEARTS 358/2 Days

I imagine this is where most players will begin after they obtain the game. If you enjoyed the original on the Nintendo DS, you will probably enjoy this as well. If you didn't, it wouldn't hurt to watch the scenes first before making your final decision.

358/2 Days takes place in the year that elapses since Sora frees Kairi's heart in Hollow Bastion to the very beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, focusing on Roxas's time in Organization XIII. Ideally, Days was meant to be completely remade and playable in the remaster, but considering the time constraints and the realization that players would rather have a brand new title altogether instead of a remake, they opted for nearly 3 hours of remade scenes instead.

However, 3 hours worth of cutscenes should not be synonymous with the word "movie." You should not expect a seamless video covering every detail and event that took place. Days follows a chapter-based system; certain events are taken from select days throughout the game and reimagined for the viewer, who posesses the option to view them individually or all at once. However, these scenes primarily focus on the three main characters: Roxas, Axel and Xion.

In the original title, Roxas would be able to interact with other members of the Organization as well as various Disney characters he would happen to meet during his missions. Almost all of these moments have been reduced to stand-still journal entries with a visual in the background. Many important events and pieces of dialogue have also been cut, such as Saix trying to prevent Roxas from defecting from the Organization and Xemnas alluding to Ventus' slumber.

Of course it goes without saying that there is a huge improvement over the original. The textures are clean and detailed while still remaining true to the series' unique art style, and the careful attention to subtle movements, gestures and expressions is always present. Models are still, on occasion, plagued by the infamous "fish face" - low poly models with animated facial textures. It's not as jarring as it's been in the past, but every now and then you'd find a character or two staring out into space even when they are the focus of the scene. Also, because the scenes have remained synced with the original Japanese dub, in English, characters do fall prey to the awkward pauses during dialogue. 

What actually surprised me most about the Days theater was the vast improvement in regards to the acting! Not that actors performed poorly in the past, mind you, but there were a few that had cause for concern as we either haven't been exposed to in several years or merely haven't appeared enough to be able to properly judge. I was very pleased to discover that it was just about on point all across the board, though you may have difficulty adjusting to certain characters since it has been several years since we last saw them. The voices they create for the characters in some cases are no longer the same as that from their original appearance.

Two actors in particular that I want to talk about are Jesse McCartney and Alyson Stoner. Jesse McCartney's perfomance is just about flawless; it's a real treat to be able to witness the growth of the Roxas he gives life to; from Roxas joining the Organization just after his birth to his most traumatic and emotionally-strained experiences. Alyson Stoner's Xion is pleasing to the ears; her perfomance is calming, easy to listen to. She starts off rather awkward, and it's understandable as Xion only begins to break out of her shell, speaking as though it is unfamiliar and her mouth doesn't know what to do. Like Roxas, she begins to speak more confidently as time goes by, and balances well with him.

I'm afraid the script leaves something to be desired in comparison to the original, as they were very limited in having to accomodate for the lip syncing. As such, we had to sacrifice such gems as "Do you always have to stare at me like I just drowned your goldfish?" The liberties that were taken with localization are gone, though I suppose the script is now closer to that of the Japanese version, which some players may appreciate.

All in all, it definitely doesn't grant the player the same information as they would have from playing through on the DS, but it makes due with what they have. 358/2 Days is a treasure trove of information, and they were still able to cram in the bulk of the important content, albeit sacrificing development for certain characters and the flow of the plot. However, their efforts were not made in vain, and fans of the series or characters may be able to sit back and enjoy these three hours, no matter how broken the experience may appear to be.

RATING: 8/10

 

Overall, I'm sure we can agree that there are certain things that can be improved, had they been given enough time and resources to make it happen. That's not to say the remaster is "bad;" in fact when you compare it to others it probably ranks among the very top. It's when you evaluate the issues that were addressed in order to obtain the the final product that you realize just where things happened to fall flat. However, the team of staff made things work with what they had, and still managed to come up on top with a superb remaster. There were some hit and misses, but if perfection did exist, I can't imagine why we'd be interested in it. The flaws give us something to look forward to in the future, and we'll eagerly await to see what they've learned with this experience that can be applied to their future projects. 

KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 ReMIX: 7/10

 

Heartkeeper

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Ouch, I was expecting something more positive, but I guess the game itself don't allow it, too bad, let's hope they fix the technical problems for 2.5.
 

SORA619

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Thank you for the review!

I saw in the forms that a lot of people are experiencing the sound problems which is a shame. I don't mind thought because it will wait the the shelf for sometime. I will wait for an update too. I'm looking forward playing RE:CoM especially because we only got the GBA edition here in EU. Can't wait for 2.5 to be released. Am I being to hasty?:cool:
 

Sign

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Ouch, I was expecting something more positive, but I guess the game itself don't allow it, too bad, let's hope they fix the technical problems for 2.5.

I think that's a general misconception that as fansites, we're obligated to give the games more praise than negativity. (Honestly my score was originally a bit lower than it is now, but I was sabotaged by adorable staff).

It's a great game, but the issues are present and do need to be acknowledged.

Thank you for the review!

I saw in the forms that a lot of people are experiencing the sound problems which is a shame. I don't mind thought because it will wait the the shelf for sometime. I will wait for an update too. I'm looking forward playing RE:CoM especially because we only got the GBA edition here in EU. Can't wait for 2.5 to be released. Am I being to hasty?:cool:

Not at all! Most of the excitement is for 2.5, so it's difficult to keep being excited for 1.5 when KH2FM and BBSFM are looming over the horizon.
 

Nazo

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Being a diehard fanboy of KH, I know I'll give this a 10. After all, I consider every game in the series a ten so this is just a remaster of games that I already consider tens. Aside from any potential glitches that I'd run into, this game is going to be one of favorirtes of all time
 

NecroSLayer17

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Wow, I was expecting at least a 9/10 but I understand a lot of the issues. Overall, I'm just glad that this wasn't biased. Thanks for giving us a good, honest review.
 

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I feel like, for all the issues you had with it, 8 is a little generous for a final score. Nonetheless, a great review, thank you!
 

Lea

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Ideally, Days was meant to be completely remade and playable in the remaster, but considering the time constraints and the realization that players would rather have a brand new title altogether instead of a remake, they opted for nearly 3 hours of remade scenes instead

Didn't know this. Bit of a shame. Would have loved to have every game playable on the Playstation 3. (Granted, that being if they make all of the games in 2.5 HD ReMIX playable, which I'm not counting on.) I feel like Days would have been an awesome console game. Would have loved to visit Neverland on the Playstation 3 haha.

Thanks for the honest review! Really refreshing to see that not all fansites give biased reviews. Could someone explain to me though why Birth By Sleep will be included in the 2.5 HD ReMIX? Considering the fact that BBS takes place even before KH1 timeline-wise?
 

Sign

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I feel like, for all the issues you had with it, 8 is a little generous for a final score. Nonetheless, a great review, thank you!

My final score was a 7 though xD

In regards to Days which did receive an 8, I had to give much consideration to the different factors that affected development, and in the end, I had to acknowledge their efforts and results as being greater than that of my nitpicking. They achieved their goals as intended, even though they realized over the course of development that it didn't quite work out as well as they had expected.

Nomura actually said that they didn't think it'd end up being 3 hours, and that if they had realized, they should have just made a "movie" out of it to begin with, rather than disjointed scenes and transitions.

They tried, and I was really expecting a lot out of it (honestly because I don't like any iteration of Days but Amano's manga variation). I feel like if I did tear it apart, it would have been really unfair to completely undermined their efforts in making it.
 
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ShardofTruth

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My biggest gripe with the 358/2 Days "movie" is that it doesn't feature any actual fight scene, not even the most important boss scenes with Xion for example, the ending just doesn't make any sense without it.
 

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Read through the review and in my experience, I did not get any of the glitches mentioned when I played the Japanese version, although I'm not sure how much difference there is between them and I'd wager there are little to none. Personally, I'd have given KHFM an 8/10, Re:CoM an 8.5/10 and Days an 8/10, with an overall score of 9/10. Like I said, I barely got any glitches so my experience wasn't hindered.
 

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"The flaws give us something to look forward to in the future"

Not sure what the point of that is. It's not like they're going to do another remaster of these games. Any flaws there are now, we're stuck with em.
 

Sign

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"The flaws give us something to look forward to in the future"

Not sure what the point of that is. It's not like they're going to do another remaster of these games. Any flaws there are now, we're stuck with em.

I felt that line of reasoning would have been very shallow to mention. "Oh, they've made all these mistakes, now I'm stuck with them forever. This is a horrible remaster." Isn't that such a negative note to end on?

Just like we've been seeing with each of the recent titles, Team Osaka has been learning with each installment and applying the knowledge they've obtained to new projects. I figured it was obvious that they would do the same, learning from 1.5 and utilizing it to benefit 2.5.
 
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SORA619

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Hey Sign, I forgot to ask you these on my first comment so here here they are.

Did they give you an artbook too? Was there any secret message inside or after you cleared the games?
 

Xagzan

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Ohh, ok. I thought you also meant for these games. Well, hopefully. It's just a shame they didn't iron out all the kinks. Ugh, I'm just bummed that they saddled us with non-lip synched cutscenes again, with Days, after how awkward it was in ReCoM. And also that the script is more like the Japanese version; usually when that happens, the dialogue is painfully bland. Those "liberties" add flavor, which I don't think you get otherwise because Japanese doesn't always translate well directly into English.
 

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Vəntus;6066741 said:
Read through the review and in my experience, I did not get any of the glitches mentioned when I played the Japanese version, although I'm not sure how much difference there is between them and I'd wager there are little to none. Personally, I'd have given KHFM an 8/10, Re:CoM an 8.5/10 and Days an 8/10, with an overall score of 9/10. Like I said, I barely got any glitches so my experience wasn't hindered.

The glitches are in the NA/EU copies of the game. Not Japanese. As such, Sign's review only covers these versions of the game and no other. I didn't have any problems in my JPN copy, either, but like 20 min into my NA copy of 1.5, KHFM DI's music had gone out for a good 15 seconds and it happens every so often in other worlds from what I've heard from other early copy players.

Some even have full out no voices at all.

It is good your experience was not hindered, but you'll probably start hearing more about the audio issues soon from other people who get their game if they are not lucky.

Could someone explain to me though why Birth By Sleep will be included in the 2.5 HD ReMIX? Considering the fact that BBS takes place even before KH1 timeline-wise?

It was made post-KH2, so a lot of its story and references call back to the past games. It is best played after KH2 because of that, which is why it is 100% expected in the next collection.
 

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Idk, I have a lot of agreement and disagreement with this review. I own quite a few remastered collections (God of War Saga, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and Prince of Perisa). Of those, most are just the original games being rendered in 16:9 and 720p, which a few little improvements here and there, but for the most part all the original assets are the same. The only exceptions are Ico and Shadow of Colossus, which actually looked like they were remastered to look good in the PS3's higher resolution.

1.5, when I compare it to other remasters, really goes beyond expectations, maybe barring Re:CoM. The collection isn't made to just allow the original games to run on PS3 now, but to actually use the PS3's hardware for what the PS2 couldn't offer. Comparing it to other remasters that actual review sites scored very highly, I think it deserves a better score. Of course, you could argue that those remasters that were scored high should have just been scored lower, but I digress.
 

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I'm really disappointed to hear about the audio glitches :( I really hope they may actually patch this one, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

As for the reviews overall, I am a little curious about your score for Re:CoM. I guess since you had the least to say about it overall, but gave it the lowest score I was curious: is this the score you would have given the original version of Re:CoM or did it get a lower score for not having many improvements and the issue with the music being jarringly different?
 

Sign

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I'm really disappointed to hear about the audio glitches :( I really hope they may actually patch this one, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

As for the reviews overall, I am a little curious about your score for Re:CoM. I guess since you had the least to say about it overall, but gave it the lowest score I was curious: is this the score you would have given the original version of Re:CoM or did it get a lower score for not having many improvements and the issue with the music being jarringly different?

Since my review pertains only to the circumstances surrounding the remaster alone, I gave it a lower score because I had little to say. It's Re:CoM. I played and own both the GBA original and the PS2 remake and they're all great and I loved the experiences, but in the case of the remaster, it's just sort of... there. I appreciate the changes they've made but it might as well have been completely untouched.

The greater benefit of the game is for the EU and PAL regions where it was never released, but for anyone who did play the originals, it doesn't do much and I'm honestly rather indifferent to it. If I were to rate Re:CoM back when it released in 2008 it'd of course have received a higher score, but honestly at this day and age I just don't think it deserves more than a fairly low "neutral".
 

FudgemintGuardian

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Thanks for the review.
As bummed as I am about a the little glitches an' things you mentioned it still looks like a good buy.
One thing I don't understand about the 358/2 Days cutscenes is why didn't they just do speech bubble cutscenes instead of those journal entries and why did they cut those scenes of Saix and Xemnas?
 
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