Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix: It’s Good To See Sora Again

By Jenni . September 16, 2013 . 11:15am

I’ve missed Sora, Donald and Goofy. Sure, there have been plenty of Kingdom Hearts installments over the years. Some good, like Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. And true, Re:coded and 358/2 Days leaned more towards mediocre, but there’s something special about the main, numbered installments of the series. While other games may be good, they’re never nearly as good as an official Kingdom Hearts game, and I’ll admit, it took Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix to help me remember that.


Think of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix as the cadillac of Kingdom Hearts games. It’s a package encapsulating Kingdom Hearts beginning’s, following Sora and his companions through Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories. I’m hesistant to also say it goes through Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, but I’ll get to that later.


The best place to begin is the beginning, and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix has a splendid one. All HD adventures begin with a tweaked and perfected romp through Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, the better version of Kingdom Hearts that was, until this collection, locked in Japan. If we had just gotten an HD remake of that alone, this collection would have been worth purchasing. This is the upgraded tale of Sora’s start as a keyblade master, as he first came to Traverse Town, befriended Donald and Goofy, and became a hero in the hopes of saving his dear friend, Kairi.


It’s notable because Kingdom Hearts Final Mix had a bevy of additional content that we originally didn’t get to see, and now we can. There are new bosses and enemies, two more ultimate weapons for Sora, Donald and Goofy, new abilities and accessories, and a few extra cutscenes. I’ll admit, the first few I didn’t really notice. I figured that my memory was playing tricks on me. (It happens, after you turn 30.) But no, there were new scenes that I hadn’t experienced before. They weren’t revolutionary, but it was a welcome addition.


More welcome were control scheme adjustments. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix‘s version of Kingdom Hearts now plays more like Kingdom Hearts II. The battle menu is identical to the one used in Kingdom Hearts II onward, with summons available at the bottom and special actions triggered with the triangle button. I would recommend manually locking onto targets during important battles, like boss fights, as the auto-target can be a little troublesome sometimes, but the fact that the camera is now tied to the right analog stick coupled with the summons menu slot and reaction action reworking makes that easier to live with.


Naturally, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories couldn’t receive such an upgrade in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, what with its card-based battle system. As a result, the only modifications here is that the PS2 game now looks a bit prettier on the PS3. It isn’t the shining jewel in this collection, as Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing. The game has actually aged quite well, and I’ve found I appreciate the card-based battle system and finer nuances of deck building more entertaining now, than I did when I played the game on my Game Boy Advance.


Though really, it isn’t fair to compare Re: Chain of Memories to the original Kingdom Hearts. The latter is, iconic, and while the former isn’t as glorious, it does bridge a rather expansive gap between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, telling a necessary tale. The fact that it’s looking much better when it does it, this time around, is enough to merit a playthrough from those who are buying Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix just for Kingdom Hearts Final Mix.


The only thing that does give me pause about Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is the “inclusion” of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. It’s almost three hours of HD remasters of cutscenes from the DS game, with a few new, additional cutscenes, thrown in for good measure. It isn’t that they’re bad. They look beautiful, and far better than they could ever hope to look on the DS, but I wonder if Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is the best place for them. Yes, Organization XIII is introduced in Re: Chain of Memories, but Roxas never really comes up there.


If it were me, I’d think this segment more at home in a Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix collection instead, since that installment would focus more on Organization XIII and have more players searching for Roxas and Axel’s backstories. Still, if people do feel like spending about three hours, watching the movies and poring through the 358/2 Days texts, they are there to enjoy.


One thing is for sure. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is beautiful. It was a pretty game when it was on the PS2, and now that it’s been upgraded to HD glory, it looks even better. Moreover, it isn’t like some HD PS3 ports, I’m not going to name names, where the upgrade doesn’t go too well and you’re tempted to grab your old disc and system to play the first game because it somehow looked better back then. Both Kingdom Hearts and Re: Chain of Memories look markedly better.


In short, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is the game someone who loves Kingdom Hearts should own. Yes, they’re games we’ve seen before, but they’re better versions of games many of us grew up loving. Square Enix did a lovely job with these HD remasters, and the fact that the incarnation of Kingdom Hearts included is an updated version of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix makes everything even better. It’s as much fun to play as it ever was and, considering we’re getting two games in one, it’s well worth replaying and reminiscing about what once was as we wait for Kingdom Hearts III.


Food for Thought


1. I like how Square Enix has made the control scheme for Kingdom Hearts Final Mix in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix feel more like Kingdom Hearts II. It’s much smoother.


2. Yes, there is trophy support, if you go for that sort of thing. There’s a platinum trophy for both Kingdom Hearts and Re: Chain of Memories. Even the 358/2 Days movies and reports have trophies, which seems pretty ridiculous.

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  • Tg

    Since I don’t have a PS3, I said the same thing about Sora when playing through Dream Drop Distance. Good enough for me. ^_^

  • Pedro Furtado

    They included 358/2 mainly because of timeline reasons, since it goes at the same time as Chain of Memories. Roxas is also implied several times at Chain of Memories, even at the ending. It fits well in setting the stage for KH2 and I guess Nomura would want you to play it before KH2, which I find it to be a good idea since KH2 doesn’t let a lot of space for you to connect with the organization.

    • Spicydicey

      What’s interesting though is that if you play 358/3 first, you already know the twist of Roxas being Sora’s nobody. Unless I’m wrong in thinking that was ever supposed to be a secret!
      “KH2 doesn’t let a lot of space for you to connect with the organization.”
      But neither does the 358/2 movie! I’m quite disappointed with their portrayal- barely any even have any lines. I think it could of benefitted from some kind of montage of Roxas fighting alongside various Org. memebers in different worlds, just to show them off a bit more.

      • Pedro Furtado

        Good point. I was just thinking about Axel when I said that, *SPOILERS* since I thought that his death in KH2 was rathed underwhelming.

  • DesmaX

    Would be nice if they just release these separately on the PSN…

    Just so I could get that cheap 100% from 358/2 Days

    I really want to play the original KH (Missed it on the PS2), but I’m not that interessed in Re:CoM (Didn’t really like from what I’ve played)… And there’s so many games to buy, better be careful with my money

  • DesmaX

    Would be nice if they just release these separately on the PSN…

    Just so I could get that cheap 100% from 358/2 Days

    I really want to play the original KH (Missed it on the PS2), but I’m not that interessed in Re:CoM (Didn’t really like from what I’ve played)… And there’s so many games to buy, better be careful with my money

  • CptPokerface

    Ah Kingdom first real exposure to Final Fantasy characters. The very first time I played, I got wrecked by Leon in Traverse Town and destroyed by Cloud( and especially destroyed by Sephiroth) in Olympus.

    Certainly a game I never expected to have so much fun and memories with.

    • NewestType

      I use to be able to defeat leon. But not on the “Final Mix Proud Mode”.

      I may have to restart at sephiroth :(

  • xAtKx

    A good portion of my childhood right there.

    • golden izanagi

      I played this game during middle school hell I coulda swore nearly flashing back during a time I was playing this in my room upstairs in a town house I lived in when listening to the opening theme and playing through the destiny islands trying to find the stuff for the raft that was going to be built for the trio’s inter dimensional travel found myself laughing because of it man nostalgia is a crazy thing.

  • akai

    Does this game have dual audio ? If it has , I’ll buy it.

    • SunOatBoatMatadorQuattro

      It doesn’t. Only KH2 Final Mix has dual audio.

    • Of all games people want dual audio for, it has to be Kingdom Hearts.

      • RisukuAozora

        People love their dual audio. I can live without em, but it’s always nice to have both dubs.

        • I get it I guess but seriously KH jap audio sound like junk.

    • Aoshi00

      It doesn’t, but I imported 1.5 before as well.. It’s nicer to hear the Disney chars in eng though, also overall I think the eng dub is much better…

    • Ixbran

      because Disney characters sound so authentic in the japanese dub that came after their english releases in America ….

      oh wait …

    • leingod

      I usually love original japanese audio for games like these, but KH must be the only exception. Hearing Disney characters speak in japanese is just as weird as hearing japanese Darth Vader in Soul Calibur 4.

  • Revorse

    One thing that I really wish didn’t get forgotten, is how you were able to cycle through the menu with the right analog stick. i like how they mapped the camera to the right analog stick but I wished they made it so that you could hold down a shoulder button to change control back to the menu. Like they did in KH2 basically.

  • Arcana Wiz

    i must be a strange one, cause i liked BBS much more than one and slight more than two….. dont know why it just clicked on me. Even chain of memories is tied with KH1. But tastes/opinions aside i’ll definitly buy it….. when it arrives on south merica.

    • leingod

      BBS was great. I still don’t get why the hell SE hasn’t released it on the PSN store… I wanna replay it on my Vita.

  • Jonas Sampaio Santiago

    There should be a Xion card in Re: Chain of Memories… =/
    It’ll be nice if it comes as a DLC.

  • Alestaos

    Is there enough new content in the game to warrant buying its guide? Never heard or played the final mix, did they add enough to it just to get the guide for that alone? Or is it just little additions like a better narrative and cutscenes?

  • “they’re never nearly as good as an official Kingdom Hearts game”

    All that needs to be said.

  • AT-LOW

    I’ve barely finished Final Mix, but I never seen a scene of the photo shown above. How do I see it?

    • Wappuli

      The one with a moogle on top of Donald? I’m pretty sure it was from Re: Chain of Memories.

  • Notquitesure?

    358/2 days is my favourite entry, i very much disagree aginst it being ‘mediocre.’ For me it was awesome knowing how close axel was roxas and how all the stuff in KH II fit together. But can’t wait to pick this up.

    • leingod

      Can’t say it’s my favorite KH game, but I’m bummed they didn’t include the actual game there.

  • Ronldbx6

    I said I wasn’t going to pick this up due to the fact that I’ve already beaten the games multiple times but after watching it, I had a change of heart. I can’t wait to finally try final mix. That’ll give me a somewhat new experience and those fresh and crisp graphics.

  • yellowmage

    358/2 Days is included because of its place in the KH timeline: it begins near the end of the first game, much of it runs parallel to Chain of Memories, and it ends leading directly into KHII.

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