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Kingdom Hearts Struggles to Find Its Place on the Switch

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Kingdom Hearts Switch Cloud version

What’s better than playing Kingdom Hearts on a PlayStation or Xbox platform or PC? Kingdom Hearts it on one of those other options and the Switch. In many circles, Kingdom Hearts coming to the Switch was long discussed. Considering the series began 20 years ago and has been available on seemingly every new generation of consoles, it makes sense that a Nintendo release would be the next step. What came as a bit of surprise, though, was that installments would arrive on the Switch as Cloud-based games. Rather than downloading them to your system, you play a streamed version that just isn’t as reliable as having the game directly on it, ready to play whenever and wherever.

Square Enix divided the games into three packages – Kingdom Hearts – HD: 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind DLC. However, I didn’t pick a single one up until the day one patch had been out, so I could ideally play the optimal versions. As it turns out, it was still a frustrating task and waiting for the patch didn’t matter all that much.

Kingdom Hearts Switch Cloud version

The Good

The accessibility that comes with the Switch versions is great. As is the ability to play an entire series on a console that’s newer and in the hands of millions. This is a nostalgia grab that works. Even I’ll admit that watching the Kingdom Hearts opening again and listening to “Simple and Clean” almost had me hooked. There’s also something nice about seeing the games that defined gaming for you get newer console releases and upgrades. It’s validating when the things important to you receive some love.

For the most part, the opening movies for each game looked great. Outside of the release weekend, I didn’t experience much stuttering or lag during them. The more recently released games also seemed to be the most consistent, in terms of gameplay. Gameplay wasn’t perfect, mind you, but it definitely became more playable after that initial launch period. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can say regarding the benefits of these games on the Switch.

The Not So Good

The biggest problem with Kingdom Hearts on the Switch goes back to the Cloud service. Even after the patch, the games can lag depending on the state of the server or, more importantly, the state of your internet. Losing connection as you play means losing any progress you’ve made. These are old games. Which means there isn’t a guaranteed autosave to cover you if your internet decides to go out or stutter. Related to that is the fact that you can’t pause the game and put your Switch in sleep mode for a minute or let it go to sleep on its own. I often play games as I’m multitasking, and letting my system fall asleep while I take a break is something I do often.

I also love having a Switch simply because it gives me the ability to play games freely no matter where I am. The Cloud takes those options away completely. Time with the games is tethered to a strong internet connection and play sessions that lack freedom.

Connection and Cloud issues aside, even movement was off in a lot of the games. Trying to jump and run around was awkward. Hitting combos and finishing moves during fights felt oddly slow. I’ve played the Kingdom Hearts games on other consoles, and I know the controls sometimes feel weightless. This was different. It felt like a system struggling to keep up with inputs.

Kingdom Hearts Switch Cloud version

Really, I didn’t enjoy my time playing any of the games. I don’t believe they’re worth the time and money they require, and I doubt I’ll ever pick them up again. Regardless, I can see a lot of people looking for that nostalgic experience wanting these ports. Square Enix has been able to successfully port the series multiple times for a reason. When it comes to a beloved series, a lot of fans will understandably buy it whenever, and however, they can. The Cloud versions also give those without access to the other console releases a chance to finally play Kingdom Hearts. But again, I can’t say this is the version of the game new players should start with or one long-time fans should settle for. Plus, if something doesn’t work as well as it should, is it accessible? Not really.

Kingdom Hearts – HD: 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind DLC are currently available on the Nintendo Switch as Cloud Versions. A complete edition that includes all three collections, titled Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece, is also available.

Dani Maddox
Dani is a writer and podcaster from the East Coast who cared about games enough to make a career out of analyzing and playing them. If she isn't waxing poetic about the latest indie release, you can always find her knee-deep in a sleuthing RPG.