Including Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (HD cinematics), Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded (HD cinematics) in one bundle, you can’t go wrong in picking this up — you can take a deep breath, though! Whether you’re a returning fan or a newcomer to the series, Kingdom Hearts will envelop you in its magical wonder as you meet familiar faces and traverse fantastical worlds, and you’ll be so wrapped up in its tales that by the time you’re finished, you’ll be joining the masses who are eagerly awaiting Kingdom Hearts III.
Other than 2.8 which features Dream Drop Distance – the furthest the series has come in terms of story – you can catch up with over a decade’s worth of Kingdom Hearts with this collection. A rollercoaster of emotions await you as you join Sora, a chosen Keyblade user, and his friends as they battle to save the world from being plunged into darkness. It can get a little convoluted and I’d recommend not trying to explain it to your loved ones, but the colourful, expansive cast, its heart-warming story of hope and friendship, and its emphasis on characters and worlds from beloved series makes Kingdom Hearts easy to get into despite its rich, long legacy. This is one for adults and kids alike!
Gameplay remains consistently good across all titles, although I’m not a big fan of Chain of Memories — this one is card-based, but it fit its Gameboy Advance roots better as a 2D title rather than a 3D one. Regardless, it’s a nice addition to have and slots nicely into the series’ overall story. The later games undeniably control better and introduce a few more mechanics to make the game all the more engaging, but they’re otherwise all ARPGs where you’ll be battling and managing your items and spells simultaneously — this is easier than it sounds, and avoids becoming cumbersome. Each game lasts a fairly long time and it’s easy to clock in a couple dozen hours or so across each title, and there’s plenty of side content to keep you busy if you’re yearning for more — as a bundle, you won’t find many games that’ll offer you as much bang for buck as this collection does.
Despite their age, the Kingdom Hearts games’ aesthetic still stands strong today and the 3D models have seen some improvement. Sure, they do show that they’re a decade or so old now, but they look great for a bunch of games originally released on PS2 and DS. Smooth framerates, an abundance of creativity and some of my favourite Disney and Final Fantasy characters coming together is still amazing — who ever thought this would happen until it happened? What a wonderful collaboration! The HD films benefit most from improvements and they’re stitched along nicely, making for a couple of fun watches — I’m glad they took this route as the DS games would’ve required re-creating fully, and it beats not having them at all.
Music and voice-acting has always been strong in the series and still holds up today, with the likes of Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, Hayden Panettiere, Willa Holland and Disney favourites Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo and Bill Farmer breathing further life into memorable Disney characters. A few really big names such as Mark Hamill, Leonard Nimoy, and Brian Blessed make appearances too. A lot of Disney voice talent reprise their roles and overall it’s a phenomenal dub which is amongst the best, and it’s accompanied by a beautiful, emotionally-rich soundtrack which is packed with passion. Yoko Shimamura is a talented composer, and her work gives me goosebumps.
If you’ve yet to jump into the magnificent world of Kingdom Hearts, then now is the time to do so with the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX collection. It’ll keep you busy for dozens of hours and soon you’ll also be a massive Kingdom Hearts fan who is scouring the internet for more information on the series, or cosplaying as a character at game and anime conventions. Kingdom Hearts is one of the most inspiring series around, and this collection stands alongside the best games available on PS4.