In preparation for the forthcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 3, Square Enix has provided us with yet another opportunity to experience the Kingdom Hearts franchise with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix. This compilation brings together the two HD collections released on PlayStation 3, providing us with a total of six Kingdom Hearts experiences to now have on the PlayStation 4.
While there is a lot to discuss I will rather give more of a broad overview of the series and how it generally holds up today. Series veterans will already know what they are in for as this double collection is nothing new, but does put all the need-to-play games of the series in one place, or rather on one disc.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, Kingdom Hearts combines the elaborate universes of Final Fantasy and Disney and brings them together in what surprisingly ends up as a match made in heaven. It takes a JRPG approach with a story that can come across as a convoluted perplexing emotional rollercoaster and that is in keeping with the Final Fantasy side of things but the series still draws on the Disney universes to make it a tad bit lighter hearted, but still confusing as heck.
The basic premise of each game involves visiting different worlds, typically from the Disney universe, and each world provides a miniature story that still connects to the overall intricate plot. These worlds are always beautiful, even if dark at times, but both universes do draw on the same theme of justice and doing the right thing for all concerned. Kingdom Hearts brings many well-known Disney movies to a whole new world of life. From exploring the jungles of Africa alongside Tarzan to the delightfully morbid Halloween Town with none other than Jack the Pumpkin King from Nightmare Before Christmas, in artistically recreated worlds. The accompanying incredible soundtracks and impressive voice acting further immerses you in each world to create that sense of wonder and amazement.
The game utilises many old characters and universes from both Final Fantasy and Disney so it really makes it one big nostalgic experience, especially for those who grew up with the older Disney movies and Final Fantasy games.
Despite the two big entries included in this collection, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, being originally of the PlayStation 2 era, for games as old as time they hold up incredibly well.The cartoonish style in combination with the HD remaster treatment applied, enables the graphics to feel not too out of place on this generation. The gameplay feels surprisingly fresh today, most likely this is due to how few titles like this are in this current generation. I found it a rather refreshing break from modern games, and a rather welcome nostalgia hit. It is a refreshing experience.
As a JRPG the game, it does have an elaborate nature to it, in that is has many collectibles, crafting options and things to unlock or later return to for further exploration. All these little things, I feel, are well implemented and enhance the experience. I find some of these extra and elaborate mechanics in JRPGS can be more of a hindrance but Kingdom Hearts manages to incorporate them in an enjoyable and interesting way.
If the sheer size of games in this collection puts you off as a newcomer, fret not. While there are several games, you only need to play the two main entries to get the core Kingdom Hearts experience. While many of the other games offer great experiences, they are more there to expand on the history, universe and fill in the many blanks.
Kingdom Hearts is a truly well created series, that despite its convoluted-ness at times and age, really captures both the attention and imagination of the player. It has enjoyable gameplay and combines two of the most beloved universes to create an indepth but fun experience that always leaves you wanting more. It is a series that will always be in my heart. This collection provides us with all we need to get a full appreciation for the series and hopefully enough to see those who try it for the first time return for more later with the incredibly long awaited third installment.
Released: April 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: Adventure, JRPG
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix</p