Dearly Beloved, the titular opening theme to the iconic series sets the tone perfectly, whilst simultaneously capturing the true essence of the emotions that you’ll feel while playing the series. Kingdom Hearts is a string of games originally spanning 5 consoles, over 15 years, and much of an entire generations lifespan. These feelings, and more have been recaptured, and improved on considerably in this truly massive collection.
Included in the package is a staggering 6 games featuring Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. In addition to the two main story games there are also 4 ancillary games that detail other portions of the massive universe. Also included is upgraded textures, increased frame rate for a wonderfully smooth experience, and some excellent remastered tracks from the games score. All of this is combined to make a staggering compilation of games that goes mostly unmatched.
First up is the initial entry into the series, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which chronicles the struggle of heart versus heartlessness. This original title packs an emotional punch, that to this day still brings the feels to anyone who plays it. Starring Sora, and his companions Riku and Kairi. The story starts off on a lonely island aptly named “Destiny Island”. Perfectly setting the stage for the adventures to come. Events will unfold that will take the trio away from the safety of their island, and out into various Disney themed worlds.
The main goal of the protagonist, Sora, is two-fold. Find and defeat the source of the villainous heartless army, and to find his lost companion Kairi. This will take the unassuming Sora, as well as his companions Donald and Goofy, to strange and exciting new worlds. Throughout the journey other popular Disney characters will make appearances as you travel to their realms. Most notably Jack Skellington of “A Nightmare Before Christmas” fame, and Ariel of “The Little Mermaid”. These characters will assist in the struggle of good versus evil.
The combat is one of the most accessible parts of the game. Third person real time action keeps the game paced well, and it never feels as though the fighting becomes stale. Leveling up earns Sora more abilities to better combat the seemingly endless supply of heartless baddies. However, one of the major setbacks of the game is the camera control. Luckily Square Enix has given the player the options of having a fixed camera, or the ability to change to a more freely controlled camera. Too often though i found myself losing track of the action because of poor camera control.
In addition to the camera control, the AI that governs both Goofy and Donald is absolutely atrocious. There was not a single time throughout the adventure that it felt as though the two bumbling companions offered anything beyond comic relief. Considering the amount of abilities each character learns through the course of the game this is rather unfortunate. The occasional heal spell on Sora sadly does not make up for the sheer disappointment of these two sidekicks. Never give either of them a potion, or any item of value as it will be most assuredly wasted almost immediately.
One other major drawback to the game is lack of any sort of map system. Far too often i found myself wondering where to go next, or what part of the area could be traversed. One area of particular nuisance is the Deep Jungle from the film Tarzan. The areas and colors all seemed to mesh together, making an otherwise lush world extremely difficult to navigate. The addition of a map system would have been greatly welcomed, and it is a shame that it was left out in the first game. Square Enix did rectify this issue with the second entry into the series, Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix which I will be reviewing next week!