Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX
By Alex Fuller
Spending most of my gaming life prior to the 360/PS3/Wii generation almost exclusively with Nintendo consoles meant there were many RPG titles I missed out on, although I had become a fan of Final Fantasy thanks to its PC releases and lots of time spent round a friend's with Final Fantasy IX. One of the series that had passed me by was Kingdom Hearts, one many seem to have fond memories of. Combining two utterly beloved franchises in Disney and Final Fantasy sounds brilliant on paper, but when I got to play it under the guise of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, the actual result for me was anything but. I can't really fault Disney's effect on the game — that charm helped to negate some of the poor parts — it's the Final Fantasy and original Square Enix aspects that seem to cause all of the issues.
The battle system at its best is merely that of a mediocre action game, but combining that with an attempt to drive in Final Fantasy's menu style of controlling battle is distastrous. Even ignoring those times it goes out of its way to ruin what would otherwise be perfectly enjoyable platforming parts of the game with frustrating enemy spawns, it was never intuitive or at all enjoyable. Combine that with a terrible camera and we get a gameplay experience with very little to recommend it. Chain of Memories manages to at least divert from this by introducing a more interesting card-based system, but is itself ruined by complete laziness in all other aspects of its existence, everything else in it being a worse rehash of something from the first title. Other parts of the game don't stand up well either, building a ship is awful and the shoot-em-up sections it gets used for are mediocre for a while before just becoming a chore.
Storywise, all of the best bits come courtesy of Disney's characters. The Final Fantasy characters themselves contribute little more than brief cameos, and frightfully dull ones at that when compared to those who appear from the other side. The original story itself was good for its simplicity, and we ended up with a perfectly enjoyable tale by the end of the first title. Its simplicity allowed the Disney characters and worlds to shine, and the Final Fantasy characters to, er, prove generic exposition or background I guess. Even then, the strongest parts were simply those that were effectively lifted right out of the source material. Of course, not even that could stand up to the Square Enix influence for too long, and the less said about the overall plot's state now, the better.
The Disney charm did incredibly well to paper over the huge cracks and keep me invested for as long as it did, but it was always fighting a losing battle against near everything else. I feel I can safetly move on from the series without ever looking back at the baffling amount of releases the series has somehow managed to garner.
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