Hello, dear readers!
If you follow me on other social media, you won’t be surprised to know that, after complaining how I didn’t want to replay all of the Kingdom Hearts games to prep for the third release (alongside my fears whether Kingdom Hearts III can live up to the expectations set by childhood me), of course I went ahead and (re)played the entire HD collection, before purchasing three. *cries at the irony*
As such, I decided to write a post of mini reviews over the HD Collection, broken down by each game, because I’m a reviewer and I figured, why the hell not? Kingdom Hearts III, however, will get its completely own review (once I actually beat it, that is, so please, no spoilers).
Even more fun is that, after the 1st game and an impromptu ice storm locked my boyfriend and I at home for four days straight, we actually started playing the games together (switching off between worlds), which was a new experience for me! It was really fun to play with him
and make him fight all the difficult bosses and worlds I wasn’t interested in, so now, this franchise has an even more special meaning to me than it did before, thanks to my childhood.
This game gets all of the points for nostalgia. Hearing “Simple and Clean” will never not give me chills and I immediately became attached to Sora again. I want it to be so clear that this franchise will always be a part of my heart–a big one, as it was so foundational to my childhood and got me into gaming in the first place. You can never take that away, you know?
That being said, I think I’ve had a bit of a…Peter Pan experience, when it comes to this first game. I still love it and have very fond memories of it, but I’ve also grown up a little bit (and this is my nth replay of this game), so I wanted a little bit…more. I like the more mature storylines that creators like BioWare and Bethesda produce, and I’m spoiled rotten for the quality of graphics these days.
So while I still love this game, I found myself wanting a little bit more out of it. I also got so frustrated by how long the ending was, i.e., how many times we had to fight Ansem (but, I think it might be because I just wanted to move onto the next game so I could get to three, so I might have just been impatient, but also…was fighting him 13 times really necessary?!).
I was also surprised to find myself a lot…better at the game, than I remembered ever before? I’d look over at my boyfriend and be like, “Shit, I am going to get my ass kicked here. Jafar is so hard,” and then beat the boss fight in less than two minutes. I think I’ve learned a lot as a gamer, playing a lot more (it is my main hobby now, after all) so I knew a lot more than ten year old me did.
All that being said, however: I think what I love about Kingdom Hearts the most, though, is the message; how the power of the heart, of friendship, of belief, can conquer anything, including any amount of darkness. Though I love me some dark and complex games, I can’t fault this game for such a simplistic message. Simplistic, and arguably cheesy, yet I think it’s also so, so needed. Something we should never forget.
Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories
Okay, so…this game. I played it when the first remake was put out, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 (and don’t even get me started on creating a franchise across multiple platforms) and I remember absolutely hating it, mostly because I was so shit at it. The card-based strategy battles were so not in line with my hack-and-slash-my-way-to-victory play style (that I still embrace), so I was kinda dreading this playthrough.
Yet I’d heard all of these stories come into play in three and the entire point of replaying them was to refresh my memory so I could play the third one and understand the story. Plus, the boyfriend hadn’t ever played this one. So, we decided to play it together, switching who was actually controlling Sora between worlds (or, in this case, floors of Castle Oblivion) and let me tell you, that helped a lot.
In short: this game wasn’t as bad as I remembered…and in other ways, it was worse.
Thanks to having 10+ years of gaming experience under my belt now, I understood the mechanics and was able to learn (thanks also to the boyfriend’s guidance) on how to actually play a card-based battle game. Once I also learned to let the Heartless or boss play their card first and then break theirs before I played mine (and once I got strong enough to have a deck where my lowest card was a six), I didn’t do half bad.
Yet, at the same time, the plot of Re:Chain is basically just having you go through all of the worlds from the first game, replaying all of the bosses in a harder way, only to learn it’s all just a dream to be erased by
Namaste Naminé, the character who caused all of this to happen in the first place. I know her character and these events will start to tie in a little bit to the next game, but as someone who just spent 15+ hours to just replay the same game as Kingdom Hearts, just a different way, essentially…yeah, I just wanted to move on and figure out more about the Organization and find Kairi again and felt all of this was a little bit pointless, thanks.
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Um, it’s not even a game? I mean, it was a game, but in this remake, it’s just a film. A film where we got roughly 30 minutes into before we looked it up (because we had no idea, going in) and saw it was three hours long and the only thing preventing us from starting two.
Thank God for Reddit summaries.
Kingdom Hearts II
So, while I remembered a lot of Kingdom Hearts thanks to numerous playthroughs, I think I only played II once? Because let me tell you, fam, I didn’t remember a single thing about this game, which made me fall in love with it even more and make it…prolly one of the top two games from the HD Collection?
I really enjoyed the adventures that Sora and the crew went through in this story. I really loved the worlds we got to explore (Mulan’s has been my favorite of all of them so far, I think, with Nightmare Before Christmas a close second) and just felt like I was much stronger at the mechanics (then again, it could have simply been because I was finally able to hack and slash my way through everything again, which is all this gamer girl wants to do, really). I also surprised myself in how much I enjoyed putting those puzzles together and got really irritated that I couldn’t find all the pieces (the completionist in me definitely would have gone back through and done this, but with only one more game to play before we could finally play three, once we hit that ending, we moved straight on).
What I will say, though, is that…I just really don’t care about Roxas? Like, at all? (Please don’t hate me.) I don’t know what it is, but I just really don’t care about his storyline and just want to focus on Sora and his reuniting with Kairi and then King Mickey’s mission. I still really loved Kingdom Hearts II, though, and I am so glad I got a chance to play it again.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
So, this was the only game that both me and my man had never played before. We had no idea what it was even about and read that it was a prequel story, before diving in. I almost considered not playing it. Now that I’m already a little ways into Kingdom Hearts III, I’m so glad I did.
Watching the opening sequence made it feel like an entirely different franchise, the way it felt so much…darker (and I was here for it). I kinda wish it was listed first in the HD Collection, because I think I would have liked to play it first and learn so much that I didn’t know before, before going into the core games. Whereas Re:Chain felt pointless to me, Birth By Sleep felt like such a pivotal game as far as the story goes. And I did enjoy playing it!
I didn’t finish it, though.
I played Terra first
because he was hot and I did really enjoy the mechanics of the game, the worlds we got to go to and how the fighting worked. I really enjoyed getting abilities that we had to level up individually and then could meld together to form new ones. What I didn’t like is that I couldn’t truly get a grasp on Terra as a character because his story was choppy, thanks for the need to replay through each character’s story to get the full picture. Which, I can understand that, to an extent. But I still feel like I need to understand the character and what happens to them enough that I actually care about what happens to them, before we start experimenting with how the story is told. Terra–and Aqua and Ventus, honestly–I just didn’t care about them enough, because I didn’t get a chance to truly embrace and love their friendship before it was jeopardized.
I started in on Aqua’s playthrough and found hers to be 20 times harder than Terra’s, which was frustrating (but also could be because I’ve never mastered the guard and counter-guard abilities in any Kingdom Hearts game). I also thought that each person would be going to different worlds and we would learn how their stories intertwined as we went. Not just repeating the same worlds and the same beats, just from a different perspective (and granted, doing different things). This might just be me getting picky, but I also really hated how emotionless she sounded, whenever she spoke?
Oh, and also: I had a strange love for the Command Board games? Like, I loved how they had a purpose, helping to level up my abilities, and once I figured them out, I seriously slayed at them. The Arena…is a different matter entirely.
I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if this wasn’t the last thing keeping me from Kingdom Hearts III. I just wanted to get through it so I could finally play this game that has been out for weeks now–
let’s ignore the fact I’ve owned this HD Collection for years and haven’t played it until now–so I got a little impatient. But, then I got really sick and my boyfriend surprised me with a copy of Kingdom Hearts III, even though I was almost done with Aqua’s story and still hadn’t played Ventus’s yet (which, his I was the least interested in, because he looked exactly like Roxas)…well, I caved and now I’m about 20 hours into the third game. Stay tuned to find out what I think about that one!!
Okay, so that’s a long enough review for one evening, I think. Let me know your thoughts, if you’d like, especially if you’ve played any of these games. Stay tuned for a Kingdom Hearts III review and please, in the name of King Mickey: no spoilers.