Back in 2002, this crazy game combining Disney's animated classics and Square Enix' Final Fantasy franchise hit store shelves. It was, for an RPG-loving Disnerd like myself, the perfect game. And within a few years, it grew into one of the largest, and best loved, gaming franchises in the history of ever. Unfortunately, most of the following installments went to handheld devices, leaving us home console only owning fans without more quality time spent with Sora and company nor did we in America get to enjoy the Final Mix.
Luckily that changed when Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix and brought not only the handheld experience to the television but also the extended version that wasn't available here without some serious importing. Finally, they gave fanboys (and girls) what they craved - well, not exactly; we're still waiting on Kingdom Hearts III - with beautifully remastered high definition visuals, improved game controls and more boss battles that will make you cry like a starving baby. Seriously, the game looks amazing and the visuals are helped by the stellar voice cast- Haley Joel Osment (Sora), David Gallagher (Riku), Hayden Panettiere (Kairi) and so many more - that's been there since the beginning. Being able to replay this classic, enhanced with the Final Mix updates we missed out on the first time around, has brought me back to the first time I fired it up on my PlayStation 2 and explored every nook and cranny of those brightly imagined worlds for hours on end.
Kingdom Hearts easily withstood the test of time.
Oh, and speaking of that cast, it is awesome hearing so many Disney characters still voiced voiced by the actors that originated them; Jodi Benson, Robby Benson, James Woods, just to name a few. And let's not forget Pat Carroll as the only boss I've ever apologized to for defeating every time I play it.
Seriously, though, she wiped the sea floor with me seven frikkin times before I bested her during my first playthrough back in 2002 so that end was well deserved. Still said I'm sorry as I finished her, though.
The collection is topped off with the remastered cinematics from Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. This was the only new to me installment on here. And after watching it, I ran out and grabbed the Nintendo DS game. This is the most effecting chapter from the series I've played. I already knew Roxas (Jesse McCartney) from Kingdom Hearts II and, unlike some other fans, didn't hate him. In fact, he quickly became one of my favorite characters in the whole franchise. And now that I had the chance to learn more about him, I was the happiest fanboy in the fandom. Then I remembered his fate and that happy swan dived onto concrete. It's a bittersweet experience; learning his history endeared him even more to me.
The Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories port I was less excited about. When it first released on Game Boy Advanced, I played it but didn't really love it. It looked good enough and all but that dang card battle system... um, no thank you. I was disappointed when they kept it intact for the PlayStation 2 port and more so, but not at all surprised, when it again appeared in this HD release.
It's kind of the Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare of the series: part of it but... eh, could have been so much better if they'd done so much differently. Still, having Riku's story does help. A bit.
Even before the remastered reissue, Kingdom Hearts was a game I'd replay endlessly. Now, having it for PlayStation 3 with the pretty make over and added goodies, I had yet another reason to dive in. This is a great game for young and old alike and as it's a Greatest Hits title, it's only 19.99 so why not experience (or, reexperience) one of gaming's greatest beginning.