Review by TaticalWarrior

"Kingdom Hearts: Re:viewed"

Kingdom Hearts: coded was originally a cellphone game, released only in Japan. After some time since its release, a remake was announced for the DS. Good news for us, Americans, since this time, we are going to be able to experience this digital adventrue.

But the question is:
Is this game a good one?

GRAPHICS

Simply amazing, ReCoded is stunning!

The game keeps the style from the previous games, so if you are familiar with them, you will feel at home here: the game features high-quality textures, a colorful palette, vibrant colors... The same as always. But, what is really neat here is how the developers managed to create high-quality character models without downgrading the performance of the game.

Re:coded runs with a good number of frames, always, and slowdowns are close to non-existent. It is even more wonderful considering the huge amounts of enemies in the screen at once, and, not only that, the game features beautiful locations, that, comparing with Days, were vastly improved.

While Days had amazing maps, they were smaller than they actual size in the main series and felt compressed. Re:coded, with a better game design, was able to present larger, more detailed ones, and all with a minor loading time.

Light effects are more detailed now, too. More intense, and less pixelated than Days, the effects will give more impact for the battles.

In the end, it is easy to note the excellent graphics of this game, all with good loading times, and no flaws at the game performance.

SOUND

Most of the music featured here is reused from the previous Kingdom Hearts. This means you will hear Destati, Simple and Clean, Night of Fate, etc again. There are a couple of new themes, though, and they sound good.

They were greatly made using the DS' sound system. It is even easy to mistake it with as a compressed sound from the PS2 versions.

The thing is: I hope you like the music from KH, because it is all the same here. Nothing really new, what is a let down. Gladly, the music still good, so you won't be bothered about it.

GAMEPLAY

Now, we are talking. This game features LOTS of gameplay styles, with lots of mechanisms, providing a fulfilling and diverse experience.

The battle system was updated for this remake, but still features the gameplay twists from the cellphone version, you can jump, run, glide, doing normal attacks, chaining combos... The typical KH stuff, a hack-and-slash/button masher game.

But there is more: you are able to customize Sora with a wide range of special attacks, that can be unleashed with the X button. Those special attacks ranges from a fire ball attack to a huge ground explosion. Each one has a cool down moment after their use, tough, to avoid abuse.

Plus: the game features a growth system for it. You can fuse those attacks to create a new, stronger one, or level them up, so they will be more effective.

But be careful: you have a limitation about how many of those attacks you can equip. You can unlock more slots while advancing in the Matrix, so more of them can be equipped, but each of them are ranked (based on the type and level) with points. If the sum of those point is higher than your capacity, you will have problems.

There is also the OverClook system. Every time you attack, or use a Command, a gauge will be filled. After filling enough of it, it will raise a level (1, 2, 3 and MAX). When it reaches MAX, you can unleash a powerful finisher.

What is fun about it is how you do it: one of the finishers will change the camera into a First Person Shooter, where you have to fire at the enemies hitting A and moving the aim with the D-Pad, another will turn Sora into a Snowball and you have to control it dealing with it crazy and wild handling, others will require precise button input, and some of them will be a simple attack, without requiring action from the player. Choose your style! Note: The gauge will reset if you use a finisher, and it is reduced slowly if you don't hit something.

Not only that, each Keyblade (the equippable weapon) is filled with abilities that range from HP regeneration to increased attacking speed. And they are ranked by levels, thus, if your Keyblade has a Regen ability ranked as level 2, you will activate it when your gauge level is at 2, for example.

The abilities are linked in a map on the bottom screen. As your gauge increases, the OverClook system will activate the next ability linked to the previous one. They are arranged in a three pattern, with lots of branches, so you can choose the branches that will be activated. In other words, the path it will follow, and thus, the abilities you want.

The game also features the Matrix growth system. Similar to the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X, Sora's growth is determined by a grid accessed in the main menu. There, you have paths that can be fulfillled placing panels (those can increase stats, levels, or even be blank).

When you place a panel, that cell will be energized if it is linked to a another energized panel or if linked to the many core bases. The paths features lots of special devices, that, when energized by the path you fulfilled, will be activated. Those devices can be used to adjust the difficult of the game, Sora's HP, the drop rate, damage taken, abilities, etc. Those will become avaliable to as you progress in the game.

But that isn't enough.

The game is divided into chapters (worlds), and each of them features a special gameplay style. This means you will experience turn-based gameplay, side-scrolling action, a on-rails shooter, etc, while progressing through the story. Those twists happens now and then, between the exploration, quests, battling, item hunting, etc.

Between all this, you will also visit floor areas, where you will bet points you adquire inside those for each floor of that dungeons. If you complete the mission objective, you will receive those back and a bonus, increasing even more yours, or if you don't, you will lose what you put in the line. After completing all floors for that dungeon, you can purchase items, commands, equips, etc with that points, or even converting them into money.

Overall, the game has a great gameplay. Lots of different attractions with balanced, fast paced, diverse gamplay surely you draw you in. Sadly, the game is over in about 15-20 hours. Considering the previous KH games, this is a short time. But gladly, you can revisit any chapter, try to get better ranks, try to get all items, commands, etc, beat the new, extra dungeons, fight a secret boss, and more, increasing that time for another 20-30 hours.

There is also a special mode, where you can join other players and play through the many minigames, create your avatar, exchange avatar pieces, share dungeon floors...

In other words, lots of fun.

STORY:

This KH focuses on a digital theme. Donald, Goofy, Mickey and Jiminy will try to decode the contents of a mysterious journal. With the help of Chip and Dale, they will use a computer to do it. And to do it, they will need Sora. Or better, a data of Sora. You play as Data Sora as you try to fix the bugs of the corrupted journal, while review the story of KH1.

There isn't much here. Great part of it is irrelevant to the series, and is mostly filler.

If you are an avid fan of the great Kingdom Hearts' tale, you won't be surprised here. The story is pretty simple, but enjoyable.

Arguable, it is the weakest from the series, but it is enough.

A special ending was added in the remake, so if you are itching to know what will happen next, go ahead!

OVERALL

+ Good graphics without technical problems
+ Diverse and fun gameplay
+ Provides a different experience from the usual KH formula
+ Great combat
+ Solid extras
+ Good Replay value

- Story needs work
- The main portion of the game is short, considering the usual game length from the previous games

And this is it. This game provides a great gaming experience, for KH fans and non-fans alike. Newcomers can be confused by the story, but they can just enjoy the great gameplay if they want. The story may not impress old fans, so be warned.

One thing is sure: go ahead and try it. The experience can be better than you think!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/11

Game Release: Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (JP, 10/07/10)


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