Review by ChronoCactaur
"Kingdom Hearts Coded has been brought to the states! But did we really need it?"
Kingdom Hearts is a series well known for its top notch action rpg gameplay and convoluted, yet entertaining story. The first entry was released in 2002, and marked the beginning of what the creator deems "The Xehanort Saga". The sequel wouldn't see release until almost four years later, and the third doesn't seem to be in development. So what does Square do to remedy this? Well they bring out side stories every couple years, with the first of which being Chain of Memories. Although a side story, it literally served as a "chain" between Kingdom Hearts I & II. Since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, there have been three side stories released. The first of these to release was 358 Days on the DS, and the one that will be compared to Re: Coded the most, so I will save that for later.
In 2010, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was released on the Playstation Portable. Although it looks like a side story at first glance, most fans have agreed to consider it "Kingdom Hearts Zero", as it serves as a prequel. It is also notably higher quality than the DS releases 358 Days & Re: Coded. Now on to the latest release and the subject of this review: Re: Coded.
This is actually a remake of the previously unreleased cell phone game in Japan. Yes, you heard right: This was a cell phone game at one point. It is easy to notice in some parts, however, it is even easier to notice the parts where it is actually remade. The gameplay system seems to borrow heavily from Birth by Sleep, with a slight touch of 358 Days. You use Command Panels to perform special attacks, while regular Keyblade attacks are done using the attack button. Think of it as "Birth By Sleep Lite" in terms of the battle system. What sets Coded apart from the others is the Matrix System. Literally everything is linked to these three distinct matrixes, be it Gear, Commands, even the difficulty of the game, which can now be altered at any point during gameplay, though you will only receive a reward if you leave it on Critical.
The Disney Worlds are nothing new aesthetically speaking, but everything else is different in this installment. Each world offers a new type of gameplay experience, although a few of the worlds don't utilize it until the world boss. One standout is Olympus Coliseum being in Turn-Based RPG format. Ever wanted to see what Kingdom Hearts would be like if it was turn-based? Re:Coded's got you covered. I won't spoil what else there is to discover, as that robs the mystery of the game. As far as the story goes, it's fairly forgettable. Mickey must try to uncover data that is buried in Jiminy's notebook. Re: Coded's strength lies more in its gameplay than in its story, as the only worthwile story element is the ending, which again I will not spoil. Much like 358 Days, Re:Coded's story is the definition of side story.
Compared to 358 Days, Re: Coded is both more advanced and more primitive at the same time. The camera control is outright horrid in Re: Coded, but in 358 it's more tolerable, albeit still terrible. D-Pad control is a bit more fluid from what this reviewer could tell, and is well suited for play on a 3DS. While 358 Days' story is slow to start out, it eventually picks up and become entertaining. Re: Coded practically lacks a story altogether. If you have to choose between the two, go with 358 Days if you prefer story, and Re: Coded if you prefer gameplay.
All in all, Re: Coded is a Kingdom Hearts game for the DS. It is an entertaining experience, and is a worthy purchase for a fan of the series, though this is not a good choice for a first game to someone new to the series. Don't set your expectations too high and you're in for a wonderful time!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/26/11
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (US, 01/11/11)
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