Review by KeyBlade999

"A good potpourri of all KH games thus far (more or less)."

It has been ten years or so since the original Kingdom Hearts was released in 2001. Since then, we've had more than a few more games to contend with, and not just Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts has managed to survive in competition against the more popular games like Pokemon, Halo, and Fallout. While it has had its shortcomings at times (remember Chain of Memories), it has remained popular throughout these many years. And now, they're making their second remake of a game. How did their effort fare? Let's see.

Back around 2000 ~ 2001, Square Enix (back then, Squaresoft) worked with Disney to create a unique type of game - one with the maturity of the famed Final Fantasy games with the enjoyable childishness of the Disney movies and stories. A weird idea to say the least. Yet, it was also a successful idea. The first Kingdom Hearts was released around 2001. Soon after that, its sequel, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, was released on the GBA. Kingdom Hearts II came out around 2006 on the PS2, like Kingdom Hearts I.

Since then, it has been mainly remakes and side stories. Chain of Memories was remade into Re:Chain of Memories for the PS2 in 2007. This game -- Re:coded -- was originally an episodic game for the iPhone. It was made into the remake by 2011 for the DS. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was a side story focusing on Roxas for the DS around 2008 ~ 2009. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is another side story for the PSP, released around 2009.

As for future games, there have been tidbits -- in the games and from developers -- that at least two more KH games are soon to come.

As you probably know, Kingdom Hearts, throughout its ten-year history, has always been a real-time battle game. The same applies here.

Battles will occur wherever you find a Heartless. From the second it is found, the battle begins, and the main menu cannot be accessed. During the battle, you can use your basic Attack, an ability of some sort, or a Command. Do you remember the cards from Chain of Memories's battle system. Similar thing here. At any given time, you can have up to eight commands (such as Fira, Ice Storm, or Judgement Triad). You can therefore easily shift through them (shifting through eight is easier than through 50+).

What about the level up system? Well, there are two forms of powering up.

The traditional EXP. system is in place. As you defeat enemies, you gain EXP. Get enough EXP., and you earn a Level-Up Chip, which you place on the Stat Matrix. The Stat Matrix is basically a graphically-refined version of Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid, with added cheats and weaponry and accessory boosts. You can also gain other chips (eg. Strength +3, Magic +1, HP +8) to raise stats.

The command system is a bit different. There are up to eight command slots, each having two divisions. Placing a command in each division may let you fuse the two together for a different, more powerful ability. To allow fusion to occur, you must obtain enough CP, which is also obtained through battling.

Also, throughout the game, you will be debugging worlds. In these worlds, you'll find backdoors to System Sectors, which are variations of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon's dungeons. Each Sector has up to 13 floors, and each has some rooms, and in each you must defeat specific enemies (not specific numbers or species, literally a specific enemy). Later on, you'll be able to bet SP (Sector Points) to help you earn bigger, better rewards. You may even be able to get the Ultima Weapon!

The bosses actually are unique and usually different from the typical see-and-fight battle system as with normal battles. For example, you may fight in a 2D Mario-esque stage or, to use another Mario analogy, a front view shooting version of those levels that force you forward. Another world even features a purely turn-based battle system! As you can tell, it is a buggy world out there.

STORY: 9/10
It is now after the second journey of Sora and his friends that took place in Kingdom Hearts II. Everyone is back in their home worlds. Jiminy Cricket, the recorder of their adventures, is looking through the first journal -- the accounts of Kingdom Hearts I and Chain of Memories. There is but one line in it: "Thank Namine". Or is there? After looking near the back of the book, another line is found. Jiminy immediately dashes off to King Mickey. He decides to digitize the computer. Upon doing so, he finds that the journal is bugged beyond belief.

To debug it, a digital Sora is created. Mickey, acting as a mentor and advisor of sorts, nudges the Data-Sora along, debugging the journal as he goes through each world encountered in the first two games. It isn't your traditional debugging experience, though....

The graphics are a slight improvement on those of KH 358/2 Days. With major emphasis on the "slight". Everything looks virtually the same as you think it would. Anything in the field looks a bit blocky, to say the least. The Keyblade is almost unrecognizable -- just try looking at the Metal Chocobo.

The typical speech-bubble cutscenes have gotten FAR worse. You may know that the typical conversation had some movement in it, even if it just repeated. Now, though, it is more like a flipbook. One picture of said flipbook may be Sora standing; the next picture may have him summoning the Keyblade. In other words, animation is nonexistant.

Now, the video cutscenes are as they are. Words are spoken and the graphics are well done. Animation is, luckily, in these, unlike the conversational cutscenes.

Little has changed in Kingdom Hearts over the years in terms of audio. Each area of the game has the music it had in its respective game, as do the battle themes. Even the attacks sound the same. The good thing is that at least the sound is good and prevents boredom.

PLAY TIME: 9.5/10
This game lasts as long as your typical RPG. It took me about 20 hours to do the main storyline and about 35 hours to finish it all. I wasn't doing much rushing on this game. Most people can expect this kind of time, if they've played 358/2 Days, and therefore have experience with the Kingdom Hearts battle system on the DS. It probably will take longer for those who lack this experience.

During the game, you can actually replay a world's storyline. In fact, this is virtually required for the full completion of the game. In this way, you can "speed play" worlds with your dramatically higher stats.

Alternately, you can just restart from scratch. Either way doesn't really change anything, so it has a good replay value.

THE END: Overall Score: 10/10
There you have it. A review for the second DS Kingdom Hearts game thus far. As you can see, all of the traits of all of the games have been pooled together into this great remake. I can almost guarantee that it is better on the DS than the iPhone, so... are you going to buy it? It is definitely worth the dough.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/29/11

Game Release: Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (US, 01/11/11)

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