Review by Herr_Edgeworth

"A surprisingly good gameplay with a really disappointing plot."

God knows that I have been in love with Kingdom Hearts since the first game came out in 2002. And looks like my love for it is justified, as the Kingdom Hearts series has been one of the most successful Square Enix's franchises in the last ten years. The whole premise is pretty simple: “Original Square Enix's characters in an original plot that takes place, mostly, in Disney's worlds and situations”. While this premise sounded awkward the first time I heard about it, it turned out to be a beautiful combination that takes the best of both worlds and is written wonderfully. The game I'll be reviewing is a remake for a mobile game that came out a year ago. But the real question about this installment of the series is whether it lives up to the hype and quality of previous Kingdom Hearts games.

Gameplay and presentation:

At first, followers of the series will be instantly familiar with the interface of the menu, the Health Bar's layout and the game itself. It has always been a comfortable way to organize the menus. The gameplay is amazingly entertaining and addicting. It focuses, like the original one, in the manipulation of Bug Blocks to solve puzzles and reach new areas. However, this remake adds on some nice things. First of all, it includes the praised Deck Command System that was first seen in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, which allows the player to use various decks of abilities in combat.

Every world has a different kind of gimmick. For instance, in Olympus, you have turn-based RPG gameplay. In Hollow Bastion, you will have a side-scrolling platform gameplay, like Super Mario Bros. In wonderland, you will have a rail shooting obstacle course, and so on. This is a really original idea and gives several points to the game.

The Stat Matrix is like a combination between FFX's Sphere Grid and 358/2 Days Panels. The main character progresses on a line of circuits within the Matrix, whose path is made out of blocks. Through the quest, you will receive stats-enhancer panels that can be placed in one of the adjacent blocks in the circuit increasing the panel's stat and progress further through the circuit. Every time you level-up, you will receive a level up panel which will increase all of your stats. There are, also, specific spots in the Matrix that are called Ability Panels. When these panels are reached by an active circuitry, Sora will gain abilities like Dodge Roll, Scan and Block.

There are some other additions like the Command Matrix and the Gear Matrix, but they are kind of similar to previous gameplay additions and would expand the review too much. They are, respectively, the menu where you arrange the commands and your Keyblades, respectively.

There is just one word that I can use to describe the plot for this game: Awful.

For me, the KH series has always been a heavy story-based series. I mean, yes, the gameplay is important, but it's the amazingly written story that makes you want to keep going and finish the game. Every game in the series has had interesting characters that you actually care for and a plot that is complex enough to make you think you about it, instead of having everything handed to you on a silver plate. Sadly, this game has neither. Despite of all the good things I said about the gameplay, this game has disappointed me here. Even though I could expand about the story, that would spoil it for those who are interested, so I'll just give you the basics.

In every KH game, there is a main plot that involves some kind of antagonist that wants to fulfill a rather villainous goal and heroes that must stop him in order to save the universe. That doesn't sound so original, but there is one thing that could change your mind: First, the plot takes place in Disney's worlds where you will meet their respective characters and help them with a problem related to those characters' movie. At first, you would say it sounds childish but it's amazingly well done most of the time and gives you a little feeling of nostalgia if you are a Disney Fan.

Let me give you a little preview for the story: Jiminy Cricket, the main heroes' journalist, founds a mysterious message in his journal that he doesn't remember having written: "Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it". With doubts in his mind, he explains the situation to King Mickey, who quickly starts his investigation to solve the problem. Like always, it will be Sora, the Keyblade Bearer, who will have to fine the answers. However, it won't be the Sora we all know. Jiminy and the King choose to digitalize the journal and look for answers in this digital environment. Inside the journal, they find another Sora made out of Data. It's here where the game's story starts.

But don't let this little introduction deceives you. This game is just a KHI-rehash. You visit the same worlds, meet the same characters and experience the same situations, with very little changes and side-quests thrown here and there. The previous games always answered questions to some of the series' enigmas and left some more questions in the air to keep you interested. Yet, this game doesn't answer anything that we didn't know of (except for the Secret Ending) and is filled with plot holes and things that weren't supposed to happen. It's like Nomura just wanted to release a new game to make more money and didn't care about the story.

If you are a KH fan that was looking for a complex plot, you are in for some disappointment.
Graphics and sound:

Similar to 358/2 Days, Re: Coded takes the Nintendo DS to the limit. But, aside from some polished and colorful graphics, it doesn't change that much from what it was in Days. Still, they are one of the best graphics you will find in the Nintendo DS. The sound effects and the music are what you would expect from a KH game. It's pretty decent but, mostly, it's nothing that you haven't heard before because, as I said, it's a KHI-rehash.

Play time / Replayability:

I finished the game in 15 hours and I don't know if that was quick or slow. I will tell you that, while this game is long enough for a Nintendo DS game, the Replay Value wasn't all that great to me. There is a multiplayer mode, if you can really call it that. You can customize your avatar and take care of it or send it to some of your friends. You can also create a simple level and send it to other persons and have them try to beat it. While this could be attractive for some people, I didn't found it entertaining and I think it has nothing against the Days' Mission Mode and much less against the Mirage Arena in BBS.


Gameplay and presentation: (9 out of 10) You won't find a lot of games like this. The gameplay is amazingly well done and the inclusion of the Command Deck system is something that I appreciate. You have a different gimmick per world, which is a really original system, but I think it can get somewhat annoying pretty fast. The Matrix system is also a really good method to organize the level- ups.

Story: (1 out of 10) This is what led me down. The story is full of plot holes and things that don't make sense. It's a shame for the rest of the games in the KH series. And the other horrible side is that this is a KHI-rehash. I would say 90% of the plot is unnecessary and nonsensical filler. The 10% left could have been explained in a video for another installment.

Graphics and sound: (9 out of 10) They are pretty good, but nothing we haven't seen before. The graphics are well done and the music, as I said, is good but we have heard nearly every track in past games. My only complaint is that we don't a lot more new themes.

Play Time / Replay Value: (5 out of 10) I didn't feel like playing this game anytime soon. While it's fairly long, it lacks the co-operative and competitive multiplayer that Days and BBS had. I didn't like the Avatars idea. It was, to me, an idea to catch casual players.

Overall: 24 out of 40 (60%)

It's exactly as I told you on the title of this review.

If you play Kingdom Hearts for the Gameplay, you really should get this game. You will have a lot of fun.

But if you play Kingdom Hearts purely for the story, then you could at least try it and make your decision. But beware. The nonsensical plot will make you rage at your DS.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 04/11/12

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

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