I was just a wee boy when the first instalment in the Kingdom Hearts franchise hit shelves. A young gamer and huge fan of Disney, I couldn’t have been more excited at the time to get my hands on a title that would combine those two worlds, bringing some of my favourite animated characters from various Disney realms together with recognisable Final Fantasy entities and beings. It was a great time, but honestly, one I can’t remember much of.
Fast-forward to today, and the entire Kingdom Hearts collection to-date is available in this handy collection, as part of the series’ 15th anniversary celebrations.
The story is anything but a simple one. You take on the role of a young boy named Sora – the wielder of a Keyblade and the one person who can restore peace to the various universes he quickly becomes a part of. He must go up against a Heartless Invasion, as those without hearts plague the world and try to push it further into darkness. Sora and his friends are the light that can stop all of that; but he of course needs a player’s help if he’s to be successful.
Working closely alongside the likes of Donald Duck and Goofy, Sora travels to dozens of different Disney worlds to fight against those that would plunge the universes into depths of despair, from which they’d never be able to recover.
His journey starts in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix; the original adventure that introduced Sora and his friends Riku and Kairi, with the protagonist visiting the Disney Castle, Aladdin’s Agrabah, Destiny Islands, Peter Pan’s Neverland, Tarzan’s Jungle and many other iconic locations.
Players can then move onto Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories; a title originally released for Game Boy Advance that introduces gamers to the world of Castle Oblivion. Again, familiar Disney worlds can be explored, with characters such as Alice, Ariel, Pinocchio and Peter Pan making appearances.
The third game in the collection is Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which originally hit Nintendo DS in 2009. Players here got to follow Roxas, the ‘other’ hero from Kingdom Hearts II, discovering more about his days in Organization XIII and allowing travel to the lands of Beauty and the Beast, Hercules and more.
Then of course, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is available, where players are able to travel through more Disney lands than ever before, including Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable and advanced editions of a Kingdom Hearts game on offer, and challenges the player to no end.
Sony PSP fans will remember the penultimate title on offer here with Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final MIX. Revealing the origins of the Kingdom Hearts story, players can here experience the game through three main characters; Terra, Aqua and Ventus. Classic Disney environments include the worlds of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.
Finally, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded offers players the chance to continue Sora’s journey on from that they enjoyed in Kingdom Hearts II. An exciting new adventure allows players to revisit events and characters from previous games, but this time you’re tasked with unravelling the secrets that lie within Jiminy Cricket’s journal. It’s an entertaining and exciting challenge throughout.
This collection is a must-buy, whether you’re a loyal fan of the series or completely new to the franchise. The Kingdom Hearts games are essential for any gamer worth their salt, and with Kingdom Hearts III on its way, you’ll need to brush up on your KH knowledge before the game hits shelves.
The gameplay may feel a little stilted and dated at times, and if you're a stickler for amazing graphics you're not going to be too impressed by anything here, but the original games are showcased in all their glory; that includes the niggles we all experienced our first time around. It's all part of the Kingdom Hearts charm, and I for one couldn't be more excited to be a part of it all once more.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX is available now on PlayStation 4.