Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix Review: A Collector’s Collection of Collections

Square Enix
Square Enix /

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix provides some noticeable improvements to an already solid collection.

Developer: Square Enix Co, Ltd.

Publisher: Square Enix Inc.

Platform: PlayStation 4

Release Date: March 28th, 2017

Kingdom Hearts first launched on the PlayStation 2 15 years ago in 2002. It was an incredibly crazy idea at the time, crossing over the worlds of Final Fantasy and various Disney properties into an epic action RPG. Even crazier, it worked really well and launched an enormous franchise.

A few years later we got Kingdom Hearts II, which got even crazier and also sold incredibly well. This, in turn, launched a number of portable and mobile spin-offs on various platforms including the Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS and phones.

Essentially, if you were a Kingdom Hearts fan and really wanted to play every game out there and know all the complex lore (and my god, does it get complex), it was very difficult, as it was spread across several platforms.

This was alleviated quite a bit with releases on the PlayStation 3 that covered nearly the entire series in two separate entries. However, both these entries came out right in the tail end of the last generation, with the PlayStation 4 launch months after the first release, and then having been out almost a year when the second compilation came out.

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This may have left a lot of fans of the series in a bit of a lurch. Some probably held onto their PS3s and got the games on there (I certainly did, still have my PS3, in fact). But others who may have played the series on the PS2, but never got a PS3 or got a PS4, or got rid of their PS3 for any number of reasons couldn’t experience the collections on the latest Sony console.

Now as we might finally be getting close to a release window for the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III (it’s been TWELVE years since II), some fans might want to have the series all in one convenient collection on their most current console. Someone might even want to play the series to see what all the fuss is about before the newest entry arrives. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix is mostly the answer to that. It collects the combined collections of the previous two collections into one big collection. The question is, is all this worth diving into again, or even for the first time for some?

Square Enix
Square Enix /

So what exactly do you get in this collection? You get four proper actual games (Kingdom Hearts I & II, Chain of Memories and Birth By Sleep) and for some odd reason, two games turned into cinematic movies with just the cut scenes (358/2 Days and RE: Coded). It should be noted that this is exactly how the collections on the PlayStation 3 were, so it shouldn’t have been expected to be different. But It would have been a nice surprise if the full games were included for this release.

I’m not any kind of frame rate junkie, but [60 fps] really makes a difference in the gameplay.

The only game really missing from the collection is the 3DS game Dream Drop Distance, which is on another collection of sorts that came out earlier this year, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. If your eyes have gone cross from just all that, wait until you play the games and see all the story bits.

Speaking of the story, I won’t get into it in this review. Mostly because you either already know it, or you don’t, and not only is it really hard to boil down to even just a paragraph, but you really should experience how crazy and just plain weird it gets, especially in the spin-off entries.

Square Enix
Square Enix /

So, does this version offer any improvements over the PS3 releases? Actually, several pretty significant ones. First, the loading times, which were pretty atrocious in the previous collections, have been vastly improved. Something that could take 15-20 seconds in the previous version takes no more than five or is almost instant. It speeds up the efficiency quite a bit.

Second, while the graphics for each game were polished up rather nicely for the PS3 releases, they all get an extra level of detail that if you, like me, have played the various incarnations of these games on at least a couple different generations of systems, you’ll really notice. Everything looks incredibly smooth and crisp. It’s not a giant leap from the PS3 versions, but anybody who has only played the original releases will be pretty blown away.

Finally, every game in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix has been upgraded to run at 60 fps. I’m not any kind of frame rate junkie, but this really makes a difference in the gameplay. You notice a lot more animations and the fighting is quicker and smoother. In fact, if you spent a lot of hours playing previous versions of these games like I have, it can actually seem a little too fast and unwieldy at first. But once you get adjusted it just makes the combat in the games so much snappier.

Square Enix
Square Enix /

If you haven’t played the games in awhile (or at all), do they still hold up? I think they mostly do. The first game has some serious camera problems, but remains a fun adventure and is probably the series at its best for story-telling before they do a deep dive into what “Kingdom Hearts” actually is, its history, and how everything is tied together. Chain of Memories remains, in my opinion, an absolutely abysmal card game that I have never been a fan of, but it’s always been that.

The second proper entry has an incredible slog of a start in the first four hours and still has bad camera issues. However, once it gets going it’s still a pretty epic adventure with some fantastic combat and a lot of fun moments. Finally, Birth By Sleep probably has the most convoluted story because it’s literally done from three perspectives, so you are doing levels over and over again. But I really like the character of Aqua and it might actually have the best combat of the four games in this collection, so that can be enough to keep you going.

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In closing, while Square Enix arguably could’ve done more to this collection to make it an even more attractive deal, whether it be including full games that were previously only included as awful CG movies or tightening up the camera issues that have plagued the series as a whole, I feel Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix offers a pretty good value for fans and newcomers. The gameplay is improved from previous entries with the better frame rate, and it’s really nice to have all these games, which offer dozens of hours of gameplay apiece, in one convenient package for your latest Sony console.

8.0. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix is a great value for fans of the series looking to have most of the games in once collection on their most current console with several upgrades that even those who own the previous collections might want to consider upgrading for. Square Enix. . Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments.