Review: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix is a must have for Xbox gamers

March 2, 2020

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Square Enix’s lowly advertised transition of the Kingdom Hearts series to Xbox One may not appear as momentous an occasion to some, but this solid port of a classic series’ best collection ever in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix is a high moment for Xbox gamers everywhere.

It’s been a dream for nearly two-decades that Square Enix’s Final Fantasy x Disney crossover would make its way over to Xbox consoles. With the long-awaited arrival of Kingdom Hearts 3 on Xbox One last year, a glimmer of hope was established that maybe, one day, Xbox fans would be able to experience the entire series’ story on Xbox consoles.

1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix neatly places every game into a lovely chronological list… Kinda. Each game has their own menus as well!

With the arrival of the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix taking a trip from its PlayStation 4 debut down to Xbox One, one of gaming’s best compilations is certainly at its best on Xbox One X. Combining the awesome Kingdom Hearts classics of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix into one collection.

Visually, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix is at its best on Xbox One X, displaying the clean cartoony visuals of the Disney RPGs in glorious UltraHD/60fps. From the from-the-ground up recreation of the original PlayStation 2 game to the HD interpretation of Birth by Sleep, the series first and only PlayStation Portable entry, every entry of the series looks phenomenal in its best presentation yet.

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It’s a testament to the quality of the series’ PS2 originals that nearly every game in the series controls well enough compared to the bombastic and fluid modern controls of the recent third entry. While the 2005 original is undeniably the clunkiest of the collection, it’s still not unbearable. Compared to the awesome spectacle fights of its sequels it’s an unruly start, but once the franchise gets going it becomes hard to put down.

In fact, in going through this collection, Kingdom Hearts – especially its second entry – is timeless. The Disney charm mixed with the still occasionally bizarre melding of Tetsuya Nomura’s mind-bending headcanon is still a “you have to see it to believe it” occurrence, but it’s beautiful and unforgettable.

Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix is still the best game in the series and worlds like this are why.

Unfortunately, not every game included in this collection is available in playable form. The Nintendo DS experiences of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded – one an engrossing part of the KH canon and the other Re:Coded – are merely regressed into just their cutscenes. They make for rather dull movies, especially since some sections of their tales are expressed through walls of text.

These DS “movies” do get the job done, even as the pacing and execution of the films is about as well-stitched as a dog’s favourite plush toy. They’re passable but hard to watch in a single sitting.

Sitting through some of these “movies” can be pretty grating, but they have their moments.

However, from a collector’s standpoint, you couldn’t really ask for more when it comes to Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix. Sure, they could have released its companion (Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – review forthcoming) into one huge collection application, but for $60 this is one of the best collections money can buy.

If you’re an Xbox gamer who has yet to experience the Kingdom Hearts story, this collection is the best way to jump in. If you’re a fan of the recent third entry that was a little confused by jumping into the deep end – trust me, no one can blame you for being confused – then you have to get this compilation. Many of the series’ best moments are in this one game and one of the best sequels of all time is gorgeously preserved here.

I can’t say this enough: If you can, buy this collection. You won’t regret it.

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