When Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix released a week ago, I came up with the bright idea of playing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix on Final Mix: Proud difficulty. I figured that I already beat the game on Normal years ago, so the added challenge might be refreshing, and there’s also a Trophy in store for accomplishing the feat. This is a decision I am regretting now.
Final Mix: Proud is flat-out frustrating and demoralizing. The game already suffers from camera issues and somewhat stiff combat mechanics as it is, but these issues are far, far less pronounced on Normal. On Proud, they simply become more debilitating as every move counts and one wrong move could mean the end of you, especially in boss fights. It’s become so infuriating that I have actually avoided fights just to progress because some fights become drawn-out affairs and Goofy and Donald are knocked out constantly, leaving me to my own devices as reviving them would simply be a waste of much-needed mana that is used for my own survival. I’m currently on the fight with Chernabog, but having difficulty finishing him off because as soon as he starts launching firrballs, it’s over as I can’t dodge them and can’t survive them, either. It reached the point where I went on Facebook last night and announced that I was done trying to finish the game on Proud.
Then, I sat down and did some thinking and I realized that I’m actually missing some crucial stuff. I don’t have Curaga, I only have Aero, and I don’t even have the Oblivion keyblade. I’ve been having trouble completing the Hercules Cup in the Olympus Coliseum, which leads to learning the Yellow Trinity and thus makes getting Aerora impossible, which is why that is not upgraded. I then thought, though, that I want to collect all of the Dalmatians, which leads to an Aero upgrade, and activate all of the Trinities anyway, so I’ve decided that I’m going to go back and collect all of these while leveling up in the process. Perhaps this will make things easier for me in the long run, as even if I defeat Chernabog, Ansem is probably going to hand my ass to me, so I better be ready.
Proud difficulty is frustrating, yes, but I think part of the problem was me neglecting things simply so I could push through the difficulty and get the playthrough over with. In essense, Proud difficulty ruined the experience for me, but I’m going to try and finish it. I simply hate leaving things unfinished, especially a great game like Kingdom Hearts.
It’s been a long time coming. Ever since all of these high-definition upgrades of classic PlayStation 2 titles have been churning out since the God of War Collection released back in 2009, one collection I’ve been wanting to see is a Kingdom Hearts compilation redone in glorious HD and with Trophy support. My imagining of the set simply included Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, but Square-Enix decided to do it differently. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix includes the Final Mix version of the original title, which includes all sorts of changes, including new cutscenes, enemies, bosses, and more that have never made it stateside before. It also includes Re:Chain of Memories, which is the PS2 redo of the GameBoy Advance title that takes place right after the first title. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is also included in a series of cutscenes instead of the entire game, as it originally released on the Nintendo DS, which would have required a huge graphical overhaul or even a total rebuild of all of the assets in order to bring the visuals up to par.
The collection released in a first print run limited edition, which comes in a special artbook packaging encased in an outer sleeve. Before I start showing pics (there aren’t very many), it’s time to get hyped.
Okay, now that the stage is set, here are some pics of this long-awaited collection.
The front cover of the game. The case is bigger than a standard PS3 case, with it being about the same size as the Hitman Trilogy Limited Edition that came out earlier this year.
The back cover. I don’t like how deceiving the description for 358/2 Days is. It makes it seem like the entire game is included, which it’s not. It should have said “Retold in a series of HD cinematics” or something.
The outer sleeve and the cover of the artbook featuring the classic picture of Sora standing on the beach of Destiny Islands.
A closer look.
This must be an early concept of Sora. It looks like he was originally part-monkey. I kind of get a Zidane Tribal vibe from him, which isn’t a bad thing considering he’s the main character of one of my favorite games of all-time.
The first page, with Sora, Donald, and Goofy ascending the stairs of Castle Oblivion and Namine sitting in the background.
Some concept art of Sora, including that monkey-esque design again, but this time sporting a pulley-like sword. Interesting.
This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Sorry, I can’t help myself.
Some Keyblade art, including a transparent sketch sheet overlapping a final design.
The “manual”, registration card, and the game disc housed in the back cover of the artbook. I know some people aren’t huge fans of this, but if you want the artbook, it’s the only way. You could always remove the disc and put it in an empty case with printed cover art, but I don’t mind this as it’s in very presentable packaging, unlike the Collector’s Edition of Batman: Arkham City, which housed the disc in a small, plain, white book that stuck out from the shelf by an inch and had nothing printed on the spine. I still need to print cover art for that…
A close-up of the disc in the back of the book.
All in all, not a bad freebie at all for those who pre-ordered early enough to get one of these. My local Walmart received eight copies, but all of them are regular editions of the game, which pretty much means that chances are slim that you can get one of these right now if you didn’t pre-order. If you didn’t, but happen to run into one, scoop it up. I don’t see these lasting very long out in the wild.
As for the game, it looks gorgeous in high-definition. All of the visuals have received an overhaul, and while character models are identical to the PlayStation 2 version, they still look fantastic during cutscenes. I guess the next collection, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, if there is one, would include Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, as that leads right into the upcoming third entry, and Re:coded will probably be redone in cinematics like 358/2 Days, likely for the same reason. Where does that leave Birth by Sleep, though? They could include that as the graphics are pretty much on par with the PS2, but that would up the price, seeing as it would include three playable titles and one in cutscene form. I’m sure we’ll see the collection in the next couple of years, seeing as Kingdom Hearts III is still very early in development and it’ll help bridge the gap for people looking to catch up.