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.
Hello all, and welcome to another edition of The Weekly Recharge! This week, between all of the traveling some of you had to do for Thanksgiving and the Black Friday sales rush, we all need a recharge this weekend. So just kick back, relax, and enjoy these news tidbits between naps and leftovers.
THE NEXT XBOX WILL FEATURE TWO CONSOLES?
This is the first of two stories in the rumor mill today. According to The Verge, which I read via IGN, some sources from Microsoft’s headquarters have leaked that the next Xbox will be released in two versions. One will be the next console we’ll all be itching for on day one, so that comes as no surprise, but the second will simply be a box that allows gamers to download casual titles and entertainment apps, probably such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc., from Xbox Live and will not play disc-based titles you’ll find on store shelves.
Now, my not-so-bold prediction is that the next Xbox, codenamed “Durango”, will either have an improved Kinect unit shipping with every console, or the Kinect will actually be integrated into the console with some lenses on the front of it, eliminating the need for a separate unit. This reasoning comes from the fact that Microsoft is still pushing the Kinect very hard, and it could perhaps become the future of total immersion in gaming once they get the technology just right. However, this second box comes as a bit of a surprise, but I absolutely see Microsoft looking to have everyone get into Xbox and not just gamers. Having the brand that out in the open makes it instantly more recognizable and could really get people who have never played video games in their life to eventually upgrade this little entertainment box into a full-fledged console down the line. It’s not a bad strategy at all, and I think we can also tell that this is a way to combat Apple TV, as their war with Apple continues to rage on.
EUROCOM HIT BY MAJOR LAYOFFS
This one hits home a bit, folks. A very talented developer by the name of Eurocom has just laid-off 67% of their workforce and have now reduced their operations to developing nothing but mobile games, as seems to be the trend with a lot of troubled developers nowadays. If you do not know some of the great titles this developer has made, I can start with the James Bond franchise. I’ve always enjoyed 007 games since the Rare-developed GoldenEye 007, which Eurocom remade and re-imagined two years ago on the Nintendo Wii and ported over to the PS3 and Xbox 360 a year later under the title GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, which was an excellent title. They also developed the follow-up to the original GoldenEye 007 with The World Is Not Enough on the Nintendo 64, which I found to be very underrated and kept a lot of the spirit of GoldenEye in some of its level designs. Recently, Eurocom developed 007 Legends, which was made to celebrate the Bond franchise’s 50th anniversary this year. However, it released to a poor critical reception, and as such, the title more than likely flopped, leading to these layoffs. Given that they only had a year to develop it, I blame Activision for their total lack of forethought and their need to cash-in on the franchise. They knew the anniversary was coming, and instead of having Eurocom do the port of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded last year, they should have handed the port off to another developer and given them the time to craft Legends into a game worthy of the license it was meant to celebrate. Seriously, one year of development time is never enough when building a game from scratch and anyone who knows the game industry as well as I do knows that. It’s a shame to see yet another talented developer, which also created Crash Bash and Dead Space: Extraction, struggle and restructure itself like this. This is exactly what’s wrong with the industry today. There’s too much money-grubbing from big publishers and there’s too many games on store shelves, leaving games like 007 Legends to rot when trying to compete against the likes of Forza Horizon, Doom 3 BFG Edition, and Assassin’s Creed III, all of which released around the same time.
CAPCOM PORTS ANOTHER TITLE!? *GASP*
This is the second story from the rumor mill, which suggests that 3DS title Resident Evil: Revelations is being ported to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This was spotted by dedicated gaming community NeoGAF as the proof in the pudding. Considering the title released to tepid sales on Nintendo’s nearly two-year old handheld, this comes as no surprise seeing as the reputation of the franchise has taken a major hit with the absolutely atrocious Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City shipping early this year to only disappoint fans, and, despite Capcom having shipped 4.5 million copies of Resident Evil 6 worldwide, only sold 800,000 copies in October and was released with a rather poor reception. Revelations, based on what I’ve heard from people who have played it and my time with the demo earlier this year, is more akin to Resident Evil 4’s survival-horror gameplay, with limited ammo and tension-filled encounters with enemies that come out of nowhere, which is honestly what the franchise needs to return to right now, as it’s losing fans with every botched release. Would I buy a port of Revelations? Absolutely, considering I never got around to picking it up on the 3DS and the fact that I loved RE4 to death years ago when it released on the PS2 and now proudly own on the Wii. Plus, I was impressed with the demo. Its atmosphere is truer to the series’ roots than recent iterations have been and it played very well. I can only imagine how great it would look in HD and with the superior control scheme only the HD consoles can provide. If this one is true, count me in.
HITMAN GOES…CALL OF DUTY?
This comes with a bit of concern. Reports indicate that development of the Hitman franchise may be alternating between two developers, a la Call of Duty’s arrangement between Treyarch and Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games. Since IO Interactive, the only developers of the Hitman franchise thus far, recently released the amazing Hitman: Absolution just this past Tuesday (seriously, people, BUY IT), they have apparently moved on to a new project already and will be leaving Hitman in the hands of Square-Enix’s Montreal studio for the next iteration. They want to see how another studio will interpret the franchise and what changes they’ll make to the formula. Apparently, ex-IO Interactive staff members are in the Montreal studio, so there are people that are experienced with the franchise involved, but this still makes me uneasy. It makes me think that we may be seeing a lot of Hitman games churned out, just like the Call of Duty franchise. I’m not sure if it would be annually, considering IO is working on a new title that will likely take years to finish, but still, we waited six and a half years for Absolution and it paid off in spades. The game is polished, lovingly created, and took long enough to come out so that we could build up that want for a new entry in the franchise. Releasing new entries in a franchise so soon one after the other can over-saturate it, making it feel stale. I’m hoping we won’t see Agent 47 for another few years, as I hope the next entry is methodically planned and that Square-Enix Montreal takes their time with it. I’d hate to see Hitman be beaten to death like Call of Duty has been.
And that’s it for this week, folks. Thanks for reading! This is The Maverick Gamer, warping out!