Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Updated Hands-On

Sora's adventures continue in the digitized world of Jiminy Cricket's journal.

Regardless of whether or not you understand all the details surrounding the story of Kingdom Hearts, all you need to know about Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is that it takes place after Kingdom Hearts II. While it may be based on an episodic series on mobile phones in Japan, the DS version has been updated with new controls and features to make it a feel like a Kingdom Hearts game. We had an opportunity to play a demo of the game at the Tokyo Game Show this year, which is a part of this updated hands-on; however, we also got a chance to explore the Coliseum with Hercules and test out some turn-based combat.

Re:coded's gameplay is particularly interesting because it changes depending on where you are in the game. We're only allowed to share two major areas with you--Wonderland and the Coliseum--but there are a lot of different gameplay styles, ranging from role-playing-game-style turn-based combat to a scrolling shoot-'em-up. This particular story takes place in Jiminy's Cricket's journal, which he used to document Sora's first adventure in Kingdom Hearts. When Jiminy discovers a bizarre message inside, King Mickey, Sora, and friends decide to jump in and find out what it means. The world that you wind up in is like a digitized version of the kingdoms you've visited in previous games, so they have a feel similar to them.

The first portion of the preview build put us in Wonderland, where we met the young girl Alice who appeared to have lost her memories, including her own name. Sora, who is always eager to help, offered to track down "inklings" to help jog her memory. Here, we ventured through multiple areas trying to track these sparkling inklings down. Some zones have you sneaking by the queen's guards in the hedge maze, while others are crawling with the shadowy heartless and blox to destroy. Because you're in a digital world, bugs have created block-shaped objects over the datascape (the world that you're in), which you can destroy with your keyblade for pickups and other items. When things go wonky in the datascape (an example would be when the queen's guards suddenly start moving at a ridiculously fast pace), you need to find a backdoor and enter a matrixlike system sector to clear out the bug. Because the combat style changes as you go through the game (and we'll explain these as we go), the basic gameplay still has you use your keyblade to attack, as well as block and use spells by cycling through a deck that you set up beforehand.

System sectors are challenges where you are given a specific goal to complete to fix a bug. They can range from clearing out a certain number of heartless to taking only a limited amount of damage. Generally, as long as enemies are cleared, the bug is fixed and a terminal will appear to teleport you back out. You'll gain sector points (SPs) by defeating enemies and destroying blox, which you can redeem afterward for rewards like deck commands or other stat-boosting chips. You lose SPs when you get hit or lose the challenge, though. Before you enter, you're asked how many of your SPs you want to wager, which can be multiplied if you win or deducted if you lose.

Once we found all of Alice's memories, we tracked down the keyhole to the world and transported to an area that was like an arcade rail shooter, which we played at TGS, so for more info, please read here. We jumped ahead to the Coliseum and bumped into the satyr Phil, who told us his trainee Hercules wasn't back yet and that the Coliseum was starting to look funny. Because this was likely another glitch, we jumped into the multiple layers of the Coliseum to clear out heartless until we came face-to-face with the ever-so-moody Cloud. This part of the game played like a turn-based role-playing game, similar to the Mario RPGs where you can deal extra damage or block when it's the enemy's turn to fight after having timed your button presses correctly during an attack. As we went through the layers of the Coliseum, we picked up combat licenses, which were like power-ups that we could cycle through in our deck and use in battle to boost our strength or defense or autoblock for us. Other than changing up the genres entirely, the bulk of the gameplay will feel familiar because it borrows elements from such previous Kingdom Hearts games as Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days.

The whole gang is back.

Visually, the game doesn't have the elaborate worlds and towns that you may be used to, but the datascape is just as colorful and lively. Like many other Japanese RPGs, your dialogue is presented with character portraits, and we didn't come across any cutscenes. Re:coded is very much a compilation of different games, offering quite a bit of variety in terms of gameplay. The missions are broken up into digestible chunks that are suitable for a portable game, and a helpful minimap at the bottom of the screen helps keep track of your direction and the locations of your enemies. This comes in handy because there are times when it's tricky to see where your enemies are coming from as you adjust and pivot the camera on your own.

We'll be looking forward to finding out what other gameplay types are included and seeing just how Sora gets himself out of this one when the game ships on January 11, 2011.

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Discussion

35 comments
tekkenT13
tekkenT13

I love any game that is added to the series. kingdom hearts 3 will be epic but, every other game that has came out or will come out is worth it. plus KH3 should be a x360 and ps3 release, its obviously not just for sony anymore. so they should make it for both home consoles.

eshtebala
eshtebala

I'd enjoy any gameplay style other than Chain of Memories's style

SpicePinkie
SpicePinkie

I need to have my hands on the game before I judge it. I loved KINGDOM HEART and I enjoyed played that one. I'm just waiting for this one to come out than...we'll see

hunterx313
hunterx313

@DBZKING1234 besides the whole thing with the KH3 (read yoyou225's post to see what i mean) i totally agree. Why did they put Birth By Sleep in a totally different console when 358/2 days and Re: Coded are for the DS? And Square Enix is even making a KH 3D game for the 3DS. Completely unrelated to sony. I also hope that they make a Re: version for KH 1, KH2, and Birth by Sleep for the DS or the 3DS that's coming out, cause i don't have a PS2 or a PSP.

hunterx313
hunterx313

If the cutscenes are not as detailed as 358/2, then I will be deeply unimpressed. In addition, the turn based thing... kind of hard to judge how that'll be. (ugh) I hope they have a surprise appearance of Roxas or something that didn't come out in the mobile version. and an actual NEW storyline for each of the disney worlds. Other then that, this game is looking mighty fine. And it BETTER be better then 358/2.

DBRabbit87
DBRabbit87

Eh... Not really interested. Rather have KH3. Specially with the turn based segments looking very FFIII. Why turn an action RPG into a turn-based RPG. Seem like a step backward. But I guess that's just one of the game play types so not really that big of a complaint. I guess I should give it a try. Birth By Sleep and Chain of Memories were great games. Didn't finish 358/2 yet. Just I don't know...game doesn't seem that good.

guidedblue
guidedblue

hey yoyou225 i really agree with you because everything should have a good plot. like the last airbender that had a really good plot [layout] the games not so much. but wat i'm really looking for is nice gameplay.im really looking for the kingdomhearts3ds game because the 3d really is a great add-on to the overall game

yoyou225
yoyou225

Many people are complaining on the fact of, "Why can't they just make KH3?" well, I have an answer. They are making it, but before they do, they have to tell you different stories so KH3 will make sense. See, if they didn't release birth by sleep, we wouldn't know about the true Xehenort, the search for Terra's heart or Aqua being stuck with Ansem. If we didn't have 358/2 days, we wouldn't know about Organization IIIX's connection to Ventus. In Re: coded, they will find SPOILER Ventus' SPOILER heart. Each side story game has a purpose in the Kingdom Hearts series.

canx12
canx12

omg the epicness of the remixed songs xD

Balmane
Balmane

It looks pretty good. Being a KH fan I will most likely play it.

eliebaz
eliebaz

because why cant they just make KH3

eliebaz
eliebaz

DAMN YOU SQUARE ENIX

pizzaboysam
pizzaboysam

I'm kinda glad that there are so many handheld games for KH because I never had a PS2 or PS3...

Denjou
Denjou

You play as a digital copy of Sora I believe.

SuperbGamer
SuperbGamer

How does this game take place after II if you play as kid Sora? Also, why does kid Sora have older Sora's voice? o_0

DBZKING1234
DBZKING1234

Please just make the 3rd one already. All the spin offs are on different handhelds and I can't play them. I'm going to have to read a wiki just to keep up with the plot :(

nintendo-naut
nintendo-naut

@hotdiddykongI'm on 93% total completion on BBS--clocked in about 40 hours now. Believe me I played it. :P BBS shows some of the past lives of Organiaztion XIII but never actually shows HOW they lost their hearts and became nobodies.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

As much as I'm excited for this, this'll be 3 Kingdom Hearts in a row on a handheld system before we see KH3 hit PS3. It's WAY overdue. Like I said, I'm still excited for this considering 358/2 days was pretty awesome and this'll probably be better. I mean at least give us HD versions of KH1 and 2 with trophy support to keep us happy until the next console KH.

ikonova
ikonova

I don't know I reckon they could have done a slightly better job with the graphics - it just looks really bland! Hope the gameplay makes up for it.

redyelloweye
redyelloweye

oo myyy gawddd i dont like the battle system .....

templar09
templar09

it looks great, definetely i´m gonna buy it. ps: 1970?

Zato_Hurricane
Zato_Hurricane

So has anyone else noticed the Date this was published?

bbdieseal111
bbdieseal111

the battle system is strange i don't like it

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

@nintendo-naut Play Birth by sleep for PSP

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Why are you guys complaining? These arnt "Spin offs" they each are different and shed some light unto the story, Birth by sleep and 358/2 days were amazing and very sad. I cant wait for this game! By the way, Sophia, look at the post, it says: "By Sophia Tong, GameSpotPosted Jan 1, 1970 12:00 am GMT " 1970 XD

nintendo-naut
nintendo-naut

I want KH3 as much as anyone else, but I do enjoy the spin-offs. I'd rather understand the whole plot of Kingdom Hearts first before going to KH3. There are still unsolved mysteries to be solved like how did Organization XIII become Organization XIII? Anyways, I'm excited for this one. Picking it up first day.

NColdhardt
NColdhardt

Don't get me wrong for saying this, the original KH is my favorite videogame of all time, but... Square-Enix should stop. All these KHs coming out for handhelds and mobile devices are just unnecessary. It saddens me that they've commercialized KH, the only other game (The other game being Dues Ex, FF was commercialized after FFX) of Square Enix that had the potential to be series comprised of high quality games with depth.

dipsetboy17
dipsetboy17

i just bought birth by sleep lol. i buy kh games because I'm a blind fanboy. i love them though. when this comes out in January i HAVE to buy it.

lilrobda1
lilrobda1

Im definitely watching a walkthrough on youtube, cause I only buy the main games(BBS, KH1, KH2)

soulless4now
soulless4now

I'm definitely excited for this game. :D