It's been over 10 years since Kingdom Hearts was first released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2002 and since then it's been a huge success worldwide and being released on multiple platforms and systems; of course most hard-core fans are still waiting for Kingdom Hearts III. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix is a HD collection contains Kingdom Hearts Final Mix which is the director’s cut which was only released in Japan, Re: Chain of Memories which is a remake of the GBA version being ported for the PlayStation 2 and first time released in UK/Europe; And of course there is all Cinematic cutscenes for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
The series itself has a great story to tell from the very beginning despite the work of two companies working together both Disney and Square Enix, the combination of both Disney and Final Fantasy characters coming together in one game has been a really good cross-over based around a young hero named Sora. Throughout Sora's adventure fighting through Disney villains and fighting the Heartless with the help of Donald and Goofy they go on a quest to find Sora's friends Riku and Kairi and of course King Mickey.
Gameplay: If you've played the original Kingdom Hearts you may notice a few changes unlike the original game assets was lost a couple of years after the development of the first game. It's still got the same gameplay controls you can tap X to attack and Circle to Jump or even use Magic at enemies, you can now use the Triangle button which is the Reaction Command button which is used to talk/examine things and use Triangle to perform ability attacks like Sonic Blade, Strike Raid or Ragnarok. Another change that's been added in the HD version is that you can use the Right Analog to move the camera around and of course use the R1 to Target-Lock on enemies but the Target-Lock can be a little fiddly especially if the camera control is in the way too. Yet the problem that might annoy a few gamers that the jumping controls can still feel a little fiddly plus the camera control may cause to go in another direction. The Gummi Ships are now a little more fun this time round where you can do various challenges and plus gain a high score if you beat the score before arriving to the world that you want to go to.
As for RE: Chain of Memories which was released on the GBA back in 2004 and then released for the PlayStation 2 in 2007 and 2008 for both Japan and America. This is based on using a Card battle system instead of using the command menu that only had four commands such as Attack, Magic and Items. You are using cards to attack or using Magic or Items by tapping the X button, but the biggest twist around the gameplay is that enemies will also be using cards too, so if you use a 2 attack cards and enemy uses a 3 attack card it will cancel your attack. But if you have a card higher than that number you can cancel their attacks unless they use a 0 or bosses use a combination of numbers more than 3 cards for their attacks. You can also do the same if you tap Triangle 3 times if you have more than 3 cards in your deck you can use those 3 combined cards to attack enemies, however you can pull of certain attack moves or magic attacks if you combine certain attack cards or magic cards together and using the R2 and L2 to shuffle cards back and forth. The jumping controls can still feel a little fiddly like the first Kingdom Hearts, but this has always been a little problem in the series but this can easily be ignored. In Chain of Memories in order to move to the next room you'll need a card in order to open the door and a certain card key in order to move on with the story so you may have to fight a few Heartless first.
Graphics and Sound: Ten years later graphics for the first Kingdom Hearts still haven't changed but since the HD Remix the graphics look even more impressive to look at when it comes to cutscenes and gameplay a lot has changed since then even seeing the face textures and emotions look stunning to look at. As I've just mentioned above in Gameplay the Target-Lock and the Camera system may only be the annoying things about the HD Collection. The Voice hasn't even changed since both games were released on the PlayStation 2 both versions are well voice acted with Hollywood voice actors and TV/Anime voice actors added in as well. But in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix there are a few new cutscenes added but there's only text-dialog for those scenes. The graphics used for RE: Chain of memories uses polygonal 3D battles and environments do look impressive with it being a remake of GBA version, a HD remake of that version doesn't look that impressive as the first Kingdom Hearts but it's still a nice touch of a 3D version of the game including its cinematic cutscenes make a great touch too.
For Kingdom Hearts 358/Days with it being a DS game to begin with, this version is all cinematic cutscenes and some text added but it does not have any gameplay what so ever. This version contains all scenes from 358/2 Days in a 2 hour and 50 minute film; this is a nice touch if you didn't get the chance to play the game on the DS but however it could have been nice if it was a full game instead. It's even nice to have all voice actors from the original DS game coming back again to do the HD version of 358/2 Days.
The soundtrack yet plays another important role in the series with the help of Yoko Shimomura composing the whole soundtrack of all three games but the main soundtrack is well concentrated in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix have been re-recorded with live instrumentation, as opposed to the original games' use of the PlayStation 2's built-in tone generator for their background music. Music for Re: Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days soundtrack is well worth listening to as well.
Overall: As a fan of the series I was very happy when I first heard of the announcement over a year ago and can say that the wait was worth it. I am amazed that the series is still selling strong over the years and looking forward to what is installed next in the series. If you didn't get a chance to play the original games on the PlayStation 2 this is your chance to play some classic titles that still live up from today since 2002, even trophy support is added for both hard-core Kingdom Hearts fans and trophy collectors. You can easily spend more than 50 hours on both Kingdom Hearts and Re: Chain of Memories pending on what difficulty you plan on playing it on either Beginner, Standard or Proud mode, what might make you want to play the series is actually memorable story around the series and the emotional soundtrack this is a must have for any PS3 owner.