The Kingdom Hearts series was once a magical thing. The first two titles really created a world that allowed gamers to feel like a part of the Disney world like never before. The original voice actors for all your favourite Disney characters were brought in to make it the most authentic Disney experience you could have on your PS2. While the series has continued to grow, with seven titles now, none of them has really captured the essence of the first two PS2 titles, as each title has deviated away from what made the Kingdom Hearts titles so good.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded manages to bring back some of the original charm while also managing to target no one in particular. Sora’s adventure has been documented by Jiminy Cricket, and upon digitising the book they discover a vast amount of bugs in the memories the journal is meant to hold. Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Jiminy call for digital Sora – the Sora inside the now digital journal – to find out what’s going on. Sora does this by going through the worlds any seasoned KH fan will know well. Strangely, KH fans are unlikely to get anything new from playing Re:coded and people that are new to the series probably won’t have any attachment to the characters they’ll be introduced to.
Re:coded was originally an episodic phone title in Japan, and because of this the gameplay noticeably varies with every world Sora travels to. You’ll go from your typical action-RPG hack and slash battles to turn-based fights and you’ll spend some time hunting down people’s memories, finding missing companions or trying to dodge traps. Another feather in Re:coded’s cap is its boss fights. Because of the episodic nature of the original, each boss fight is vastly different from the one before it.
The game looks great for a DS title, and the worlds and characters found inside the PS2 titles have been scaled down to a point where the frame rate never drops but everything is still amazingly readable. Most cutscenes are shown via sprites and text – thankfully the amount of poses for each character makes these a joy to watch – but at the end of each world you’ll get treated to absolutely gorgeous pre-rendered cinematics that hint at what the game would look like if it had been made on a more powerful console.
If you’ve heard of Kingdom Hearts and never got around to checking it out, then this is probably an ideal title to start on. It can be a little repetitive and frustrating at times – change the default camera settings – but you’ll get to know the characters and undoubtedly want to track down the first two in the series.