Hail to the King(dom)
By all rights, 2.5 ReMIX should be a more enticing prospect than the re-release of the first game. While both Kingdom Hearts received enhanced 'Final Mix' versions on PS2 in Japan after their original release, which in turn improved upon the western releases, Kingdom Hearts II got the lion's share of upgrades. Having the definitive iteration is something fans of the series have clamoured for for years now, and Square Enix's repackaging is indeed a spectacular offering.
Not only is the core game still a delight, seeing new character Roxas and returning hero Sora taking on Disney's finest worlds, but the inclusion of the Final Mix version of Birth By Sleep originally a PSP-only prequel to the entire saga makes this worthy of purchase in its own right.
The latter feels like the bigger draw of the two, not least because it sees the most improvement in going from Sony's under-appreciated handheld to the PS3, Narratively, it's also arguably more important as after playing through the core game, this flashback entry answers several lingering questions.
For such a bizarre concept (a Disney/Final Fantasy crossover? Really?) both are fantastic RPGs. The core gameplay, blending real-time combat with exploration and stat-boosting levelling, remains a speedy and engaging affair. As with the last collection, a compilation of the cutscenes from a 3DS title, here Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, serves more as a curiosity for completists who need to know every facet of the story than anything you'll want to really dive into though.
Although most of the improvements across the collection high def widescreen visuals, reworked audio with orchestral music, and expanded story moments will only resonate with devoted fans of the series, even newcomers can appreciate the overall quality of the games. Having both in their authoritative form and playable on a modern telly is a real pleasure.