I grew up on Disney. My parents took me to Disney World before I could even form complete sentences and walk the whole day. My grandmother painted Mickey Mouse figures on my bedroom walls and the whole family saw every new Disney animated feature in theaters. I love teaching the big songs from the different films to my music and theater students and always have at least one in my audition book just in case. No, not "Go the Distance" from Hercules. That's a tenor cliche at this point. In 2002, when Kingdom Hearts was released in the US for the PS2, I instantly fell in love. It was a JRPG with Disney characters. I'm a sucker for a JRPG and this one let me explore Halloween Town, ride on Dumbo, and battle Maleficent, the finest of all the humanoid Disney villains.
I'm not the only one who fell hard for it. Any large convention with cosplay rules lists keyblades (the weapon in the game) in their weapons' guidelines. Etsy is full of unlicensed fan crafts and new licensed merchandise is released every year.
I spent every spare moment I had in my busy high school schedule playing that game. I refused to rush through it. I wanted to take everything in that I could. The tutorial level on the island was gorgeous and made the transition to the wonderful world of Disney honest and believable.
This September (10 September to be exact), Square Enix will be releasing Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix in North America (European and Australian releases follow a few days later). The title is a mouthful. What it means is that they have upgraded the original Kingdom Hearts game to HD and even added in elements of the handheld games for the GBA and DS. It will also feature live orchestral scoring rather than the digitally rendered soundtrack of the original.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix features two complete Kingdom Hearts games. The first (and the main draw) is Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. This was a Japanese-exclusive version of the original Kingdom Hearts with new battles, new cut-scenes, and new story elements and music cues to better connect the original game to Kingdom Hearts 2. The original Final Mix actually featured English voice acting, so who knows what happened to the clearly planned international release in 2006.
The second game in the set is Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories. Chain of Memories was a handheld game for the Nintendo GBA with a whole new story and gameplay style. You collected battle cards that gave you special Disney-flavored boosts in combat. The game was then remade for the PS2 in 2007 (US release 2008).
The other big feature is strange and exciting at the same time. Another DS game, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, will be in the game. It just won't be playable. The DS game has been reanimated for the PS3 as two hours and 50 minutes of cinematics that tell the entire story of the game.
These three titles, more than Kingdom Hearts and 2, are connected in a really logical way. I applaud Square Enix for taking the HD re-release concept in a new direction. They are selling what could be the best version of an amazing game, filled with new features and tons of bonus content. I don't mind buying a game again years later if the developers actually make it worth the purchase.
Here's the official trailer for the US release. If you preorder the game, you get an exclusive art book.
So beautiful. I'm going to have to preorder this.
What about you? Share your thoughts below.