Newest Kingdom Hearts Release Draws Love from Gamers


Graphic by Junwoo Kim

At the end of 2015, a trailer for a new game within the Kingdom Hearts series was announced, causing the community to be very anxious as to if this would be the long awaited Kingdom Hearts lll or another filler. Sadly, it was another HD remaster, similar to previous installments, to be released on the Playstation 4. The new game is titled Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, making it the final game leading up to Kingdom Hearts lll. This game was released on Jan. 24 almost entirely worldwide.

Kingdom Hearts is a video game franchise that brings together Disney and the popular Final Fantasy franchise. An RPG style game, Kingdom Hearts follows the main protagonist, Sora, and his Disney pals, Donald Duck and Goofy. Sora travels through many worlds, based on Disney movies, meeting many familiar faces in addition to some new ones. The first game was released in 2002 on the Playstation 2, starting a vast franchise that is adored by many. The Playstation 3 had no new games released, but it had two HD remasters: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and Kingdom Hearts 2.5. The first pack had the first game, as well as two filler games leading up to the second game. The second pack held the second game, a prequel, and yet another filler game.

Within the new collection, there is Dream Drop Distance, originally released on the Nintendo 3DS, about Sora and his best friend Riku taking a mastery exam. The second game in the pack is a new mini-episode titled Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep, a follow up to the prequel released in Kingdom Hearts 2.5, following a character named Aqua, a master from 10 years prior to the first game. Along with those two games is an hour long CGI movie that gives insight to the original Foretellers of the entire series’ universe.

The three adventures in this collection bring more to the plotline than any other games, and these excellent stories are fun to watch come to life. Unlike the other games, where some of the gameplay seemed irrelevant to the story, the plot is weaved better into the gameplay. This series as a whole has a very complicated storyline, making it hard to follow sometimes, but this pack answered many questions and brought some new questions that act as an interesting hook for what is to come.

The first game in the collection, Dream Drop Distance, had a major shift in gameplay, as it is on an entirely new system, the PS3. Most of the mechanics had to be changed, making the game feel more fluid and less clunky and the characters easier to control. With Birth By Sleep, the style is a whole new ballpark compared to its predecessors. This is the first next-gen game in the series with a new engine, which gives a more realistic feel and look to the games, keeping what fans enjoyed about previous games while bringing new and fun features to the table. Some of the new features include flowmotion, which gives the player the ability to slide across landscapes, and customization, which gives the player accessories such as wings or mouse ears. I didn’t care much for the customization, however, as I prefer the original design of the character.

Throughout the playable games, there are slight weaknesses, though none of them distract from the game in its entirety. In the age of gaming we live in today, the developers can release updates to patch any issues. I have been invested with this series since 2010, when I first played one of its games. This game brought out a nostalgic feeling to many, considering that a new game has not been released since 2012. This recent collection was fun to play, and it was exciting to see how it would unfold. The graphics and story were very nice and enjoyable. I would recommend this collection to people who love the franchise and to anyone that enjoys free roam open world and RPG games. There is definitely something for almost everyone, from the music to the visuals.

There is so much more to come for Kingdom Hearts, including the re-release of the HD remixes, 1.5 and 2.5, on to the Playstation 4, as well as the long overdue Kingdom Hearts lll. This year happens to be the 15th anniversary of the series — anything and everything is possible.