I reserve little parts of my cold dead heart for the things I hold dear. Among them are puppies, the fact that man has been on the moon, and the existence of Lord of Rings-inspired folk metal. In a tiny, shameful corner next to my adolescence, I keep the Kingdom Hearts series – specifically, the hope for the release of Kingdom Hearts 3, because it’s been a whole console generation since we’ve seen a Kingdom Hearts game on something that wasn’t a handheld.
The announcement of an HD re-release in the form of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix was about as irritating to me as it was exciting. The only reason I didn’t get a PS3 when I made the jump to current gen consoles was because I was resolute in the belief that a third Kingdom Hearts game was A) not going to make it to the current generation and B) probably be released cross-platform anyway. In retrospect, my second idea wasn’t exactly logically sound at the time, but Square Enix’s cross-platform releases have become the norm as of Final Fantasy XIII. I was, however, definitely correct on the first one because all anyone is getting in lieu of the third installment is… an HD re-release.
This isn’t to say that the existence of the re-release is a terrible choice. In fact, it’s the perfectly logical thing to do when your franchise has been missing in action for almost seven years. However frightening it may seem, there is an entire generation of gamers who have only seen spin-offs of the series and an HD remake would be the perfect way to get the game into the public eye once again as well as grab any stragglers who failed to get on the boat the first time around. HD remakes have proven to be a boon for some series, like Sly Cooper; after the successful release of the Sly Collection, Thieves in Time, the four installment of the series, was released after an almost seven year lapse. On the other side of the coin, the critical and sales success of The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection has done nothing to speed up the release of the The Last Guardian, which has all but turned to vaporware.
The only problem with HD 1.5 Remix is that, aside from being on the PS3 and having some quality-of-life alterations to gameplay, it only includes the original Kingdom Hearts in “Final Mix” form and the somewhat shoddy PS2 adaptation of Chain of Memories. These offerings are a little scant in comparison to HD remakes like the ones for Devil May Cry, Jak and Daxter, and Sly Cooper, all of which included their respective trilogies in their entirety. HD 1.5 Remix will also include cutscenes from 358/2 Days on the DS in the form of a theater mode, but the fact that it isn’t included as a playable game is as disappointing as it is telling of the kind of complexity that the series has fallen into that it needs (unplayable!) supplementary material to make any sense of itself.
Regardless of what is (or isn’t) included in HD 1.5 Remix, I have no doubt in my mind that Kingdom Hearts fans, as ravenous/starved for meaningful content as they are, will willingly put down the cash for a copy, if only to revisit old haunts and refresh their fading memories and I’d be an equally willing participant if I owned a PS3, especially if it meant supporting a possible future release of Kingdom Hearts 3. Sometimes I think about the probable existence (or lack thereof) of fans who will actually die, as in leave from the mortal plane forever, before the series (or any series, really) will be properly finished and that is pretty sad.