Kingdom Hearts Re:coded

From what must have been seen as somewhat of a gamble on the parts of Square and Disney, Kingdom Hearts has grown into a solid and respected franchise since the first game was released in 2002. Looking back, the combination of Disney and Final Fantasy is an obvious win, but hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. That said, key to the success of the games doesn’t come from the big hitters making guest appearances from Square and Disney, it’s down to the story that binds the two universes together and the new heroes created to take you on that journey. And although Sora, Kairi & Riku have been killed, resurrected, lost their hearts and been thrown around in time, they still live on throughout the series, be it as alternate version of themselves such as Roxas and Naminé or in the case of Re:coded, digital recreations of their original selves.

Re:coded was originally an episodic mobile phone game released only in Japan as Kingdom Hearts Coded. This release for the DS has taken the story and themes from that game and recreated it with a new game engine, improved graphics and additional content closely resembling the look of the previous DS title, 358/2. The story starts with Jiminy Cricket examining his journals from the events that took place in the original Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, but all is not well. The books are blank, save for a mysterious message from someone calling themselves Naminé. Obviously the books need to be restored and it sounds like someone’s in trouble so King Mickey calls the Disney gang together and they devise a plan to fix the journals by digitising them (using a computer made by Chip and Dale, duh!).

They call upon a digital version of the original Sora to travel through the journals, visiting and restoring the worlds within while working out what on earth is going on. As Kingdom Hearts stories go this is quite forgiving, previous games have gone off on unbelievably complex tangents, which although rewarding and exciting, can be daunting for someone not up on the game’s history. The simplicity of this story is that all these events have already transpired and you are merely playing out an alternate version of them. It is difficult to say much more about the story without spoiling it but needless to say you will be visiting all kinds of worlds and getting a visit from a dark, hooded figure from the past, or future. Oh, I’ve confused myself already.

Having not played the original mobile phone version of Coded it’s hard to compare it to Re:coded but by all accounts what we have here is a retelling of a worthwhile story with a very competent game engine. While the graphics do seem a little jaggy, this becomes much less noticeable when the game is in motion. The animation is smooth and fluid and while the combat can get fairly frantic, the game holds up very well. While playing you will be either fighting or exploring but either way the controls are the same and while the DS controls may not be ideal for adventuring in 3D, everything works very well, including the action oriented twist on the classic Final Fantasy combat menu system. The one issue is the camera, but rather than attempt an automatic affair, Re:coded goes with the often overlooked ‘leave it to the player’ method. You can move the camera manually using the touch screen or by holding the right trigger and using the D-Pad. My personal preference was to play with the camera fixed while occasionally tapping the right trigger to snap it to my character’s orientation. Not ideal but it soon becomes second nature. One particularly nice touch is that you can jump up on to or off of objects and ledges by simply running into them. This works remarkably well and really makes exploring an effortless pleasure.

As you progress through the game you will earn chips to upgrade your digital incarnation using a simplified sphere grid style circuit board. These will earn you access to more powers and abilities, allowing you to customise your fighting style to your own preference or the situation at hand.

Obsessive fans may find this a little light on the gameplay systems they have come to know but should play it for the potentially missed adventure. If you’re new to Kingdom Hearts this could well be a nice entry point to the series, just jump on Wiki and read the plot for the original two games and you’ll be set. If you’re a lapsed fan such as myself you’ll find this as charming as the series has ever been.







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