Now before I get into this game review, I should explain the reason why I am putting up some old reviews I have. If you went to tri-liteonline.com, and looked up the writer Jonathan Falu, or just video game reviews in general, then those are my reviews I wrote for the university newspaper. We weren’t all that popular sadly, and most of my content ended up being cut, so the long and detailed reviews you see here are practically cut down to about 800 words at best, even lower. In fact, my first review of Persona 4, which I will redo once I replay the game soon, maybe, is complete garbage because the editor at the time decided she wanted something shorter and did not inform me of the change. Thankfully, since the students who read it never heard of Persona, I was saved some backlash. Either that, or they had a life and didn’t care about some guy doing video game reviews for a university that basically hated him.
…I need to go cry now.
…Okay, I’m back! Anyway, the point is that I will be taking reviews I have written for that site/newspaper, and put them on here, but I shall add in more things and give more insight to details I couldn’t expand upon, thus pointing out some more flaws and my personal thoughts. Actually, this caused a bit of an argument between my supervisor in workstudy, one Gary Coleman (no, not the black midget; this guy shared the same name though.), who tried to tell me how to do things, but we didn’t see eye to eye. And not following his advice turned out to be a good thing considering the new editor of Holy Family University, Jennifer Gregory, recognized my work as excellent material. But I didn’t have such confidence, and thus plan on doing every review I have ever done for the newspaper my way, to show that I have more things to say about the game, and more reasons to defend my score for the game.
And with that in mind, I turn your attention to a certain game. Enjoy:
Kingdom Hearts: Re-Coded has the honor of being the first game that actually does take place after the second game. The story basically takes place at Disney Castle as King Mickey and his friends are trying to unlock the mystery of Jimini the Cricket’s journal, only to be sucked into the datascape of the computer and have to rely on Data-Sora to fix everything. For those don’t know, every Kingdom Hearts game after the second installment thus far has been nothing more than a prequel to one of the other games in the series, adding much needed back-story, but at the same time, forcing even more questions down our throats than answers. My personal head twister was the secret boss in Birth By Sleep, since it was kinda hinted he has something to do with the series. But since the games have been mostly good, and even bringing in better combat systems, these were forgiven. I actually liked to play 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep, so I was looking forward to Re: Coded!
That was until I played this game and realized that the creators might have just stopped caring. It’s bad enough when Final Mixes (bonus content) of the games were released only in Japan, but when we get sloppy seconds, something is wrong.
Kingdom Hearts: Re Coded was originally a cellphone game, but Square Enix decided to put it on the DS instead for $35. Is it worth it? Oh it is, if you think of it like getting a nice slice of your favorite pizza, only for someone to punch you in the stomach each time you finish a slice! If you have played cellphone games before, and even 358/2 Days, you are already fearing the problems within this game. Allow me to confirm the facts. The camera is even worse in this game, a feat I never thought possible until now. Often, the camera will be your worst enemy, and you may even be blindsided by attacks you are trying to dodge. I may have like 358/2 Days, but even I can point out some problems that made the game such a friggin’ menace to play sometimes.
Luckily, sometimes, the camera won’t be the problem as the game is filled with some minigames that help replace early boss fights. The problem with this however? Most of the minigames are absolutely horrendous! One is a 2D sidescroller that constantly moves, so if you are caught at the end, you lose health and have to pick a new starting point. Also, don’t expect a lot of opportunities to rejuvenate health, because it’s nearly impossible! At best, you have to grab spells that can help you, and you better make damn sure you have the right one during the stage, otherwise, it’s bye bye Sora.
But the second is perhaps the worst as it is nothing more like a rail shooter. At first, this isn’t too bad, but the camera again decides to be the worst enemy by constantly tilting, confusing the controls and making it near impossible to play and may get you disoriented. This isn’t helped by wave of enemies and spells, but one of the biggest annoyances are the boxes you can’t break or shock you! Normally it wouldn’t be so bad, but when you are forced to play upside down with some controls reversed, it’s hard to get used to!
The only minigame that is remotely good is the Olympus RPG mode, in which the game mimics a RPG-style of gameplay, where each character gets a turn. Here, you not only play as Sora, but you can also play as Hercules, and eventually, Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. I can already sense that most of you suddenly have a boner right now, but keep in mind this is the only time you can play with these characters. Yes, there are multiple times you can get through this stage, each one longer and harder than the next, but the rewards aren’t really too special.
But the overall RPG is pretty neat, with characters growing stronger just as Sora does, and spells and items being combined to create special attacks, such as stronger spells, attacks, or even co-op techniques between Sora and the others. And in an attempt to further get you into the gameplay, there are also button timing to link combos and destroy multiple enemies each turn.
And expect to see these things towards the end of the game as well, with the exception of the RPG. Yeah, that’s what I want in my game. To replay the same crap I always played earlier in the game!
Outside of that, this game tries to combine both mechanics of Birth By Sleep and 358/2 Days, but fails miserably. Combination of the moves is a longer process than before, and has even become limited due to a memory meter that constantly fills. And leveling up is similar to the slots of 358/2 Days, and by linking panels, you can double strength. The problem is that it is not only limited, but once you place a plate on the grid, you cannot take it off, meaning you have to be extra careful when placing those plates. However, you can at least swap them for different plates, so that’s always good. It even tries to encourage more combos in order to gain more bonuses during battle depending on the keyblade you use to fight.
The only good thing is that combat is a lot smoother this time around and less frame rate issues. The graphics also help in this and does prove to be superior to 358/2 Days. What doesn’t help is the vast amount of repetition. In this game, you also have to hack into areas to get rid of viruses, something that reminded me of Megaman EXE or Tron (and no, Tron is not in this game), and you earn SP, which can be converted into munny, EXP, or even obtain new items. And for a time, I actually liked playing the game because it reminded me of a portable version of the very first Kingdom Hearts game.
The problem with this is that it is just too repetitive as you basically fight the same enemies over and over again. Yes, I tend to actually like that, but it can get stale after awhile when you realize it just isn’t as fun as the other games. There are challenges, but some are just unfair and require the most skilled of players, or overpowered, to overcome them. And the rules only help prove this point, with some forcing the player to wait until nighttime to play the game, thus making them wait, less they want all their SP down the drain. And there is no option to turn off these challenges or avoid them either, that is if you want to keep the SP to get items you really, really want.
And perhaps the biggest insult of all is the length of this game. If you don’t finish all the side-quests and such, this game shouldn’t even take you 20 hours to beat, maybe even less! For $35, you should expect more from your game. Now I have heard that people are perfectly fine with games being under 20 hours long, but considering that RPGs can expand to far longer play times, and the fact that 358/2 Days could last 2-3 times as long, you shouldn’t have that train of thought and be relaxed, especially when the game isn’t all that fun! At least 358/2 Days had a bigger cast, multiplayer options, a better story, and more varied mission types.
If you play this game, you’re also going to be asking yourself far too many questions that will never be answered. Had this game been longer, cheaper, and added no annoying minigames, or at the very least just made them optional, it would certainly earn a far higher score. Like I said, even though gameplay can eventually stale, it did kinda play like a much superior version of the first Kingdom Hearts game. But for now? It isn’t worth your attention or your money. If I have to offer any advice to Square Enix, it’s to stick with the mechanics from Birth By Sleep. The gameplay was definitely the best there, and if they can make the leveling mechanics better, then I welcome it. Just not like this game!
Kingdom Hearts Re Coded hardly earns a 2 out of 5.