March 21st, 2013, 7:34 AM
Didn't see a thread for this... But KH 1.5, contains Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories, and Days (except that one redone as a nearly 3 hour movie). Here's the official PAX East trailer; game releases outside Japan this fall (that's for both North America and Europe).
March 22nd, 2013, 12:01 AM
WOW it's weird hearing KH1!Sora in English in that trailer. @_@ He's so little! I've been playing it in Japanese so I'd forgotten just how different Sora sounds in the first game compared to literally every other game in the series, haha.
Yeah, I imported this because I don't like waiting for KH games and I can tell everyone it's definitely worth buying. Not only is FM included, which was already a good improvement over KH1, but they really made some great upgrades to it. Being able to control the camera with the right analog stick is a godsend and having actions mapped to the triangle button like in KH2 feels much more natural. I'm enjoying this playthrough of FM a lot more than the last time I played a few years back. It's also a bit difficult to deal with, though, because I really don't think KH1's battle system aged well at all if you've been playing the other games in the series. :(
Oh, they also re-did a lot of the music in the game! They re-recorded a lot of it with live instruments. (Or live instrument samples? I'm not really sure!) As someone who's spent a LOT of time listening to all the Kingdom Hearts soundtracks, it's not obvious in every song but any time I hear a "new" song I always have to pause to appreciate it. You notice it every so often in the typical boss battle music or in Destati and in some others it's crazy obvious--for example the suspense theme that plays as Captain Hook tells you to walk the plank in Neverland has a whole new melody in it or something. It was VERY different and it really threw me off-guard. o_O (Sorry, I don't have the KH OST on me right now and I don't remember the scene well despite playing it an hour ago so I can't say which song it is off the top of my head.)
I haven't touched Re:COM yet (saving the personal best for last 8D) but I did watch the cutscenes from Days on Monday and it was really nice seeing it all pretty. (Spoilers for the 358/2 Days part below, obviously.)
However, it's not at all a replacement for playing the game if you're a fan of the characters. I absolutely love Days as a game. The battle system may not be the best and yeah the plot has been largely pointless thus far in the series, but I count myself amongst the few who really loved Xion, Roxas and Axel's story together. I've played the game many times and I really appreciate what it has to offer. So I've been really excited to see how they converted it to, essentially, a movie, that would introduce a lot of people to the story of a game they never bothered to or couldn't play.
What they did is they took most of the "important" cutscenes and rendered them using the same engine we're used to for in-game cutscenes in all the games now... and delegated everything else that happens and is still relevant to static screenshots with text overlays. You can press the square button to hide the text briefly and see the screenshot without anything covering it but it's still just a screenshot. That's about what I expected (and the screenshot instead of a blank screen with text is still a nice touch) but I have issues with what scenes were included in cutscenes and which ones ended up with a screenshot or cut out entirely.
Now, I feel that Xion and Roxas's stories are really heart-breaking... but the only reason they are heartbreaking is because you have the whole game to get to know them, to see their friendship blossom, and then it's ripped away in the end because the game is so sad. But this is no longer a game, it's just a glorified movie. So instead of spending 25-40 hours controlling Roxas as he does his missions like clockwork day in and day out, you sit and watch and usually read. This is just fine for most missions because honestly, no one cares about seeing Roxas collect emblems or take out 10 flowers or do recon in a world we've visited countless times in other games. But we do care about the relationship he builds up with both Xion and Axel. I get that he eats ice cream with them every day they can and yes that's arguably the most important part of their days but they left out or skimmed over a lot of important missions.
For example, partway through the game, it's revealed that Xion can no longer use her Keyblade. Try as she might, she just can't summon it and she's understandably freaking out because if she can't do her missions (release the hearts of Heartless), she's useless to the Organization and they'll get rid of her. She, Roxas and Axel realize how big a deal this is and Axel figures out a way to let her and Roxas go on missions together for a while. This way, Roxas can take out the Heartless for her and Saix and Xemnas are none the wiser. But this doesn't work forever and eventually Saix tells them they have to take separate missions. Not only do we miss out on Axel arguing with Saix and getting them One Final Mission together to solve the Keyblade problem, but we miss out on the actual mission that Roxas and Xion do. And I take issue with both of these cuts.
Firstly, while it's not a huge deal, it's still important to note that Axel and Saix, as Lea and Isa, were friends and were "in this together" in the Organization. When Axel befriends Roxas and Xion, Saix is NOT happy about it. To have Axel arguing with him and trying to get him to rescind orders, eventually agreeing to take on Roxas's mission instead (so Roxas can help with Xion's), it's just further proof that Axel is starting to like the newcomers more than Saix. This scene, for me, is always the point where Saix realizes that Axel is kind of a lost cause to him and that they've drifted apart. I think this is the tipping point that leads Saix to where he is in KH2 and KH3D and showing their relationship break apart like this is kind of important because we get so few chances to see why it happens as it is. But okay, fair enough. I figured they couldn't spend THAT much time on just one day, so they were leaving this part out entirely (not even a screenshot summary) in order to show what was probably one of the most memorable missions of the game.
...but no, they left the whole mission as a screenshot. Now, I'm a little biased because one of my favourite lines in all the KH games is right after Roxas hands Xion his Keyblade. She doesn't want to take it, asking what he'll fight with instead. Roxas looks around and picks up a little stick. And Xion says "Roxas, that's a stick." Haha, I love states-the-obvious lines and this whole exchange is a perfect example of their relationship. Roxas is giving up his weapon--the only thing that makes him important to the Organization--to his friend so that she might be able to remember how to use the Keyblade. He knows she won't let him do this unless he has a weapon to so he opts to use the first thing he finds, a stick, and says he'll be fine with it. They struggle through (and it's not really an easy mission--the stick is really weak compared to the Keyblade you've been using up until then and there's a mini-boss at the end of the mission) and in the end, Xion finds that the plan worked. She can summon her Keyblade again and she doesn't have to worry about being a dead weight to the Organization when she and Roxas are split up again the next day. I think this would have been a much more effective scene if we got to see some of the mission. Show us that it was a struggle for Roxas, show us that he made a sacrifice for the sake of his friend. As it is, it feels like it was just sort of skimmed over because it got the exact same treatment that a lot of other missions got. It almost felt just as important as Roxas collecting emblems in Agrabah or something (we see a screenshot of this).
After that, they head to the Clock Tower to see Axel and show him their results, which is a cute scene that I think they did embellish for the HD release, but I don't think the end is as important as the journey there in this case. I think just including this day in full would have been far more effective at showing the dynamic of the trio to people unfamiliar with the game. You have Axel's protective outlook on the two Keyblade users--how he's willing to undermine an old friend to ensure Xion will be okay and Roxas will be happy (which is evidence of him becoming more human instead of an uncaring, selfish Nobody)--and you have Roxas's determination to make sure Xion will be okay, even if it means weakening himself (which is foreshadowing for the whole power scale they have in the plot anyway) and you have Xion absolutely hating to be a burden, but tentatively willing to open up and let her friends help her out. It's the perfect example of how they all see each other and how they work together throughout the whole game. I don't like how it was so skimmed over and all we see is what happens after it's resolved which is nowhere near as important, to me, how as it gets resolved. :(
There are a lot of other parts that get left out. Like Vacation Day. I'm biased because I think it's one of the funniest parts of the game but I was still surprised they kept it all as screenshots except for the Clock Tower bit at the end--and that seems silly to me because it's again really important to the characterization of the Trio. Roxas goes to ask Axel what he's gonna do with the day off; Axel is tired and I think his conversation with Roxas would have had the potential to really show how the Organization is overworking Axel and running him absolutely ragged at this point. We see a screenshot and accompanying text that summarizes the conversation but think of how much more impact it could have as a cutscene! We also get to read about Roxas's conversation with Xion where she apologizes and says she's going to train to become stronger instead of relax. But most glaringly, they completely skipped over the part where Roxas hangs out with the Twilight Town gang on his way to get ice cream and plays keep-up with them. It's the first evidence of his relationship with them, which ties in very well with KH2's Roxas and it's also his first interaction with "normal" people who aren't in the Organization. We also don't really get the full emphasis of the fact that Roxas has no idea what to do with himself if someone isn't giving him direct orders... which is the sad reality of his life in the Organization. :( The game just skips over so many of these little things that really make the characters come alive and totally define who they are. I was really surprised they cut this out because this wasn't even a standard day, it was a very unique day in a sea of cookie-cutter missions, so I thought it was a prime example of something that would be converted to cutscene but I guess it wasn't important enough?
Sorry for this rant. To be clear, I'm glad Days was included and I know they can't convert everything to full on cutscenes. I did enjoy watching it (and cried at the end, as always!) but I just find it disappointing that so many people who didn't bother to play the original Days are going to miss out on what I think are really important scenes when it comes to the development of the characters and their relationships. I don't think the movies really do the characters justice and at this point, sympathizing with the characters is still the only reason Days is relevant to the story.