Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded Review
Kingdom Hearts fans have been treated to more games than expected, yet they all seem to go backwards in terms of storyline. Instead of furthering the story, these diversions are in the form of prequels or side-stories. Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded is no different and rehashes a similar storyline fans have been introduced to in the first game, though it does manage to mix things up with a few gameplay changes.
Re:Coded takes place after Kingdom Hearts 2 when Jiminy Cricket decides to go over his past journal entries from the first adventure. He notices a mysterious entry that wasn't written by him and immediately takes it to Mickey for investigation. Upon further investigation, Mickey learns that the journal has been corrupted. This starts an adventure into a digitized version of the journal where Data Sora is guided by Mickey and a mysterious black hooded figure to fix these corruptions and solve the meaning of the cryptic messages in the journal.
Though it's impressive to see old locations recreated on the DS, it seemed like another cop-out from Square Enix by making fans trudge through worlds they not only completed in the first game, but in Chain of Memories as well. The mission structure of 358/2 days is gone, and you'll be able to fully explore each world again, though be prepared for a heavier dose of platforming. Due to the corruption, "bugs" litter the worlds in the form of differently colored cubes which either must be destroyed or used as platforms to hop from one place to another.
Much like the 3D Zelda games, platforming is simplified by having Sora jump automatically when you approach a ledge. While it does make some platforming sequences easier, frequent unintentional jumps have you constantly making up for lost ground. Camera control is still a big problem, though thankfully, pressing the Select button zooms out the camera a bit and lets you see more of the area that you're in.
Even though you're basically replaying through the first game, the combat is completely modern. The MP bar is gone and each skill or spell has a cooldown until it can be used. As you pummel the Heartless, an overclock gauge will rise up three levels, with each level giving you a skill boost until you max it out for a devastating attack.
Different anomalies happen in each world that require Sora to find a 'backdoor' entrance to a debug room, which plays out like a gauntlet of sorts. Each room is small and requires all enemies to be defeated until Sora can advance. While you fight, you earn points that can be used at the end of the debugging to claim upgrade rewards, skills, and spells, or just cash them in for Munny or Experience points.
The biggest change is that each world has sections that play out like a different game genre altogether. They range from sidescrolling levels, turn-based battles, rail-shooters, stealth levels and even some RTS thrown in for good measure. It's a welcome change of pace, but not all genre mix-ins work well. The sidescroller controls are very loose and still use the automatic jumping, which is even more annoying here. The rail-shooter parts also don't have the best controls and will have you crashing into blocks most of the time.
Sora levels up gradually by receiving experience points that turn into upgrade blocks. Much like the newer Final Fantasy games, the blocks are placed on a Stat Matrix to enhance attributes and unlock abilities such as dodge, block, and improved combos. The most interesting are the Cheat modifiers, which can alter the way you acquire items, munny, or even change the difficulty in exchange for raising or lowering some of Sora's stats. Similarly, Sora's abilities level up the more you use them, and are able to be fused together to form new, more powerful abilities.
Ultimately your enjoyment of Re:Coded will stem from how much you like or loathe the Kingdom Hearts side-stories. It's an impressive game that looks better than its Organization XIII-centered predecessor. However, the fact that you're essentially replaying the first game mixed with a port of a 2009 mobile game is quite disappointing. Where is the proper sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2? Be that as it may, fans and newcomers alike will find a great game hidden underneath a coat of familiarity.