Hey readers, Cronus here with the lowdown on a bit of an older title: Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+
As most fans know, Kingdom Hearts II was the second Playstation 2 iteration of the Disney/Square(soft or Enix) Action RPG and after its release back in 2005, it made headlines all over again. However the Japanese have a tendency to release games in North America with added extras that weren’t in the original and thus re-release it in Japan with even more extras. These ‘International’ versions of those games contain all of the US release extras and more extras specific to the new release. Some of you may have heard of “Final Fantasy X – International”, same thing here. For US players importing them, any titles having had voice overs in the English version retain all of the English voice acting. FFX-International also had the option of choosing between English and Japanese text for the game system itself making it readily available for import. Unfortunately here’s where Square-Enix begins to fumble the ball.
Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix is the Japanese re-release of the game but with loads of added extras. The one and only downfall of the release is that there is no English system option whatsoever, making it harder for non-Japanese players. Luckily, the intense popularity of the game has led to loads of Internet resources for the title and you can find translation guides all over the place. But enough of the small talk; now it’s time to get down and dirty of those wonderful extra additions.
- Critical Mode
The game’s first and immediate new feature is the addition of a new difficulty level. Critical Mode is not for those who found the original ‘Proud Mode’ to be a little difficult. This mode limits your HP to extremely low levels and creates stronger enemies from the starting gate, increasing difficulty in any part of the game. To help players however is an additional 50 ability points from square one as well as several abilities to equip including “EXP Zero” which, when equipped, prevents you from gaining any experience to level up throughout the game. These are a must for hardcore challenge seekers.
- Absent Silhouettes
These are the names given to 5 mysterious ‘clouds’ found in the game and entering them allows Sora and co. to face off against the 5 organization members that were defeated before the events of Kingdom Hearts II. Beware as each one is tricky and they certainly won’t go down without a good fight.
- Cavern of Remembrance
During the siege of Hollow Bastion, just before the 1000 Heartless battle, Sora and company will notice that part of the castle postern has been destroyed revealing a large and mysterious cavern underneath. Inside are extremely high level heartless and nobodies, not to mention several obstacles that require high level abilities to pass and need most if not all of Sora’s Drive Forms to conquer. Your reward at the end of this trial is…
- Organization XIII Final Cut/Data Copies
Hidden in the ‘Rising Falls’ of the original Hollow Bastion is the Garden of Assemblage, a place where you can face off against ‘digital copies’ of Organization members you’ve already defeated. This isn’t just a replay gimmick though, these versions of the Organization are known as the ‘Final Cut’, several times more powerful and different strategies are required for each one.
- Mushroom XIII
13 enigmatic Heartless mushrooms that act as little mini games that test your skills and abilities in fun ways. Defeating them all unlocks a new keyblade for you to swing around.
- Enigmatic Soldier
After beating the main story of the game, this battle is unlocked in Disney Castle, allowing you to face off against the ‘lingering remnant’ of Terra. I’d tell you more, but there’s simply too much to spoil by doing so. His story aside, He was put in as a true ‘test for gamers’ as even veterans of Final Mix still find this extra boss to be a challenge each time. And yes, he can be fought again and again, even after beating him once.
Now all of these probably sound extremely enticing, but the largest and most important ‘extra’ of the game is in fact, the second disc included. Kingdom Hearts – Re:Chain of Memories is a new title that was included as part of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+. As players probably noticed, The events of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II are separated by a full year, and most also probably know about the Gameboy Advance title in the series “Kingdom Hearts – Chain of Memories” which explores the missing gap in the story. Now, Re:CoM is not just a port of the GBA title, it’s a full PS2 recreation from the ground up. Full 3D environments and voice acting are just some of the changes, but in all, the game is a complete PS2 version of the original GBA game.
Now those of you who are going to jump on the game simply for that, do note that Square-Enix has in fact released a North American version of Re:Chain of Memories so you can have all that goodness you never got the first time around, but it is missing the small connection bonuses it has with Final Mix.
Now for those willing to import it despite the language barrier, go right ahead. For those who just wanted more Kingdom Hearts, stick to the English Re:CoM. But in the end, I have to recommend Final Mix to anyone who really wants a new playing experience. Cronus out.