It feels like not so long ago I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on PSP. It feels weird to think how many years ago that was and to be here today with a review of it on PS3, but here we go.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has long been my favorite title in the series, though it always had its drawbacks and many of them were due to what system it was on. With the jump to PlayStation 3 it sees a host of improvement while at the same time suffering some of the same exact issues. As the game was never released onto PSN, the only choice you had to play it was the UMD. Well, okay, there was data install which helped tremendously. With the jump onto PS3 now, it would seem there’s been a slight step backwards here…
What do I mean, you say? The game suffers from some major loading issues, and not just in screen transitions! While playing, some “loading” times are very much noticeable when trying to use a D-Link or even sometimes just use a regular skill. It’s like the game has “unloaded” them and must reload. The game essentially pauses while doing this thankfully, but it definitely kills a huge amount of flow in combat – something pretty essential in an action game.
Loading times aren’t the only issue I have with this game. Mirage Arena and it being online (albeit through AdHoc) on the PSP was an absolutely amazing thing. I remember going online and blasting through missions with a friend and both of us getting lots of laughs out of it. They’ve completely stripped the online capabilities and made it offline only. While mission difficulties have been slightly adjusted to compensate, the basic structure is still “setup” to be online. No work was made into adjusting it to properly be single player besides some difficulty changes. This feels like a slap in the face for any of us who did enjoy playing it online. Enjoy not even having access to D-Links in there too! Sure would be nice to be able to make use of some Double XP or CP… or even the free heals on bosses. Also, some “challenges” were introduced to make up for the medal loss but they still don’t actually make up for it.
Something that has been very noticeable for me in places during Birth by Sleep is some input delay. This is especially true in Ice Cream Beat where points I swear I’m hitting it on time, the game just says “no” and gives me a poor. Sure, some of them deserved to be a poor but that time I hit X at the right time and it took a little bit to recognize? Yeah game, that was your input delay. Ice Cream Beat is the biggest point where this is noticeable, but I’ve also seen it at times in combat even.
Anyways, enough with the bad here and on with the good! Plain and simple – Birth by Sleep looks absolutely fantastic. Having played it in both HDMI and Composite, it still looks absolutely great in either and blows the PSP version out of the water. Not only that but it controls absolutely beautifully on a controller and makes me just wish I could see what certain other PSP titles would be like with a move onto PS3 (Crisis Core comes to mind). You can now scrolls commands with L2 and R2 which is an absolute godsend for the combat. There did seem to be some points where it had issues recognizing an input I made (like when I climbed up a ledge it would just ignore half my inputs), but for the most part it was absolutely amazing to play on a controller instead of a PSP.
To add on top of all this, this isn’t just Birth by Sleep – it’s Birth by Sleep Final Mix. This adds new bosses, a new ending-episode, new missions, and unversed reskins. There’s likely other stuff too though I can’t remember it off hand.
The new bosses are well… I still haven’t even been able to make it to them yet. While partly due to needing to get on with playing Kingdom Hearts 2, it was also due to just how much grinding I would need to do to get to them! While not totally a bad thing, I sure would have loved to have played with them some… even if they did kill me a lot. Unfortunately I was also unable to confirm if there were some lag fixes on a certain other super boss, but hey at least now the Home menu doesn’t randomly come up while you’re fighting them like it did on PSP!
Without spoiling anything, the new ending-episode is definitely worth checking out. It explains a lot more but unfortunately still leaves a lot open. It may also just challenge you…
Birth by Sleep Final Mix, as mentioned, adds in a new series of missions – the Unversed Missions. These are a series of missions throughout the worlds (on each character) that will challenge you to do certain things. While with one you may need to survive for a certain period of time for the best rank, another might ask you to defeat things as quickly as possible. These were a fun diversion until I met the one that asked me to Struggle (from Kingdom Hearts 2) with it essentially. Yeah, still haven’t beat it. I will someday though, as that Platinum trophy will be mine!
Overall, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix HD is an absolutely amazing remastering of what was already an absolutely amazing game. Loading issues aside, the graphics look fantastic, the controls are amazing, and the Final Mix additions finally being in English are great. That said, the loading issues are a bit of a big deal since they massively hurt the flow of combat. Also, the fact online (and multiplayer in general) was stripped from Mirage Arena is extremely disappointing, especially since it’s still set up for that multi player.
For those looking to get this HD collection, I’m going to be that person and suggest you play Birth by Sleep before Kingdom Hearts II. Of course, switching between the two is an option but you’ll likely suffer from some controller confusion! I know I had a lot of it…
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX: Birth by Sleep Final Mix Review Score
I would like to thank Square Enix for providing me with a copy of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX for review.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX is available for purchase now from Amazon.