Game Review

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Henry Stockdale

Some bugs in the system

The DS is no stranger to the Kingdom Hearts series, having previously seen Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days back in 2009, which proved to be a rather enjoyable adventure. Now we have Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, a remake of Japan only mobile-phone title Kingdom Hearts Coded. Taking place after Kingdom Hearts 2, Jiminy finds a new, mysterious message inside his journal of their first adventure so with the help of King Mickey, Donald and Goofy, they decide to digitise the novel and discover the meaning behind this message. Unfortunately, the digitised journal is corrupted with bugs and glitches that prevent further analysis so they call upon the data version of Sora inside it to eliminate these bugs. Boasting a rather unique style of gameplay, it’s a fun entry in the series but it’s not without a few faults.

The storyline loosely follows that of the original but it isn't a simple rehash of the first Kingdom Hearts story, largely branching off into an almost completely different story due to the data corruption within the journal. That said, it's still annoying to see worlds such as Agrabah and Wonderland appear yet again, although due to the nature of the story it's slightly less irritating this time around. However, while it's certainly a rather engaging storyline and one that'll keep you interested to find out more, it only makes very marginal advancements on the overall storyline of the series. This won't please fans who have grown tired of these side-stories and simply want to see a fully fledged sequel in the form of Kingdom Hearts 3.

For the gameplay, Square-Enix has decided to take a very different direction to previous entries. The worlds here often feature special gimmicks, such as one where you can play over the same scenario to get three different potential outcomes and another where you can only battle using Donald and Goofy, making for some unusual twists to the usual KH gameplay that help keep the experience varied and fun.

However, it still retains several aspects seen in previous entries: you travel across the different worlds as Data-Sora and fend off the creatures of darkness known as the Heartless. This time around, your primary aim is to destroy all the bugs and fix the glitches between the worlds instead of defeating these Heartless.

There are several new changes here to normal battles. One example of this is the “Clock Gauge”, in which you attack enemies or break blocks to fill up your gauge by several levels and when it reaches maximum, you can unleash a special, powerful attack against the enemy by pressing A, similar to the Limit Break attacks seen in 358/2 Days, which is useful in a pinch.

The biggest change though to normal battles is the new Deck Command system, first seen in the recent PSP entry Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, with which you can scroll between the commands you wish to use by pressing L and using the X button to attack. This is a lot easier to navigate through and makes it easier to focus on battling as opposed to looking through a menu to choose a command. Commands can be levelled up through command points (CP) which are earned during battles and you can also couple two of them together to create another command. Once two coupled commands have been maxed out, they can be permanently converted into a more powerful command, such as with two Thunders making a Thundara.

There's also the Stat Matrix system, which is similar to the Panel system seen in 358/2 Days, with additional areas being unlocked whenever you complete a world. With this you can improve your abilities through chips that get integrated into the system, such as ones to increase your health or strength, and you can also activate special abilities and new command or accessory slots by reaching them along the line. There are special chips pre-installed on the board that have a more significant effect on gameplay, such as one that will increase prizes you obtain but lower your total HP. There's also one such chip on the board that allows you to change the difficulty of the game whenever you like, which can be extremely helpful whenever you are stuck on a certain area.

The glitches can also impede your progress in a number of ways outside this, such as by blocking off an area you need to access. When this occurs, it is then up to you to locate a backdoor into the “system sectors” and debug them in order to fix the glitch in that part of the world. System sectors are a new addition to this game, comprising a varying number of floors; each floor has a set objective you must reach in order to advance to the next floor and complete debugging the sector.

A lot of these system sectors also include Challenges, in which you bet either 10%, 30% or 50% of your current SP total and attempt a challenge. If you succeed in the challenge, you'll be rewarded with as many as quadruple or more SP points, which varies from sector to sector. Once you complete them, you can pick up “Sector points” which can be redeemed for munny, experience or other items once an area is completely debugged. It's fun at first and a nice new addition to the gameplay, but while the challenges help make things more interesting, it begins to feel repetitive over time.

Once you’ve gone through most of the world, you’ll eventually come across a keyhole. Keyholes will lead to bosses, who are generally the source of a world's glitches. These boss sections usually comprise of a couple of levels before reaching the boss and the gameplay takes a drastic change. For example, one boss area plays out like a 2D side-scroller while another turns the game into an on-rails shooter. It's just a shame that these sections are limited to boss areas as it's here that make Re:coded becomes much more interesting.

However, despite all of this, Re:coded is often let down by the camera. Unlike 358/2 Days, you can't rotate the camera with the L and R buttons, you have to stop and hold down R to turn or use the touchscreen, which are both rather annoying. Fortunately, camera settings can be adjusted so it lines up behind you when moving which makes it a bit easier to control, though it's still not perfect.

Graphically, the game makes a couple of improvements over 358/2 Days, a game that was already rather impressive by DS standards but these are rather marginal. The soundtrack is largely recycled from previous games again, unsurprising considering it's largely based on the original Kingdom Hearts but still rather disappointing.

Conclusion

Over time, fans have slowly begun to run out of patience with Square-Enix and these series side-stories while they wait for a fully fledged sequel, and Re:coded does little to remedy that. For anyone willing to overlook this, it's a highly enjoyable game with unique gameplay and an engaging storyline, and is worth a try for fans.

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User Comments (38)

Sylverstone

#2

Sylverstone said:

Re:coded is definitely a love/hate relationship.

It'll pull you in or push you back. ;)

Nice review, Terra.

Arcanum

#4

Arcanum said:

@MR_SUPREME69
Wow. i hope you mean the DS series cause if you don't....then you got some haters now. Not me specificly, but other people will just feel offended.

Terra

#7

Terra said:

@JM - The game is an RPG, just an action one. There is a section though where your battles are all turn based

mantez

#8

mantez said:

I think it looks alright will probably pick it up after a price drop or if I find a cheap preowned copy

Colors

#10

Colors said:

awww. I love this game, I wonder why it only got a 7. Guess I should read the review

Xiao_Pai

#12

Xiao_Pai said:

...Yeah I'm gonna have to skip out on this one...looks likes another Kingdom Hearts remake basically...

The_Fox

#15

The_Fox said:

And Square continues to attempt to murder the franchise by pulling an Activision.

Chris720

#16

Chris720 said:

"by pulling an Activision" very nice. ;)

Never been a fan of Kingdom Hearts to be honest, and not going to start any time soon.

Unca_LzStaff

#17

Unca_Lz said:

@The Fox: At least they try to do something different in their games :P

But yeah, the spin offs are outnumbering the main franchise :O

irken004

#18

irken004 said:

This and Birth By Sleep are the first KH games that I'll skip over :/

But Dream Drop Distance? Awwww yeeeeaaaahhh :D

Popyman

#19

Popyman said:

@iz: No, they're completely even. Main: KH, KH2, BbS. Spin offs: CoM, Days, and this (which was a crap cellphone game to begin with).

@irken: Don't skip BbS, crazy! It's the best game in the series.

WarioFan63

#21

WarioFan63 said:

@Nintenzo That's the franchise's way of titling remakes. Since this game is a REmake of CODED, thus it's Re:coded. They did the same thing when they remade Chain of Memories for PS2 calling it Re:Chain of Memories.

Marioman64

#22

Marioman64 said:

yet another review that is rating a game based on what came before it and not IT itself. sigh
The camera was not a problem for me, if i wanted to turn it I just hold right and keep tapping R a bit so i can move while i control it.
It's fun, there are tons of unlockables and things to collect. The only thing I found wrong with the game were that the System Sector clues were obscure and sometimes impossible to figure out, and they got boring all together. The main story is good though, and it shows stuff from spoiler which only japan got so that's good

Hokori

#24

Hokori said:

Its weird because I liked 358/2 and ive never played any other and everyone said 358/2 was bad and I thought it was great so is this game really a 7 or just some fans 7

Colors

#25

Colors said:

@Otaku I think this game deserves a 9/10, but this is the first KH game i've played, so I haven't experienced the better originals. Fans were probably let down by this because the other game are alot better, and that's why it got a7/10...probably.

WolfRamHeart

#26

WolfRamHeart said:

I guess I won't be missing much if I pass on this game. Thanks for the review Henry! I think that I will just wait for Kingdom Hearts 3D instead.

Hokori

#28

Hokori said:

Also I have to ask what if this game was named KH3 would you be disapointed or would you say this game rocks

Terra

#29

Terra said:

@TheColoursOfSonic - It's certainly not a bad game but it is definitely a weaker entry in the series.

@otaku - Well, if Square-Enix and Nomura had decided to make this KH3, I'd have been disappointed as for one thing, Re:coded doesn't come close to expanding on the plot as much as you would expect from a fully fledged, numbered sequel and is very gimmicky in comparison to the main ttitles.

But to be fair, they would never have even considered calling a title like this KH3, it's a side story which marginally advances the plot and has rather unique gameplay to the other titles, sort of like Chain Of Memories.

@MarioMan64 - Even if we didn't take into account all the previous entries in the series, I'd still rate the game a 7.

komicturtle

#30

komicturtle said:

@Nintenzo

They do it for 'remakes'.

Such as RE: Chains of Memories.

So, because this is a remake of Coded for the cell phone, they just as Re: in before it.

Weird how Coded was announced along side Birth By Sleep for PSP and 358/2 Days for DS, each exclusive to their platforms.

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#31

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

I've played KH2, BbS, CoM, Days (bro did this one). Sadly I lacked a PS2 when KH was released. I got a PS2 slim around the time KH2 was released but after the incident where I fried my motherboard for my PS2 slim twice. I'm afraid to get the very first KH for fear of it taking a third trip to the repair shop. So this'll have to do.

Knux

#32

Knux said:

I love this game. It does have the same worlds, but the gameplay is so different compared to the other games that Re:Coded feels fresh. I think it should have gotten an eight, but awesome review though.

Doma

#33

Doma said:

How did this get a 7, the same as Days. This was MUCH worse.

-The environments are all the same
-The matrix world was abysmal (same landscape throughout.. WTF)
-The story was absolutely pointless
-The new gameplay modes were sucky and just annoying most of the time.

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