Fans learned the meaning of hurt when Kingdom Hearts Re:coded released on store shelves 10 years ago. The DS title underwhelmed, but has a small amount of fans within the community.
Re:coded is an impressive example of how you can use the DS’s hardware to the fullest. It’s an accurate 3D representation of what the big boy PS2 games are like, with impressive renders that all ran at 60FPS.
Re:coded also played around with the conventions of Kingdom Hearts. In Olympus Coliseum, Hercules, Sora, and Cloud take part in turn-based battles akin to Paper Mario. For example, when the enemy attacks, you have to press a button to block. It gives you a glimpse of what a turn-based KH game would be like, and we’d be down for it. It would be better than the card-based system in Chain of Memories, certainly.
This DS game featured more platforming than Kingdom Hearts 2, and added puzzle segments as blocks of data block Sora’s way. It was more similar to the original Kingdom Hearts than anything else.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the worlds in KH1 are brought back in Re:coded like Wonderland and Agrabah. While there are a few gameplay changes to the initial worlds due to its data gimmick, it comes off as lazy as it once again repeated the same worlds from the first game. It doesn’t include new worlds like other portable entries, such as Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance.
When the game initially came out, it was met with a mixed critical response. Standing at a 66 Metacritic score, critics found fault with its lack of innovation, overused worlds, and story that doesn’t stand on its own. Many critics declared Re:coded as a game for the fans and no one else.
Fans enjoyed the narrative as it challenged the happy-go-lucky (Data) Sora with themes of regret and loss while he searched for Namine’s hidden message. He has received far better treatment than others in the series and learned the meaning of hurt. It also introduced the Tome of Prophecies, a book that will be very important for the future of the series. After the events of Re:Coded, Maleficent and Pete were looking for this tome throughout Kingdom Hearts 3.
The game has since been remastered on modern platforms in the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX bundle, but only its cutscenes remain. Square Enix turned it into a movie rather than remastering the mediocre DS game. Some of its standout music, including “No More Bugs!!” was later included in the rhythm action game Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory.
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The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative. His dream is to go to E3 and PAX one day and experience the mania of each event!
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