Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is a massive improvement over the original

Discussion in 'Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMIX' started by Explode, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. Explode Who?!

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    It's a little odd to say this now, since I already knew what was in the game, and even played through it on an emulator before. But playing FM at not a horrible frame rate, with everything fully translated and voiced in english, it really put in stark relief how much better all the additions make this game. Of course the new optional bosses are all good stuff (possibly my favorite addition), but I won't talk about that, because they aren't as necessary as some other things.

    *mild content and story spoilers below*

    I was really excited when vanilla KH2 came out, but after the new-ness wore off, I was kind of underwhelmed. Aside from a few curveballs, it was a very straightforward, almost obligatory sequel, and with the exception of a few boss fights, combat was really easy. The extra scenes work wonders for fleshing out the universe and its characters. The Organization is cool and all, but most of them you barely got any sense of, so it wasn't that satisfying to beat them. Seeing their round room discussions let you see more of them as people, and not just how they are when they're on the job, messing with you.

    As someone who played Chain of Memories before KH2 was released, I felt slightly disappointed by how little recognition that game got. Obviously KH2 picked up a little ways after CoM left off, but it seemed like it was tip-toeing around talking about it as much as possible (probably wise, given sales, but frustrating nonetheless). As you may recall, Final Mix was originally released alongside ReCoM, so it was reasonable to assume that pretty much everyone with FM played it, which allowed them to throw in a few references to Castle Oblivion, as well as having a few appearances from the other Org members (I think I had a couple friends who were confused about what the "XIII" in Organization XIII meant). Those little throwbacks, along with the hints to Birth by Sleep, made it feel less like a one-shot, standalone title, and more like a satisfying entry in a series.

    More than anything else though, the playable Roxas fight and the new scenes that followed felt like the most necessary inclusion. Having an animated fight sequence was a first for the series, and on that level it was a really awesome moment, albeit a bit of a missed opportunity. Getting to fight the guy who's a better version of you is always a top-tier video game moment. As is getting to fight another playable character. Still one of the better moments in the game, but the overhaul it got for FM made it hands down my favorite part. In no small part because of the music change. It went from a sort of ominous, yet tame theme, to a powerful and sad tone. Instead of presenting Roxas as an evil character, it made him look really tragic, which is a lot more accurate. And one of the following scenes gave much needed closure for both Roxas and Axel, in what is one of the most touching parts of the series.

    I have been highly critical of Kingdom Hearts II in the past, and to a degree I still am. It's definitely not perfect: for one thing, I think it could have used a bit of editing. 11+ hours of cutscenes is a bit much. Looking past that however, I think it's come a long way since its first release, which I consider to be the most disappointing game in the series. It's gone from being one of my least favorites to one of my favorites, and now it actually feels like a worthy sequel to me.

    I want to know if anyone else had a similarly transformative experience. I understand a lot of people love vanilla KH2, and many hail it as the best in the series, so I'm probably in the minority here. But either way, I'm glad we finally got Final Mix internationally, and I'm glad I changed my mind about it.
     
  2. Rean Ashen Chevalier

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    You didn't think some of the cutscenes were necessary?
     
  3. Explode Who?!

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    I think a lot of cutscenes dragged on. Specifically the Disney ones. Worlds like Port Royal and The Pride Lands tried to compress the full movie into them, which just ends up being very exposition-y, boring, and less-heartfelt versions of the originals. I think worlds are much more successful when they change up the story a bit and just drop you in the middle of things.

    And though I like to defend the Roxas prologue, it is a little ridiculous that the first 3 hours of the game are 85% cutscenes. Yen Sid talks for quite a while too. I wouldn't recommend just cutting stuff out, because that wouldn't work. It would need a complete overhaul to punch up the timing while keeping all the necessary information.
     
  4. Rean Ashen Chevalier

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    How would you have done it?
     
  5. Explode Who?!

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    There's a million ways to do things. In the Yen Sid scene for example, there's a lot of repetition and information dumping. Cutting out the repetition and revealing the relevant information little by little at different points in the game, rather than all at once would keep it interesting.

    It's tough going into detail though, since the script is so ingrained in my head as is. Honestly, I don't want to spend the time thinking about it, because it doesn't matter at this point. It's done, and there's no going back. And really, it's not a huge deal. There are pacing issues here and there, but it's solid where it counts. There are much worse problems than having too much content.
     
  6. kevz2kool Twilight Town Denizen

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    In addition to that, Sora is portrayed as,(no other way to put it) AN ABSOLUTE MORON. This slows things down a surprising amount when you think about it, and takes some of the meaning and thrill of the story as is. That alone was my biggest gripe about KH2. Especially going back and playing it, it is honestly embarrassing considering at times I am pretty sure Dora the Explorer would have taken less time to move past a plot point.
     
  7. Explode Who?!

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    Totally agree. Didn't want to talk about that because my post was long enough already, and it didn't get fixed in the Final Mix version. But yeah, one of my biggest problems is that Sora feels like a noticeably different character than in 1 or CoM. It felt like he lost almost all capacity for being serious. And he has such a strong hatred for nobodies, even though he knows nothing about them aside from what Yen Sid (someone he doesn't know) told him.
    I feel that DDD retroactively made that last part better though. We got to see him take time to think, and actually sympathize with nobodies, in a way pointing out how misguided he was in KH2. It also broke him down a bit. In recent games, Sora was basically perfect and had very little internal conflict. In KH1 and CoM, Sora was relatable because he struggled with things, so it was nice to see a return to that.
     
  8. Antidote Fa├žade

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    I'm definitely loving the extra scenes with the Organization. I even played FM+ with the English patch just a year ago and it still feels fresh and new. I liked how Xigbar and Luxord got fleshed out more in scenes, since one of my little gripes was the fact that Luxord literally appears in Port Royal's second visit for like a minute, then he's gone, and you fight him once a little later. Confused the hell out of me when I played the original KHII. Xigbar had a spotty appearance as well, so I was glad to see more of him in between.
     
  9. kevz2kool Twilight Town Denizen

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    I would agree to that as well. I totally forgot about the extra scenes until I was actually playing through them and I think it definitely added some much needed filler on some of those characters. It's almost a shame how little the story really delved into some of the Organization members. It would have been a huge add into the story, and I feel like instead, a lot of those storylines of the characters in particular kind of got glossed over for the most part.