Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded Review
Written By: Liam Walters
Kingdom Hearts Coded was the 4th Kingdom Hearts game to be released from the franchise. It was announced along side Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep for the Playstation Portable during the 2007 Tokyo Game Show. Coded was to be released in ‘Episodes’ for Japanese Mobile Phones. These episodes were released one at a time, with the first being released June 3 2009, and the final, 8th episode, being released January 28th 2010.
As with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the Gameboy Advance, which got its own remake for the Playstation 2, it was announced that Coded would get its own remake for the DS. Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded was released in the UK on January 14th 2011.
Like Re: Chain of Memories, Re: Coded was updated with many new features and extra’s, including difficulty setting you could change at will, new multiplayer modes and a whole new secret movie. Being the second Kingdom Hearts game to be released on the DS, they were able to improve on both the good and bad elements from 358/2 Days.
Like 358/2 Days, one of the most impressive things about the game is the quality of the graphics. During the very few fully rendered CGI cut scenes, it can easily compete with the PS2.Even during the numerous normal cutscenes and gameplay, the graphics are simply amazing for the platform it is on, as it takes the DS to its fullest capacity.
As with all of the other, non-main Kingdom Hearts titles, Re: Coded has experimented with new ways of levelling up and gaining abilities. 358/2 Days’ has the poorest example, with the levelling up system being somewhat a boring task and was ultimately not needed. Chain of Memories pioneered the change, by modifying the combat system into more of a card game. Birth by Sleep had the favoured change, with having a normal levelling up system, whilst changing the combat abilities into a ‘Deck Command’ system, where you were able to create abilities and level them up as you wished, resulting in being able to change the style of gameplay to that which was personalised more towards yourself.
Re: Coded somewhat mixed together 358/2 Days’ and Birth By Sleep’s modifications, by keeping the Deck Command system, although somewhat modified, and the levelling up system from 358/2 Days, though heavily modified. The levelling up system, referred to as ‘The Matrix’, allows the player to set down tiles, which may give the player an extra level, a boost in a stat, defence again a certain element, or a range of other abilities, to create pathways and connections to several components which may unlock new abilities, upgrade others, or may even help cheat the game.
There are several cheat systems, although they all come with a price to pay, be it with reducing your max health, the exp you gain from defeating enemies, or a range of other downfalls. Although these cheats may not be necessary your first time going through the game, they can add a replay value to the game, as you can test yourself by changing certain cheats in the game, such as reducing your health down to 10% as normal, though rising the item drop rate of enemies up to 16x normal.
For the actual gameplay, Re: Coded brings you a familiar, but different experience. Like normal, you travel from world to world defeating heartless, but you also have to deal with computer bugs, which may affect your surroundings, until you clear out the bugs and are able to move on. You do this by first locating where the source of the bugs is, by using an on-screen radar, then actually entering through the source, completing each ‘floor’ by defeat the infected bugged areas, like you would defeat the heartless. Sometime into the game, you are set challenges, such as ‘Dont take damage X amount of times’. You are able to choose a percentage of how much you want to bet, and if you complete the challenge, then the points are added, which you can use to buy tiles for the Matrix board.
Boss battles in Re:Coded are probably the most interesting change, as it changes the format for each boss you fight. The Traverse Town boss is a 2D platformer, whilst the Olympus Coliseum fights are based around the traditional turn based RPG style. It is definitely an interesting change, and whilst would not be good in a main title, its allows diversity for the side game.
Unfortunately, there are downsides. The two biggest ones being the camera controls, and the play length. The camera controls are annoying, due to not always being able to get a straight on view without having to use the bottom touch screen, which if you’re using both hands to move and attack, can get quite frustrating. Although you can rotate the camera slightly using the left shoulder button, it still does not help much in the long run.
The play time is quite short for an JRPG as well, especially with Birth By Sleep being over 30 hours, and even Days being close to that. Whilst the main titles may only give around 24 hours of gameplay, Re:Coded gives even less, only offering around 18-20 hours of main gameplay.
So what of the actual story? Well, it is set sometime after Kingdom Hearts 2. Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Jiminy decide to unlock the secrets of Jiminy’s Journal, to try to find out the meaning of the mysterious message ‘Thank Namine’. To do this, they digitise the book and its contents, but soon find out that it has suddenly been infected with bugs. To get rid of the bugs, they awaken the digitised version of Sora, creating a digital keyblade for him to use, and request his help in defeating the bugs and unlocking the mysteries of the journal.
As the story develops, we see that the events of Birth By Sleep, and quite a few of the other games, are built into the story. At the end of the game, we see Mickey writing to Sora, and are able to see what he had written in the letter which Sora, Riku and Kairi received in the ending of Kingdom Hearts 2. The secret ending of the game reveals plot details for Kingdom Hearts 3, as well as setting the stage for the upcoming 3DS game, Kingdom Hearts 3DS: Dream Drop Distance.
All together, Re: Coded is an interesting title in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, it brings a lot of new ideas, and although some, like the matrix system work only if your challenging yourself, others such as the diversity of the boss battles, as well as the worth watchable secret ending, help the game with its strengths. Although it is not necessarily the most important side game of the series, as you are easily able to find clips of the secret endings on the internet, if you are a fan of Kingdom Hearts then I would recommend picking this up for an interesting gameplay experience.