Kingdom Hearts was originally released for the Playstation in 2002, and after selling so well a Final Mix version of the game was released in Japan (yes, it is Japanese only). Most of the dialogue is in English and there are some additions and changes as well. Are the additions to the original game worth the cost of a Japanese PS2 and the $30 price of the game? Well, I bought them so I hope so!
Story (5 out of 5)
Kingdom Hearts is the story of a boy named Sora who, along with his best friends Riku and Kairi, wants to escape from their little island and explore new worlds. After they find a door in a secret base they used to play in as children, their world falls apart. Darkness takes over their island, and Sora wakes up in a strange town (Traverse Town) and must travel through countless worlds (with the help of Donald and Goofy) to find his friends and save all the worlds.
The story hasn’t been changed at all in the Final Mix version, although new cut scenes have been added to better explain the plot. Unfortunately, they are only in Japanese so you need to be able to understand the language to appreciate them.
Gameplay (5 out of 5)
The game play is the same as the original. It has a very Ocarina of Time feel to it, but with a leveling up RPG twist. However, many of the simplest heartless are now more powerful than they were in the original. I was killed in Wonderland and that never happened to me before, even in Proud Mode! Sora has learned some new very useful abilities in this version, and the camera angle problem has been fixed.
In addition, there is one extra boss, a black robed figure, that is now available to fight in Hollow Bastion right before you fight the final boss. It is a killer fight, almost harder than the special “???” match in the coliseum.
Graphics (4 out of 5)
Not much has changed here either. The graphics are smooth and quite beautiful. I especially love the scenery in the Disney worlds, at Hollow Bastion and at The End of the World. They are very beautiful. Also, the facial expressions of the characters are very well done. Who needs next gen graphics with anime styled characters anyway?
Fun (5 out of 5)
Of course it is fun! While Final Mix is harder (the gummi ship portions are killer!), it is still a lot of fun to play. I did get frustrated a few times, but that was when fighting an optional boss or strangely tough heartless. As long as you level up properly it isn’t overly difficult.
The Final Mix version isn’t for everyone. The extras are really cool and I don’t regret the money I spent on it, but if you don’t understand how to read and speak Japanese it is probably not a good idea to buy this game (or a Japanese PS2). However, if you do know Japanese and are as much of a nerd about Kingdom Hearts as I am, I think it is worth it.