Head to Head – “Kingdom Hearts” hype

[Ed. Note] Head to Head is a new segment we’re doing here on the Vault.

Two of our staffers will argue for or against a topic relating to video games and the industry at large. You get to comment on who you think is right or wrong, or tell us if you have a different opinion altogether!

For our first Head to Head, we’ll be looking at all of the hype for the recent release of the “Kingdom Hearts” collections, and the future release of “Kingdom Hearts 3” on PlayStation 4.

Our two writers this week are John and Jesus. Let’s get down to it!

The Argument:

John – Alright, I’ll be the first to admit the most experience I’ve had with the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise has been watching someone play it in middle school and working with one of the Nintendo DS titles while I was at my brief stint as a an intern at the G4 network.

That being said, I cannot and will not comment on the quality of the games in general as I haven’t played them. My general knowledge of them is that they’re very well loved and well put together games.

Alright, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I can’t stay quiet any longer when it comes to this constant barfing of titles that Square Enix employs.

I have a serious issue with a franchise being so well loved and so hotly pursued by the fanbase sidestepping a proper numbered sequel and in its place producing a cavalcade of seemingly meaningless titles that do nothing to advance the franchise further.

Now, some of you might be saying, “John, what about ‘Half-Life’ and the crying out for ‘Half-Life 3?’ Isn’t that just as bad as the ‘Kingdom Hearts’ situation?”

No. No it is not.

Here’s why: Valve isn’t releasing PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo DS games along with remasters of the original “Half-Life” games while in the meantime saying that they’re going to release “Half-Life 3” some time in the near future.

To put this into perspective, look at “Halo.” Bungie and Microsoft made “Halo 3: ODST,” “Halo Wars” and “Halo Reach.”

You know what they didn’t do? They didn’t remaster “Halo 3” and package it up with “Halo Reach” and “Halo 3: ODST” right before the release of “Halo 4” to capitalize on the fervor of their fanbase. If they had, the world would have gone crazy.

From what I’m seeing, the recent “Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix” is literally three games in one. People are going to buy games, again, that they’ve already played and beaten on other systems, because they’re all in one game and on the current-gen PlayStation 3.

Am I the only one who thinks that’s crazy?

Mind you, some people didn’t buy “Birth by Sleep” or “Re:Coded.” That’s fine. I can get behind that. And maybe they don’t have those platforms that they were released on. Even more reason to get the HD re-release.

But why in anyone’s mind was it okay for them to not make any of these games for the PS3? Were they not good enough? And if they can be put on the PS3 now, why weren’t they then?

An argument against this would be, perhaps, that they didn’t have the time or the money to make these games for the PS3. My counter to that would be that they haven’t released a “Kingdom Hearts” game for any of the current-gen consoles since they’ve been out, and I would bet money they haven’t been working on “Kingdom Hearts 3” since that time, so what were they doing?

Square Enix is a big company with a lot of titles and a lot of money. I think I speak for a lot of people by saying they sure haven’t been spending their time making better “Final Fantasy” games (come at me, Internet).

Why not make “Kingdom Hearts” games for the PS3? Why only exclusive to the other platforms? And for that matter, why not make them for the same platform instead of making “Birth by Sleep” for the PSP and “Re:Coded” for the DS? What is the logic behind any of these decisions? Was it at all necessary to make those two games exclusive on separate consoles? Was it at all necessary to make those games at all?

I can understand the idea of waiting to make a game that is a worthy successor in an award-winning franchise. I’m sure we all would have liked “Dragon Age 2” a little later so they could have worked out some major kinks, let alone “Mass Effect 3.” And I don’t think it was necessary to split up “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” and “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” into two separate games (although, together they would have been mind-numbingly long).

There just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind these moves that Square Enix is making in regards to the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise. But then again, this is coming from a person who is not really that interested in the franchise to begin with, and his only real experience being “Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded.”

The Rebuttal:

Jesus – As a fan ever since the original “Kingdom Hearts” came out in 2002, the series has held a dear place both in my heart and my gaming library. Now, having said that, God knows I’m excited every time I see a new “Kingdom Hearts” trailer start making its way across the interwebs. That is how this whole article started as John and I both saw the new “Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix” and “Kingdom Hearts 3” videos online.

You’ve read his side, and here’s mine.

Square Enix has been known for making new installments in the franchise and putting them on every handheld on the market. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve run into who, when discussing their favorite “Kingdom Hearts games,” can only say “Kingdom Hearts” one or two because they didn’t have the 3DS to play “Dream Drop Distance” or a PSP to play “Birth by Sleep.”

Yes, I understand it was frustrating. Trust me, when I didn’t have a DS and really wanted to play “358/2 Days,” I was saddened, but I eventually got my DS and played the everloving hell out of it.

The point I was making was that the upcoming 2.5 HD remake is a fan service that is greatly needed. Now, people will be able to enjoy the stories of Aqua, Ventus and Terra and can dsicover what role they will play in the forthcoming “Kingdom Hearts 3” along with seeing the troubles that the King Mickey, Goofy and Donald went through in “Re:coded.”

This is both a service to the fans and the company as it gives people a chance play games that they may have not had a chance to play while building hype for a game that has been long anticipated and, at last, confirmed.

As John was saying, it doesn’t make sense to put out separate games in a series on separate consoles from the standpoint of a player, but maybe it makes sense from a business standpoint.

Games help sell consoles. No one buys a console just for Netflix or Hulu. It’s the games that help inspire the choice. If you buy a PS3, you know at some point you were inspired by the fact that it has exclusives like the “Uncharted” franchise or “Gran Turismo.” I know several of my friends were more tempted to buy a 3DS after seeing the E3 announcement trailer for “Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.”

That’s what drove me to buy one – knowing that I’d get to play a new installment in the “Kingdom Hearts” series. You know at some point Square and Nintendo had a meeting about their new console and a game to go on it. Same goes for Sony for the PSP.

One other point I want to mention is that these just aren’t the same games we’ve played before. These are the “Final Mix” versions of the games, which are basically like the director’s cut. These particular versions were exclusive to Japan up until this point.

These games contain content that hasn’t been seen in the west before, such as hidden boss fights that test your patience and sanity, new spells and Keyblades, and cutscenes that delve into more background on certain characters and show scenes that were cut from the original game.

One such part I’m excited to see in beautiful high definition is the battle between Sora and Roxas.

That’s another thing. “Kingdom Hearts” in HD is drop-dead gorgeous. The HD compliments the color pallet that the franchise uses. It is, after all, a mix of “Final Fantasy” and Disney characters which have very unique color schemes. Getting to see it all in HD will be a pleasure for the eyes.

Oh, and as for John’s crack at “Final Fantasy” games,  the team who works on “Kingdom Hearts” is also the team that’s working on “Final Fantasy XV.” They’ve been working on it since 2006, and originally it was supposed to be a spinoff of “Final Fantasy XIII” set in the same saga, but due to lack of good press and performance of “FFXIII” and the MMO “Final Fantasy XIV,” It was wondered if it was going to tank like the others. That’s why, for a while, we didn’t hear anything about the game. Most thought it was cancelled, but as it turns out ,Square was hard at work making sure this and “Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn” would overcome the disappointments that their predecessors turned out to be. Sure enough, what used to be known as a spinoff of “FFXIII” has become a full-fledged installment in the “Final Fantasy” franchise. That has to speak volumes for the epic that this next “Final Fantasy” is going to be.

As I’ve said, I’m a lifelong fan of “Kingdom Hearts,” and that’s why I’m excited to play three games I’ve already played. It gives me a chance to relive the best moments of the series and maybe find something I missed along with getting trophies and playing some new content, too.

That’s why next year, I’ll definitely picking up my copy of “Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix” and using it bide my time until “Kingdom Hearts 3” drops. As a fan, I accept that.