Gamers have been anxiously awaiting Kingdom Hearts III ever since the release of Kingdom Hearts II a little less than a decade ago, but we may finally be getting closer as footage has been shown and the game is in the works right now for the first time. To keep the fans hanging on, Square Enix has provided us with two excellent HD collections, both of which offer two full games and a series of cutscenes based on a third.
Today brings the release of the second of these collections with Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX, compiling Kingdom Hearts II, Birth By Sleep, and Re:coded into one package. The cutscenes based on Re:coded all revisit worlds we’ve seen many times throughout the original Kingdom Hearts and Re:Chain of Memories, but Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep featured the debut of many new worlds, as well as new areas of worlds we’ve seen before.
With the release coming today, it seemed like the perfect time to put together a list of the top 10 worlds found in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. As always, this list is strictly my opinion and is bound to differ from your own, so make sure to weigh in with your own lists in the comments below. Also, there will be spoilers found in this list due to the inclusion of a few, so be forewarned. Without further ado, these are my top 10 worlds found in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX.
10. Castle of Dreams
While we saw the many Disney princesses in the first Kingdom Hearts, it wasn’t until the series moved to the PSP that we got to actual travel to the home of the iconic Cinderella. Between the three playable characters in Birth By Sleep, gamers get to experience a few different areas of this world, including not only the castle itself, but also Cinderella’s home. This was a nice touch to see the different sides of her story, which is fleshed out well between Terra, Ventus, and Aqua.
9. Halloween Town/Christmas Town
Partially a retread of what we saw in the original Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II revisits the insanely popular Halloween Town with a completely new twist. Rather than sticking with the same Halloween Town we saw in the first, Jack takes Sora and company to the quite different Christmas Town. The world is familiar, but still feels quite fresh and was impossible to keep off of this list.
8. Deep Space
After introducing Stitch as a summon in Kingdom Hearts II, many were disappointed that we did not get a full world of some sort based on his character. Luckily, that finally happened in Birth By Sleep with Deep Space. Taking place exclusively aboard a Federation ship, this level is a takeoff of only the space portions of Lilo & Stitch, which is for the better of the game. The character interactions with Stitch, aka Experiment 626, are really fun to see here across the three characters and the boss fight is pretty fun as well.
7. Keyblade Graveyard
One of the original settings found in the series, the Keyblade Graveyard was first shown off in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II that left gamers wondering who these mysterious characters were that were fighting in a graveyard full of keyblades. Birth By Sleep allowed us to see this experience fully realized, including a massive climax at the location that is full of gut wrenching moments and plenty of action.
6. Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden
One of the most iconic locations of the first game, Hollow Bastion was the setting of many of the biggest moments found in the series. After the events of the first, Hollow Bastion is turned into more of a hub in the vein of Traverse Town, with characters like Leon and Merlin relocating there. Many of them have formed the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee, which plays a role in the restoration of the world as Radiant Garden instead. Birth By Sleep gives another look at the latter, as we see how it was in its glory days before falling to the darkness and becoming Hollow Bastion instead. Also, who could forget the incredible Battle of the 1000 Heartless that takes place in Hollow Bastion in II?
5. Twilight Town
Another original location in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Twilight Town makes its debut in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, but is most prevalent from the very start of Kingdom Hearts II as the “home world” of Roxas. Accompanied by an excellent theme, Twilight Town is made up of many different sections, which can be traversed by foot or even by train for a few areas. The forest and mansion build up the mystery early, including the revelation of the actual Simulated Twilight Town, which brings forth Namine as a major player in the game.
4. Space Paranoids
Perhaps one of the most surprising additions to Kingdom Hearts II was Space Paranoids, a world based off of the cult classic TRON. At the time, most of the younger generation did not even know what TRON was or had any idea what this world would encompass. However, this was a major treat as it gave those gamers a very unique and satisfying introduction to the universe of TRON while being extremely respectful and nostalgic for those that grew up with the original. This hype was furthered with the eventual release of TRON: Legacy a few years later as well.
3. Timeless River
Set in the distant past, Timeless River gives Sora, Donald, and Goofy a little bit of a makeover, similar to worlds like Halloween Town. This time however, the trio get made over in black and white, based off a variety of classic shorts, the main of which is Steamboat Willie. This world is extremely unique for the series and the different gameplay offered in the areas based on some of the different shorts mix up typical formula. Seeing a much different side of Mickey is great, especially with the more comedic side of his character being showcased here.
2. The World That Never Was
While not based off of any existing Disney properties, it was hard not to include The World That Never Was near the top of the list. Serving as the home base of Organization XIII, The World That Never Was is the darkest and depressing world in the game, but pushes the plot forward more than anywhere else. Epic showdowns are everywhere and it all leads to the conclusion that shapes the future of the series. This is one world we have also seen again in the future and is bound to be back again in Kingdom Hearts III.
1. The Pride Lands
After the release of the original Kingdom Hearts, easily one of the most requested worlds that players said they wanted to see in the sequel was The Lion King. Luckily, Square Enix delivered with the excellent Pride Lands. Not only did it offer many of the iconic locations we expect in anything Lion King related, such as Pride Rock and Elephant Graveyard, Sora and pals are all turned into animals as well. It may have seemed stupid to have Sora running around with a keyblade in his mouth, but it works absolutely perfectly here as he mows down the variety of Heartless. Also, who didn’t dream of fighting a Heartless infected Scar alongside Simba?