Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Deserves a Remake Over Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
If this title spooks you, you’re not alone. However, after replaying both Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, I do legitimately think a remake of the former would be a far more worthwhile endeavor.
It’s vital to establish that I love Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Narrative and character-wise, it’s easily one of the series heights, and it has a slew of unique gameplay ideas that make it stand out in the sea of other titles. It even had multiplayer with the entirety of Organization XIII, which is no small feat. However, this was a DS game, and this platform choice felt like it hindered what the developers could really do.
Yes, the portability of the DS was certainly appealing, and one can even argue that the limited capabilities of the DS required the developers to be more lucrative with how they implemented each feature. The combat is where this game truly falls short, though. While it has several intriguing concepts involving the Panel System, it served to make the act of playing the game feel like a chore, almost mimicking the drudgery of the day-to-day job life Roxas experienced. This can certainly be seen to be intentional, given the mission-based progression structure the game houses, but its efficacy personally made the process feel dull. The bosses are honestly some of the worst designed in the series, too, with infamous ones like Ruler of the Sky being a cause for trauma for veteran players.
Despite its shortcomings, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has remained a collective fan favorite and is looked back upon fondly. The lovable Sea Salt Trio and the showcasing of the Organization in a more casual environment really struck a chord with fans. I, too, hold onto memories of this game, and it is on the same level of nostalgia for me as the first Kingdom Hearts.
On the other hand, however, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is the most overlooked entry of the franchise. It is not even the butt of jokes as much as it is merely forgotten, almost like it never existed. Now, why would I possibly suggest this title be remade over Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days? I have a few reasons, but it comes down to me feeling like Kingdom Hearts Re:coded deserves a second chance more. After replaying this game, I grew supremely astonished at how well its gameplay held up. Despite being on the DS and utilizing the controversial command deck system that has remained a poignant subject of debate amongst fans, Re:coded somehow manages to make it all work.
Progression hearkens to Final Fantasy X with its sphere grid system in a menu called the Stat Matrix. In this mode, players actively input the stat boosts and abilities they want Data Sora to learn. Several unique difficulty modifiers are also present in this menu, offering further rewards for higher levels of challenge. This is also the only Kingdom Hearts title where one can change their difficulty mid-game.
Keyblades are implemented in arguably some of the most varied ways in the series thus far. Aside from each Keyblade having its own types of combos, they also have their own passive abilities in the Overclock system. Commands can also be melded similarly to Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, but they can also be leveled to considerable extents at the expense of other commands.
And, most of all, the combat of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is way too solid for its own good. Swing speed is swift and responsive; dodge rolling, commands, and guarding can be immediately performed right after attacks, and movement is just smooth. I have no idea how the developers did it, but this game’s combat is easily among the series’ best and should not be slept on. And this feeds into my point. The fact that Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is not remembered fondly amongst the collective fanbase, let alone remarked upon at all, demonstrates that this game deserves the chance to be put in the spotlight more than its fellow DS sibling.
There is a reason Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is barely ever mentioned, I understand, and that has to do with its narrative, or rather lack thereof. While I find the story of this game rather charming and the endgame to hit pretty hard, most of it does not have enough of an emotional draw to it like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days to keep fans entertained. The game also feels relatively inconsequential to the point where its movie adaption in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX added a few scenes to foreshadow later developments in the series.
In a sense, I view Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days to be polar opposites in execution and perception. The latter has thrilling gameplay but a poor story, while the latter has shoddy combat but a masterful narrative. This distinction here is what ultimately makes me yearn more for a Kingdom Hearts Re:coded remake, though.
Even if Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days were to get a modern remake, its missions would not translate as well to a console environment. The combat systems would also rear their ugly heads if they were not remarkably overhauled, which would require a degree of effort I doubt Square Enix would desire to employ. The benefit to a Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days remake would be re-experiencing the entertaining banter and dialogue between Organization XIII members. Aside from that, though, I don’t think it would be all that fun to play.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, however, is basically a drastic vice versa. If this game were to be remade with just a prettier coat of paint, I legitimately believe that this would be more fun to experience. Its combat would still feel wondrous, and the better camera functionality would fix the awkwardness present in the DS release.
When it comes down to it, this can all be seen as a battle between story and gameplay, and I certainly have a wildly biased perspective in that regard. While I primarily play Kingdom Hearts for its story, I’ve experienced each title’s narrative countless times because I’m just a freak for these games. I think a remake of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has its merits, such as more playable accessibility and featuring the slice of life scenes excluded from its cutscene movie adaption in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. Still, given that I’ve already experienced its main draw, that being the story countless times, I don’t know how excited I would be to do so again with prettier paint.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded being remade just excites me more as an idea. Its gameplay is exhilaratingly addictive with its varied ideas that all coalesce strongly. Experiencing exactly what it offered on DS, but now on a modern platform, just feels like a far more enticing prospect. I think newer fans who have not played either of these DS games on their respective platforms would benefit more from a Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days remake solely for the Organization banter, but I don’t think there is much of a point to play it aside from that.
There is the exciting prospect of multiplayer inclusion; however, given Square Enix’s aversion to implementing proper match-making between friends in Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory, I have little faith that they would execute a multiplayer mode in a modern form of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days well.
As a disclaimer, I don’t expect either of these games to ever be remade since Square Enix can just lean on their cutscene movie adaptions and leave it at that. I can dream, though. The best scenario possible would, of course, be both Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded getting remade, but if I had to choose between one or the other, it would have to be Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. Hopefully, I at least made some sense and didn’t sound like a mad man.
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