Final, Heart Kingdom available on Switch. Now you can experience Sora’s adventures (you know, the last character that will be added to Smash Bros. Ultimate) on Nintendo’s beloved hybrid console. But you know what? So bad.
The games are good, don’t get me wrong. The Kingdom Hearts series is an important part in many ways, providing a new foundation in helping the company build Final Fantasy master real-life RPG battles while partnering with intellectual property owners. Wisdom is arguably the most important in the world. The games tell a complicated, but ultimately endearing, teenage story that most people can relate to – and if you have a sense of nostalgia for any of Disney’s biggest movies , you will fall in love with at least one pair of the game’s world. So, what’s the problem?
It’s all about the cloud. Not the one from Final Fantasy who appeared in the KH series as a brooding mercenary. This is the cloud the game runs on. You see, the Kingdom Hearts titles on Switch don’t run natively on the machine – they’re a cloud-only release. You buy games, but then whenever you start them up, they are streamed to you over the internet from some more powerful, centralized hardware that runs it remotely.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with cloud gaming. We’re impressed with Microsoft’s Xbox ‘xCloud’ serviceand I have a lot of time for Nvidia’s GeForce Now. PlayStation there’s a version of it, too. But there is a difference here. These services are all used as an option; to explore a bit of Sea of Thieves while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, or stream Evil Genius 2 to your TV instead of playing it on your PC. You still have the option to go back to the original hardware and all the benefits it offers.
Not so for the Switch’s cloud-based game releases. Kingdom Hearts is not the first, because of the record – Control, Hitman 3, and a variety of other titles was released on consoles this way, and Square Enix’s Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy game did the same. However, there is a difference in these games: they are all fat new generation games that would otherwise be impossible or very difficult to squeeze into the Switch.
And that’s where I got stuck on Kingdom Hearts. This collection includes a bunch of Kingdom Hearts games, but all but two of them are basically… well, they’re PlayStation 2 games. Or specifically, they’re PlayStation’s PS2 remakes. 3. These can run natively on the Switch. Surname Candlestick running natively on the Switch.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD remix is a remake first released on PS3 in 2013, which includes the first Kingdom Hearts plus the Chain of Memories spin-off. A PS4 version was released in 2017, but functionally identical. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix arrives in 2014, again for PS3, following the same trajectory. That includes KH2, plus a remaster of Birth By Sleep, a PSP title.
These games are the kind of titles that should run natively on Switch. No reason. The others, I understand – Kingdom Hearts 3 and 2.8 (its opening chapter) are PS4 releases – and especially the lavish looking ones there. It may not cause those people to narrow down to convert, and even if it does, it may take too much work to turn a profit. Therefore, I would even leave the 3DS’ HD Remaster with the title Dream Drop Distance, since (while that should also run on Switch) it’s part of the 2.8 package. So – let’s put those games aside for a moment. I’m still crazy about KH 1.5 and 2.5. It’s ridiculous.
The most ridiculous is the price. These are full priced games. They have 20% off pre-launch right now, but when they release these games will be £33 (KH 1.5 + 2.5), £40 (KH2.8), and £50 ( KH3) and a truly unchanged 80/$90 table for the ‘Masterpiece’ collection that covers the entire KH story. Except it’s not a masterpiece; it was a slap in the face.
On PS4, you can pick up the ‘Kingdom Hearts All-in-One Package’ on disc for £45, which includes all the same games, but in a format you can run natively on your console . That’s RRP, by the way; Trading on it is common.
That PS4 bundle also offers games in a format that is definitely better. It’s a game that can be played without an internet connection and in a format that will continue to work even when the server is off. In charging £80 for these Cloud instances, Square Enix is essentially charging almost double the price of the PlayStation version for what, ultimately, is a rental. Someday the servers running these versions of these games will be terminated and that will be it.
The game isn’t out yet, but Square Enix has put out playable demos, presumably to appease those who might be concerned that the cloud engine won’t work properly. And, I don’t know what to tell you; Cloud tools work, with its limitations. Sometimes it’s like watching a ‘let’s play’ game on YouTube, with its clean compressions, crushed blacks, and inconsistent pacing when streaming back and forth. Owners of an OLED Switch or those with an ethernet adapter will have better results playing wired, but I’ve had issues on a gigabit connection – with a wired Switch – regardless.
Mileage also varies by game. Simpler, cleaner PS2 games (pun intended) fare better than KH3, with enhanced detail and complexity making streaming much easier. But that’s something you can accept and understand in the case of games that wouldn’t otherwise run on the Switch. That is simply not the case with most of these games. If this bundle included the original ports of the first two games but the cloud for the others, I would have understood and even accepted the price. Instead, all games are compromised and it’s still expensive.
I don’t know why this is happening, but I can guess. I thought that maybe the actual Kingdom Hearts team in Osaka was completely ahead of the next Kingdom Hearts title, and despite the desire to port the games to the Switch, for some reason didn’t have the bandwidth to do so. Do this internally or get it ready to go to an external studio. So we get this messy, monstrous compromise. I understand porting games is hard work, but the market is clearly there for these titles on Switch; The excitement for Sora in Smash proves it. There’s very little reason for a PS3 game not to be ported natively to the Switch – leave the PS3 ports of PS2 and PSP games alone.
Anyway. Games that are playable on the Switch; Congratulations and well done to all involved. However, it is not a version that anyone should aim to play. You can’t even take Kingdom Hearts with you on a flight or a train – one of the great joys of Switch ports – because you need a constant, stable, and fast internet connection. It feels practically meaningless. It’s possible everyone will get the mobile KH fix through the Steam Deck and other mobile PCs when Epic game exclusivity ends on PC. If you just want to play these games, you can get a better version, with no streaming artifacts, significantly cheaper.
I guess this is of course on par with Square Enix. I’m sick of flipping coins with their important legacy games, guess if a certain re-release will be gold or a legacy overall disaster. However, mark another one in the second column here. Another re-release that isn’t a win when it comes to streaming but more of a hot stream in the face of fans who want Kingdom Hearts on the go. Very good.
https://www.vg247.com/square-enix-should-be-ashamed-of-the-kingdom-hearts-release-on-switch Square Enix should be ashamed of releasing Kingdom Hearts on Switch