Kingdom Hearts 2: Rose-Colored Glasses Edition

Recently I grabbed a few games out of a box, namely Kingdom Hearts 2, Shadow Hearts: From The New World, and Metal Gear Solid 3. The rest of my stuff is at my parents' place in another box, and I'm frankly too lazy to go there, so those were my choices when I decided to once try out a PS2 emulator. I figured to try again with a game that apparently runs really well, so I decided to make an ISO of Kingdom Hearts 2 and go from there.

Holy Lord that game is pretty when run by a great computer. It looks, to be quite honest, like a stylized 360 / PS3 title. Unfortunately, thanks to PS2 limitations, it's obviously an old game. One of the things that always pops out is when a pre-rendered movie that is supposed to look in-engine shows up - it looks like garbage because it is not anti-aliased all to hell by my video card.

Another issue are the incredibly empty areas. At one point Aladdin talks about enjoying the hustle and bustle of Agrabah, especially with Genie gone on vacation. As he says this, the camera pans to a vacant "market." It's kinda funny actually, but it made me think of the market section early in Uncharted 3 - it was totally filled with patrons. That kind of thing makes me really appreciate newer games.

It's too bad this tech can't be outright purchased by Sony, enhanced for PS3, and put out there so anyone can play PS2 games in that level of quality, but without the occasional emulation annoyances of a weird texture or unexpected slowdown (I really only get them during a black loading screen, or pre-rendered movie so I don't mind). Or hell, use this software to remake the games, add Trophies, and boom: "PS2 Classic."

These screenshots should show the difference, and it can actually look a bit better; I'm using a Macbook Pro in bootcamp (the hardware has less issues with this emulator than my PC somehow, so why not), therefore I'm not getting the best combo of resolution / anti-aliasing I want, but who cares when it looks good.

That's running in native resolution mode, with nothing special for visuals on top.

This is 2X native, but looks way grainy as an image on GB. In reality, running live on my TV (otherwise known as "monitor 2"), it's damned gorgeous, and I look forward to seeing what other of my favorite old games work well.

As for the game itself: man, it is so Japanese. I've actually started replacing the word "hearts" with "souls" in my head, because that's what they mean and had to stylize up. Also, this game seems to think I'm mentally handicapped, which is also a very Japanese thing. Look, I know that's Sora, Donald, and Goofy - don't tell me every thirty minutes (or less!) as if I forgot. This game is way too hard for kids, so as an adult I can't help but feel insulted by the way it treats me.

I noticed when I first played it that the first half of the game is terrible, but I didn't quite realize how bad until now. It's kind of a mess, really, with no forward movement to the story and no real point. It's Disney forcing Square-Enix to stop telling a pretty good story and sell DVDs because the first game took off like gangbusters. Or at least I hope it is. It would sadden me to think that it was the developer's idea to make that many bad, empty, pointless segments all strung together, though I guess it wouldn't shock me.

TLDR, bro.

14 Comments
15 Comments
Posted by teekomeeko

Recently I grabbed a few games out of a box, namely Kingdom Hearts 2, Shadow Hearts: From The New World, and Metal Gear Solid 3. The rest of my stuff is at my parents' place in another box, and I'm frankly too lazy to go there, so those were my choices when I decided to once try out a PS2 emulator. I figured to try again with a game that apparently runs really well, so I decided to make an ISO of Kingdom Hearts 2 and go from there.

Holy Lord that game is pretty when run by a great computer. It looks, to be quite honest, like a stylized 360 / PS3 title. Unfortunately, thanks to PS2 limitations, it's obviously an old game. One of the things that always pops out is when a pre-rendered movie that is supposed to look in-engine shows up - it looks like garbage because it is not anti-aliased all to hell by my video card.

Another issue are the incredibly empty areas. At one point Aladdin talks about enjoying the hustle and bustle of Agrabah, especially with Genie gone on vacation. As he says this, the camera pans to a vacant "market." It's kinda funny actually, but it made me think of the market section early in Uncharted 3 - it was totally filled with patrons. That kind of thing makes me really appreciate newer games.

It's too bad this tech can't be outright purchased by Sony, enhanced for PS3, and put out there so anyone can play PS2 games in that level of quality, but without the occasional emulation annoyances of a weird texture or unexpected slowdown (I really only get them during a black loading screen, or pre-rendered movie so I don't mind). Or hell, use this software to remake the games, add Trophies, and boom: "PS2 Classic."

These screenshots should show the difference, and it can actually look a bit better; I'm using a Macbook Pro in bootcamp (the hardware has less issues with this emulator than my PC somehow, so why not), therefore I'm not getting the best combo of resolution / anti-aliasing I want, but who cares when it looks good.

That's running in native resolution mode, with nothing special for visuals on top.

This is 2X native, but looks way grainy as an image on GB. In reality, running live on my TV (otherwise known as "monitor 2"), it's damned gorgeous, and I look forward to seeing what other of my favorite old games work well.

As for the game itself: man, it is so Japanese. I've actually started replacing the word "hearts" with "souls" in my head, because that's what they mean and had to stylize up. Also, this game seems to think I'm mentally handicapped, which is also a very Japanese thing. Look, I know that's Sora, Donald, and Goofy - don't tell me every thirty minutes (or less!) as if I forgot. This game is way too hard for kids, so as an adult I can't help but feel insulted by the way it treats me.

I noticed when I first played it that the first half of the game is terrible, but I didn't quite realize how bad until now. It's kind of a mess, really, with no forward movement to the story and no real point. It's Disney forcing Square-Enix to stop telling a pretty good story and sell DVDs because the first game took off like gangbusters. Or at least I hope it is. It would sadden me to think that it was the developer's idea to make that many bad, empty, pointless segments all strung together, though I guess it wouldn't shock me.

TLDR, bro.

Posted by believer258

I remember enjoying the first one until the Tarzan level, dicking around for a few hours, and then the game picking back up and addicting me again. The last ten hours or so of the original were great and full of happenings.

Right now, as I'm playing it on a PS2 and have gotten to the Beauty and the Beast level, the same thing is happening. The actual gameplay itself is fun, in a button-mashy cool-looking kind of way, but damn it the story keeps bashing me over the head with shit I already know.

Tell me, how long is it until the game gets good? My brother beat this one a few years ago and it seemed like he was having the same reaction to it that I did to the first one - great start, then bad, then great again.

One final thing:

@teekomeeko said:

... This game is way too hard for kids...

You would be incredibly surprised by the sheer tenacity that kids can bring out when it comes to difficult games. Remember that much of the GB community had a NES or SNES or Genesis as their first console, and those games are still known for their insane difficulty levels.

Posted by kashif1

@believer258: It gets really good in the middle with the tron section and the second hollow bastion section. Then it slows down for a bit for the second run through of the worlds and picks up at the end with one of the most epic ending sequences I've ever played through. Just keep playing, its worth it.

Posted by wjb

I never got into the Kingdom Hearts series, which is weird because "Square Enix + Disney" would be something that I would find appealing, normally. I think I played 1 & 2 for a few hours each some years ago, but got bored and never played them again.

Posted by BoG

Bro.

That's actually pretty cool. I've never emulated anything more advanced than an N64, but this was back before I had an HD monitor. I can imagine some older games might be quite pretty. You should try Shadow of the Colossus, I imagine that would look stellar.

As for KH2... well, haveing played halfway through both KH games, I'm not a fan. The first was fine, but the second turned it into a boring button mashing fest. To be honest, I have always felt that the story could be far superior if Disney wasn't holding it back. It walks this strange line between mature and childish, and I'd prefer it just left behind Disney's anchor. I love the nostalgia, but it's lost its charm on me.

Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx

Kingdom Hearts is a classic and forever will be one of my fav games of all time, as well as one of the most memorable endings I've ever experienced. Flaws aside, KH2 was still a cool game and I'm pumped for 3.

Also BBS might be the best handheld game I've ever played, at least on a sony handheld.

Edited by falling_fast

I have never understood why people like Kingdom Hearts 2 so much

Posted by Dallas_Raines

@BoG:

I feel like the worst part of KH2 is the completely nonsensical storyline given to us by pro-doucher, Tetsuya Nomura. He took out all the light fun and adventure of the first and replaced it with shit you'd find in bottom of the barrel JRPGs/anime. KH2 actually probably would have been better if Disney had even more control and the power to hold back Nomura's batshit insanity.

Edited by NathHaw

@xaLieNxGrEyx said:

Kingdom Hearts is a classic and forever will be one of my fav games of all time, as well as one of the most memorable endings I've ever experienced. Flaws aside, KH2 was still a cool game and I'm pumped for 3.

Also BBS might be the best handheld game I've ever played, at least on a sony handheld.

I was pumped for three like five years ago. I'm starting to not care which is kinda sad for me, because KH1 and 2 were two of my favorite games.

Posted by Zajtalan

i cant find my ps2 memory card :(

Posted by Vonocourt

The reason I enjoyed the first Kingdom Hearts and II at the time was because of the Disney nostalgia. So all that nonsense with nobodies and Ansem was actually the dude's apprentice or something like that...well, I don't care about the franchise anymore too say the least.

Posted by BoG

@Dallas_Raines: I think we can both agree on one thing: Square should have just made the worlds separate to begin with. I would have enjoyed the Disney more if it weren't for the square thrown in, and vice-versa.

Posted by Jay444111

@Dallas_Raines said:

@BoG:

I feel like the worst part of KH2 is the completely nonsensical storyline given to us by pro-doucher, Tetsuya Nomura. He took out all the light fun and adventure of the first and replaced it with shit you'd find in bottom of the barrel JRPGs/anime. KH2 actually probably would have been better if Disney had even more control and the power to hold back Nomura's batshit insanity.

Honestly, it is mainly the disney stuff that is crap in all honest opinion.

Originally, Sora was NOT gonna use a key, but in fact, in the earliest build, looked more like a TWEWY character... WITH A CHAINSAW! No... really, search that shit up!

Mainly, I think if Enix would have gotten more control in the beginning, I think it would've been way better. However, thanks to being limited so much, I think Nomura went a bit crazy at the end of KH1 when things WERE going pretty fucking crazy. You know... for very obvious reasons.

Overall, the plot makes complete sense in terms of story telling, it is just that they keep fucking putting more and more of the games on systems not everyone has. I don't WANT to own a PSP, but because Squeenix is being a troll, I kinda have to soon here. At least put it for download on the PS3 for fucks sake!

Also, most the disney worlds are mainly based on the original movies in the first one, after that... there truly was nowhere else to go but down in terms of creating a new story in each of them. Except for the beasts castle which was very well done IMO.

Thankfully, there are no repeat worlds in KH3D. Confirmed from the very source actually. So hopefully we can get a lot more awesome places now.

Posted by Xtrememuffinman

KHII was a supreme disappointment for me when I first played it. The gameplay was way too mashy, eschewing the great magic system in the original. The story was also absolutely nonsensical, ruining the charm of the original and GBA game. And it was also way too long. It marked the point where I stopped giving a fuck about Kingdom Hearts anymore, which is a shame, since that first game was pretty great warts and all.
 
But yeah, it did look pretty.

Posted by ZenaxPure
@Xtrememuffinman said:
KHII was a supreme disappointment for me when I first played it. 
Man me too, it still is. I've been saying it for years but my close friends won't believe me! KH2 is the worst in the main story-line series. They basically removed all the platforming and puzzle solving that gave KH1 some variety and barely changed the boring combat. I am a huge fan of the universe/story as they are very unique and that alone is the only reason I ever finished KH2.  
 
In all honesty I just want a remake of KH2 using the combat and side stuff of BBS. IMO Birth By Sleep was what they originally imagined KH2 to be but it didn't turn out perfectly, many of the ideas are similar but everything is very well executed in BBS as opposed KH2.