Yep, I’m pulling a Square Enix with this strategy guide review. Since the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 strategy guide covers two full games, I’m going to have to review this guide in piecemeal. Naturally, part 1 will cover the Kingdom Hearts Final Remix portion of the strategy guide.
For whatever reason, Square Enix decided to make a Final Remix version of Kingdom Hearts because apparently they admire George Lucas and they can’t leave well enough alone. The end product added a couple of new cut scenes (which I admit are nice) and a bunch of new heartless that are a complete beating, and oh hey, these have your precious synthesis items now. That hasn’t been so nice. They also for whatever reason moved around the treasure chests, their contents, and a few of the trinity marks. Most of the chests are in the exact same spot, so why their contents had to be jumbled up is beyond me. Therefore, if you still have that lovely Kingdom Hearts strategy guide written by Dan Birlew, it isn’t exactly going to be very helpful, especially if you want to find all of the trinity marks and synthesize everything in the Moogles’ shop. However, it’s sad to say that the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 strategy guide isn’t that helpful either, as when it comes to the collectibles, it’s very obvious the authors copied and pasted a lot of the data from Dan Birlew’s guide without double-checking that it was accurate with the Final Mix.
The walkthroughs themselves were excellent. They were extremely well written, especially the passages regarding Wonderland, Monstro, and Hollow Bastion, as it is sadly easy to get completely turned around and lost in these worlds particularly Wonderland (still despise that level 10 years later). I’d like to say that I didn’t get lost in either of these worlds because I had played them once before, but that was definitely not the case, and I greatly depended on the strategy guide to help me navigate through those insane maps. The walkthroughs also helped lead you to the most efficient path of traversing through each world and picking up every available collectible along the way. For collectibles that you couldn’t pick up yet, such as those that required the glide abilities to reach, the strategy guide presented them in handy little call-out boxes so you could easily identify them when you came back through a second, third, or fourth time.
Not much changed in the Kingdom Hearts Final Mix since the game’s original release in 2002, in that the maps are the same, the bosses are the same with the same tactics, the gummi ship routes are the same, and Sora has to perform the exact same tasks as he did before. However, there are new heartless that Sora can’t defeat by simply swinging his Keyblade around willy-nilly. Some of the heartless are susceptible to magic, and some are susceptible to only certain types of magic. If it wasn’t for the strategy guide, I would have avoided these heartless at every turn just because that’s a huge headache at times. The guide helped me cut to chase and know up front what I needed to do to defeat them. Many people probably won’t care about this, but if you’re trying to harvest rare items for synthesis, you do have to deal with these annoying buggers at some point.
And that’s all the good I have to say about the strategy guide.
Collectibles are huge in Kingdom Hearts, especially in the first game where Sora can collect equipment, items, synthesis items, trinity marks, and the 99 dalmatian puppies. One of the biggest reasons why I bothered half the time to look for all of the treasure chests was not to score parts for my gummi ship; it was to find all of those wayward puppies. I even had more motivation this time to hunt down and activate each and every trinity mark because I wanted that Trophy. So I heavily relied on the strategy guide, much like I did with Dan Birlew’s strategy guide before, and its maps to help me find every single treasure chest and trinity mark. The maps were sound and crystal clear with marking the chests, its contents, and all of the trinity marks. Where the strategy guide went wrong was marking what was in each chest.
As I said earlier, the treasure chests were all in the same locations as the first game, but their contents were often very different. What may contain an Aero-G from the first game may contain puppies in the Final Mix. The labeled contents of some of the treasure chests were so wrong, I honestly wonder if the writers simply copied and pasted from Dan Birlew’s book. Sometimes the appendix for the puppies would say a group of puppies was in one location, but when you looked at the map in that world, those puppies were nowhere to be found. For example, for puppies 58-60, the appendix said that they were in a chest in the Queen’s Forest. If you look at the map, these puppies are not labeled anywhere. I checked the original guide, and sure enough, those puppies were in the Queen’s Forest. I was baffled and quite furious, but I continued my search through Wonderland as I still had a white trinity mark to activate. When I went to the secret area to activate said trinity mark, I also triggered an archway of flowers to release a chest that the strategy guide said would contain a Thundara-G. Lo and behold, that chest contained the puppies I was looking for. I was stunned. The walkthrough said it was a Thundara-G, the map said it was a Thundara-G, and not surprisingly, the original guide said it was a Thundara-G. After the third batch of puppies I found in a different location than advertised, I’m somewhat convinced the writers never finished playing the game.
Their synthesis appendix further evidenced that they did not finish playing the game. I don’t even know where to begin with the synthesis appendix. It’s two pages, and on the left side, the writers listed “all” of the items needed for synthesis. Then on the right page, they list all of the items that can be synthesized and their required ingredients. It doesn’t take long to see that the list of the left page is missing several key ingredients. So, where do you find these ingredients? It’s time to flip through the book and read up on every heartless and see what they drop. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to list where to get all of these items in the synthesis appendix as well?
Oh but that’s not the only problem with the synthesis appendix. The writers apparently used different translations for some of the items and then didn’t confirm that they used the same name in each spot. Case in point, look at the pages below.
On the heartless page, it says the heartless will drop a “shiny stone.” There is no mention of a “shiny stone” anywhere in the synthesis appendix. What is mentioned is a “dazzling stone.” I had to look up extra help online to figure out where I could get this non-existent dazzling stone, and that’s where I learned that there could be two translations. That’s not confusing at all or anything. Here’s the kicker–when you defeat that heartless in the game, it clearly says it drops a dazzling stone. What this says to me is that the authors didn’t complete the synthesis in the game, and they used scripts they received from Square Enix or another translation. Maybe the writers didn’t think that synthesis was that big of a deal, but it doesn’t excuse sloppy work.
As another piece of proof that perhaps the writers didn’t play most of the game, they didn’t even get the rewards right for completing the Coliseum cups solo. They copied what the original guide said, and that information is incorrect.
On the surface, the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 strategy guide seemed like it was going to be as great as the original guide. Everything seemed to be in place, all of the chests and trinity marks were correctly marked, the walkthroughs were clear and concise, and the appendices appeared to have everything in order. Dig a little deeper, and it’s unfortunate to find incorrect information, translation problems, and suggestions that the writers simply copied from an older strategy guide. The first half of this strategy guide has been a disappointment indeed.
SGR Rating: 3/5
Authors: Michael Searle and Cory Van Grier
Publisher: Prima Games
Editions available: Hardcover
Acquired via publisher