Square Enix should be ashamed of the Kingdom Hearts release on Switch

Finally, Kingdom hearts is available at Contact. You can now experience Sora’s adventures (you know, the last character added to Smash Bros. Ultimate) on Nintendo’s beloved hybrid console. But you know what? It stinks.

The games are good, do not get me wrong. The Kingdom Hearts series is important in many respects as it has broken new ground in helping the company that built Final Fantasy master live-action RPG battles while collaborating with it without a doubt the most important owner of intellectual property in the world. The games tell an intricate, but ultimately lovable, growing story that pretty much anyone can relate to – and if you have a sense of nostalgia for one of Disney’s greatest movies, you’ll fall in love with at least a few of the game’s worlds. . So what’s the problem?

Well, it’s about the cloud. Not the one from Final Fantasy who appears in the KH series as a brooding mercenary. This is the cloud on which the games run. You see, the Kingdom Hearts titles on Switch do not run built-in on the machine – they are just a cloud release. You buy the games, but when you start them up, they get streamed to you over the internet from some centralized, more powerful hardware that runs it from afar.

On paper, there is nothing wrong with cloud gaming. We’ve been impressed with Microsoft’s Xbox ‘xCloud’ service and I have a lot of time for Nvidia’s GeForce Now. PlayStation also has its version. But there is a difference here. These services are all used as an option; to push a little on the exploration of Sea of ​​Thieves while you wait at the doctor’s office, or to stream Evil Genius 2 to your TV instead of playing it on your PC. You still have the opportunity to jump back to native hardware and to all the benefits that provide.

This is not the case for Switchen’s cloud-based game releases. Kingdom Hearts is by no means the first – Control, Hitman 3 and a slew of other titles released on the machine this way, and Square Enix’s own Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy game did the same. However, there is a difference in these games: they are all full-fledged new generation games that would otherwise probably be impossible or very, very difficult to shrink to Switch.

And this is where I get hung up on Kingdom Hearts. This collection contains a wealth of Kingdom Hearts games, but all but two of them are essentially… yes, they are PlayStation 2 games. Or specifically, they are PlayStation 3 remasters of PS2 games. These things could run built-in on the Switch. The ought to run built-in on the Switch.

The Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD remix was a remaster first released on PS3 in 2013, including the first Kingdom Hearts plus spin-off Chain of Memories. A PS4 version was released in 2017, but was functionally identical. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix landed in 2014, again for PS3, following the same doorstep. It includes KH2 plus a remaster of Birth By Sleep, a PSP title.

These games are the kind of titles that naturally should run on Switch. There is no excuse. The others I understand – Kingdom Hearts 3 and 2.8 (its prologue chapter) were PS4 releases – and particularly lavish ones. It may not be possible to get them to shrink down to the Switch, and even if it was, it may be too much work to be profitable. As a result, I would even let the HD Remaster of 3DS title Dream Drop Distance go, as it (while it should also run on the Switch) is part of the 2.8 package. So – let’s put these games aside for a moment. I’m still mad at KH 1.5 and 2.5. That’s ridiculous.

The most ridiculous thing is the price. These are games at full price. They have been given 20% pre-launch discounts right now, but once they release these games, these games will be £ 33 (KH 1.5 + 2.5), £ 40 (KH2.8) and £ 50 (KH3) separately and a truly independent £ 80 / $ 90 for a ‘Masterpiece’ collection that includes the entire KH saga. Except that it’s not a masterpiece; it’s a slap in the face.

On the PS4, you can download the ‘Kingdom Hearts All-in-One Package’ on a £ 45 disc, which includes all the same games but in a format you can run built into your console. It’s RRP, by the way; agreements on it are common.

The PS4 package also delivers the games in what is undoubtedly a better format. It is one that can be played without internet connection and in a format that will continue to work even after servers are turned off. By charging £ 80 for these Cloud versions, Square Enix is ​​essentially charging almost double the price of the PlayStation version for what is ultimately a rental. One day, the servers running these versions of these games will shut down, and it will.

The games are not out yet, but Square Enix has released playable demos, presumably to reassure those who might be worried that the cloud stuff will not quite work properly. And well, I do not know what to tell you; the cloud thing works, with its drawbacks. Much of the time it’s like watching a YouTube ‘let’s play’ of the game, with clear compression artifacts, crushed blacks and inconsistent tempo as the streaming goes back and forth. Switch OLED owners or those with the Ethernet adapter will have better results by playing the cable, but I experienced the notch on a gigabit connection – with the switch connected – regardless.

Mileage also varies with the games. The simpler, cleaner (unintentional puns) PS2 games do better than the KH3, which with its stepped details and intricacies makes room to stream mud much easier. But it’s something you can accept and understand in the case of games that otherwise would not be likely to run on the Switch at all. That is simply not the case for most of these games. If this package had included native ports for the first two games, but cloud for the others, I would have understood and even accepted the price. Instead, all the games are compromised and it’s still expensive.

I do not know why this happened, but I can guess. I probably think the actual Kingdom Hearts team in Osaka is fully ahead with the next Kingdom Hearts title, and even though there was a desire to transfer the games to Switch, for some reason there was not the bandwidth to do this internally or a willingness to farm it out for an external study. So we get this shitty, messy compromise. I understand that porting games is hard work, but the market is definitely there for these titles on Switch; the excitement for Sora in Smash proved it. There is no excuse for a PS3 game not being ported built-in to the Switch – do not use the PS3 ports for PS2 and PSP games.

Nevertheless. The games can be played on Switch; congratulations and well done to all involved. However, this is not a version that anyone should aim to play. You can not even take Kingdom Hearts on a plane or train – one of the great joys of Switch ports – because you need a constant, stable and fast internet connection. It feels practically meaningless. Maybe people will get a portable KH fix via Steam Deck and other laptops when the games’ epic exclusivity ends on PC. If you just want to play these games, you can get better versions, without streaming artifacts, significantly cheaper. Streaming is a great way to reach the goal when a game is fundamentally incompatible; that excuse does not work for these PS2 / 3 games.

This is a kind of pair for the course with Square Enix, I think. I’m getting bored of the coin flip with their important legacy game, guessing whether a given reissue will be gold or a total, legacy-muddy disaster. However, write another one up in the latter column here. This re-release is less a streaming triumph and more a stream of hot piss in the face of fans who wanted Kingdom Hearts on the go. It was good.

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