Kingdom Hearts Re:coded

A cipher Sora eyes.

If only that 'R' was a 'D'. Kingdom Hearts' plot machinations must be bewildering to all but the most attentive player, and a game which finally attempted to explain the complexities of the series' fractured timeline would likely be welcomed by most.

It may surprise some to learn that Re:coded is actually a remake. Kingdom Hearts Coded was an episodic puzzle game made for mobile phones, and it's now been redesigned for DS as an action-RPG in the vein of the other console titles.

The plot is set after the climax of Kingdom Hearts 2. Jiminy Cricket is tardily attempting to organise his digital journal of the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 (presumably he's not heard of Wikipedia). He discovers a mysterious rhyming entry he's unfamiliar with, and it's up to series regular Sora to visit digital recreations of the first game's worlds to put things right.

At the very beginning of the game, you're given a choice of a sword, staff and a shield, which purport to have an effect on the path you'll take. In truth, your pick just seems to affect the options open to you on Sora's skill tree. After that, it's on with the hacking and slashing as Mickey, Donald and Goofy pop up to offer advice and assistance.

You'll visit the locations in the order seen in the first game, though a slip of paper accompanying this preview code forbids me from naming most of them. Because the internet would undoubtedly go into meltdown were I to reveal that a DS remake of a mobile phone game following the plot of an eight year-old PS2 title contains some of the same characters and environments features in said game.

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Not all blox are there to be smashed – you'll need to keep some intact to access higher platforms.

Starting off in a digital recreation of Destiny Islands, you soon happen across errant bits of code in the form of blocks (or 'blox', as the game insists on calling them) which can be smashed for items or experience. Shortly afterwards you'll encounter the franchise's muculent villains, the Heartless, who are only slightly tougher to defeat.

Various characters give you basic quests to complete, most of which involve either finding a certain item or locating another character - or three, in the case of Huey, Dewey and Louie.

It seems someone's hacking into Jiminy Cricket's journal – now there's something I never expected to write – because you'll sometimes notice sudden changes to the environment. At this point you'll have to follow a bleeping sensor to locate the source of the problem, and jump into portals which take you to a place I'm not allowed to talk about.

Because I'm not allowed to talk about these areas, I probably can't tell you whether they feature fairly basic platforming challenges, often involving different types of blocks from the ones in the other digital world.

I can say that the game employs a similar levelling system to 358/2 Days, though I can't describe its intricacies nor mention its name, which may or may not sound like a seminal sci-fi movie starring Keanu Reeves.

These restrictions are a little annoying, because they essentially forbid me from talking about some of the most interesting aspects of the game. You get plenty of choice in how you develop Sora's skills and abilities, and the method used to make these adjustments is creative and different. These features also help distinguish Re:coded from previous Kingdom Hearts titles.

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