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Our Favorite Gaming Soundtracks of All Time

When it comes to evoking emotion and translating feeling to the audience, few aspects of art are as important as the music.

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Chrono Cross Gaming Soundtrack

When it comes to evoking emotion and translating feeling to the audience, few aspects of art are as important as the music. Whether communicating a sense of danger, the stakes of a vital struggle, or the sinister mystery of an unknown world, no part of an experience is as vital or transcendent as that of the music that accompanies it. With that in mind, we’ve asked our writers to tell us their absolute favorite gaming soundtrack, and what makes it stand out to them. Below are their answers.

Chrono Cross


Few games possess the sheer personality and diversity of Chrono Cross‘ soundtrack. Layered with diverse soundscapes and evocative melodies, Yasunori Mitsuda’s legendary follow-up to his Chrono Trigger soundtrack is one of the best collections of music ever created, inside or outside of its respective medium.

Part of what makes the soundtrack so special is the wide degree of range it offers. From mournful, melancholic tragedy to cheerful festival musicChrono Cross nails the tone of every area you explore and every moment you experience with the most spot-on, involving and enveloping music imaginable. Big moments like epic boss battles with long embittered foes or fearful deities are given the appropriate level of reverence they deserve, while the game’s other big moments are offered an eclectic mix of wondrous instrumentation, operatic vocals, and gorgeously devised emotion via Mitsuda’s earth-shattering grasp for the feel and sound of the moment in question.

In fact, music is such an important part of Chrono Cross, that you can’t even beat the game properly without playing a series of notes during the final battle, the last of which is the titular “Chrono Cross”, a mystical element which cements the connection between Chrono Cross and its forebear. A marvel of sound design and musical mastery, Chrono Cross’ soundtrack pays tribute to its past, while proudly evoking its own gorgeous present. It is truly a masterpiece. (Mike Worby)

Final Fantasy VIII


When it comes to gaming soundtracks, few series’ are as well known as Final Fantasy. However, even among this esteemed company, Final Fantasy VIII is a massive standout. 

Doubling down on the soaring operatics that made ‘One-Winged Angel’ such a memorable theme in Final Fantasy VII, series composer Nobuo Uematsu creates a stirring, pulse-pounding score for VIII which offers a ton of memorable tracks. From the adrenaline fuelled chase of ‘Dead End’ to the mounting theatrical dread of ‘Filthos Lusec Wecos Vinosec’Final Fantasy VIII makes every key moment in the story stand out all the more through Uematsu’s incredible ability to tie music to the emotion of a moment. 

The utter thrill of battle can be heard in the soaring opening theme, while the solemn hope of a promise can be felt in a moment that requires more nuance. Further, the game’s villain, Ultimecia, gains so much of her sinister menace in thanks to the music that accompanies her throughout the game. Finally, the 4 part suite that accompanies the final battle, particularly the last branch of it, is unrivaled in terms of climactic boss music. 

A collection of music that stands as one of gaming’s best even 20 years later, Final Fantasy VIII‘s score is one of the all-time greats, and easily among the best RPG soundtracks ever created. (Mike Worby)

God of War 

God of War
God of War made an epic comeback in April 2018, with Santa Monica Studios completely revitalising the series while managing to stay true to the general tone of the franchise. With this new game came a soundtrack by Bear McCreary (known for his music for television such as the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series, Outlander and The Walking Dead) who took over from Gerard Marino, the composer for all the other games in the series. McCreary pays homage to Marino’s work in his score but adds his own interpretation by introducing an element of subtlety and combining it with Nordic influences. By doing this, he creates a soundtrack that never forgets that Kratos is still well and truly the God of War, but also emphasises and reflects the growth and maturity of his character and the series as a whole.

Kratos gets a new bombastic theme that incorporates the deep and booming voices of a choir with classic bass, strings and drums. The theme is very much Kratos as it is incredibly powerful and almost aggressive; the perfect encapsulation of his character. Other themes in the game are equally strong and represent their intended moments well, such as the melancholic ‘Memories of Mother’ for Faye, Kratos’s deceased wife and Atreus’s mother. ‘Valkyries’ is a brilliant battle theme that continuously immersed me in the fight with the titular Valkyries even when I kept dying and having to hear it over and over again. ‘Ashes’ is a fantastic theme — my personal favourite of the whole soundtrack — for the moment when Kratos and Atreus hold a funeral for Faye. It blends ‘Memories of Mother’ with Kratos’s ‘God of War’ theme to create a piece that is high in emotion yet still retains the undeniably masculine undertone of Kratos’s theme.

McCreary’s score captures the tone of the game overall perfectly, as well as reflecting the more intimate character moments too. McCreary clearly understood and utilized Gerard Marino’s material from the other games and does the series justice by not throwing it away entirely. Instead, he builds on the feel of the original score and introduces new themes to represent the Norse age. This creates a score that is chock full of emotion and realism, which also manages to maintain the fantasy feel and reflect the setting of the game. This not only makes this gaming soundtrack the best of 2018, and one of the best in contemporary gaming, but also one of the best of all time. (Antonia Haynes)

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus Uprising Gaming Soundtracks
Super Smash Bros.
and Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai’s revival of the Kid Icarus series on the Nintendo 3DS incorporates rhythmic storytelling into the key pillars of game design, resulting in fantastic orchestrated and digitally composed scores that help lead the charge during dynamic action set pieces in the skies that continue with on-foot assaults. The sound design in Uprising is just as integral to the game as its lovable characters and challenging gameplay. Every piece of music in Uprising is thematically appropriate to its sporadically changing and blending themes of Greek mythology, science fiction, and fantasy.

For example, during Pit’s first battle with his mirror clone Dark Pit, the atmosphere is shrouded with a unique combination of the Spanish acoustic guitar and the Greek lute; two instruments often associated with the sounds of western duels and rivalries by the general public. The acoustic guitar represents the engaged battle between the two Pits while the lute harmonically shows the power of both the goddess of light and worshipper of darkness — Palutena and Medusa — judging and interfering with the fight above and below them. The two instruments help culminate into a fight that further feels as if you are standing in the middle of a tense shootout.

This is only one example of what is contained within Uprising’s 25 chapters that hold almost four hours worth of music. Every track feels constantly fresh due to how the game’s story seamlessly continues to change tone and jump from multiple settings that loosely follow the inspirational source material of the series. Unlike that of the original Nintendo Entertainment System and GameBoy entries, Uprising is a wild ride whose soundtrack is certainly worth listening to by itself, but for the most worthwhile experience, it definitely should be paired with either third-person shooting or smashing. (Marc Kaliroff)

Kingdom Hearts II

Kingdom Hearts 2 final act ending
Before the player is even afforded the opportunity to press a single button,
Kingdom Hearts II’s evocative soundtrack has already perfectly encapsulated the sequel’s bittersweet tone, and that achieved in no less than a chord. Though not an immediate sequel, Kingdom Hearts II directly expands on its predecessor’s themes of heart and friendship in an often-melancholic rumination on how memories and relationships can shape our very existence. Though not without the familiar pomp of the original, the sequel’s soundtrack is more than up to the task to tackle such heady subjects, and, stripped of all context, still effectively conveys the immense ethos at play in KHII.

Throughout the game’s run time, composer Yoko Shimomura perfectly scores every beat the game seeks to hit, from a triumphant turn in a dire situation to a fond memory of home. Innumerable moments in the game are given immense poignancy courtesy of the score alone. A sudden tonal shift in a climactic battle forces the player to internally grapple with the fact while their methods might be nefarious, these villains want nothing more than to exist. Similarly, an impossibly moving melody accentuates the conclusion of an initially unwelcome prologue, making it impossible not to feel for and miss a character that was introduced mere hours before, leaving the player near overwhelmed as the title flashes across the screen and the game starts in earnest. Brimming with unforgettable new themes, including new character themes, gorgeous new renditions of preexisting favorites like the title theme, “Dearly Beloved,” and capped off with a sensational theme in all forms from Hikaru Utada in “PASSION/Sanctuary, and the soundtrack for Kingdom Hearts II gives the title its heart and remains not only one of the best and most effective gaming soundtracks, but one of the most beautiful, impactful scores of all time. (Tim Maison)

The Last of Us

The Last of Us
When it comes to memorable soundtracks from more contemporary video games, The Last of Us is one of the first to come to mind.

The Last of Us is one of the most commercially and critically successful games of the last decade. The 2013 post apocalyptic zombie (kind of) game tells the story of grizzled and world weary survivor Joel as he is tasked with escorting a 14 year old girl across the country. A simple premise that created arguably one of best narratives in gaming. As well as being impressive from a storytelling perspective, the game’s music is also incredible. Renowned composer Gustavo Santaolalla — known for his work in films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Book of Life –– created the music for the game. His score breathes life into the apocalyptic world that the player inhabits. He does this by keeping things simple yet always retaining a suspenseful, harrowing or emotional tone.

Simple strings are the main element of most of the score. The guitar takes center stage in a lot of tracks but it steals the show in ‘The Last of Us Main Theme’ (now a hugely well known piece of music). It begins softly and gets more grandiose as more instruments join the lone guitar to emphasize the building drama as the world begins to fall apart.

Another highlight in the soundtrack are the various versions of ‘All Gone’. All of them are beautiful pieces with a deeply emotional feel in contrast to the drama, dread and excitement that the main theme can stir up. It’s impossible to not feel something when you hear any of them but ‘All Gone (No Escape)’ is a particular stand out to me that can get the tears flowing pretty easily (just like the scene in the game).

Santaolalla clearly has a keen understanding of the game world as well as the story and characters. He expresses all of these elements perfectly through his haunting yet beautiful soundtrack that is akin to a cinematic score. Santaolalla skillfully crafts a whole world with his music and by doing so, creates a score that is easily one of the best in gaming. (Antonia Haynes)

No More Heroes 2


No More Heroes 2 is this brilliant off-the-wall insane gem, with gameplay as varied as its excellent boss designs. There’s a lot of fast-paced action, and a high tempo soundtrack attributes greatly to the exciting feeling of experiencing the game. But one of my favorite parts about No More Heroes 2‘s soundtrack is that it spans multiple genres and thematics, finding time to be chilled out with the sparkling “
Sunshine Slayer” from the Kimmy Howell boss, whilst also jamming through blazing punk inspired tracks like “Beam Katana Chronicles II.” Then we come to the vast amount of mini-games used for collecting cash, and we get 8-bit inspired tracks that would fit perfectly in old school games.

There’s even a great dramatic track that feels almost like its taken out of either a spy film, or some sort of surfer drama (or honestly something that would feel fitting in Team Fortress 2) with Charlie MacDonald’s boss theme “DEATH PARADE.” Every boss has these amazing themes, though the most standout of all is the infectious and infinitely singable “Philistine” from the Margaret Moonlight fight. “Reaper, reaper, that’s what people call me. Why? Cause they all die” will be stuck in your head forever, thank me later.

But even outside of the boss themes, there’s a few remixes of the No More Heroes theme from the first game that each build and present something brand new. Probably the strongest is the first, “N.M.H. The Outer Rim Remix,” but they’ve all got something to give. Whether you’re fighting in a giant mech, having a motorcycle duel with a bōsōzoku, or slicing your way through waves of enemies, NMH2 has the perfect soundtrack to back it all up. (Shane Dover)

Persona 5


It
feels erroneous to include only one title from AtlusPersona franchise, a series that has dedicated three rhythm titles celebrating its quality scores, in this best-of list. However, Persona 5 (2016) arguably propelled the series to new heights when it comes to excellence in video game soundtracks. Given that the title’s protagonist, Joker, is consistently told how ‘cool’ and suave he is, it’s completely fitting that Persona 5’s score (produced by composer Shoji Meguro with contributions from others) is heavily inspired by acid jazz, funk, lounge, and pop as genres.

What’s even more confounding, however, is how exceptionally well these jazz-dominant influences are in representing the turbulent day-to-day of a teenage outcast living a double life. Meguro’s compositions are simultaneously motivating and pensive, urging the player to take action (in battle and out), while also encouraging them to reflect on the heavier social themes of the title. Moreover, they encapsulate a rainbow of emotions, from the destructiveness of (teen) angst, to the tenderness of first love, to the melancholy of a subpar day at school. Perhaps the greatest testament to Persona 5’s soundtrack, however, is the presence of reaction videos online of Let’s Players and streamers hearing its ridiculously smooth battle theme, Last Surprise, for the first time – and it also became a meme. If viral success isn’t indicative of an excellent soundtrack, then what is?

Standout tracks include: Last Surprise, Rivers in the Desert, Life Will Change, Layer Cake, Beneath the Mask, and The Whims of Fate. (Jordana Elliot)

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master


Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
is not only the best title in its franchise, but boasts a gaming soundtrack more killer than a bunch o’ chucked shurikens. A beaming iteration of 16-bit melodic magic, Joe Musashi’s quest jumps from funky fresh jams to fist pumping anthems.

Highlights include title theme ‘Shinobi’, dark ‘n’ groovy ‘Trap Boogie’, and the iconic ‘Whirlwind’. And that’s not to mention round 1 opener ‘Japonesque’, stellar boss theme ‘Shadows’, or ‘Idaten’ (from that hella cool horse level). Really, choosing standouts from this batch of bangers requires a lengthy list, it’s that good!

Mingling an amalgamation of genres and tempos with hyper catchy hooks, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master‘s soundtrack is a testament to the excellence of its era. (Harry Morris)

Xenoblade Chronicles


JRPGs
have always been known for their great music. From the likes of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest to Kingdom Hearts, the genre has rarely failed to deliver a quality soundtrack in even the most lackluster of entries. Enter Xenoblade Chronicles. Routinely praised as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time and a Metacritic darling, Xenoblade succeeds not only because of its excellent gameplay, top-notch story, and loveable characters, but also because of its incredible music. 

Xenoblade succeeds because of its ability to break free of the constraints that have bound JRPGs for decades. Its soundtrack is no different. Coordinating the efforts of Yoko Shimomura, Yasunori Mitsuda, and ACE+ (Kenji Hiramatsu, Tomori Kudo, Hiroyo Yamanaka) into a coherent whole, Xenoblade director Tetsuya Takahashi refused to limit the scope of the soundtrack during development, mixing together typical JRPG acoustics with “instruments that each had their own individual flavor […] creating a more varied soundtrack” in the process. 

The result was nothing less than extraordinary.

Every piece of Xenoblades music, from the opening theme that plays mournfully when the game starts up to the end theme that plays joyfully at the game’s conclusion, fits into its role perfectly, cementing a soundtrack that just feels right. 

It’s hard to put into perspective the huge swathe of emotions that Xenoblade’s soundtrack covers.  There are songs about love. There are songs about hatred. There are songs about loss, growth, silliness, seriousness, and nearly every other emotion imaginable. Indeed, even when divorced from the corresponding scenes in the adventure, the music carries with it a sense of emotional magnetism that is as rare as it is breathtaking, a sense of adventure and yearning that never fades, even after repeated listening. And, its that timelessness, that endemic quality that makes Xenoblade’s soundtrack a good listen, even for those not interested in JRPGS at all.  (Izsak Barnette)

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

XenobladeChronicles2
It’s a testament to series composer
Yasunori Mitsuda that two Xenoblade Chronicles titles made this list. The mainline Xenoblade games are known for being exceedingly story-driven, emotional journeys, and a major reason they’ve succeed is because of the outstanding attention to detail given to their scores.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a sprawling JRPG that follows the story of a young salvager named Rex on his continent-spanning journey to reach Elysium, meet The Creator, and uncover the truth about the ancient living weapons known as Blades. The sheer scope of the game (70 hours of playtime is on the low end) makes it all the more impressive that the soundtrack has enough variety to feel fresh and engaging throughout.

How’s this possible you ask? The music isn’t just region and city-specific, but each theme is based on the aesthetics of its setting. One of the most beloved tracks in the game, Mor Ardain’s theme, perfectly exemplifies this. The track’s bombastic horns lend a fitting brass sound to the heavily industrialized city. At night, however, most of these elements are stripped away in favor of a sweet flute and piano-led melody that brings to mind images of a wistful nighttime stroll.

That’s right—most locations have accompanying night themes that contain the daytime theme’s core melody but slow things down to evoke a softer, more subtle mood for exploring at night. Satoshi Igarashi recently explained how Astral Chain’s exploration and battle music play off of each other using this same audio design method. The result in both games is a lovely coupling of tracks that complement each other and suit different moods perfectly.

Want to listen for yourself? I can’t recommend the sleepily ambient sounds of Fonsa Myma’s night theme enough. It’s a city enveloped in dreamy purple and blue hues and is the first true visual showcase of Rex and Pyra’s journey. Elysium, in the Blue Sky is far grander and drearier, but equally worth your time. (Brent Middleton)

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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