Memory is the key.
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories is a full remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. It was first released on March 29, 2007 in Japan, and imported to North America almost two years later, on December 2, 2008. It was never released in the PAL region until the release of the HD remake Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. In Japan, it is part of the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ compilation, and has connectivity features with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. As there were no plans to release Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix internationally, these features were added with a condition of completing the stories for the North American release.
While many changes were made between the two versions, by far the most important was the total redesign of the game to be a three-dimensional computer-rendered game for the PlayStation 2, in the same style as the other released entries in the series, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. This revamp included changing the battle arenas from two dimensional screens without "height" into full three-dimensional arenas, allowing enemies to rise out of the player's range.
Additionally, these arenas can be aesthetically varied, even within the same world, while in the original game there was only one arena design per world. The "Duel" system, based on the game of War, was added to Riku's battle mechanics, and the Reaction Command system of Kingdom Hearts II was incorporated into both Sora and Riku's battle mechanics, generally to replace instances where the player would press the "A" button to continue a combo attack.
A smaller but still important change was the conversion of many of the game's scenes into fully voice-acted full motion videos, and the use of voice-acting within gameplay. While the dialogue for the game was recorded using the voice actors used in Kingdom Hearts II, the voicing and sound effects within gameplay relied largely on existing clips. In some cases, such as the Sora's invocation of the Stop spell, these clips were only available using the Kingdom Hearts voice-actors. As the scenes were now fully rendered, rather than being acted out with sprites, the violence within the game was more apparent, and the game's rating was raised from E to E10+, for Fantasy Violence.
The game's card system and overall plot remained the same as the original Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and "Simple and Clean" is the game's theme song. However, there were many small tweaks to the storyline, as well as the addition of new Cards, Sleights, bosses, and a Theater Mode to re-watch the game's full-motion videos.
- Flashbacks from the first Kingdom Hearts are included in cutscenes.
- Axel finishes off Vexen by immolating him with a snap of his fingers. In the original, he just struck Vexen with his chakrams a second time to eliminate him.
- In the original, Goofy knocks away Larxene when she tries to kill Sora. In the remake, he just throws his shield at Larxene to temporarily distract her.
- In the original, the Riku Replica is seen lying on the ground on Floor 12, and moving to him will trigger a cutscene (followed by a boss fight). In the remake, he is standing up, and a Reaction Command triggers the cutscene and boss fight.
- When Guard Armor is fought in the original Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, it is fought in the third district. But in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, it is fought in second district.
- When Sora was hurt by Larxene in the original Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Donald used Cure to heal him, but in Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, he uses Curaga to heal him.
- In the original climax of Sora's storyline, when Axel attempts to execute Marluxia for his betrayal, Marluxia used Naminé as a shield after hearing Axel's threat. In the remake, they have a brief fight before Marluxia uses Naminé as a shield. Marluxia also never leaves the room until the end of the fight.
- Instead of dragging Riku into the dark depths using his final strength, Lexaeus is killed when Riku's body is temporarily taken by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
- In the original game, Zexion teleports away when his disguise as Sora is uncovered. In the remake, Zexion directly battles Riku but is defeated and, fearful for his life, teleports away.
- The scene from Kingdom Hearts Final Mix that involves Sora fighting Xemnas as the Unknown is put into the opening FMV.
- An extended scene of Roxas is shown along with Hayner, Pence, and Olette at the ending of the game.
- At the ending to the game, a scene of the Organization's unseen members is shown.
- Zexion's death is extended, while only implied in the original game it is clearly shown in the remake. In the original game it is hinted, though never shown, that the Riku Replica stabs Zexion, whereas in the remake, the Riku Replica is shown to strangle Zexion and drain out his life force. In the flashback, Axel also explains his motivation remarking, "So sorry Zexion. You just found out way too much." revealing that Axel had Zexion killed to cover-up Axel's actions, and in 358/2 Days also because Zexion discovered Saïx and Axel's own plans of betrayal.
- In the original game, Riku Replica fades away after his final defeat against Riku, whereas in the remake, he is swallowed by darkness instead.
- While battling the Parasite Cage, the stomach acid will not inflict damage if Sora is reloading his deck.
- In the battle with Genie Jafar, the number of platforms has increased from 3 to 6.
- The final Marluxia battle has been split into two sub-battles — the first is generally the same as the original final battle, while the second is set entirely on top of Marluxia's Specter, and features him as much more aggressive, with several powerful Sleights.
- As in his Absent Silhouette battle in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Lexaeus can enter a temporary state of invulnerability and increased strength.
- As with Roxas and Sora's fight in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the scene in which Riku confronts Zexion has been converted into a full boss battle. During this battle, Zexion can steal Riku's cards, though Riku remains within Dark Mode for the duration of the fight.
- The final battle in Monstro, while playing the same, is now recorded within the Journal as a mini-game. Also, the Shadows defeated during it drop EXP, unlike in the original GBA version.
- 100 Acre Wood has been modified to be a mini-game world, as in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, as opposed to a single mini-game composed of helping Pooh find the other inhabitants of that world.
- The Journal now keeps track of mini-game scores, as in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.
- In the Japanese version, having a cleared Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix save file on your memory card will allow Sora to obtain a second set of treasures from the Room of Rewards on each floor. These include Attack Cards modeled after certain Kingdom Hearts II Keyblades, and Enemy Cards modeled after the seven of the eight Organization XIII members which were not available in Chain of Memories. In both versions, this feature can also be unlocked by clearing "Reverse/Rebirth" on Re:Chain of Memories. The Zexion card, while added to the game, is available as soon as it is obtained in "Reverse/Rebirth".
- The Gold and Platinum Cards are now available in Sora's Story, and can be obtained from Bounties after obtaining every other card.
- Unlike the original, Items can now only be collected once per room, unless if a new room is created, or the rooms that serve as the entrance or exit for that world have been reset. As such, Barrels and Barrel Spiders no longer reappear if you re-enter a room.
- The Pluto Friend Card and Lucky Bounty Sleights are now available.
- The Bottomless Darkness, Roulette Room, and Random Joker Map Cards have been added.
- The Gravity Raid, Stop Raid, Homing Fira, Firaga Break, Blazing Donald, and Goofy Charge Sleights have been removed, and replaced with Magnet Spiral, Lethal Frame, Freeze, Firaga Burst, Raging Storm, Stardust Blitz, Goofy Tornado Lv2, Goofy Smash, and Wild Crush.
- Riku's battle mechanics now include the Duel system and its Sleights, and now have the Holy Burst and Inverse Burst Friend Sleights.
- The High Jump, Glide, and Superglide support abilities are available.
- The effect of the Darkball card, which would have been useless thanks to the removal of Link Mode, has been modified to work with Riku's Duel system and has been added as the second enemy card on the Atlantica floor aside from Sea Neon in Reverse/Rebirth. As such, it is no longer available in "Sora's Story".
- The effects of several Sleights were modified.
- The Ansem, Seeker of Darkness card is now available as a Bounty within Twilight Town, not Castle Oblivion.
- Jack Skellington's Friend Card is now available from the first battle in Halloween Town, rather than immediately after it.
- Zantetsuken, Sonic Blade, Tornado, Holy, Ars Arcanum, Ragnarok, and Mega Flare are now available to learn at levels 22, 26, 42, 47, 37, 52, and 57, respectively, as opposed to levels 27, 22, 32, 37, 42, 47, and 52.
- Warpinator is now a Twilight Town Bounty, instead of a reward for defeating the Riku Replica.
- Warp is now available in the Agrabah Room of Rewards, rather than the Twilight Town Room of Rewards.
- Bind is now available in the Halloween Town Room of Rewards, rather than as a reward for finding Eeyore.
- Synchro is now available in the Wonderland Room of Rewards, rather than as a reward for finding Rabbit.
- Idyll Romp is now available as a reward for clearing Tigger's Jump-a-Thon, rather than as a reward for finding Tigger.
- Cross-slash+ is now available as a reward for clearing Veggie Panic, rather than as a Hollow Bastion Bounty.
- The effectiveness of Riku's strength is slightly amplified from the original game.
- During fights in the halls, battles are now fought on large pillars.
- There are also environmental changes throughout the game: in Wonderland flowers now block doors and in certain areas there are parts of the scenery that shoot projectiles, possibly confusing Sora or Riku if they are hit.
- Riku is no longer able to level up his DP points at the beginning of the game until he acquires the ability to use Dark Mode.
- In the original game, Riku is cut off from King Mickey after the battle against Lexaeus. In the remake he is never cut off from Mickey, and therefore can still use The King card during the main storyline in both Destiny Islands and Twilight Town unlike the original where he couldn't.
- Spellbinder is now found in a chest in Tigger's Playground that is only accessible with Glide or Superglide.
- The Hidden Chamber from the original game has been renamed to the Room of Rewards.
- A Room of Rewards has been added to the Castle Oblivion floor, unlike the original game which was the only floor which did not have a Hidden Chamber (excluding Hundred Acre Wood).
- When viewed on the map, the Room of Rewards is now counted as a special room instead of a regular room.
- When viewed on the map, the special rooms now glow white to identify which one to open. When Sora has a Key to Rewards card in his possession, the Room of Rewards' location is revealed by a blue glow.
Visual and audio changes
- The multiplayer Link Mode was removed and a Theater Mode was added.
- Sora's voice in this game is just as heard from Kingdom Hearts II, where he was 15 years old, as opposed to his 14-year-old voice from the first two Kingdom Hearts games. This is because Sora's voice actor, Haley Joel Osment, had developed a deeper voice over time in real life.
- The various color categories of Map Cards now have a small symbol ("R", "B", "G", or "!") indicating their color.
- The Attack and Magic Enemy Cards played by Axel, Larxene, Vexen, Marluxia, Lexaeus, Zexion, "Ansem", and the Riku Replica depict different facial expressions, depending on their effect.
- Sora, Donald, Goofy, Riku, and King Mickey now wear their Halloween costumes while within Halloween Town, though in Atlantica they remain in their normal forms.
- During his final battles with both Sora and Riku, the Riku Replica's left hand is immersed in an orb of darkness.
- When Axel first introduces himself to Sora, he says "Got it memorized?" as opposed to "Commit it to memory."
- Axel no longer says, "...give me a hell of a show!", as he did in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Instead, he says, "Try and make it enjoyable, Sora."
- In Larxene's first encounter with Sora, her "through" is misspelled as "though". This line is later fixed in the remake.
- In the original Chain of Memories, Sora exhaustively says "I can't go on!" when defeated in battle.
- In Reverse/Rebirth, Riku says "Darkness!" when transforming into Dark Riku, whereas in the original Chain of Memories he would yell "Arrrgh!".
- In the original game, the HP Bar for enemies (most notably the bosses) is based on the one seen in Kingdom Hearts. In Re:Chain of Memories, the Kingdom Hearts II bar is used instead.
- Theater Mode
- Lexaeus Enemy Card
- Zexion Enemy Card
- Ansem Enemy Card
- Demyx Enemy Card
- Roxas Enemy Card
- Luxord Enemy Card
- Xemnas Enemy Card
- Xigbar Enemy Card
- Xaldin Enemy Card
- Ultima Weapon Card
- One-Winged Angel Card
- Diamond Dust Card
- Hidden Dragon Card
- Gold Card
- Platinum Card
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX
- When Jiminy declares that all the pages in his journal were erased and that each page is blank, if the player looks closely, there is an entire page filled with random scribbles that represent words.