Spoiler Warning: Spoilers ahead for Kingdom Hearts 3 and its new Re Mind DLC that launched yesterday. Proceed with caution!
After finishing up the Re Mind campaign in Kingdom Hearts 3 last night, you could say I was underwhelmed. While it does a decent job of filling in the blanks from the original ending, for the most part, I found myself bored with it. In between long cutscenes, Re Mind has us replay boss fights. It's a bad sign, I'd say, when the first boss in the entire DLC is the last boss I remember overcoming in Kingdom Hearts 3 proper: the lone secret boss. There are genuinely rad new boss fights, to be clear, but when 70% of the DLC is bosses I've fought before, there's an issue.
But the DLC does have one big saving grace: A killer photo mode. In a "true" epilogue following the Re Mind story campaign, complete with a "one year later" tagline, Riku travels to see his friends in Radiant Garden—namely Final Fantasy heroes Yuffie, Aerith, Squall (or Leon here), and Final Fantasy 7-era Cid. Long story short: Riku's searching for Sora, and Cid has collected a bunch of data to build up Sora and the real Organization XIII inside a network tying Radiant Garden and Twilight Town together. The Organization members' data is so strong that Cid can't technically access it, so he devises a plan: using the data version of Sora, they can defeat the members and unlock the data.
It's on this computer where you have two options: You can try to take on the Organization XIII in maybe the most dastardly boss fights the Kingdom Hearts series has ever seen, or access its digital greeting card maker. It's the latter where I wasted more hours than the campaign of Re Mind itself.
In the new photo mode, called Data Greeting, you have the ability to choose from a number of locations, and then drop in characters, Heartless, objects (like sea salt ice cream), lighting effects, and much more. The amount you can manipulate is quite robust. You can add invisible platforms of all shapes and sizes to add secret height to your subjects. You can drop a sea salt ice cream popsicle, and raise it and turn it just so, and have it dangling in mid-air in someone's hands. You can carefully coordinate miscellaneous characters and villains in mid-attack. You can make Xehanort look happy, or sad.
I immediately got lost in this. On Destiny Islands, I made a photo of Ansem pushing Xehanort, with dark Riku ready to catch him. I got the Final Fantasy crew together, complete with Kingdom Hearts 2-era Sora, to celebrate being back at Radiant Garden. In Scala ad Caelum, I grouped together some of my favorite villains and spent far too long carefully placing sea salt ice cream into each of their hands. It all brought me great joy.
On social media and Reddit, I'm already seeing tons of inventive creations from Kingdom Hearts fans. One person made that cat meme using a feline Dream Eater; others are bringing their ships to life. I've seen a weirdly sensual photo of a Dusk Nobody, Sora recreating an all-time great Vine ("Look at all these chickens!"), and even the jealous girlfriend meme with Sora ogling at Riku, his actual true love. (Don't @ me.) As the days and weeks stretch on, I'm sure we'll only see more and more clever and silly photos.
I tried to recreate it in KH3 Data Greeting mode. pic.twitter.com/GPD0X890zs— Miraculous Maku (@RedMakuzawa) January 23, 2020
Kingdom Hearts 3 itself shipped with a photo mode equipped already. With his smartphone, Sora could take selfies everywhere he went. I likened all my in-game selfie taking to tourism—Sora loves traveling to new worlds, so of course he'd be that obnoxious rich kid who takes selfies for the Instagram of his travels. The photo mode already included in Kingdom Hearts wasn't too robust, but it did have me stopping to take snapshots of beautiful scenery, or just silly photos of any companions he was with.
I've always been a staunch supporter of photo modes. It might come with the nature of my career, as a compulsive screenshot-taker with any game I play. Photo modes, at the very least, allow me to be more considerate with the screens I do take. They genuinely heighten my enjoyment of an experience as a result; as if I could make a digital scrapbook of my adventures by the time I'm through.
The heavy customization of Re Mind's photo mode, however, is in a league of its own. You can make bad guys be friends with the good guys; you can make the lighting extra dramatic if you want, or have the sky glisten. Or you can do what I did, and make Xehanort enjoy sea salt ice cream. It essentially allows players to make up their own postcards as they conclude their experience with Kingdom Hearts 3, ahead of whatever director Tetsuya Nomura has next. The new mode is a fitting way to have us remember our time with the game we waited, literally, over a decade for. The Re Mind DLC may be largely disappointing, even as it endearingly threads Sora in a Back to the Future-esque journey to save Kairi, but I have this positive takeaway at least.