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Kingdom Hearts is a truly special series. The uncanny marriage of Disney and Square Enix’s role-playing games left many scratching their heads back in the day but who would’ve thought that it would actually work out this well. Most JRPGs are very outlandish, and for the most part, never really grounded in any sort of realism. It’s that very imaginative nature that gels so well with the fun and light-heartedness of Disney, resulting in a game that somehow takes you back to simpler times even if the story is anything but straightforward these days. This is a franchise I wish more people would play and with the third (well not technically as there were numerous spin-offs released in-between) game on the way, this would be the opportune time to hop in. Unfortunately, every single game released between the mainline titles
A Kingdom Hearts game is basically divided into two distinct parts; the Disney worlds and the original Kingdom Hearts stuff. For the most part, the Disney sections are self-contained stories and can easily be enjoyed on their own. This is part of the reason why this series isn’t as impenetrable as most people think. The franchise really nails the aesthetic and feeling of the Disney properties they incorporate so it’s really easy for anyone to enjoy. That said, the rest of narrative can get a bit confusing at times, so let’s start at the beginning.
Kingdom Hearts follows the adventures of a young boy named Sora, alongside his two best friends Riku and Kairi. The trio dreamed of having a grand adventure, traveling beyond the confines of their little island. Together they came up with a plan to build a raft and sail off into the sunset. While a bit of a bad idea, seeing as how a dinky raft probably won’t get you far, they were determined to leave their home behind. Things did not go as planned however as their island was invaded by a mysterious dark force. It was this point that Sora was chosen by a Keyblade, and though he was able to fight off the hostile invaders for a while, the island was ultimately destroyed and the gang was whisked off to far away worlds.
Sora then wakes up in a place called Traverse Town, where he finds himself facing off against the monsters that destroyed his homeworld; the Heartless. These are beings born from the darkness within people’s hearts. After defeating them, Sora begins his search for his friends but not before making an unexpected alliance turned friendship that will last the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts franchise with the Royal Knight Goofy and the Royal Magician Donald Duck. These two are searching for their king, Mickey Mouse, and together they decide to team up with Sora and journey together to achieve their goals.
Initially, the premise for Kingdom Hearts was really simple. Sora, Goofy and Donald travelled to various Disney worlds in the hopes of getting more information on the whereabouts of Sora’s friends and Mickey. Along the way they helped rid each place they visited from the Heartless invasion. This eventually led them to
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, so Kingdom Hearts is an actual thing and not just the name of the game?” Yup, it’s an actual thing, specifically; it’s a world within the game. It is said to be the heart of all worlds and holds great power and knowledge within. Needless to say, the bad guys want access to it, and they want it badly.
Sora eventually faces off against Maleficent but not before getting confronted by his best friend Riku, who has somehow succumbed to the darkness. This will be a common theme for Riku going forward in the franchise as he struggles to understand and control the darkness within his heart. Sora eventually emerges victorious and defeats both Riku and Maleficent, but that was not the end for our spikey-haired protagonist as Maleficent was just a mere puppet and the real mastermind pulling the strings from the shadows was revealed to be a man by the name of Ansem.
This character, while resembling that of a human, is actually a Heartless and was in control of Riku’s body. His plan to use the seven princesses was ultimately thwarted by Sora and with Ansem defeated, Riku was able to regain his body. Though it may seem as though a happy ending is on the horizon, the door to Kingdom Hearts was opened by Ansem before his demise, but it turned out that it was a door that led to the Realm of Darkness. There’s another subplot involving Ansem
The original Kingdom Hearts was a simple enough game to follow but things kind of get a bit hairy from here on out.
Having defeated Ansem, Sora, Goofy and Donald continue their journey to save Riku and Mickey, as well as find Kairi again. During their travels
The organisation’s true goal is to open Kingdom Hearts so that they can once again have a heart of their own. Within their collective
Fast-forward one year and Sora finally wakes up. Reunited with Goofy and Donald again, they find out about the threat of the Nobodies and Organisation XIII and set out to stop them. Much like Ansem, the leader of the organisation, Xemnas, set out to create another Kingdom Hearts only this time by using the hearts of people. The rest of Organisation XIII believes that his goal for the creation of Kingdom Hearts was to grant them all hearts again, but Xemnas wanted nothing more than the power it holds. Sora, along with Riku (I know I kind of skipped quite a bit here, but it’s just important to note that Riku managed to escape the Darkness) puts an end to Xemnas’ plan. Everyone was happily reunited but
Up until now, Sora and friends had faced off against the Heartless, Ansem and the Nobodies, but it was Xemnas who was actually born from Xehanort when he decided to willingly give his heart up to the darkness. He always had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and once he learned about Kingdom Hearts he became obsessed with gaining access to the power it holds within. Over time Xehanort developed a disdain for the light as well, specifically the balance between light and darkness and how light was more prevalent. He believes that there should be an equal balance between the two and that instead of shunning darkness people should learn to control it. So as his obsession with Kingdom Hearts grew so did his desire to destroy the current status quo so that he could rebuild the world to enforce this balance and act as its overseer. He devised a master plan to achieve his goals which
Xehanort learned the truth about the real Kingdom Hearts and how to access it. Up until now we’ve only really seen artificial versions of it, but it was actually lost to darkness a long time ago as a result of a massive conflict called the Keyblade War where armies of Keyblade wielders fought over the light of Kingdom Hearts. This almost led to the complete destruction of the world, but the light within children’s hearts prevented such a catastrophe and instead, the one world was splintered off into many other worlds giving birth to ones such as the Disney worlds you visit throughout the franchise. After this happened, Kingdom Hearts vanished and it’s key, the
The revelations that were uncovered by Xehanort would ultimately grant him the power he hungered for, but
After the events of Birth by Sleep but before the original Kingdom Hearts, Ansem and Xemnas were given two important missions, which were to gather the seven Princesses of Heart and form an organisation of thirteen Nobodies, respectively. We were lead to believe that Princesses were used to
Phew, that’s about where we are right now with the story! The destined battle between light and darkness will reach its climax in Kingdom Hearts 3 and I for one cannot wait to see the outcome. All I know for sure is that I’m ready to be consumed by this game.
Last Updated: January 30, 2019