Key to understanding Kingdom Hearts

New game hits market Jan. 29

%22Kingdom+Hearts+-+The+Story+So+Far%22+released+on+Oct.+30%2C+2018.
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Key to understanding Kingdom Hearts

"Kingdom Hearts - The Story So Far" released on Oct. 30, 2018.

Macy McClish

"Kingdom Hearts - The Story So Far" released on Oct. 30, 2018.

Macy McClish

Macy McClish

"Kingdom Hearts - The Story So Far" released on Oct. 30, 2018.

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After nearly seven years since the last game, and 13 years since Kingdom Hearts II, “Kingdom Hearts III” releases Jan. 29, 2019. Video games often dive into weird concepts. The games can involve mystical worlds, an unreal ensemble of characters, or in this case, crossover two series that have nothing to do with each other. Kingdom Hearts, a crossover between Squaresoft’s (now Square-Enix) Final Fantasy characters and an assortment of characters from various Disney movies, is one of those games where the concept is bizarre, so out there and so crazy, it just works. Square released the very first Kingdom Hearts game March 28, 2002. 

Stories like this are very irritating, taking all the fun out of player’s interpretations of certain events and removing personal investment as a result.”

— Cambry King, 11

The games usually follow the character Sora, as he battles beings called “heartless” with the “keyblade.” He is not alone, however. Sora is accompanied by the Disney characters Donald Duck and Goofy. At the beginning of the first game, Sora loses his friends Riku and Kairi and spends many of the games to reunite with them. Riku, in particular, is a very interesting character, as he starts out as one of the villains in the first game, and through a redemption arc in following games, becomes one of the protagonists of later games.

As I much as I like the characters, the story itself is terrible. As early as “Kingdom Hearts II,” the story is retconned (previous events reinterpreted to serve current plot) and previous coincidences are passed off as a “master plan.” Stories like this are very irritating, taking all the fun out of player’s interpretations of certain events and removing personal investment as a result. Nothing is left to the imagination, and as a result, some of the wonder and mystique of the world is lost.

If that wasn’t bad enough, quite a few of the games (up until a few years ago) are on different consoles. Kingdom Hearts I and II were on the Playstation 2, but the game in between “Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories,” was originally released on the Gameboy Advanced. “Kingdom Hearts 358/2” and “Re:Coded” were released on the Nintendo DS. “Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep” was released on the Playstation Portable, and “Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance” was released on the Nintendo 3DS. Every single one of these games (except for Re:Coded) was a continuation of the story. For example, if a player did not play Chain of Memories before playing II, even though it was for the Gameboy Advanced, the player would be lost on what was happening. Fortunately, with the recent release of “Kingdom Hearts The Story So Far,” this no longer becomes an issue.

I would be lying to say if I didn’t enjoy some aspects of the story. The relationship between Sora, Riku, and Kairi feels like childhood friends who just want to see each other again. And the budding romance between Sora and Kairi has been teased since the very first game.

With all of its shortcomings, Kingdom Hearts does deliver some of the greatest games of the past decade.”

— Cambry King, 11

With all of its shortcomings, Kingdom Hearts does deliver some of the greatest games of the past decade. Most notably, Kingdom Hearts II is widely considered one of the greatest action role-playing games (action RPG) to date. I believe it’s one of the greatest games ever made. The flashy moves, cartoonish set pieces, and an amazing set of characters all rolled together in a nice little package creates an unforgettable journey.

Another great thing Kingdom Hearts delivers is its soundtrack. The themes it plays during battle changes from each world, so the player never gets tired of hearing the same song over and over again. Each world has its own theme based on a Disney movie. The theme that plays during the intro in Kingdom Hearts II, “Sanctuary,” is a great song in itself, but the animation that plays along with it skyrockets the song to one of the best in the series. However, nothing compares to the theme of the entire series, “Dearly Beloved,” a piano piece that plays on the title screen of almost every game. Players know they are in for a treat whenever they hear those iconic chords.

Whether or not “Kingdom Hearts III” is good, it will be one of the most talked about titles of the year, thanks to its predecessors and the quality of the games it has produced.

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