GAME REVIEW: KINGDOM HEARTS.
‘There are many worlds, but they all share the same sky – one sky, one destiny.’ – Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts was one of my absolute favourite game series when I was growing up; I mean it was first released on the PS2 – that’s how far I’m going back here! It’s a series of crossover action role-playing games developed and published by Square Erix. The sole reason I insisted on my mum buying it for me was the fact it was a crossover with various Disney settings (we all know how much of a Disney freak I am, even back then), set in a universe made specifically for the series.
Kingdom Hearts centers on main character Sora, his search for his friends and his encounters with Disney and Final Fantasy characters in the worlds created for them. So far, there are seven games across the series spread over multiple consoles with future titles being planned. As of October 2013, the Kingdom Hearts series had sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
The self-titled Kingdom Hearts was the first in the series released in 2002, exclusively for PS2. The game introduced to us Sora and his friends Riku and Kairi, as well as establishing the plots and introducing us to their enemies, titled the Heartless. It also presented Disney’s role in the series with characters from Final Fantasy making some character cameos.
This game was re-released in 2013 for PS3 titled Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix featuring Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memory in HD with added trophy support, and also features Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days in theatre mode, spanning 2 hours and 50 minutes of HD remastered cinematics from the original game – as well as new scenes!
After the amazing success of the re-released collection, we are now waiting for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix to be released at the end of this year. Much like the first, it features Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix in HD with trophy support and Kingdom Heart Re:Coded in theatre mode spanning 3 hours of HD remastered cinematics from the original as well as new scenes.
On June 10th last year it was confirmed at E3 Sony press conference that Kingdom Hearts 3 was happening with a special trailer being shown. The trailer announced it was being made for the PS4, and a day later announcing it would also be available on the Xbox One. In interviews it has been said that this game will conclude the ‘Dark Seeker Saga’ but stresses it will not be the end of the series…
The games as a whole contain elements of action and role-play video games. They are driven by the linear progression from one story to another, often shown in the form of cut scenes. However, there are numerous side quests too. We mostly play as Sora, with a very few select exceptions throughout the series, with the help of Donald Duck and Goofy, who are artificial intelligence-controlled non-playable characters that aid Sora in battle. Speaking of, they feature real-time combat incorporating physical attack, magic and summoning though each game handles battles slightly, however they all allow items to be used to heal yourself and your teammates.
You move from one world to another via the Gummi Ship, something that was greatly criticized in the first few games. Most games also feature a journal that is accessible by the main menu where information regarding the story, characters, enemies and locations are kept. For the first 3 games, Jiminy Cricket keeps this journal, though there is one game where every member of the team keeps their own journal. The games also feature an experience point system to determine character development, meaning as enemies are defeated, your character gains experience allowing you to level up, which helps you as the game advances, but again this varies slightly between games.
Kingdom Hearts definitely has something for everyone and I have loved every game – albeit not equally – but each game has something different to give and is a crucial part in the overall plot line. If you do intend to give these games I would advise you play by the Kingdom Hearts timeline rather than the order of release, as in the series we have Birth By Sleep being the prequel to Kingdom Hearts but was released after the first two games were. It can get confusing but it is most definitely worth it! Check out the trailers below:
Kingdom Heart HD 1.5 Remix Trailer:
Kingdom Hearts 3 Trailer: