Review: Kingdom Hearts Series

Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite video game series of all time. More people need to play these games, so I am going to give you a in-depth review of the Kingdom Hearts. There are no spoilers, so don’t worry about having the games “ruined,” and if you want to play, these games were only released for Playstation consoles.

Characters

Sora: the main character and main player character in the series. Though he is not my favorite character, he is still a well-developed character. Sora is a kind, pure-hearted person who wants to keep his friends safe and have fun. While he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, he is pretty funny and enjoyable.

Riku: another main character of the series. He, with Sora, is playable in two of the games. Riku also wants to protect his friends, but once fell to the darkness trying. His redemption story is a great one. Also, he looks really cool. Riku is one of the most complex characters in the game.

Kairi: friend of Riku and Sora (and Sora’s crush). She’s cute, but doesn’t do much.

Goofy and Donald: members of Sora’s party in most of the series and are mostly comic relief. However, in battle they don’t contribute much to support (see below).

Mickey: one sly dude. He’s the king, can actually fight (cough cough Donald), and is pretty awesome in general.

Aqua, Ventus, and Terra: The main characters of the prequel to Kingdom Hearts known as Birth by Sleep, they are like Sora, Riku, and Kairi except Aqua actually contributes to the main story unlike Kairi. I really can’t say more without spoilers.

Xehanort: the main villain of the series. I can’t say much about what he is like because of spoilers, but he is certainly mysterious, even to the fans. Surprisingly, I did not know this until recently, but Leonard Nimoy voiced this character, and boy does he do a great job.

Story

The first games starts out with Sora, a 14-year-old boy, is separated from his friends Riku and Kairi when their world, Destiny Islands, is invaded by creatures known as the Heartless. During the invasion, Sora obtains a weapon called the Keyblade that allows him to fight the Heartless. Action ensues. As the games continue, most non-Disney characters obtain a Keyblade at some point (there are many different ones). However, none of the villains have Keyblades.

The story does have the stereotypical darkness-versus-light conflict in which light must overcome darkness, but the way it is presented is fresh and so well done that you feel for the characters as they struggle through. The way the game treats the characters’ identity crises feels particularly real.

Gameplay

Kingdom Hearts is well known, positively and negatively, for its gameplay. The combat itself is very smooth and especially with Dream Drop Distance‘s Flowmotion. The camera is a real pain in the first game, but it gets better with each installment. Additionally, in Dream Drop Distance and Birth by Sleep, there are certain spells and abilities that are overpowered and unstoppable, but I mean it only helps you so take it or leave it. Overall, I say the gameplay is well done.

Graphics and Design

Most of the secondary characters come from either Disney licensed stories (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) or from Final Fantasy games, but the designers managed to blend them together to create a unique and interesting world that enhances the plot. But despite drawing most of the plot and characters from other works, the Kingdom Hearts series still feels new and exciting.

The games have been re-released multiple times with improved graphics. In this most recent release, 1.5 + 2.5 Remix for the Playstation 4, the games have 60 frames per second for many scenes, although in-game cut scenes are still 30 frames per second. In any case, the games look good. The intros and endings are beautiful.

Music

I am not the biggest fan of video game music, but this series has great music (except remixes). “Simple and Clean” is fantastic, along with “Roxas’s Theme” and the “Organization 13 Theme.”

Cons

I only have two major problems with the series: the storyline is overly complex and the character timelines make no sense whatsoever. The chronology of the games are easy to follow, but what characters are doing between games can get as confusing as heck.

How to begin

There are two ways to play the games. You can play either in release order or character order. I say do release order.In that case, start with Kingdom Hearts, then Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 2, 358/2 Days (movie available on YouTube or in the 1.5 + 2.5 Remix), Birth by Sleep, Dream Drop Distance ( for the 3DS), Birth by Sleep 0.2 (which you should just watch online. It’s not a movie, but don’t buy a whole other remix for it), Kingdom Hearts χ (watch the movie online), and finally Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (watch online). Do not touch Re: Coded. I cannot emphasize enough. Do. Not. Play. Most of the above games are available in the 1.5 + 2.5 Remix release.

I hope I have inspired you to start the series. If you have started it, please let me know. For anyone new, please feel free to comment for anything further.

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