Potentially one of the greatest games of the decade, Kingdom hearts which was released in 2002 is a classic that started a legacy, one that spanned 7 games, and is not even close to finished.
Kingdom hearts is one of those games you’ve at least heard of, if you haven’t played it. The games themselves span a large universe and integrate such a deep story that it is almost hard to keep up sometimes. But the best part of this game is it isn’t actually hard to keep up, it is almost hard to, but you can still do it. The game travels across several worlds, a majority of them are worlds from the Disney universe. There exists something called a keyblade, this keyblade is the best weapon against creatures called heartless, which are created from the darkness in peoples hearts and thrive to devour peoples hearts. It is also the only thing that can lock up the worlds to prevent darkness from getting in. The keyblade has a mind of its own and chooses who it wants to be it’s wielder.
The story starts on a world called Destiny Islands (not actually from a Disney world) with three friends; Sora, Riku and Kairi. They dream of visiting different worlds, including the one that Kairi was born on, so they decide to build a raft to set off from their island. Sora has something called a dive into the heart, where he confronts the darkness inside of himself. Over in a world called Disney Castle, the court magician, Donald Duck, is going to say wake the King (Mickey Mouse), when he finds that the King is gone and he left a note explaining that he noticed other worlds disappearing, so he went off to investigate and to find the keyblade holder who could save the world. He tasks Donald and Goofy (who is the captain of the guard) the task of finding the keyblade wielder and following them to save the world.
Back on the Islands, Sora is laying in bed when he notices a giant storm approaching the island, worried about the raft they built during the day, he runs off to the beach. When he gets there, he notices the island falling apart, thinking of Kairi (yes he has feelings for her) he runs to try and find her. When he finds her, she is just standing there with a blank look on her face, she says “Sora” and then collapses into nothing in his arms. Worried, he goes to find Riku, when he finds him, Riku is engulfed in darkness saying he finally found a way to reach other worlds, Riku reaches out his hand to Sora and though Sora tries to catch it, he misses and Riku is sucked away. As the darkness starts to attack Sora, there is a light in his hands and the Keyblade appears, which he uses to fight off the darkness and the heartless. He is soon sucked away and wakes up in a world called Traverse town, where he meets Donald, Goofy and other people who’s world was engulfed by Darkenss. Using Donald and Goofy’s ship they travel to different worlds and seal up the keyhole that prevents that world from falling into darkness. Along the way, they occasionally bump into Riku, who throughout the game slowly turns to darkness so he can save Kairi. Also he is in line with a “Dark Council” who is made up of several Disney villains who can control heartless and who are trying to get darkness to swallow the world. As he fights and starts fighting Riku, he makes his way to a world called Hallow Bastion, which is the strong hold of the villains in the game. At the beginning Riku appears and states that Sora was never meant to be the Keyblade holder and that he, Riku, was. Riku then manages to convince the keyblade who disappears from Sora’s hand and appears in Riku’s. Donald and Goofy following the orders of their King, abandon Sora and goes with Riku. As Sora chases after them, he gets help from Beast (Beauty and the Beast) and eventually confronts Riku. As Riku is about to kill Sora, Goofy jumps in and prevents it, stating that Sora’s become one of his closest friends. Donald agrees and helps Sora as well. Sora is moved by them and tells Riku that he doesn’t need the keyblade because “his friends are his power!”
The keyblade disappears from Riku’s hand and appears in Sora’s. They fight and Sora wins, Riku runs away and Sora, Donald and Goofy continue through the castle. After defeating Maleficent (from sleeping beauty) and her Dragon form, you confront Riku again, but this time he is possessed by an evil and calling himself Ansem. Ansem is a scholar who researched the heart. This time he also has a keyblade made from the seven princesses of heart, it has the power to unlock and persons hearts. When Sora comes face to face with him, they are standing in front of the keyhole to Hollow Bastion and Kairi is laying on the ground. It turns out she lost her heart and they need it to open the keyhole. Riku/Ansem reveals that Kairi’s heart is in Sora, she left it there right before being taken by the darkness at the beginning. After fighting and defeating Riku again, he disappears. Sora, wanting to return Kairi’s heart to her, stabs himself with Riku/Ansem keyblade and unlocks his and Kairi’s heart. When Kairi’s heart returns to her, she sees Sora falling and tries to catch him, but he dissolves into nothing because he lost his heart in the process. As Donald and Goofy, both full of grief, escort Kairi out of the castle, they are attacked by a group of heartless. One of the heartless is Sora, who somehow remembers who he is, Kairi is the only one who recognizes him and hugs him to protect him. This turns him back to human and they all fend off the heartless and take Kairi to Traverse town.
Sora, Donald and Goofy leave Kairi in Traverse town and return to Hollow Bastion to seal the keyhole and finish off Ansem. They manage to do so, but in doing so find themselves in front of Kingdom hearts, the origin and destination of all hearts in the universe. Ansem states that Kingdom Hearts is made up of Darkness because hearts are primarily darkness.
Sora says that is not true and that thought the heart maybe weak, it is made of light. The doors to Kingdom Hearts open and light pours out essentially destroying Ansem who is made of Darkness. Inside kingdom hearts they see Heartless in there (since no heart is purely good or evil) and they decide to close Kingdom Hearts for good to prevent more heartless from coming out. As they try to close it, Riku appears on the other side (he lost his heart to the darkness and ended up there) and tries to help Sora close it from the other side finally realizing how wrong he was. As he does, a voice appears stating that they need a keyblade on both sides to close it. The voice belongs to King Mickey, he appears in Kingdom hearts with a keyblade and tells Sora to help him lock it. With Sora, Donald and Goofy on one side and Riku and the King on the other. Both Sora and Mickey close the door to Kingdom hearts, locking Mickey and Riku in Kingdom hearts. Riku bids Sora a farewell with a “Take care of her”. As Sora, Donald and Goofy are walking away, a few days later, they see Pluto (the King’s dog) standing in front of them with a letter with the Kings Seal on it. They decide to follow him as he runs away playfully.
The world of Kingdom hearts is a very interesting concept. Apart from finding a way to fit several Disney universes into one, including Aladdin, Hercules, Alice in Wonderland and Nightmare before Christmas, they created a very interesting idea of the keyblade and different worlds coming together. The game play itself is great, there are several flaws in the battle system, but they are all fixed in Kingdom Hearts 2. Some of the issues include not being able to do anything if there are enemies around. Want to open a chest? Nope. Want to open a door? Nope. But as I said, this was all fixed in the sequel. The gummi system of traveling between worlds was very annoying, it was a pain to travel from one place to the next until they added the warp system later.
This is a fantastic game, very long mind you, but great. If you have a week or two, I would advise playing this game if you haven’t yet. The story is great and the sequels add so much to it that this franchise is, in my opinion, is one of the best that is available today.