Before Kingdom Hearts 3 hits shelves, Frido is looking back at the previous games. Today we look at the original PS2 game.
The Kingdom Hearts franchise is loved by most who have played the game, and I am included in that. When I was younger, my family didn’t have the money to afford another console, so we didn’t have a PS2. I was a proud owner of a GameCube, which I still own and use. I would see the games advertised in magazines, and my friends would talk about them, so I was intrigued. When I got older, I received the remix version of the games for the PS4. I was very excited and dove in instantly. The game isn’t perfect; it has its flaws, but the game overall is a fun trip through a few of our favorite Disney worlds and with Final Fantasy characters. Some light spoilers ahead, but the game has been out for almost 17 years.
You start the game with Sora and his friends, Riku and Kairi. The gang spends their days playing on an island, known as Destiny Islands, when a storm hits and throws the friends into different worlds. Sora begins to search for his friends when he meets Donald and Goofy who are searching for their king, Mickey. The three find out about a race of creatures called the Heartless and that Sora is the chosen wielder of the Keyblade, a weapon that has the power to open and close doors between worlds. Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel to different realms such as the Deep Jungle from Tarzan, Atlantica from The Little Mermaid, and Neverland from Peter Pan.
As the game progresses, we find that there is a door called Kingdom Hearts, and Sora, being the chosen wielder of the Keyblade, has the ability to open it. Kingdom Hearts is the door to all realms, and beyond it is the Realm of Darkness. Kingdom Hearts is said to contain infinite knowledge. However, Kingdom Hearts is light, and if you contain too much darkness in your heart, it will destroy you.
The story is very cute, but it’s not very well-presented. The main things that we know are that Sora wields the Keyblade, he’s looking for his friends, and he needs to close these doors. The game doesn’t have an awesome way of presenting why he needs to close the doors. It just seems like Sora is just searching for his friends and stumbles into all of these situations. The game keeps you interested with all of the characters it’s throwing at you, though I feel like if that wasn’t the case, this game might have failed. The fact that they put in Disney and Final Fantasy characters saved this game.
Something that I was confused about was who the audience of this game was. Combat gets difficult in parts of the game, but the game seems like it was marketed to children. I don’t know if they were trying to market the game to all ages putting in Final Fantasy in for the older fans, and Disney in for the younger fans. Personally, I find Sora and his friends a little annoying. Riku teams up with a woman who is clearly the villain, like who doesn’t look at Maleficent and automatically think, “Oooooo that’s clearly a bad lady.” I don’t like that they made Kairi just a damsel in distress like come on. And Sora is clearly a child, but at the same time, that could be something that helps market to a younger generation. I still don’t feel like a lot of children would be able to finish the game on a higher difficulty.
Some other issues that I had were that a lot of the areas are super confusing. Trying to get through the different doors in Alice in Wonderland is a nightmare, Tarzan up in the treetops–need I say more–and within Monstro, again, I don’t need to say anything if you’ve played the games. The issue is that the areas look too similar, so you can’t tell the difference between where you are, where you’ve been, and where you need to go. Other games will put landmarks in, like a barrel or a tree. Kingdom Hearts does that as well, but they turn it around so much that it’s hard to tell which door you came in and which door you need to go through. It makes the levels with this issue unnecessarily long.
The game is fun, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the fighting system, which can feel a little messy at times, but there aren’t any real issues with it. You can get through most of the game without any real combat difficulties. I did some grinding but not a lot to really take up a lot of time. The levels like the Colosseum and Neverland are fun and aren’t hard to navigate. Technically, the Colosseum is only two areas, but still, beating the different tournaments is fun. And I am always down for some collectibles and the fact that the collectibles were 101 Dalmatians made it even better. It was a little weird though to be like a puppy was in this crate.
Kingdom Hearts is a good start to a beloved series. It has a lot of quirks and can be hard to make it through, but it’s a fun game overall. There were parts that could really be improved on but it was also 17 years ago and we’re lucky it was as good as it was. If you want to put in the time to play the series, I suggest it, but if you’re not into Disney or Final Fantasy, it’s not really worth the time.