Kingdom Hearts Retrospective: Pt 1

I just finished Kingdom Hearts 3 and am feeling so many complicated feelings. I am happy to finally get the 3rd installment I have been waiting for most of my adult life for. I remember playing the first game significantly after it came out due to not having a ps2 till later. I was able to buy the second game at launch and liked it a lot. Looking back on all the games I’ve played I realized that I have a lot to say and want to write. So here it goes, a part review and part retrospective of every Kingdom Hearts game I’ve played. May your heart be your guide and hope you enjoy this series.

Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2, 2002)

Kingdom Hearts was an awesome concept, combining the massive world of Disney and the characters from the most popular RPG series in the world. Ever since I was little I had imagined a joined world where all my favorite cartoons could interact, this included dreamworks, Warner Bros and Disney. I always wondered why there wasn’t more interaction between these highly popular brand characters. As an adult I know why, but Disney has done more to unite its various characters than other corporations. Disney and Final Fantasy though, was a brilliant stroke. First of all, I was never a huge Final Fantasy fan. I understood the popularity of it but I had always had Nintendo systems and not Sony systems. Kingdom Hearts was my first interaction with Final Fantasy. I am a huge RPG fan and today am a big fan of Square Enix but I also enjoy other series that aren’t Final Fantasy. Fandoms often have strong emotional connections with series like Final Fantasy and I understand that, but I also have to be honest and say I do not have that strong connection with Final Fantasy.

Kingdom Hearts was a lot of fun to play and the exploration of Disney worlds and fighting heartless was great. The camera was wonky and sometimes it felt frustrating to my teenage self but the overall story and cheesiness appealed to me as a sensitive teenage boy at the time. Looking back on the game I realize how some of the actual gameplay had holes in it and improved over time. The problem of hardware limitations was something I can only now truly understand on how it effects what you can actually put in the game. For example, a lot of the early Kingdom Hearts worlds felt empty and not lived in. Furthermore the inclusion of Disney characters really didn’t connect directly to the main narrative. I understand that it was a tough thing to connect the Disney characters and their own narratives to a completely new character, but it is something I notice now after playing 3. Kingdom Hearts is a solid entry but it is not my favorite game in the series.

(to be continued)

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