Hi everyone and welcome to the first installment of Dearly Beloved, where we will discuss gaming titles owned, published, distributed, or promoted by Disney.
As you may already know if you have any mild interest in video games, the long (v e r y l o n g) awaited third installment of the main Kingdom Hearts series was finally, after all these years, given an official and hopeful release date of January 29, 2019.
In case you’re into gaming and been living under a rock for the past 17 years, or you’re here at my page simply because you’re interested in thoroughly perusing the website (which if you are I want to say thank you so much and welcome!), today, I’d like us all to take a short crash course on everything you need to get started on the series before Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out.
©️Disney ©️Square Enix
A “QUICK” RUNDOWN OF THE PLOT
The story starts out with a young boy who goes by the name of Sora. We meet him and his friends in a world called Destiny Island. Seemingly free from disruption and harm, Sora’s biggest threat comes in the form of his rivalry with his best friend Riku. The pair, along with a girl called Kairi, decide that one day, they want to see beyond the world they’ve always known. They begin crafting a boat to take them away from the island. That’s when everything changes.
On the eve of the trio’s departure, in the middle of the night, Sora is confronted by several mysterious black figures. His friends are no where to be found and he’s left to defend the island on his own, with nothing but a sword made of wood, which is to Sora and player’s surprise, not very effective. After a few unsuccessful whackings towards the figures, his wooden sword magically becomes a giant key-shaped weapon, perfectly designed for defeating the creatures.
After a few moments of desperately trying to ward off these new enemies, Sora’s world becomes consumed by a darkness, Sora passes out and is transported to a new land, and separated from his friends. He is awakened in a land neither you as a player or Sora has ever seen before by a face you may recognize, none other than Pluto the dog.
The rest of the story (at least the first game) revolves around Sora trying to find his friends, Riku and Kairi, with the help of some soldier’s of the king’s army, Donald and Goofy, who are also searching for someone, King Mickey, across different worlds taken from some of everyone’s all-time favorite Disney movies. Our main characters then swim in Atlantica, stop Oogie Boogie from taking over Halloweentown, compete against Hercules in the Olympus Coliseum, learn to fly with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, and go on many more fun and creative Disney adventures, all while learning about the power of friendship and the light that lives inside all of our hearts.
Sora is your pretty standard JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game, for those who may not know) protagonist. He’s spunky and likable and has some cool as heck spiky hair. In the English version of the game, he’s played by actor Haley Joel Osment throughout the entirety of the series. He has lived on Destiny Island his entire life until the fateful day his life changed forever. He’s motivated by the power of friendship and he won’t stop until Riku and Kairi and the king are found and safe.
©️Disney ©️Square Enix
Riku is the frenemy character to Sora. They enjoy a lot of competition together, with Riku turning almost any task into a challenge. He’s a little older and stronger than Sora so he’s used to winning. After the Island gets destroyed and Kairi goes missing, Riku takes it upon himself to find her without Sora’s help, but rather from the help of the dark enchantress Maleficent.
©️Disney ©️Square Enix
Kairi serves as the catalyst to the story. She’s the motivation for why Sora and Riku go on their adventures. Both boys are trying to share the fabled paopu fruit with Kairi, which according to legend, means that their “destinies will be intertwined.” Kairi moved to The Island as a little girl and she kickstarts the inevitably convoluted plot to one of the most confusing series you will ever play.
©️Disney ©️Square Enix
Donald Duck’s character is a bit of a departure from the bird you’ve come to love over the years, his temper has cooled down and he’s gotten a lot better at magic. Of course, he still isn’t wearing pants. Donald is your mage, in RPG speak that basically means “magician,” and when he and Goofy meet Sora in the land where Pluto woke him up, Traverse Town, he notices that Sora is now wielding what he calls The Keyblade and determines that Sora is the one who must help them find King Mickey.
Goofy is very similar to the clumsy and adorable Goof we’ve all known for years now. In this story, he’s a soldier of the king’s army, and is always armed with a shield. He and Donald are on a mission to find the one with The Keyblade to help them find King Mickey and restore peace and light to the worlds.
In Kingdom Hearts 1, your recurring main villain is Maleficent, who we learn is in control of the darkness and kidnapping princesses from each world.
Ansem in KH1 is the beginnings of what will eventually become our main series villain. I can’t give away to much here for the sake of spoilers but I promise you will get used to hearing that name.
Leon (Squall, if you’re familiar with the Final Fantasy series at this point. If you are you’ll recognize a lot of characters in this game), Yuffie, Cid, and Aerith are a group of friendly strangers in Traverse Town, and later Hollow Bastion, that inform Sora that the dark figures that attacked his home world, have been attacking all of their worlds, and since The Keyblade has chosen Sora, it’s his duty to defeat the darkness and restore the hearts of the worlds so the citizens can return home. Go back to visit these guys often as they are helpful in giving you tips on what to do next in a game that otherwise leaves you fending for yourself.
You won’t get the full story of these games just by playing KH1 and KH2, so here’s a little trick. The games where released in an order that doesn’t necessarily tell the story in order. As of me writing this in August 2018, this is the order of the release of games.
Kingdom Hearts 1
Chain of Memories
Kingdom Hearts 2
Birth By Sleep
Dream Drop Distance
Kingdom Hearts x
Kingdom Hearts 3
That’s a lot to take in, right? Don’t worry, I’ll dive into the timeline and what everything means at a later date, for now, just know that not every title is necessary to play to casually enjoy the story with a fair amount of understanding of what’s going on. If you Just play (or watch cutscene movies on YouTube of) KH1, Chain Of Memories, KH2, and Dream Drop Distance, you should be fine by the time KH3 rolls around in January. If you’re super into lore or characters or just really good stories, I’d highly recommend 358/2 Days as well as Birth By Sleep.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND ADVICE
Now that you know the what and who going into this series, there’s just a couple things that, as someone who doesn’t play video games professionally, and isn’t very good at them, I think you should know about actually playing the game.
Don’t let anyone tell you how you should play the game. If you like to combat by simply mashing the attack button over and over until something hits, go for it. If you are good at playing magic in RPG’s, awesome. If you are upper defensive and want to dodge roll like 30 times before you attack, you’re staying alive so good for you.
Walkthroughs are helpful. The first game in the series could have you running around in circles not sure where to go for a few hours if you let it. IGN, the Kingdom Hearts wiki and a website called Destiny Islands all have a lot of helpful information. KH2 and the rest of the series really do improve on this not knowing where to go thing for the most part.
Don’t forget to upgrade your weapons, accessories, and abilities to whichever best fits your playing style as the game goes on. You’re constantly earning new Keyblades and accessories and items that will help you on your journey.
Okay our time here is almost up. But before I go, I just want you to know that the most important thing is that this is a Disney title. It’s fun, it’s whimsical, there’s some Disney music sprinkled around some of the worlds, and it’s the reason I bought the game in the first place, thus spawning my life-long love of the art of video games. Just like with Walt, it all started with a mouse for me.
The number one rule, as with any game, is to have fun. And if there are any questions at all about anything here today, feel free to message me on Twitter (@mariahcoolbeans) or Instagram (@mariahcoolbeans) at any time.