Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing video game for the PlayStation 2 developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company. It was released in Japan on March 28, 2002, and in America on September 16, 2002.
There is also an updated version of the game known as Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which adds additional content which was released in Japan on December 26, 2002 and wouldn't see a release in the West until it was included in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix for the PlayStation 3 on March 14, 2013 in Japan and September 10, 2013 in America, which also included Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories which was the PS2 3D remake of Chain of Memories on the Game Boy Advance. The Final Mix version of the game was later re-released along with the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, and Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories in the PlayStation 4 game Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix.
A sequel to this game, Kingdom Hearts 2, was released in 2006. (2005 in Japan)
Sora, a young boy on the Destiny Islands, wishes to see other worlds with his friends, Kairi (also his love interest) and Riku. That day comes when the Heartless, creatures of pure darkness, born when a heart is consumed by darkness, attack his island and destroy his world. Sora is able to escape with a magic weapon known as the Keyblade and must now travel other worlds with his new allies, Donald and Goofy, find the keyholes and seal them, and fight the Disney Villains controlling the Heartless and the force behind it all.
Why It Rocks
- Characters from classic Disney movies and franchises crossover with characters from the Final Fantasy franchise.
- Amazing soundtrack, especially the final boss theme, courtesy of Yoko Shimomura (who had also composed for games like Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Street Fighter 2, and the Mario and Luigi series, and has composed for every game in this series since). The music is also remixed in the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game for a less MIDI sounding soundtrack.
- Combines hack and slash with RPG elements.
- Many Disney characters have their voice actors reprise their roles, such as Jonathan Freeman as Jafar, Pat Carrol as Ursula, and Kathryn Beaumont as Alice and Wendy.
- Speaking of which, the voice acting is amazing. Especially Haley Joel Osment as Sora, and Billy Zane as Ansem.
- Fight against various Disney Villains.
- Customize your own Gummi Ship to travel to other worlds.
- Near the end of the game, the story becomes darker and more serious.
- A tech points system is implemented into the game where you're rewarded with experience points for exploiting the weaknesses of enemies and successfully defending attacks, thus incentivizing you to play the game better.
- The Olympus Coliseum is a great way to level up Sora.
- Sephiroth, the main villain of Final Fantasy 7, is present as an optional boss (who was added in the international and Final Mix versions of the game and includes his theme song). Other optional bosses include the Ice and Rock Titans in Olympus Coliseum, The Phantom in Neverland, Kurt Zisa in Agrabah (who was named after the winner of Square's "Kingdom Hearts Name-in-Game" contest, which was held 2 months prior to the American release of the game), and Xemnas (then known as "The Unknown") in the Final Mix version.
- Moogles are able to synthesize items you find by defeating Heartless and acts as a crafting system. The most powerful Keyblade, the Ultima Weapon is made by doing this.
- Scattered throughout the worlds are the Dalmatian puppies from 101 Dalmatians. Finding them will earn you rewards from Pongo and Perdita.
- Sora is able to work alongside several Disney heroes like Tarzan, Aladdin, Ariel, Jack Skellington, Peter Pan, and the Beast.
- Sora can summon various Disney characters such as Tinker Bell, Bambi, Dumbo, Genie, and Simba.
- Amazing story.
- The CGI opening cutscene looked amazing for its time and still looks impressive today.
- The opening song "Simple and Clean" by Utada Hikaru is considered one of the best video game theme songs. It even got 2 remixes, Planitb (the version used as the opening in this game, Re:Chain of Memories, and Birth by Sleep) and Ray of Hope (used as the opening theme for A Fragmentary Passage in HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue)
- The version of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix found in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix improves the texture quality and is rendered at a much higher resolution, making it look even better than it did back on the PS2. The two HD compilations that came after also took this approach.
- All versions of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix include new content, including a boss battle with Xemnas, the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 2 (called "The Unknown" in-game), or a secret ending (Another Side, Another Story) that sets up Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and is unlocked with a different method that depends from the difficulty, like the secret ending in Kingdom Hearts 2 and Birth by Sleep.
- The choice between the sword, shield or scepter at the beginning of the game influences both your statistics and when you'll gain abilities. For example, choosing the sword will make you learn combat abilities faster, but you'll learn utility abilities more slowly.
- The answers given to Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie at the beginning of the game influence how fast you'll level up, depending on the answer:
- The 1st answer will make you level up faster at the beginning of the game, and slower near the end;
- The 2nd answer will make you level up at the same rate at the beginning and at the end;
- The 3rd answer will make you level up slower at the beginning and faster near the end.
- The Final Fantasy characters' personalities are kinda messed up here, most notably Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, who was made much more of an angsty, brooding loner than he was in the original game (where he was surprisingly quite the opposite). This may be why some people think that Cloud is an "emo". Also, Sephiroth is depicted as being the dark side of Cloud when in Final Fantasy VII this is not the case. In fact, Vincent Valentine was supposed to be in the game but was cut out of the story due to how similar he and Cloud are in the final version.
- The controls in the original PS2 version (both vanilla and Final Mix) take some time to get used to and are dated by today's standards (for instance, you use the L2 and R2 buttons to control the camera and the right analog stick to cycle between commands). Sequels and subsequent rereleases rectify this issue.
- The Gummi Ship stages, while fun, were often criticized for ripping off Star Fox 64.
- David Gallagher's performance as Riku was pretty bland.
- The original PS2 release doesn't allow you to skip cutscenes. This is most notable during the battle against Riku-Ansem, which is preceded by a long cutscene that you have to rewatch in case you die. Like most other issues with the game, it was fixed in thè sequels and the rereleases.
- Mickey Mouse barely gets any screen time in this game.
- The original PS2 release had a glitch where, if you didn't activate the Red Trio under Oogie Boogie's Manor, the Red Trio couldn't be accessed, thus making the game impossible to 100%. This glitch has been fixed in the PS3 and PS4 versions by moving the Trio near the river.
- The camera often tends to not cooperate in narrow spaces and it's zoomed too close to the player in these situations. This makes platforming and fighting in closed areas harder.
- The Wonderland world in the Final Mix version is really confusing! Monstromo is also very confusing too.
- The story, while amazing, can be confusing and hard to follow for beginners thus, taking them time to get used to.
During the first two months of its release, Kingdom Hearts was among the top three best selling games in North America.