Kingdom Hearts

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Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts logo.png
Genre(s) Action role-playing, hack and slash
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)
Creator(s) Shinji Hashimoto
Tetsuya Nomura
Composer(s) Yoko Shimomura
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, mobile phone, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Web browser, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
First release Kingdom Hearts
March 28, 2002
Latest release Kingdom Hearts III
January 25, 2019

Kingdom Hearts(Japanese:キングダム ハーツ, Hepburn:Kingudamu Hātsu) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (originally by Square). It is a collaboration between Disney Interactive and Square Enix, and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square Enix character designer.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, and other information such as train tables, road signs, and official communications with foreign countries. Largely based on English writing conventions, consonants closely correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation.

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.

Contents

Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney properties based in a fictional universe. The series centers on the main character, Sora, and his journey and experiences with various Disney, Final Fantasy , The World Ends with You and Pixar characters. The heroes of the series clash against the multiple incarnations of the primary antagonist, Xehanort, throughout the series. The Walt Disney Company owns almost all characters and worlds of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Fictional universe self-consistent fictional setting with elements that may differ from the real world

A fictional universe is a self-consistent setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed or fictional realm. Fictional universes may appear in novels, comics, films, television shows, video games, and other creative works.

Sora (<i>Kingdom Hearts</i>) main protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts video game series

Sora is a fictional character and the protagonist of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts video game series. Introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts game in 2002, Sora is portrayed as a cheerful teenager who lives in the Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since childhood. When they plan to go on a journey to see other worlds, they are separated by creatures known as the Heartless, with Sora obtaining a weapon called the Keyblade. Donald Duck and Goofy then recruit him in their journey across various worlds to aid King Mickey while Sora searches for his friends. Along the way, the trio protects the worlds they visit from various villains. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora searches for Riku and fights against Organization XIII, who attempt to seize Kingdom Hearts for their own. Sora has also made supporting appearances in other games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and light novel adaptations of the games.

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by Square Enix. The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games (RPGs/JRPGs). The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 14 other main-numbered entries being released since then. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

The series consists of thirteen games available for multiple platforms, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been positively received and commercially successful. As of February 2019, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped more than 30 million copies worldwide. A wide variety of related merchandise has been released along with the games, including soundtracks, figurines, companion books, light novels, cards, and comic series.

Titles

Games

Timeline of release years
2002 Kingdom Hearts
2003
2004 Chain of Memories
2005 Kingdom Hearts II
2006
2007 Re:Chain of Memories
2008 Coded
2009 358/2 Days
2010 Birth by Sleep
Re:coded
2011
2012 Dream Drop Distance
2013 1.5 Remix
χ
2014 2.5 Remix
2015 Unchained χ
2016
2017 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
2018
2019 Kingdom Hearts III
<i>Kingdom Hearts</i> (video game) 2002 video game

Kingdom Hearts is a 2002 action role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, and is the result of a collaboration between Square and The Walt Disney Company. The game combines characters and settings from Disney animated features with those from Square's Final Fantasy series. It follows the adventures of Sora, a cheerful teenager who fights against the forces of darkness alongside Donald Duck, Goofy and other classic Disney characters.

PlayStation 2 sixth-generation and second home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is a home video game console that was developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor to the original PlayStation console and is the second iteration in the PlayStation lineup of consoles. It was released in 2000 and competed with Sega's Dreamcast, Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's Xbox in the sixth generation of video game consoles.

Cutscene

A cutscene or event scene is a sequence in a video game that is not interactive, breaking up the gameplay. Such scenes could be used to show conversations between characters, set the mood, reward the player, introduce new gameplay elements, show the effects of a player's actions, create emotional connections, improve pacing or foreshadow future events.

Other

  • A Kingdom Hearts game was developed for V CAST, Verizon Wireless's broadband service, and was released on October 1, 2004 in Japan and on February 4, 2005 in the United States. [32] It was one of the launch games for the V CAST services. [33] The game, developed by Superscape and published by Disney Mobile with no involvement from Square Enix, features gameplay akin to the first Kingdom Hearts game, modified for the input method of mobile phones. [34] The game's storyline features Sora struggling to free himself from a nightmare induced by Maleficent's magic.
  • Kingdom Hearts Mobile is a Kingdom Hearts-themed social game in which players can play mini-games together. Unlike Kingdom Hearts for the V CAST and Kingdom Hearts Coded, this game does not have a storyline and focuses more on socializing. The service operates in conjunction with Kingdom Hearts Coded—new avatar costumes become available after the player completes an episode of Kingdom Hearts Coded. Kingdom Hearts-related media such as wallpapers, ringtones, graphics, and other items can be purchased and downloaded through the service for mobile phones.
  • Kingdom Hearts VR Experience: Announced in September 2018, Kingdom Hearts VR Experience is a free, 10-minute interactive video "featuring iconic moments [and music] from the Kingdom Hearts games" with the ability to unlock additional content by progressing through the experience. [35] The first part was released in Japan on January 23, 2019, with the second part releasing in early 2019. [36] [37] The first part had initially been scheduled to release on January 18, 2019, [37] after initial release dates of December 25, 2018 for the first part, with the second part releasing on January 18, 2019. [38]

Verizon Wireless is an American telecommunications company which offers wireless products and services. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications. Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless telecommunications provider in the United States.

Superscape was a publisher of mobile games. The company has developed several mobile games, licensed from such companies as 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Mobile and Global Wireless entertainment. Superscape evolved from Incentive Software, a publisher of home computer games in the 1980s and 1990s.

Disney Mobile is a division of Disney Interactive, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, that designs mobile apps, content and services.

Collections

  • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix was released for the PlayStation 3 in Japan on March 14, 2013. [39] The collection includes remastered versions of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and Re:Chain of Memories, which include gameplay enhancements and trophy support. In addition, a "Theatre Mode" has been added, consisting of high definition cutscenes from Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. [40] The collection was released in North America on September 10, 2013 [41] in Australia on September 12, 2013, [42] and in Europe on September 13, 2013. [43]
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix : After the announcement of HD 1.5 Remix, Nomura stated that it would be "pretty unnatural" if Kingdom Hearts II did not receive an HD update. [44] In the credits of HD 1.5 Remix, clips of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded were shown, hinting at another collection. [45] On October 14, 2013, the collection was announced for the PlayStation 3, and will include the previously mentioned games, with Re:coded appearing as HD cinematics, similar to 358/2 Days in HD 1.5 Remix. [45] The collection was released in Japan on October 2, 2014, [46] North America on December 2, 2014, Australia on December 4, 2014, and Europe on December 5, 2014. [47]
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue : In the credits of HD 2.5 Remix, clips of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance were shown as well as the inclusion of a secret ending related to the game, hinting at a possible additional collection. [48] In September 2015, Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. The collection features an HD remaster of Dream Drop Distance as well as Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover , a cinematic telling of the backstory behind the events of Kingdom Hearts χ , and Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, a new game taking place after the events of the original Birth by Sleep, told from the perspective of Aqua. [49] It was released in Japan on January 12, 2017, and in North America and Europe on January 24, 2017. [50]
  • The following are repackaged versions of the above collections:
    • Kingdom Hearts Starter Pack: HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix: A collector's pack released in Japan includes Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix.
    • Kingdom Hearts Collector's Pack: HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix: A collector's pack released in Japan includes Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, a code to get an Anniversary Set for Kingdom Hearts χ, music, and a booklet with art from the series. [46]
    • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix: In October 2016, Square-Enix announced a single-disc compilation release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix for the PlayStation 4. The compilation was released on March 9, 2017 in Japan; March 28, 2017 in North America; and March 31, 2017 in Europe. [51]
    • Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far: Announced in early October 2018, this bundle collects the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix PlayStation 4 collection and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. It was released in North America on October 30, 2018 for the PlayStation 4. [52]
    • Kingdom Hearts: All-In-One-Package: On January 29, 2019, following the release of Kingdom Hearts III, The Story So Far was replaced by this bundle, which contains everything in The Story So Far, with the addition of Kingdom Hearts III. [53]
<i>Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix</i> HD remastered collection of the Kingdom Hearts series

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is an HD remastered collection of the Kingdom Hearts series, developed by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3. It was revealed in September 2012 and released in Japan in March 2013, and North America, Australia and Europe in September 2013.

PlayStation 3 seventh-generation and third home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor to PlayStation 2, and is part of the PlayStation brand of consoles. It was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November 17, 2006, in North America, and March 23, 2007, in Europe and Australia. The PlayStation 3 competed mainly against consoles such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles.

<i>Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix</i>

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix is an HD remastered collection of three games in Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series: Kingdom Hearts II, Birth by Sleep, and Re:coded. A successor to the series' HD 1.5 Remix collection, it was released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan on October 2014 and internationally two months later.

Future

Though Kingdom Hearts III was the end of the "Dark Seeker Saga" which revolved around Xehanort, it had been decided where certain characters end up in order to potentially continue their stories in future games. [54]

Common elements

Disney and Square Enix characters

Kingdom Hearts features a mixture of familiar Disney and Square Enix characters, as well as several new characters designed and created by Nomura. [55] In addition to original locations, the Kingdom Hearts series features many worlds from Disney films. Sora must visit these worlds and interact with various Disney characters to protect them from enemies. Often, his actions in these worlds closely follow the storylines of their respective Disney films. The main characters try not to interfere with the affairs of other worlds, as it could negatively affect the universe's order. [56] [57] Moogles, small creatures from the Final Fantasy series, are another common element in the games. They provide the player with a synthesis shop in order to create and purchase items used in the game. The main cast from The World Ends with You also makes an appearance in the series in Dream Drop Distance, and Kingdom Hearts III features characters from Pixar films such as Toy Story series and Monsters, Inc. . [58] [59] [60]

Story

The series starts with Kingdom Hearts, where a 14-year-old boy named Sora is separated from his friends Riku and Kairi when their home Destiny Islands is consumed in darkness. At that moment Sora obtained a weapon called the Keyblade that allows him to fight the Heartless, creatures that originate from the Realm of Darkness, before ending up in another world, Traverse Town, where he meets Donald Duck and Goofy, two emissaries from Disney Castle sent to find the Keyblade wielder under orders from their missing king, Mickey Mouse. [61] [62]

As the three band together and travel to save various worlds from the Heartless while searching for their companions, encounter a group of Disney villains whose ability to control the Heartless was given to them by Maleficent, who enlists Riku's aid in seeking seven maidens called the Princesses of Heart whose power would open the way to Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds. [63] [64] Though eventually defeating Maleficent and reunited with Kairi after sacrificing himself to restore her heart to her body, Sora learns that Maleficent was manipulated by a sentient Heartless who claims himself as the Heartless researcher Ansem and has possessed Riku's body. Though Sora defeats Ansem, his act of sealing the door to the Realm of Darkness trapped Riku and Mickey there as he resolves to find them while Kairi remains at the Destiny Islands for their return.

In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora, Donald and Goofy's search for Riku and Mickey leads them to Castle Oblivion, [65] a fortress controlled by a mysterious group of non-existent "Nobodies" called Organization XIII, the castle's overseer Marluxia using the power of a girl named Naminé to alter the group's memories for his agenda. After defeating Marluxia, the three are put to sleep for a year by Naminé to restore their original memories while losing the memories of their experience in Castle Oblivion. [66] Meanwhile, Riku arrives in the basement of the castle and ascends to the surface with the aid of Mickey. Discovering Sora's sleeping state while joining forces with the mysterious DiZ, Riku helps Naminé keep Sora safe until he is awoken. In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, a snag in the plan over the year forces Riku to capture Roxas—Sora's Nobody and Organization XIII member that came into being when Sora briefly became a Heartless in the first game-after he was forced to defeat and absorb Xion, a Replica of Sora in Kairi's image.

In Kingdom Hearts II, after Roxas was integrated back into him, Sora awakens from his sleep as he and his friends resume their search for Riku and King Mickey, the latter's mentor Yen Sid re-familiarizing the trio with the Nobodies and Organization XIII's remaining members whom they deal alongside Maleficent and her right hand Pete. The three reunite with King Mickey and encounter Xemnas, Organization XIII's leader and the Nobody of Xehanort, the true identity of the Heartless Ansem. [67] [68] The Organization's plan is also revealed: they seek to regain their lost hearts by creating their own version of Kingdom Hearts from the sum of all the hearts released from the Emblem Heartless slain by Keyblade users. Axel, a rogue member of the Organization who is Roxas' friend and first encountered Sora in Castle Oblivion, abducts Kairi in an attempt to see Roxas but ended up giving his former friend Saix leverage to force Sora to finish what Roxas and Xion began. Axel sacrifices himself to help Sora's group reach The World That Never Was (Organization XIII's headquarters) and team up with Riku as they reunite with Kairi. DiZ, revealed to be the real Ansem, attempts to dissipate some of the artificial Kingdom Hearts before being engulfed in an explosion when his extraction device self-destructs and is sent to the Realm of Darkness. [69] Sora and his friends then battle Xemnas. [70] After Sora and Riku defeat Xemnas, they get trapped in the Realm of Darkness, but a letter from Kairi summons a gateway for them, and the two are reunited with their friends at their home. [71]

Sometime later, Sora, Riku, and Kairi receive a letter from King Mickey. The letter, written by Mickey during the events of Kingdom Hearts Coded, describes the parts of their past that Naminé learned while restoring Sora's memory. [72] As they read the letter, they learn of Xehanort's true identity as a Keyblade Master who sought the secrets of the Keyblade War which created that current reality and the fates that befall the apprentices of his friend Eraqus during the events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep: Terra, whose possession by Xehanort made him the original being Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas were split from; Ventus, who sacrificed his heart while fighting his dark counterpart Vanitas to prevent Xehanort from recreating the legendary χ-blade which allows the user to control Kingdom Hearts, hiding it within a four-year-old Sora's heart; and new Keyblade Master Aqua, who becomes trapped in the Realm of Darkness during her attempt to save Terra from Xehanort. [73] King Mickey also discovers that the destruction of "Ansem" and Xemnas has led to the restoration of Xehanort. [74] To combat the new threat Xehanort poses, Sora and Riku take an exam to attain the Mark of Mastery that will allow them to become Keyblade Masters themselves. [75]

During the test in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora and Riku enter the Realm of Sleep where they encounter a young version of Xehanort who can travel through time. [76] The two Keyblade wielders also learn how Xehanort has long manipulated events since Birth by Sleep with Organization XIII's true purpose in providing thirteens vessels for him to inhabit and use against seven hearts of pure light (Princesses of Heart) in an ultimate battle to recreate the χ-blade. [77] [78] [79] Sora is narrowly saved from becoming Xehanort's final vessel with the aid of Lea, Axel's original self, and Riku learns about data that Ansem the Wise had implanted within Sora during his year-long sleep, which may be used to save those connected to Sora. [80] At the end of the exam, Riku is declared a Keyblade Master; [81] in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Sora embarks on another journey to regain his missing power, while Yen Side proceeds to train Kairi and Lea to help the other Keyblade users defend the Princesses of Heart and combat the new Organization XIII. [82]

In Kingdom Hearts III, Sora is accompanied by Donald and Goofy and travels the worlds to regain his "Power of Waking" while Riku and Mickey retrace Aqua's steps to find her and Terra. Sora later discovers Master Eraqus' Keyblade on the beach and uses it to open a door to the Realm of Darkness, finding Aqua who has been consumed by darkness after Ansem was abducted by Xehanort's Heartless. Once Aqua is purified by Sora and Riku, she leads them to Castle Oblivion which she restores to its true form as the Land of Departure to revive Ventus despite Vanitas attempting to stop them. Later joined by Kairi and Lea, the group face Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard where they are joined by a revived Roxas as they manage to free Terra and a reconstructed Xion from the Organization's control with only Master Xehanort remaining once his forces have been defeated. But Xehanort kills Kairi to force Sora to manifest the χ-blade, using the weapon to summon the true Kingdom Hearts and act on his scheme to wipe the slate on reality clean before Sora and his friends finally defeat him. Xehanort departs with Eraqus' spirit into the light as Sora closes Kingdom Hearts, sacrificing himself to revive Kairi. Sometime later, everyone and a reconstructed Naminé celebrate victory at Destiny Islands. But Xehanort's right hand Xigbar is revealed to be the current incarnation of an ancient Keyblade Master named Luxu from the time of the Keyblade War who proceeds with the next phase of his mission.

The Kingdom Hearts timeline. Map Kingdom Hearts Storyline Basis.png
The Kingdom Hearts timeline.

Gameplay

The Kingdom Hearts games contain elements of action role-playing video games with hack-and-slash elements. The games are driven by a linear progression from one story event to the next, usually shown in the form of a cutscene, though there are numerous side quests available that provide bonus benefits to the characters. In most games, the player primarily controls the principal protagonist of the series, Sora. Sora is usually accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy, who are artificial intelligence-controlled non-playable characters that aid Sora in battle. In the first and third game, their behavior can be altered to suit different combat objectives. The games feature real-time combat that incorporates physical attacks, magic, and summonings, though each game handles battles differently. The game also allows for items to be used on the field of battle to heal oneself or one's party members.

Gummi Ships are another common element of the series, which serve as the main mode of transportation between worlds in the games. The gameplay for the Gummi Ship sections is more akin to a rail shooter. Because it received negative criticism in the first game, it was modified in the third title. [83] Most games also feature a journal which is accessible from the main menu. This journal keeps track of information regarding the story, characters, enemies, and locations. In the first three games, the journal is kept by Jiminy Cricket, who was appointed by Queen Minnie as the royal chronicler. [84] In 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, the main characters write their own journal entries.

A battle in the first Kingdom Hearts game Kingdom Hearts Battle Screenshot.png
A battle in the first Kingdom Hearts game

The games are influenced by their parent franchise, Final Fantasy , [85] and carry its gameplay elements over into their own action-based, hack-and-slash system. Like many traditional role-playing games, Kingdom Hearts features an experience point system which determines character development. As enemies are defeated, the player gains experience which culminates in a "level-up", where the characters grow stronger and gain access to new abilities. [86] The amount of experience is shared with all party members and each character grows stronger as experience is gained. [87]

Music

The music for the series has been primarily composed by Yoko Shimomura. Kaoru Wada works as the arranger for orchestral music, including orchestral renditions of the main vocal themes and the ending themes. [88] [89] The orchestral music was performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. [88] [89] Soundtracks were released for the first and third installments following the release of their respective games. A compilation soundtrack was later released that included soundtracks for the entire series, including reworked tracks for the re-released Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories. [90] [91]

While the themes for some of the Disney-based worlds are taken directly from their Disney film counterparts, [89] most of them are given entirely original musical scores. In addition to each world having unique background music, each is given its own battle theme rather than having a common theme to cover all fights. Several of the main characters have themes, and the final boss of each game has several themes played in the various phases of those fights. The fights with Sephiroth feature a modified version of Nobuo Uematsu's "One-Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII . [91]

The main theme songs for the Kingdom Hearts games were written and performed by Japanese pop star, Hikaru Utada. The three main themes are "Hikari", originally from Kingdom Hearts, [92] "Passion", from Kingdom Hearts II, [93] and "Oath" from Kingdom Hearts III. Each song has an English counterpart, "Simple and Clean", "Sanctuary", and "Don't Think Twice" respectively, for the North American and European releases. Utada was the only singer Tetsuya Nomura had in mind for the first Kingdom Hearts theme song. [94] This marked the first time Utada had produced a song for a video game. Both of the first two theme songs reached notable popularity; on weekly Oricon charts, "Hikari" reached No. 1 in 2002 and "Passion" reached No. 4 in 2005. [95] [96]

Development

History

The initial idea for Kingdom Hearts began with a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi about Super Mario 64 . [97] They were planning to make a game with freedom of movement in three dimensions like Super Mario 64 but lamented that only characters as popular as Disney's could rival a Mario game. Tetsuya Nomura, overhearing their conversation, volunteered to lead the project and the two producers agreed to let him direct. [97] A chance meeting between Hashimoto and a Disney executive in an elevator—Square and Disney had previously worked in the same building in Japan—allowed Hashimoto to pitch the idea directly to Disney. [98] [99] Development began in February 2000 with Nomura as director and Hashimoto as producer. [100] While Nomura had done previous work in the Final Fantasy series as monster designer and graphic director, he did not gain widespread recognition until he was the lead character designer for Final Fantasy VII . Kingdom Hearts marked his transition into a directorial position, though he also served as the game's character designer. Scenarios were provided by Kazushige Nojima who was a scenario writer for Square from Final Fantasy VII until he left in 2003. Originally the development focused on the gameplay with a simple story to appeal to Disney's target age range. After Kingdom Hearts executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi told Nomura the game would be a failure if it did not aim for the same level as the Final Fantasy series, he began to develop the story further. [101] In June 2013, Nomura stated the name of the game came from him thinking about Disney Theme Parks, especially Animal Kingdom. However, Nomura could not get the IP with just "Kingdom", so the development team began to think about "heart" as a core part of the story, so they decided to combine the two to form "Kingdom Hearts". [102] [103]

Nomura placed a secret trailer in Kingdom Hearts in hopes that fans would want a sequel. He was unsure if fans would want a sequel and felt that if they did not, then it would be best to leave certain events in the first game unexplained. [104] After Kingdom Hearts Final Mix was completed, development for Kingdom Hearts II began. [105] There were several obstacles to clear before development could begin on a sequel. One was the development team's desire to showcase Mickey Mouse more; [104] Mickey's inclusion in the first game was restricted to a very small role. [101] Nomura had planned for the sequel to take place a year after the first and originally intended for the events of that year to be left unexplained. To bridge the gap between the two games, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was developed. [106] Nomura was hesitant about releasing a game on the Game Boy Advance because he felt the 3D graphics of the original game would not translate well into 2D. He changed his position after hearing that children wanted to play Kingdom Hearts on the handheld system. [107]

Creation and design

Though Disney gave Nomura freedom in the characters and worlds used for the games, he and his staff tried to stay within the established roles of characters and boundaries of the worlds. [108] Nomura has stated that though many of the Disney characters are not normally dark and serious, there were not many challenges making them so for the story, and despite this, their personalities shine because they maintain their own characteristics. [109] He also felt managing and keeping multiple worlds was problematic. [110] When deciding which worlds to include in the game, the development staff tried to take into account worlds with Disney characters that would be interesting and made an effort to minimize any overlap in the overall look and feel of each world. [101] [111]

The inclusion of specific Final Fantasy characters was based on the opinions of both fans and staff. [112] Another criterion for inclusion was whether the staff felt the characters would fit into the storyline and in the Kingdom Hearts universe. [113] Initially, Nomura was hesitant to use characters he did not design, because he was unfamiliar with the backstory of such characters. [114] For Kingdom Hearts II, he changed his mind after receiving pressure from his staff. [112] Throughout the development of the games, Nomura has often left certain events and connections between characters unexplained until the release of future games. Nomura does this because he feels that games should have room for fans to speculate and use their imagination. He has stated that with speculation, even though a game gets old, people can still be happy with it. [104]

Promotion

The first Kingdom Hearts was announced at E3 in May 2001. [55] Initial details were that it would be a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive, and would feature worlds developed by both companies and Disney characters. New characters were designed by Nomura and include Sora, Riku, Kairi, and the Heartless. [55] [115] On May 14, 2002, a press release announced a list of the English voice actors. The list included Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere as the three new characters introduced into the game. It was also announced that many of the Disney characters would be voiced by the official voice actors from their respective Disney films. [55] [116]

A secret trailer in the first Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix hinted at the possibility of a sequel. Rumors for a sequel on the PlayStation 2 were spurred in Japan when a Japanese video game site, Quiter, stated that "an internal (and anonymous) source at Square Japan" confirmed that development of Kingdom Hearts II had begun. [117] It was not until Kingdom Hearts II was announced, along with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2003 that rumors were confirmed. [118] Initial details were that it would take place some time after Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which takes place directly after the first game. Other details included the return of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, as well as new costumes. At the 2004 Square Enix E3 press conference, the producer, Shinji Hashimoto, stated that many mysteries of the first game would be answered. [119]

To help market the games, websites were set up for each game and demos were on display at gaming events. Each game in the main series was also re-released in Japan with additional content and served as canonical updates to the series. [120] [121] The additional content foreshadowed later plot elements in the series. The rereleases of the main series games had the term "Final Mix" added after the title, while Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Coded were re-released as Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and released on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS, respectively, with 3D graphics, voice overs during some cutscenes, and new game content. [122] [123]

Reception

Japanese and Western review scores
As of January 24, 2019.
Game Famitsu Metacritic
Kingdom Hearts 36/40 [124] 85 [125]
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories 36/40 [126] 76 [127]
Kingdom Hearts II 39/40 [128] 87 [129]
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories 68 [130]
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days 36/40 [131] 75 [132]
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep 37/40 [133] 82 [134]
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded 66 [135]
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance 38/40 [136] 75 [137]
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix 77 [138]
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix 81 [139]
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ 70 [140]
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue 34/40 [141] 78 [142]
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix84 [143]
Kingdom Hearts III 39/40 [144] 84 [145]

The Kingdom Hearts series has been critically and commercially successful. As of March 2014, the series has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. [146] The three main games in the series all met with positive sales at the time of their releases. In the first two months since the North American release of Kingdom Hearts, it was one of the top three highest-selling video games. [147] Chain of Memories sold 104,000 units in 48 hours in Japan, a record for a Game Boy Advance title at the time. [148] Its positive debut sales placed it in the top spot of sales charts in Japan. [149] In the first month of its North American release, it was ranked 1st on GameSpot's ChartSpot for portable systems and 6th for all consoles. [150] Within three days of the Kingdom Hearts II release in Japan, it shipped 1 million copies, selling through within a month. [151] [152] By the end of March 2006, the NPD Group reported that Kingdom Hearts II was the highest-selling console game in North America, with 614,000 copies. [153] In the month after its release in North America, Kingdom Hearts II sold an estimated 1 million copies. [154] As of February 2019, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped more than 30 million copies worldwide. [155]

The games have also received high ratings and positive comments from reviewers. All of the main games in the series have scored a 36 out of 40 or higher from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu , known for its harsh grading. [156] [126] [128] All six games have been praised for their visuals. Game Informer considers the series the eleventh "must-play PlayStation 2" series. [157] The individual games have also won several awards. GameSpot commented that the concept of mixing the serious elements of Final Fantasy with the lighter elements of Disney seemed impossible, but was pulled off quite well. Because of that they awarded Kingdom Hearts "Best Crossover Since Capcom vs. SNK " in their 2002 Best and Worst of the Year awards. [158] IGN named Kingdom Hearts "Best Art Style/Direction" in their 2003 list of "Best Looking Games on PS2". [159] G4 awarded it "Best Story" at their 2003 G-Phoria awards show. [160] Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded Kingdom Hearts II "Best Sequel" of 2006. [161] It tied with Resident Evil 4 as Famitsu's Game of the Year 2005. [162] The manga series has also been well received. Several of the manga volumes were listed on USA Today 's "Top 150 best sellers". [163] [164] [165] The highest ranked volume was Kingdom Hearts volume 4 at #73. [164] Every volume listed stayed on the list for at least two weeks; Kingdom Hearts volume 4 stayed the longest at four weeks.

Other media

Both Square Enix and Disney have released a wide variety of Kingdom Hearts merchandise including toys, figurines, clothing, and jewelry. [166] [167] Two of the games, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, had a soundtrack released to coincide with the video games. [168] [169] These were followed by a nine CD complete set which featured both soundtracks and unreleased tracks. [90] Kingdom Hearts has been adapted as a trading card game by the Tomy corporation of Japan. [170] An English version of the game was released in November 2007 by Fantasy Flight Games. [171] The video games have also been adapted into manga and novel series.

Like the Final Fantasy games, a series of "Ultimania" books were released in Japan for many of the games. These books include game walkthroughs, interviews, and extra information from the developers. Kingdom Hearts -Another Report- was released along with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ and features game information, visuals by Shiro Amano, and a director interview. [172] In North America, Brady Games released strategy guides for each game. For Kingdom Hearts II, they released two versions, a standard version and a limited edition version. The limited edition was available in four different covers and included a copy of Jiminy's Journal along with 400 stickers. [173]

Printed adaptations

A manga based on the Kingdom Hearts storyline has been released in Japan and the United States. The story and art are done by Shiro Amano, who is also known for his manga adaptation of the Legend of Mana video game. The story follows the events that took place in the video games with differences to account for the loss of interactivity a video game provides. The manga was originally serialized in Japan by Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan and eventually released in tankōbon format. The first tankōbon was released in Japan in October 2003. [174] The manga was released in the USA by Tokyopop two years later in October 2005. [175] Yen Press now holds the rights to publish the books for the USA market. The first series, Kingdom Hearts, consists of four volumes, while the second series, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, has two volumes. The third series, Kingdom Hearts II, has had five volumes published and is on hiatus. A fourth series based on Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is being serialized. The games have also been adapted as a light novel series, written by Tomoco Kanemaki and illustrated by Shiro Amano. Like the manga series, it is divided into separate series based on the games. Kingdom Hearts is divided into two volumes; "The First Door" [176] and "Darkness Within". [177] Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is divided into two volumes. Kingdom Hearts II is divided into four volumes; "Roxas—Seven Days", [178] "The Destruction of Hollow Bastion", [179] "Tears of Nobody", [180] and "Anthem—Meet Again/Axel Last Stand". [181]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories</i> video game

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is an action role-playing video game developed by Jupiter and published by Square Enix in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance. The game serves as an intermediary between the two larger-scale PlayStation 2 games in the Kingdom Hearts series. It was one of the first GBA games to incorporate full motion video (FMV). The game was remade into a PlayStation 2 game titled Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, which was released in Japan as a second disc packaged with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix in March 2007. The remake was released in North America on December 2, 2008.

<i>Kingdom Hearts II</i> 2005 video game

Kingdom Hearts II is a 2005 action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2 video game console. The game is a sequel to Kingdom Hearts, and like the original game, combines characters and settings from Disney films with those of Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. The game's popularity has resulted in a novel and manga series based upon it and a Japan-exclusive re-released version of the game featuring extra content, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, released in March 2007.

Organization XIII

Organization XIII is a fictional group of characters featured in Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios' Kingdom Hearts video game series. The group comprises thirteen beings without hearts called "Nobodies", formed when a person's body fades from existence upon losing their heart and transforming into a "Heartless".

Characters of <i>Kingdom Hearts</i> Wikimedia list article

Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix. It is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. The series features a mixture of familiar Disney, Final Fantasy, The World Ends with You and Pixar characters, as well as several new characters designed by Tetsuya Nomura. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors.

Roxas (<i>Kingdom Hearts</i>) fictional character

Roxas is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First revealed during the final scenes of the 2004 title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Roxas is a "Nobody", who was created from the series' main character Sora who briefly loses his heart during the first game of the series. Kingdom Hearts II reveals that Roxas is a member of Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies who need him as he can wield the Keyblade, a weapon that allows him to capture hearts. As a member of the organization, Roxas bears the title "Key of Destiny". He is also the protagonist of the video game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which revolves around his origins. In the Japanese games, Roxas is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama, while Jesse McCartney takes the role in the English versions.

The Kingdom Hearts video game series, developed by Square Enix in collaboration with Disney, is set in a universe consisting of numerous self-contained worlds based on intellectual properties from both companies. Many of these worlds are based on animated Disney movies, though Kingdom Hearts II introduced worlds based on live-action Disney films as well. In addition to the Disney worlds, a number of original worlds appear over the course of the series.

<i>Kingdom Hearts III</i> 2019 video game

Kingdom Hearts III is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the twelfth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series, a sequel to Kingdom Hearts II, and the final chapter in the Dark Seeker saga. Set after the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, returning protagonist Sora is joined by Donald Duck, Goofy, King Mickey and Riku in their search for the seven Guardians of Light and the "Key to Return Hearts" as they attempt to thwart the restored Xehanort's plan to bring about a second Keyblade War. Their journey has them cross paths with characters and visit worlds based on different Disney and Pixar properties.

Aqua (<i>Kingdom Hearts</i>) Kingdom Hearts character

Aqua is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First making cameo appearances in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version Final Mix, Aqua is one of the three playable protagonists who is introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. She is one of the Keyblade apprentices training under Master Eraqus alongside her friends Terra and Ventus. As the only one among her friends to obtain the rank of Keyblade Master, Aqua is assigned to monitor Terra and Ventus as she combats dark creatures known as the Unversed. She has also appeared in other Kingdom Hearts titles, most notably Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in the playable episode Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.

Terra (<i>Kingdom Hearts</i>) character of Kingdom Hearts series

Terra is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts, prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. He appears in-game as a pupil of Master Eraqus who trains alongside his friends Aqua and Ventus to become a master of the Keyblade weapon. Terra's storyline highlights his struggle to tame his inner darkness, a negative attribute that serves as a source of both power and corruption for him. Prior to Birth by Sleep, he had a cameo appearance in a secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II and its re-release Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix; the later game included an optional boss fight against the Lingering Will, a hollow armor containing Terra's mind.

<i>Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep</i> video game

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable, serving as the sixth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series. The game was released on UMD in Japan on January 9, 2010, in North America on September 7, 2010 and in the PAL regions on September 10, 2010. An international version of the game titled Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix was released in Japan in January 2011 featuring the changes made in the non-Japanese versions.

<i>Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days</i> video game

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is an action role-playing video game developed by h.a.n.d. and Square Enix for the Nintendo DS. It is the fifth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series, and takes place near the end of the first game, continuing parallel to Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. The game was released worldwide in 2009. The story is told from the perspective of Roxas, following his daily life within Organization XIII and his relationship with fellow Organization member Axel; it also introduces a fourteenth member, Xion, who becomes friends with the former two.

<i>Kingdom Hearts Coded</i> video game

Kingdom Hearts Coded, stylized as Kingdom Hearts coded, is an episodic action role-playing puzzle video game developed and published by Square Enix, in collaboration with Disney Interactive Studios, for mobile phones. Coded was a Japan-only release announced at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show. Its Nintendo DS remake entitled Kingdom Hearts Re:coded was released in Japan, North America, Europe, and Australia. A cinematic remake of the game was included in the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix video game compilation for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Ventus (<i>Kingdom Hearts</i>) Kingdom Hearts character

Ventus, commonly referred to as Ven (ヴェン), is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameos in Kingdom Hearts II and other related titles, Ventus was introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. In its story, Ventus is introduced as the youngest apprentice of Master Eraqus who trains him alongside his best friends, Terra and Aqua, to become experienced warriors with the Keyblade. When Terra goes on a mission to find Master Xehanort, Ventus follows him, having also become concerned about his fate. As Ventus journeys through various worlds and battles dark creatures called the Unversed, he learns about his own origins as well as his relation to Xehanort's apprentice, Vanitas.

<i>Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance</i> video game

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo 3DS, revealed at E3 2010. The game is the seventh installment in the Kingdom Hearts series and was released in Japan on March 29, 2012. It was released outside Japan on July 20, 2012 in Europe, July 26, 2012 in Australasia and July 31, 2012 in North America.

<i>Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue</i> 2017 video game compilation

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a collection of the Kingdom Hearts series, developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4. A successor to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, it was announced in September 2015 and released in January 2017.

Tetsuya Nomura is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix. He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has helmed the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was also the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

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