KINGDOM HEARTS REVIEW

Theme Song by Brian Setzer and owned by Walt Disney Records

 

Once upon a time in the corporate headquarters of Squaresoft in Japan a Squaresoft executive got onto an elevator. Coincidentally Disney’s Japan headquarters is in the same building as Square’s so a Disney mind got onboard the elevator too. When the two stepped out of the elevator they had created an idea that would become my favorite franchise of all time. The concept was that American and Japanese icons come together with Disney representing America and Final Fantasy representing Japan. There were various ideas thrown around such as having a Disney character be the main character, but soon a compromise was reached where this would be a completely new experience with original characters and a truly unique universe. I’ve made it no secret that I love this game and series. It’s one of the few things that I like better than Little Mermaid and Indiana Jones. If Mermaid got me into Disney then Kingdom Hearts is what made me truly love and understand Disney. It is the standard by which I judge virtually all media especially story, characters etc. This is in my opinion the best Disney story ever told and there’s no doubts that this is Disney’s first epic. The game went on to be a bestseller and a classic of the Playstation 2 upon its release on September 17,2002. In fact this game was the top selling RPG of the PS2. This is the original masterpiece and classic KINGDOM HEARTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“You’ll Never Know Who You’ll Run Into Next”- Tagline of the game

 

Theme Poem

This is a poem that was written to put the themes of the game into a more poetic form and is a major connection to everything in this universe

“Thinking of You Where ever You Are

We Pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend

Now I will step forward to realize this wish

And who knows:

Starting a new journey may not be so hard,

Or maybe it has already begun

There are many worlds, but they share the same sky-

One Sky, One Destiny”

 

When you reach the load menu where you can load a saved game or start a new one don’t press any buttons and after a minute or two a trailer will play and show clips and credits and it’s very good. Plus it starts with this poem. Here it is now.

Menu Trailer

STORY

The story of Kingdom Hearts is about 3 children Sora (14 years old), his best friend Riku (15 years old) and his secret not so secret crush Kairi (14 years old). The trio live on a chain of islands called Destiny Islands where they’re tired of the tiny confined island chain and want to go to other worlds and go on the adventure of a lifetime. To do this the trio is building a raft (a pathetic effort, but points for trying).

 

Meanwhile at Disney Castle Donald Duck goes to the Throne Room where he gives King Mickey Mouse his morning greeting and is shocked to find the King missing. The only clue to his whereabouts is a letter that was written by the King that Pluto was instructed to give Donald. It says that the King went off to investigate a troubling matter about various stars blinking out of existence and that every time a star blinks out a world is destroyed. He instructs Donald and Goofy to go to Traverse Town where a man named Leon will point them in the direction of the Keyblade Master who “has the key to our survival”. The King orders Donald and Goofy to stick with the Keyblade Master no matter what.

 

Back on the islands a dark and violent storm has hit the islands and Sora goes to check on the raft, and finds that Riku and Kairi are there too. He then encounters the main enemies of the game called Heartless and he can’t fight them off with his wooden sword so he runs to find his friends. Sora finds Riku who is convinced the storm is a mystical sign that the door to another world has opened, but Sora has reservations and when Sora tries to get Riku out he is given a powerful new weapon called the Keyblade! Sora fights off the Heartless legion attacking the island and he finds Kairi, but it appears the Heartless have stolen her heart and she vanishes into darkness. After defeating the giant Heartless that is encountered Sora is sucked into darkness as his world is destroyed. Sora then wakes up in a new world!

 

That world happens to be Traverse Town. Sora makes acquaintances with the locals and searches the town for his friends. He runs into Leon who brings him up to speed on the state of the universe and his newfound responsibility as Keyblade Master. After fighting more Heartless Sora bumps into Donald and Goofyand the trio fight another giant Heartless. After that Sora agrees to go with Donald and Goofy to various worlds to look for Riku and Kairi and to save the universe from the Heartless while Donald and Goofy stick with him because they’re following the King’s order. Soon an extremely powerful friendship binds Sora, Donald and Goofy as they travel to various Disney worlds defeating the Heartless and Maleficent’s group of villains that are controlling the Heartless.

 

In the Snow White review of Doug Walker’s Disneycember he said something along the lines of “this is a film built pretty much on emotion” and that the majority of Disney films are emotion based.  This game’s themes are an in depth analysis and character study of that very concept. The game’s main concept is the metaphorical heart. During  Sora’s journey he follows in the footsteps of every epic hero before him by learning something about himself and the world or in this case worlds around him. He learns about how emotions affect our choices between good and evil. The bonds between other people whether they are friend or foe. That no matter how hopeless things are a light will always shine within and that friendship and love will triumph over cruelty and selfishness. These are all themes we’ve heard before, but Kingdom Hearts’s script is so well written and the character interactions and acting is so good that not only will you not care about that you’ll probably think that this is the best presentation of these themes. The character interactions between Final Fantasy, Disney and original characters is done perfectly. No character needed to be changed. Everyone was in character and the script was so well written that the characters play off each other flawlessly even though the voices were recorded separately.

 

CHARACTERS

There’s a ton of characters! I’m not going to talk about them all. Even the one’s I’m talking about will take up another blog post entirely! These characters are ones we know and love and a few are newcomers. Every single one of them is good! The acting is phenomenal because the majority of original voice actors for Disney characters returned to voice the classic roles. The Final Fantasy and original characters are all well cast some with an absolutely astonishing list of celebrity voice actors.

 

Main Characters

 

SORA voiced by Haley Joel Osment:

Our main character and only playable character! Sora is a nice, easygoing kid and can be a bit lazy, but has a strong sense of justice and will not hesitate to kill an enemy in battle if it means the safety of innocent people. He is a very likeable lead (major credit to Haley Joel Osment and of course the writers) unlike Square’s latest hero at the time Tidus of Final Fantasy X (I’ll get to that in another review. I like the game so don’t let that fool you!) His motivations are the same as another classic Disney hero and one of my personal favorites: Ariel!!  He wants to go to other worlds and go on adventures. The dream comes true, but at a nasty price: the destruction of his home and the separation from his friends. With the Keyblade in hand he learns responsibilities to the worlds and the people that inhabit them as well as learning about the themes I described above. With each new world he learns something new about himself and the world which is excellent character development and he becomes a true epic hero by game’s end. Haley Joel Osment is excellent as Sora. He gives the character likeability, slight innocence and determination to save the day and affection to his friends (Donald and Goofy in particular). The world may remember him as the “I see dead people” kid, but to me he will always be the Keyblade Master and one of the best Disney characters and heroes and the best part is he’s still voicing Sora to this day. If you’re wondering yes, Sora’s outfit is meant to look like Mickey’s in fact Mickey only makes a small cameo at the very end of the game after you’ve beaten the final boss.  Another cool tidbit is that Keyblade Masters are the Disney version of Jedi Knights!!!!!!!!!!

 

DONALD DUCK voiced by Tony Anselmo:

Donald is the second that makes up the trinity of Sora Donald and Goofy. I truly believe that Sora, Donald and Goofy have much better chemistry than Mickey, Donald and Goofy! They have better moments and they truly go through life and death situations and tests of loyalty. These three are an excellent team and are perfect! Donald is our main comic relief and brings a sarcastic edge to the group. He is the Court Wizard of Disney Castle taught magic by Merlin! He is very important in combat because he can exploit an enemy’s elemental weakness with his staff without having Sora cast the spell. He can also use the cure spell on you if you’re in trouble which saves healing items for more taxing situations. Anselmo does an excellent job as Donald and the writers have given a more caring side to Donald. He may still be sarcastic and occasionally scream, but he keeps his cool for the most part and has unwavering loyalty to King Mickey and his friends  (no rivalry to be found here which is a good thing)

 

GOOFY voiced by Bill Farmer: 

 Goofy completes the trinity of Sora Donald and Goofy. Goofy is treated with more respect here then he is with any other appearance (except maybe A Goofy Movie). He is a very wise, caring and humble character and yet he is the Captain of the Disney Castle Royal Knights. He is the glue that holds the trio together. He still maintains the classic Goofy clumsiness and isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he is by no means stupid. In fact he is very wise, offering words of comfort to Sora when an enemy’s taunts put the Keyblade Master on edge. Bill Farmer captures these qualities excellently!  Goofy is also very observant and sees things that the other characters miss and can decently put two and two together. He is one of the strongest characters physically in the game. He uses a shield to bash enemies and with enough abilities equipped he can pull off shield techniques that would make Captain America look like a pansy playing frisbee with an arthritic dog. A great character to a great team!!

 

RIKU voiced by David Gallagher:

Now I didn’t really like 7th Heaven, but when I found out that this awesome character was played by Simon I said “This is what you should be doing! This is awesome and this is what I’ll remember you for.” Remember the plan the 3 kids had to build a raft? That was actually Riku’s idea. He is a very interesting character because he doesn’t want this dream because he wants it like a good percentage of Disney characters, but because he has actual philosophical questions. He contemplates his fate and existence asking “Suppose there are other worlds. Why did we end up on this one?” He wants to know things about the nature of his existence. Unfortunately he goes too far when he decides to step into the darkness and heends up joining forces with Maleficent and her group of villains. Maleficent corrupts Riku and pits the best friends against each other. There was already a rivalry between the two, but they were still the best of friends. After more events and Riku’s further descent into darkness Riku is saved and is sent on a journey of redemption. Gallagher gives Riku the maturity and smoothness the character should have and is excellent! A great supporting character that would one day become a playable character in future installments.

 

KAIRI voiced by Hayden Panettiere: 

Kairi’s Theme Hd Remaster version

This is probably the weakest character in the whole game. It’s not because she’s badly written or acted it’s because she’s hardly in the game. She’s only in the first part, makes an appearance in the later parts and is in the ending. I will say that the game does a good job keeping her presence known and is the main motivating factor in Sora’s quest. She is the goal. Sora does love her and he is too embarrassed to admit it, but we all know it’s true especially when the Destiny Islands custom of the paopu fruit is introduced. Kairi is a nice, sweet girl that shares the same dream as the other two and she also has a mysterious past which ties in with the culture of the Keyblade Masters and the fate of the universe. The one thing about Kairi that is excellent is her musical theme (Sora and Riku don’t get character themes until Kingdom Hearts 2). The theme is calm and serene much like a calm ocean. It’s fitting because Kairi’s name is ocean related in Japanese.

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