An Introductory Guide to Kingdom Hearts

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After 5 years of the official announcement, Kingdom Hearts III FINALLY has a release date! In early 2019. YEP! Sounds like a Square Enix release window, in fact I’m waiting for the “Oh, now the release date will be in April” that’ll likely be announced in October. So you saw the new trailers, got excited to see Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean worlds but you NEVER played a Kingdom Hearts game. First, shame on you! Second, now is the perfect time to get into the game and start playing to gear up for that January 2019 date.

Here is your buying guide. Do you have an Xbox One? Uhhh …. You can play Kingdom Hearts III in January and go ahead and search gameplay videos on YouTube as you can prepare to know the story. Got a PS4? Well you’re in luck cause you have 1 console to get access to every Kingdom Hearts game, excluding the one available for mobile phones. You can preorder the Kingdom Hearts All-In-One Package that gives you Kingdom Hearts I.5+II.5, Kingdom Hearts II.8, and Kingdom Hearts III for $100. Which will allow instant access to the PS4 collection games and a couple of digital rewards as you prepare for the release of Kingdom Hearts III. And that is it. End of blog.

Dude – just kidding!

Okay now, let’s actually go over Kingdom Hearts and what to expect as you play these games. Kingdom Hearts is an action style JRPG where (then called) SquareSoft decided to combine the popularity of their Final Fantasy characters and the popularity of the characters from various Disney franchises. Originally, the main character was to be Mickey Mouse, but Disney was in fear that this game would fail and didn’t want their flagship character to be associated in a failure. (In the same sense why Nintendo didn’t allow Mario to be in Wreck-It-Ralph or Mattel chose not to have Barbie in the first Toy Story movie.) Mickey gets more of a cameo appearance in the first game, so instead our main character is a new character made for the game, named Sora. He is joined by Goofy and Donald Duck as they venture through multiple worlds to find their missing friends, save each world they come to from the Heartless, and make sure that Kingdom Hearts doesn’t fall into the darkness.

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The collections (2 were previously released on the PS3, but Remastered again for PS4) that are available for the PS4 are all HD remasters of the previous games in the 16 year history of the franchise. And you are probably saying, so I just need to play 1 and 2 and I’m ready for 3, right? NO! That is the equivalent of seeing first two Avengers movies then going into the third film, Infinity War. You will know the main characters, but there is so much that you missed by ignoring the others and might cause you to get lost.

The games you are able to play are as the follows:

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-

And the following are the cut scenes that have edited to be a movie format:

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded

Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover

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Things I want to note of this collection, the titles that end in Final Mix, these were Japanese definitive exclusive versions that are available (FINALLY) for international audiences for the first time, which include extra bosses, extra story, and extra difficulty. All the games, except for Kingdom Hearts I and II, were originally on handheld systems, making all but Chain of Memories available on a home console for the first time (Chain of Memories was remade for the PS2). If you really want to play 358/2 and Coded, you’ll need to track down the original DS games (or get a Japanese cell phone that have the 6 or 7 original Coded cell phone games). Honestly, the gameplay of the two mentioned games (especially Re:Coded) aren’t that great and the story is the best part. You aren’t missing much by not playing these games.

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Also, if this is your first time playing Kingdom Hearts, I HIGHLY recommend going the release order instead of the order the I.5+II.5 games places them. So after playing Re:Chain of Memories, go to Kingdom Hearts II. Mainly because the character you play in the awfully paced beginning section has a major reveal in the game that will be ruined if you watch or play 358/2 Days first. Think of it like, watching the prequels of Star Wars first, and losing the reveal that Darth Vader is Luke’s father in Empire Strikes Back.

So the release order does place the games in a non-chronological order, but for example Birth by Sleep (which happens before the events of Kingdom Hearts I) assumes you know of events from the previous games like the first and second and even refers to 358/2 Days. And the last 2 games that are included in the 2.8 collection are brand new entries. My recommended playing order are as follows:

Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (It’s really short and is mainly used to introduce the current mobile game)

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-

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According to Square Enix, the mobile game that’s available on iTunes and Google play, Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ will be referenced in Kingdom Hearts III as well, but we’ll see how much that actually gets referenced and how necessary it is. But it is a free to play game, and there are some 2017 DuckTales medals as well. There is actually SO MUCH MORE to talk about Kingdom Hearts, but this is meant as just as an introduction. If interest rises we can continue the conversations to go in depth on any subject about the game to get more clarity. Especially on how complex the story gets! Happy playing guys!

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