Table of Contents
Each Kingdom Hearts Recreation, Ranked – Destructoid
Kingdom Hearts is mild!
[Please extend a warm welcome to new freelance writer Sorrel Kerr-Jung! Sorrel has previously worked for entertainment sites such as Looper and CBR, as well as writing for their local newspaper, they are now kicking the door down here at Destructoid by tackling the mightiest subject of all: Kingdom Hearts continuity. – Chris Moyse]
It’s powerful to speak about Kingdom Hearts with out mocking it in all the best methods. Sure, the essential thought of a Disney-themed JRPG developed by Sq. Enix is ridiculous. Sure, it’s hilarious to observe Mickey Mouse look Squall Leonhart within the eye and ask him what he is aware of concerning the Door to Darkness. Sure, Goofy has carried out battle with Sephiroth, sure, Maleficent likes to time journey, and sure, you’d higher imagine that Donald Duck is canonically stronger than Bahamut. All of this stuff are true.
However right here’s the key: all of this stuff are additionally nice. I really like Kingdom Hearts for its ardent refusal to go the simple route. It completely guidelines that, when granted the adaptational rights to Disney’s catalog of revered classics, Sq. Enix selected to invent a world and imbue it with a ridiculous quantity of unintelligible lore. Kingdom Hearts may have been a phoned-in, easy (and clear) sequence of licensed Disney video games for youths. As a substitute, it’s a franchise comprised of among the greatest motion RPGs ever made. That includes Tinker Bell. Not each Kingdom Hearts recreation is created equally, although — and there are a lot of Kingdom Hearts video games. So, right here’s each Kingdom Hearts recreation (together with those that aren’t actually video games), ranked from worst to greatest.
Kingdom Hearts χ/Darkish Highway
Proper out the gate, I’m already dishonest a little bit. In some methods, this entry really covers three video games — there’s Kingdom Hearts χ, a browser recreation that was solely ever launched in Japan, Kingdom Hearts Union χ, a mobile-exclusive sequel that’s additionally sort of a remake that was launched worldwide a couple of years later, and Kingdom Hearts Darkish Highway, a largely separate story that’s accessed from inside the Union χ app. To take a look at issues from one other perspective, although, this entry additionally covers zero video games.
Kingdom Hearts χ and Union χ are each completely unplayable in 2022, as servers for each titles have been taken offline. The one option to formally expertise the story is to trudge via the comically horrible cutscene assortment accessible within the Union χ app, ideally with a information on the prepared because the cutscenes aren’t organized in any remotely logical order.
It’s a disgrace on condition that the χ storyline digs into the Keyblade Conflict, one of many extra attention-grabbing and vital durations in Kingdom Hearts‘ historical past. Darkish Highway will get a slight bump for the truth that it’s nonetheless technically playable (sans on-line), however, truthfully, the gameplay simply barely counts as “gameplay,” and it doesn’t resemble the motion RPG fight discovered within the different video games in any respect. There’s some neat perception into sequence antagonist Xehanort’s historical past right here, however it’s surrounded by complications.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Start By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
There’s actually not a lot to say about A Fragmentary Passage. Because the title suggests, it’s not a full recreation; it’s extra of a quick prelude to Kingdom Hearts 3. By the point A Fragmentary Passage got here out, many of the (many, many) items of Kingdom Hearts 3‘s large puzzle have been already in place, so this one doesn’t add an excessive amount of to the narrative. For essentially the most half, it’s simply an excuse to check-in on Aqua, a fan-favorite character from Kingdom Hearts: Start By Sleep.
A Fragmentary Passage makes use of the wonderful fight system present in Kingdom Hearts 3, so it’s naturally fairly nice to play. It’s additionally obtained a rudimentary character customization system, one thing Kingdom Hearts isn’t precisely recognized for. It offers Aqua one thing to do and fleshes out her character fairly handily, however the entire thing is over so rapidly that it’s onerous to care an excessive amount of about any of it.
Kingdom Hearts χ Again Cowl
Fortunately, the depressing cutscene theater within the Union χ app will not be the one option to get a little bit of perception into the χ story. Kingdom Hearts χ Again Cowl, a one-hour film that was included within the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Remaining Chapter Prologue compilation, takes place in the course of the occasions of the unique browser recreation. It’s not an entire recap of that recreation’s occasions, however it’s a fairly respectable whodunnit thriller that provides some much-needed identification to the Foretellers, a bunch of string-pulling weirdos central to Kingdom Hearts χ‘s plot.
Again Cowl is definitely a reasonably good time, and it options what may be a career-best efficiency from Ray Chase because the Grasp of Masters, the man who pulls the strings on the string-pullers. Sadly, there are some things which might be holding it again from climbing any greater on this explicit listing. First, after all, is that it isn’t a online game — the one cause I’m together with it on this listing in any respect is that it was technically launched on a PlayStation 4 disc.
Second is that it was produced whereas the story of Union χ was nonetheless ongoing, so it could possibly’t act as a significant substitute for that darn cutscene theater. Crucial cause Again Cowl is condemned to the far reaches of this rating, although, is that there’s completely no Disney content material to be seen right here. Later Kingdom Hearts video games are sometimes criticized for sidelining Disney characters, however Again Cowl excises them fully. The thought of a Kingdom Hearts thriller is a really enjoyable one, however the film doesn’t really feel very Kingdom Hearts in any respect.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Hear me out right here: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days will not be an ideal recreation. This Nintendo DS facet story is concentrated fully on Roxas, the principle playable character for the primary a number of hours of Kingdom Hearts 2. Roxas is the sequence protagonist Sora’s “No person”, a sort of zombie that comes into being when an individual turns into a Heartless. If these correct nouns are making your head spin, you haven’t seen something but.
358/2 Days is a prequel centered on Roxas’ time with Group XIII, the antagonistic group that gave Sora a tough time in Kingdom Hearts 2. The sport represents a so-so effort at bringing the Kingdom Hearts components to the DS. Whereas it introduces some formally attention-grabbing components to the sequence, together with a Monster Hunter-ish mission system, moment-to-moment fight is a slog. It’s additionally obtained far and away essentially the most convoluted plot of any of those titles — no small feat for a sequence like this — and it’s a bit troublesome to get in any respect invested within the supposed tragedy of all of it.
Kingdom Hearts Coded
Coded started life as a cell recreation launched in episodes, and the story definitely appears like that of an episodic cell journey. It’s a lot smaller than the opposite epic tales within the Kingdom Hearts sequence, happening nearly fully in a parallel information world. Most of this recreation is a retread of occasions from earlier video games, and it’s not all the time fully apparent the way it components into the broader saga, however truthfully, that miniature scale is a bit refreshing at instances.
The most effective model of Coded is certainly the DS launch. It does a a lot better job of translating Kingdom Hearts to the DS than 358/2 Days, and it’s good to play a Kingdom Hearts recreation that each feels good and isn’t all that heady. Like all the things else within the sequence, it’s just about nonsensical (the info world exists within a paper journal, however all the things within it’s apparently digital, and it’s not fully clear who’s by which world at any second), however it’s not all that vital. Additionally, come on. Kingdom Hearts within the Matrix is fairly cool.
I do know, I do know. Holding the unique Kingdom Hearts this removed from first place is blasphemous. It’s a basic. It’s the sport that began all of it. Right here’s the factor – Kingdom Hearts ought to really be decrease on this listing. I’m giving it an enormous increase based mostly on the significance of blazing a path. Fact be instructed, Kingdom Hearts will not be an ideal recreation. It’s a complete tough draft of what the sequence would finally change into. The foundations are right here, however boy, they’re fairly shaky.
Kingdom Hearts is an motion recreation from 2002, and twenty years later, realizing what we learn about motion recreation design, it isn’t enjoyable to return to. The digital camera flails about prefer it’s been taped to the top of a mace throughout common fight, and through boss fights, it solely will get worse. It additionally incorporates the worst model of the worst mini-game within the type of the Gummi Ship. There may be, after all, heaps to like within the unique Kingdom Hearts; it’s nonetheless obtained among the greatest Disney worlds within the sequence, the story is comparatively easy for the primary and final time, and it introduces the ridiculously imaginative world and lovable characters that outline the remainder of the sequence. It’s simply… not that good.
Kingdom Hearts Start By Sleep
Start By Sleep is a little bit of a black sheep within the Kingdom Hearts canon. It options an nearly fully unique solid, swapping Sora and co. for a brand new trio of heroes: Aqua, Terra, and Ventus. Truly, Ventus is sort of Sora, however that’s a narrative for one more time. Aqua and Terra are fledgling Keyblade wielders coaching underneath Grasp Eraqus and Grasp Xehanort a couple of decade earlier than the occasions of the unique Kingdom Hearts. That is the sport the place the lore of Kingdom Hearts turned principally incomprehensible, establishing the Keyblade as a lightsaber-style emblem of some historic group of noble warriors (fittingly, Eraqus is voiced by one Mark Hamill).
All that convoluted lore is supported by a reasonably charming central solid of three heroes, every of whom will get their very own marketing campaign that feeds into one central narrative. It’s sort of like Kingdom Hearts by means of NieR:Automata, and it’s as odd and compelling as that sounds. Start By Sleep can also be, in some methods, Kingdom Hearts‘ most interesting “tragedy,” specializing in characters who genuinely fail and endure within the course of. It’s the primary recreation that makes Xehanort a very compelling villain, and it expands the scope of Kingdom Hearts to a very thrilling diploma. Add to that the truth that this one has a Lilo and Sew world and yeah, it’s fairly good.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Oh, Kingdom Hearts 3, you lovable mess. This fruits of the franchise’s first main narrative arc nearly definitely bit off greater than it may chew. It’s the sort of recreation that all the time needed to be all the things for everybody, and it ended up being just one factor for one very particular group of individuals: a very good recreation for Kingdom Hearts tremendous followers. As a Kingdom Hearts tremendous fan, I’m right here to verify that, sure, this can be a actually good recreation.
Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t completely work. It makes an attempt to resolve each main plot line launched as much as that time, and there’s no scarcity of main plot traces in Kingdom Hearts. Nonetheless, when KH3 works, it really works very well. It’s continually paying off beats established literal many years earlier than, and the sport appears so enthusiastic about that incontrovertible fact that it’s onerous for gamers to withstand being pulled in. It even briefly made me care about Kingdom Hearts χ. The fight makes use of components of each recreation within the sequence, including a couple of new items of its personal to create what’s, if not the most effective, definitely the biggest motion recreation fight system ever made, and the story, whereas disjointed and messy, actually does give each main participant an opportunity to shine. It’s messy across the edges and a little bit too large for its concepts, however it may be the most effective model of Kingdom Hearts 3 I may have requested for.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Recollections
Chain of Recollections was the sport that taught gamers what to anticipate out of Kingdom Hearts. In the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2, Sora is chilling in an egg in someone’s basement. Why? To get that reply, you must play the Recreation Boy Advance spinoff. Lesson realized: no Kingdom Hearts spinoff is skippable, and Chain of Recollections may be the least skippable of all of them.
Selecting up proper the place the unique Kingdom Hearts left off, Chain of Recollections follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they journey via Fort Oblivion, slowly dropping their recollections as they go. Numerous the worlds on this one are reskinned variations of worlds from the primary recreation — handily, Sora doesn’t do not forget that first recreation, so most of his dialogue can stay unaltered — however the broader plot is each completely unique and deeply compelling. That is the place Group XIII, the Nobodies, and the all-important friendship between Riku and Mickey Mouse have been launched. It’s additionally obtained certainly one of my private favourite Kingdom Hearts mechanics, a captivating deckbuilding system that hasn’t returned since. There’s a reasonably respectable PS2 remake, however for my cash, you must play this on GBA.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Reminiscence
The most effective issues about Kingdom Hearts is the music. During the last twenty years, legendary composer Yoko Shimomura has been accompanied by a bevy of sensible musicians, together with Japanese-American pop star Hikaru Utada, and the sequence has amassed the most effective collective soundtrack a gaming franchise may ask for. What higher option to rejoice all that wonderful music than with a rhythm recreation?
Melody of Reminiscence isn’t actually a Kingdom Hearts recreation within the normal sense. There’s no actual fight, not many RPG components, and barely any ridiculously convoluted lore. It’s principally only a easy rhythm recreation designed to rejoice the sequence’ music. Fortunately, the sequence’ music is ridiculously good. Developed by Theatrhythm Remaining Fantasy developer indieszero, Melody of Reminiscence actually is a wonderful rhythm recreation, and an ideal excuse to take heed to the Traverse City theme once more. And once more. And once more.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Most individuals would fairly confidently name Kingdom Hearts 2 the most effective Kingdom Hearts recreation. Possibly most individuals are proper! It is a reasonably distinctive recreation. The fight is deep and concerned with out turning into ridiculously complicated, the story is pleasantly foolish however nonetheless coherent sufficient for its emotional beats to land, and it stays one of many best-looking PlayStation 2 video games ever made.
It’s powerful to say something destructive about Kingdom Hearts 2. It strikes the right stability between the foolish, convoluted mess of JRPG lore that Kingdom Hearts would change into and the saccharine, endearing crossover that Kingdom Hearts was all the time offered as. I don’t assume it’s the most effective Kingdom Hearts recreation, however there’s a great probability that it’s the most good.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
This can be a bizarre choose for the highest spot, however I promise I can clarify. Kingdom Hearts has all the time been a narrative about maturing. The very first recreation is the story of two boys who’ve by no means left dwelling being thrust into the broader world, and being compelled to cope with darkness. On one facet, there’s Sora, who finds the skin world thrilling. On the opposite facet, there’s Riku, who finds his dwelling stifling. They each need to see all the things, however one is optimistic, the place the opposite is cynical. Riku contends with that cynicism for your entire recreation, whereas Sora thrives with that optimism.
In Dream Drop Distance, Sora and Riku lastly discover out what varieties of individuals they’ve change into. Sora has adopted the arc that was all the time set for him – he’s gone from JRPG protagonist to cartoon character. On this recreation, he’s essentially the most cartoonish and lovable he’s ever been. Riku, in the meantime, has grown into one thing resembling an precise grownup. He’s not hooked on the novelty of latest experiences the best way Sora is, however he additionally not resents his personal life the best way he used to. He needs to care for his mates, and he needs to protect the almost-ordinary world he’s constructed with them. Sora may be the hero of Kingdom Hearts, however Riku, in the end, is the hero of his personal story.
Does it assist that Dream Drop Distance has the most effective fight in any Kingdom Hearts recreation? Certain. Is it good that there’s a creature-collecting system that includes among the cutest guys of all time? In fact. However on the finish of the day, Dream Drop Distance is my favourite Kingdom Hearts recreation as a result of it’s the fullest realization of Kingdom Hearts. In its personal bizarre manner, Kingdom Hearts is about rising up. In Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts grows up.