The news came out a couple of days ago that a Big Hero 6 world was going to feature within the latest installment of Square Enix’s incredibly popular Kingdom Hears series, KH3. My excitement was palpable – This is the first time that a Marvel world was featured within the game since Disney’s buyout of the company a few years ago and out of the most recent films that have come out of the Disney vault over the past decade, Big Hero 6 is one of my favourites and it features a world that is perfect for a level (San Frosokyo) and a mascot that already looks like it could fit in easily with Sora and his pals in the form of Baymax. It basically hypes up a game that I have been waiting for what feeling like forever.
I will tell you all now; my love for Kingdom Hearts has no limit. When I had first heard of the game and my equally nerdish school friends were all playing it, at first I had no interest. They had already tried to get me into Final Fantasy X-2 prior and I was just not buying into the concept of turned based gameplay- having to send out an attack, hoping that it will hit due to random algorithms set by the game itself and then waiting for the other members of your party to do their own move, then waiting for the enemy to attack and then rinse and repeat. It was boring to me and I genuinely was not interested in Kingdom Hearts for I thought the gameplay was going to be like the Final Fantasy games. Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II had come out before I thought I should take a chance at this game. So I bought the first one for £10 at a local game shop during my second year at university (it was 2007) and decided to have a go. And instantly I was hooked.
I was drawn into the story of the original main character Sora and his adventures with Disney’s Donald and Goofy as they traverse through a variety of worlds in the Disney Universe searching for the King (Mickey Mouse) and Kairi (an original female character from Sora’s home world who managed to get taken by Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent) as one of the princesses of Heart, and the key
in opening the door to Kingdom Hearts. Sora’s best, and slightly more capable friend Riku also goes on this journey (but not by choice – their world gets wrenched apart) but he gets influenced by dark thoughts in his heart due to Maleficent’s presence. Partway through the story you feel Sora’s anguish as he is torn between helping his best friend or his new friends and following his destiny. I would be annoyed too if my best mate chose those bumbling Disney idiots over me!
The overall story get convoluted after a while throughout the series, I admit. A slew of characters get introduced and a lot of tenuous links are created to make certain Disney world’s relevant (why they included Pirates of the Caribbean I have no idea) and some of the plot points are downright laughable, but what makes the series so popular is that it is incredibly accessible. Instead of it being a Turn Based RPG (the kind I hated and what put me off Final Fantasy for so long) it was an Action Based RPG where your input in the game was immediate. If you aimed a strike at something, whether you hit or missed was in your own power. This made the game much more fast paced – I remember at one point skipping merrily down a hill and the next being swamped by dozens of heartless. Donald Duck died almost immediately (as usual) and it was down to me and Goofy to survive the onslaught – you wouldn’t get that kind of madness in Final Fantasy VII!
A particular poignant moment during my playthrough of the first game involved me finally meeting the final boss. I was prepared; armed to the teeth with potions and had the support of my four housemates around me. (Yes, this was prime Saturday afternoon viewing during my university days) I remember at one point I kept dying so I text my friend in frustration asking him, “How do I beat this guy??” His response – “Dodge roll.” I threw my phone at the wall. When I finally defeated the boss I threw the controller down in celebration and fell to my knees with my housemates jumping up and cheering. Hey, I didn’t say we were cool people!
I am not ashamed in saying that my gaming life has majorly been dictated by Kingdom Hearts for the best part of a decade. Despite, at the time, not having my own PS2 to boast and having to use my housemate’s console, I bought KHII about five days after completing the first one to soothe the withdrawal symptoms I was having. For all the handheld versions that came out, I purchased the equivalent console that I could play the relevant game (DS, PSP and 3DS for 358/2 Days, Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance). I held off buying a PS3 immediately until I was sure that KHIII would be out on that console – It wasn’t and it broke my heart. Now its pretty much a sure thing that KHIII will be out on the PS4 I am currently saving up so I can buy the console. I will admit I did not buy Chain of Memories (or Re:coded as I cannot be bothered with re-hashes of past games) but I did purchase the manga which outlined the plot and gave me big laughs in the process. Some of the expressions they had were marvellous!
I cannot wait for Kingdom Hearts III – I want actual progress, not the cheat side story that Dream Drop Distance gave. I am waiting for answers following on from Birth By Sleep (the prequel that still is my favourite game of the series so far) and wanting to see how everything ties up. We have been promised that this is the game that will give us the resolution and progress that we wanted. I sincerely hope that’s the case.
And that they give me a Princess and the Frog Bayou level, come on Square Enix!