Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now.
In Part Four, I am focusing on the Kingdom Hearts games that made an impact on me as a child. Kingdom Hearts games mix Disney and Final Fantasy worlds and characters–a fun combination, to be sure!
Kingdom Hearts I
System: PlayStation 2
Release date: September 17, 2002
This is the game that got me into Kingdom Hearts. I first watched my dad play it when I was a little kid and it gave me nightmares from one particular scene where Sora (the main character) is attacked by a huge dark monster. One of the nice things about this game is that it includes many of the original voice actors for the Disney characters. The three main characters are Sora, Donald, and Goofy. Donald plays a magic-casting role while Goofy is more of a guard with strong emphasis on defense. Most areas allow you to temporarily have a character that fights with you, such as Tarzan or Jack Skellington. In some places, the abilities or appearance of characters changes, which is especially evident in Halloween Town and Neverland.
Final Fantasy characters that appear in this game include Tidus, Wakka, Selphie, Leon, Aerith, Cid, Yuffie, Cloud, Sephiroth, and the Moogles.
The enemies in the game are mainly the Heartless, which are created by hearts taken over by darkness.
The songs from the original Kingdom Hearts still get stuck in my head sometimes. “Simple and Clean” by Hikaru Utada, for instance. I included a clip from Spotify for it below.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
System: Nintendo DS
Release date: September 29, 2009
This game has a wacky title. Apparently it is supposed to be said this way: “Kingdom Hearts Three Five Eight Days Over Two.” It is played through the perspective of Roxas, a Nobody. Nobodies are the empty shells left behind when a strong-hearted person becomes a Heartless.
Roxas spends his daily life in Organization XIII, and it focuses on his relationship with Axel and Xion. He fights Heartless by day, and by evening he eats Sea-Salt ice cream with his friends.
Apparently the game’s ending is extremely emotional, but I never made it that far because the gameplay is challenging, and I suck at video games honestly.
It’s probably my favorite Kingdom Hearts game.
Kingdom Hearts II
System: PlayStation 2
Release date: March 28, 2006
I loved this game, which takes place a year after the events of Kingdom Hearts I. It had so many cutscenes that it really felt like a fascinating narrative. There was so much character death that it was really an emotional roller coaster, especially if you played Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
Some new worlds in this game include the Land of Dragons, Beast’s Castle, Port Royal, and Pride Lands. Like in the first game, sometimes additional characters join your party, such as Jack Sparrow, Mulan, and Simba.
Organization XIII is a major factor in this game. This organization is made up of Nobodies, as I mentioned in the previous game.
What’s funny is in both this game and Kingdom Hearts I, Donald is super weak defense and HP-wise, so he gets knocked out near constantly. It feels like you are always traveling with Goofy and Donald’s unconscious body.
The music for this game was great as well, the best song being “Passion” by Utada. (Clip included below.)
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Release date: September 7, 2010
Birth by Sleep is set 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game, and follows the adventures of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. There are three scenarios, in which you can play the game the whole way through with each character, with the beginning being the same. To unlock the final chapter, you have to play as each character all the way through. My favorite one was Aqua, and that was the only character I beat the game with along with my siblings. We played Ventus next, but never beat the game. I loved the multiple points of view and the storytelling as well as the game’s setup as a kind of tragedy–kind of like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
The Kingdom Hearts series bolstered my imagination as a kid, and I was fascinated by its comic, tragic, and epic moments. Have you played this series? Let me know what you think in the comments!