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Kingdom Hearts (Series)

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This is about the game series. You might be looking for the world of Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts (キングダム ハーツ Kingudamu Hātsu?) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square character designer. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series.

In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors, and well-known actors such as Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere. The series centers on the main character Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with Disney, Final Fantasy, and The World Ends With You characters on their worlds.

The series currently consists of seven games across multiple video game consoles, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though each title has seen varying levels of success. As of March 2011, the Kingdom Hearts series has sold over 17 million copies worldwide. A wide variety of related merchandise has been released along with the games, including soundtracks, figurines, companion books, novels, and manga.

Titles Edit

Game Title Release Date Platform Chronological Order
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep 2010 PlayStation Portable 1st part
Kingdom Hearts 2002 PlayStation 2 2nd part
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories 2008 PlayStation 2 3rd part
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days 2009 Nintendo DS 4th part
Kingdom Hearts II 2006 PlayStation 2 5th part
Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded 2011 NTT DoCoMo 6th part
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance 2012 Nintendo 3DS 7th part
Kingdom Hearts χ [chi] 2013 PC
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ 2016 IOS/Android 8th part
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue 2017 PlayStation 4 9th part
Kingdom Hearts III TBA PlayStation 4

XBOX 360

10th part

HD Collections Edit

Title Platform Release Date
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX PlayStation 3 2013
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX PlayStation 3 2014
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue PlayStation 4 2017
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX PlayStation 4 2017

Gameplay in Kingdom Hearts Edit

The Kingdom Hearts games contain elements of both action and role-playing video games. The games are driven by a linear progression from one story event to the next, usually shown in the form of a cutscene, though there are numerous side quests available that provide bonus benefits to the characters. In most games, the player primarily controls the principal protagonist of the series, Sora. Sora is usually accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy, who are artificial intelligence-controlled non-playable characters that aid Sora in battle. In the first and third game, their behaviour can be altered to suit different combat objectives. The games feature real-time combat that incorporates physical attacks, magic, and summonings, though each game handles battles differently.

Gummi Ships are another common element of the series, which serve as the main mode of transportation between worlds in the games. The gameplay for the Gummi Ship sections is more akin to a rail shooter. Because it received negative criticism in the first game, it was modified in the third title. Most games also feature a journal which is accessible from the main menu. This journal keeps track of information regarding the story, characters, enemies, and locations. In the first three games, the journal is kept by Jiminy Cricket, who was appointed by Queen Minnie as the royal chronicler. In 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, the main characters write their own journal entries.

The games are influenced by their parent franchise, Final Fantasy, and carry its gameplay elements over into their own action-based, hack-and-slash system. Like many traditional role-playing games, Kingdom Hearts features an experience point system which determines character development. As enemies are defeated, the player gains experience which culminates in a "level-up", where the characters grow stronger and gain access to new abilities. The amount of experience is shared with all party members and each character grows stronger as experience is gained.

Creation and Design Edit

Director Tetsuya Nomura also worked as the character designer of the games. Though Disney gave Nomura freedom in the characters and worlds used for the games, he and his staff tried to stay within the established roles of characters and boundaries of the worlds. Nomura has stated that though many of the Disney characters are not normally dark and serious, there were not many challenges making them so for the story, and despite this, their personalities shine because they maintain their own characteristics. When deciding which worlds to include in the game, the development staff tried to take into account worlds with Disney characters that would be interesting and made an effort to minimize any overlap in the overall look and feel of each world.

The inclusion of specific Final Fantasy characters was based on the opinions of both fans and staff. Another criteria for inclusion was whether the staff felt the characters would fit into the storyline and in the Kingdom Hearts universe. Initially, Nomura was hesitant to use characters he did not design, because he was unfamiliar with the background work of those characters. For Kingdom Hearts II, he changed his mind after receiving pressure from his staff. Throughout the development of the games, Nomura has often left certain events and connections between characters unexplained until the release of future games. Nomura did this because he feels that games should have room for fans to speculate and use their imagination. He stated that with speculation, even though a game gets old, people can still be happy with it.

Promotion Edit

The first Kingdom Hearts was announced at E3 in May 2001. Initial details were that it would be a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive and would feature worlds developed by both companies and Disney characters. New characters were designed by Nomura and include Sora, Riku, Kairi, and the Heartless. On May 14, 2002, a press release announced a list of the English voice actors. The list included Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere as the three new characters introduced in the game. It was also announced that many of the Disney characters would be voiced by their original voice actors from their respective Disney films.

An unlockable trailer in the first Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix hinted at the possibility of a sequel. Rumors for a sequel on the PlayStation 2 were spurred in Japan when the Japanese video game site, Quiter, stated that "an internal (and anonymous source) at Square Japan" confirmed that development of Kingdom Hearts II had begun. It was not until Kingdom Hearts II was announced, along with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2003 that rumors were confirmed. Initial details were that it would take place some time after Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which takes place directly after the first game. Other details included the return of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, as well as new costumes. At the 2004 Square Enix E3 Press conference, the producer, Shinji Hashimoto, stated that many mysteries of the first game would be answered.

To help market the games, websites were set up for each game and demos were on display at gaming events. Each game in the main series were also re-released in Japan with additional content and served as canonical updates to the series. The additional content foreshadowed later plot elements in the series. The re-releases of the main series games had the term "Final Mix" added after the title, while Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was re-released as Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and released on the PlayStation 2 with 3D graphics, voice overs during some cutscenes, as well as additional game content.

Audio Edit

Kingdom Hearts Music Score Edit

The music for the video game series was primarily composed by Yoko Shimomura. Kaoru Wada works as the arranger for orchestral music in the Kingdom Hearts series, including orchestral renditions of the main vocal themes and the ending themes. The orchestral music was performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Soundtracks were released for the first and third instalments following the release of their respective games. A compilation soundtrack was later released that included soundtracks for the entire series, including reworked tracks for the re-released Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories.

While the themes for some of the Disney-based worlds are taken directly from their Disney film counterparts, most of them are given entirely original musical scores. In addition to each world having unique background music, each is given its own battle theme rather than having a common theme to cover all fights. Several of the Disney villains get themes based on the film from which they originated, and the final boss of each game has several themes played in the various phases of those fights. The fights with Sephiroth feature Nobuo Uematsu's One-Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII.

The main theme songs for the Kingdom Hearts games were written and performed by Japanese pop star, Utada Hikaru. The two main themes are Hikari, from Kingdom Hearts,Chain of Memories, Birth by Sleep and Re:Coded", and Passion, from Kingdom Hearts II and 385/2 Days. Each song had an English counterpart, Simple and Clean and Sanctuary respectively, for the North American, Final Mix and European releases. Utada was the only singer Tetsuya Nomura had in mind for the first Kingdom Hearts theme song. This marked the first time Utada had produced a song for a video game. Both theme songs reached notable popularity in Japan. On weekly Oricon charts, Hikari hit #1 in 2002 and Passion hit #4 in 2005.

Kingdom Hearts soundtracks Edit

Soundtrack
Kingdom Hearts: Original Soundtrack Complete
Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack
Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and 358/2 Days Original Soundtrack
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Original Soundtrack
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX (Original Soundtrack)
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (Original Soundtrack)

Voice Cast Edit

The Kingdom Hearts games featured well-known voice actors for both the Japanese and English versions. The Japanese version featured Miyu Irino as Sora, Risa Uchida as Kairi, and Mamoru Miyano as Riku. The third game introduced Kōki Uchiyama as Roxas, Iku Nakahara as Naminé, and Genzō Wakayama as DiZ. Other notable voice actors included Kōichi Yamadera, Hideo Ishikawa, Maaya Sakamoto, Takahiro Sakurai, Akio Ōtsuka, Takashi Aoyagi, Yū Shimaka and Shinichirō Miki.

The English release of the Kingdom Hearts games featured an all-star voice cast which included many of the Disney characters' original voice actors. Wayne Allwine (and later Bret Iwan due to Allwine's death), Tony Anselmo, and Bill Farmer voiced Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Several high profile actors provided the voice acting of the main characters. The first game featured Haley Joel Osment as Sora, David Gallagher as Riku, and Hayden Panettiere as Kairi. The third game saw the return of the main character voice actors and added Jesse McCartney as Ventus and Roxas, Brittany Snow as Naminé, and Christopher Lee as Ansem the Wise. Other notable actors included, Steve Burton, Mandy Moore, David Boreanaz, Ming-Na Wen, and James Woods, and most recently, Jason Dohring, Willa Holland, Leonard Nimoy, and Mark Hamill.

Disney Films Featured Edit

Disney Cartoons Featured Edit

  • Steamboat Willie
  • The Fire Fighters
  • Mickey's Orphans
  • Building a Building
  • Gulliver Mickey
  • Mickey's Fire Brigade
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • The Pastoral Symphony
  • Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria
  • Runaway Brain

Disney Live-Movies Featured Edit

Trivia Edit

  • Thirteen is a recurring number throughout the series:
    • It is primarily associated with Organization XIII and, by extension, Mushroom XIII, Finest Fantasy 13, and the thirteen floors of Castle Oblivion.
    • The Director's Secret Report XIII is a thirteen-part exposé by Tetsuya Nomura.
    • Riku's Session Limit includes an ability named "XIII Blades".
    • There are thirteen letters in "Kingdom Hearts".
    • Ars Arcanum consists of thirteen attacks if one includes the follow-up attacks.
    • In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, not counting the additional ones presented in the Final Mix version, the Mirage Arena has thirteen matches.
    • Thirteen Orichalcum+ are required to synthesize Ultima Weapon in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • The sum of all the letters in the names Sora, Riku, and Kairi is thirteen. The same is true for Roxas, Sora, and Xion, and Roxas, Axel and Xion.
    • There are thirteen letters in "Terra-Xehanort" and "Ventus-Vanitas".
    • In the opening FMV of Kingdom Hearts, the letter "M" in the word "Kingdom" surges towards the screen distinctly, with "M" being the thirteenth letter in the alphabet.
    • With the exception of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, in each major installment of the series, the final world is the thirteenth location the player can visit: in Kingdom Hearts, End of the World is the thirteenth world to be seen; in Kingdom Hearts II, The World That Never Was is the thirteenth world, not including 100 Acre Wood or Atlantica; and in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, the Keyblade Graveyard is the thirteenth world if one counts the Destiny Islands.
    • There are thirteen letters in "End of the World", "Hollow Bastion", and "Radiant Garden".
    • In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, there is a System Sector in Hollow Bastion that contains thirteen floors.
    • Sora is "Combatant thirteen" when he faces Rinzler in The Grid.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, there are thirteen Training Toy candies.
    • Following the Keyblade War, the χ-blade is shattered into thirteen darknesses and seven lights.
  • Strangely enough, when 358/2 Days and Re:Coded are played on a Nintendo DSi, the DSi menu description of the game states that Square Enix is the sole publisher, despite being owned completely by Disney.
  • Kingdom Hearts was not the first attempt at a partnership between Disney and Square Enix. There were plans for Disney to distribute a comic book based on Final Fantasy IV (made by Square Co., before it was merged with Enix), although the concept was dropped.

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