As the KH3 release approaches, the Kingdom Hearts fans here at Hypable have come together to appreciate one of the most wonderful fandoms.
I really hope that Kingdom Hearts 3 turns out to be one of the best games of all time, and even if it does trip every now and again, the wait will all have been worth it.
The best thing about being a part of any fandom is the connections we are treated to. Finding your favorite artist, fanfic writer, or AMV creator is such a reward. You’ve invested time, energy, and tears into your playthroughs, and now that you’ve completed a game, the world of story elements and character relationships is your oyster.
The glue that binds Kingdom Hearts fans together is strong, and has often given flight to lifelong friendships. It’s the perfect dose of nostalgia and new story elements that never fails at grabbing players right from the start. If you’ve played a Kingdom Hearts game and didn’t enjoy it at all, then it could be that you didn’t play it with your future best friends.
I’ve often compared the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 to something akin to a major fandom relationship like Stucky from Captain America or perhaps Lukealai back in Gilmore Girls coming to fruition. Just like in Stucky’s case, it may have seemed like it was never going to happen. However, like Lukealai, KH3 shockingly did happen.
Hypable’s Kingdom Hearts fans have penned emotional love letters to the series to show just how much the series means to us. We speak from the heart, because these games have developed us as humans.
Mitch – ‘Geek Days in the sun’
When I first picked up Kingdom Hearts 1 from a local Walmart, I had literally no idea what I was getting into. I’d seen some commercials for the title, and was confused about what the story was, but it looked so pretty.
I loved that it felt like I was playing an adult game, because in my house, if a title was rated “T for Teen” and I was 12 or under, the game was not allowed. Luckily, Kingdom Hearts I snuck by with an “E for Everyone” rating, which, for this ESRB aficionado (I know, I need better hobbies), was a brave decision from the game rating board. It’s a violent and sad title, despite it’s perky Disney shell. This is, at its heart, a Final Fantasy title aimed at a slightly younger crowd.
The graphics looked so real and beautiful to me, especially the intro movie cutscene. I loved the song and graphics so much that I reset my PlayStation 2 six times in a row just to get the opportunity to see it again. Remember, this was 2002, which was well before YouTube was popularized for all sorts of gameplay uploads. To me, this was cutting edge technology, and my world was never going to be the same.
Never having played a real-time action RPG, I was pretty quick at picking up the clunky camera controls and complicated menu systems; however, the magic seemed inaccessible to me, other than healing. Jamming on the shortcut L1 + X for my Curaga spell became something of an inside joke between myself and the friends that I played the game with. “El-one ex, quick! Quick!”
It took me quite a while to get through the meat of Kingdom Hearts 1‘s story. I never really played a longer RPG like this, save for the Pokémon games. The fact that a game could take weeks, no, months to beat was so out of this world. As a child, I’d always wanted games to be as long as possible. It felt like my allowance money was being spent in the most economical way if it was to play for much longer than I had anticipated.
There are two specific memories I have that stand out strongest in my initial Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 playthroughs, both involving ice-cream. The first is of a mid-summer day, well into the period of time wherein one forgets the day of the week. I finally got to Neverland, and was showing my cousin just how cool this Disney game was. Kairi was held captive by Riku, and felt so close, yet so far away from Sora’s loving arms. The cutscene played, but the Ice Cream Truck bell started to chime. “Let’s go get some Sonic ice-cream, and then let’s go save Kairi!!!” said my cousin. That was the sweetest ice-cream I’ve ever eaten.
The second is an instance wherein that same cousin and I wanted to show our new friend the beauty that was the recently released Kingdom Hearts 2. We decided to make a day out of it, with us zipping through the beautiful intro cutscene so that we could show her how epic the story was. We thought that the Sea Salt Ice-Cream looked delicious, so we deiced to gather the ingredients we’d need to make some for ourselves. It… tasted like eggs. As the sun was setting, the three of us went out to the local falls to make a promise to each other: that we’d “never forget how fun today was,” and that we’d “stay friends forever.” We didn’t, and we did.
Kingdom Hearts 3 means so much more to me than the conclusion of the Xehanort saga. To me, it means summer days of ice-cream (hopefully not of the sea-salt variety), saving the princess, and fighting against evil with my best friends in the world. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look at Kingdom Hearts 3 with rose-tinted glasses. If I hold through with that promise, I’d be utterly shocked.
I recently listened to the full version of “Face My Fears” in Japanese, and was instantly transported back to those sweet summer days of childhood. Much like when Sora teared up as he said goodbye to Roxas’ friends at the train station, I was filled with so many happy and sad emotions. I cried, because I was overwhelmed at the thought that a major piece of my childhood, nay, my life was coming to a close.
I know that I’ll cry through approximately 80% of Kingdom Hearts 3. I’ll have to play through it at least 10 times to feel like I’ve gotten the full effect of what the story was trying to convey to me. If you didn’t get it by now, yeah, KH3 is a big deal.
Let’s experience all of the joy and heartbreak in KH3 together. We’ve waited, it’s here, it’s done. Kingdom Hearts 3 is real, as will be my love for the series for the rest of my life.
Donya – ‘An instant and enduring love’
It was a foregone conclusion that, when Kingdom Hearts first released, I would snap it up at my earliest convenience. For anyone who knew me back in my early teens — and, really, anyone who knows me today — it was a given that anything even vaguely related to the Final Fantasy series of games would be in my possession.
I poured hour after hour into playing, wanting to unlock every last secret, complete every side quest, and spend as many of my waking moments with the characters I absolutely loved and adored. Kingdom Hearts was a natural progression of that obsession, as it promised to return a few of my favorites — and, look, you add anyone from Final Fantasy IX to anything and I’m sold — alongside one of my other long time loves: Disney.
So, despite being released dangerously close to Christmas, I was graciously allowed to pick up a copy using my hard-earned pocket money, and start playing it. And oh, was I ever glad that I did.
Though the return of staple characters like Cloud, Squall, Aerith and Vivi, alongside several Disney princesses, were the initial draw, I immediately fell under the spell of Sora, Riku and Kairi. Those first initial moments spent with the core trio on Destiny Islands were enough to seal my fate — one that ensured I would follow them through every single adventure they embarked on, thick-and-thin, and across platform, after platform, after platform.
Playing Kingdom Hearts was, for me, a solitary experience. Most every RPG — of the Japanese kind, or otherwise — I played was. I didn’t have many friends, at that time, who would share in that experience with me. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every up-and-down that the characters went through, so too did I. I laughed along with them, I cried, I loved, I despaired.
And later, when I moved away from home for the first time, it became a common thread between myself and some budding friendships that would stand the test of time over the years. We played, an replayed, the games, sat together, laughing and joyous, in my university home. We made sea-salt ice-cream. We tried to make sense of the timeline, as more and more games joined the continuity, and we waited not-so-patiently for the third installment to materialise.
Kingdom Hearts, in all its iterations, and for all its quirky features, became quickly dear to me, as it did to so many other people. Hikaru Utada’s “Simple & Clean” — or, “Hikari” — was in regular rotation on any and every playlist I had. (And, I’m pretty sure, my parents got sick of hearing me sing it at every waking opportunity, up until I moved away.)
It feels strange, after waiting for so many years, that Kingdom Hearts 3 is barely days away from being in my hands. That, finally, we’ll get a conclusion to a story that has been building since I was 14. Diving back into the world of Sora, Riku, Kairi, and everyone, for one last time is a bittersweet emotion, and I’m not entirely sure that I’m ready for it. As, much like Mitch, just listening to “Face My Fears” was enough to make me break out into gross sobbing, a theme that will likely carry through until I complete the game.
But, this time, for the first time, I’ll have some of my fellow Hypable writers — my friends — along for the ride, as we scream at each other from across an ocean. A different experience, to be sure, but one that will be just as important and memorable to me in the years to come.
Kristen – ‘It all started with a gift under the Christmas tree…’
I can’t think about Kingdom Hearts without remembering the many times I have played the original game (and the 2005 sequel) through with my little brother. We’re almost 10 years apart, so our dynamic has changed over the years, but our love of this classic game has never wavered.
It all started with a Christmas present. I’m pretty sure that I saw ads about the game, and any chance to be more immersed into the wonderful worlds of my favorite Disney movies was a chance I was going to take. The game was wrapped and under the tree for me that Christmas, and we were playing an hour later. I think we spent 8 or so hours total that day winding our way through the game, playing levels and completing every last bit we could.
Over the years, video games have become a way for my youngest brother and me to seamlessly spend time together. Sure we watch football games and movies and hang out a million other ways, but when we really just need some time to relax and be brother and sister, we break out a game. Whether it’s Kingdom Hearts or Spyro or one of a handful of others we’ve picked up over the years, it’s our thing.
And now, we have a whole new game to dive into. Kingdom Hearts 3 arrives in just under a week and my brother and I have scheduled two whole days of our busy lives to spend wrapped up in the boss battles and side quests. We will probably order pizza and chug pop and stay yolked to the TV for as much of those two days as possible, because, now that we’re both adults with jobs and responsibilities, it’s more fun than ever to shove all that aside for something as wonderful as a video game.
So next week, if I’m notably absent from the world for a couple days, you’ll know where I am. I’ll be kicking some Heartless/Nobody ass and completely immersed in a world of characters I’ve loved for so long with my brother by my side for every second.
‘Kingdom Hearts’ fans, what are your thoughts going into ‘KH3’?
Kingdom Hearts 3 releases for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 29, 2019.