Out of nostalgia I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts 2.8 and… I’m really not enjoying it. I’m seeing it through for old times sake, but really it has me thinking about the golden days of the first Kingdom Hearts game.
I guess I must have been 13 when I first played Kingdom Hearts and it was one of my favourite games. I replayed it multiple times, I could not get enough of it. And yes, I was aware of how batshit crazy the premise of the game was, but it the moment of playing it, I was lost in the world. No matter which Disney characters appeared on the screen, Sora and I interacted with them earnestly because the game was so good.
For those who have never played the Square Enix game, in a nutshell, it’s Final Fantasy meets Disney, with a heavy handed use of the ‘power of friendship’ trope mixed in. And it’s glorious. The game follows a young boy Sora, who is transported from his island home in a storm to another, strange word. In his search for his friends (Kairi and Riku), Sora meets Donald Duck and Goofy. Together the three travel to different Disney worlds, defeating the darkness in them with the mystical weapon Sora weald, the Keyblade. And they’re also looking for King Mickey.
As bizzaro as the game sounds, it’s really lovely. Full of musings on the nature of darkness, the power of hearts, and the importance of love and friendship. Kingdom Hearts has a beautiful soundtrack (Simple and Clean is an amazing song, fight me), but what really caught me was the design elements – namely the different Keyblades that Sora gains along his adventures.
It’s pretty obvious that the dev team on this game loved it, and put a lot of thought and work into it. The worlds are beautiful, but the boss fights are some of the most memorable moments in the game. Fighting Chernabog (the bat/devil thing from Fantasia), Sora’s darkness, Ansem, and Maleficent as a Dragon were all some of my favourites.
I may not be enjoying Kingdom Hearts 2.8 so far, but the chance to remember fondly so beloved gaming memories makes it worth it.