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Kingdom Hearts (game)

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This article is about the original game. For other uses, see Kingdom Hearts (disambiguation).
Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts Logo KH.png
Kingudamu Hātsu
Developer(s) Square Co., Ltd.
Publisher(s) Japan Square Co., Ltd.
United States/Canada Square EA, Disney Interactive
Europe/Australia Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date(s) Japan March 28, 2002
United States/Canada September 17, 2002
Europe November 15, 2002
Australia November 22, 2002
Genre Action RPG
Game modes Single player
Ratings ESRB:EveryoneEveryone
USK: 6+
ELSPA: 11+
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
"You never know who you'll run into next."

Kingdom Hearts is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series. Revolving around a fourteen-year-old boy named Sora, it details his adventures after his homeworld is destroyed by sinister creatures known as the Heartless, and his attempts to restore his world and reunite with his friends. He meets many characters from classic Disney films and a handful from the Final Fantasy video game series. The main theme song for the game is "Simple and Clean", performed by Utada Hikaru.

Chronologically, Kingdom Hearts follows Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, takes place during Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- and takes place before Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, as well as partially overlapping with Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.


During the late 1990's and into the early 2000's, video game developer and producer Squaresoft was in a financially rocky position. Their first quarterly loss since going public on the stock market was published on February 8, 2001 and their value continued to decrease for several quarters after. This is largely due to increasingly expensive and risky ventures that did not gain back its investment, including underperforming titles and the ballooning costs of their floundering Square Pictures feature film subsidiary. Square was also in negotiations with with fellow game publisher Enix since 2000, but negotiations stalled after the failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within made Enix wary of merging. Sony ended up buying a 20% stake in the company to bail them out on the grounds that their games would be exclusive to PlayStation consoles for several years. Square had the occasional success story like Final Fantasy X, but it just wasn't enough to stay afloat.

During these trying times, Squaresoft executive Shinji Hashimoto and Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi had conversations about needing a game like Super Mario 64, as in an open-world game that would wow the masses and sell a massive amount of copies, but bemoaned that only a company like Disney has characters that could rival the popularity of Mario. Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura overheard these conversations and volunteered to create this project. By a stroke of luck, Square and Disney of Japan shared an office building at the time. Hashimoto would have a chance encounter with a Disney executive in an elevator which allowed him to pitch the concept of using Disney properties in this game, which was eventually approved in 2000.

While Square was given a surprising amount of freedom on what Disney properties are used and how, they still tried their hardest to make sure nothing felt jarring or out of character. A conflict did arise when deciding on a protagonist. The Square developers wanted Donald Duck while Disney wanted Mickey Mouse. Nomura decided to create a compromise by having the protagonist be an original character, which eventually became Sora. All parties agreed to these terms, with Disney's only stipulation that they own the copyright to all characters, settings, and assets original to the series.

The storyline and narrative would be helmed by Nomura as his first director and lead writer credit, and Disney gave him a surprising amount of freedom in the storyline as well. The story was originally planned to be a simple narrative of a hero saving the damsel in distress from a big villain, a common format meant to appeal to Disney's core audience. However, Sakaguchi intervened and thought the story would be too simple for the average Final Fantasy fan, who would make up a significant amount of the player base by virtue of its crossover premise. Nomura took this advice and decided to elevate the storyline to better appeal to these fans.

The game eventually released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 on March 28, 2002. The game then released in North America on September 17 of that year, and is notable for containing extra content cut from the initial release due to time constraints. This content includes new optional bosses – one of which, Kurt Zisa, was named after the winner of the official website's "Name-In-Game" sweepstakes – an extra difficulty level, and a teaser of Kingdom Hearts II accessible by meeting certain criteria. This version of the game was re-released in Japan with even more content added in as Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which has been used for every subsequent re-release.


Sora, Riku, and Kairi ponder if other worlds exist.

Sora finds himself guided by a mysterious voice in a stained-glass void, the Dive to the Heart, which foreshadows the events that will soon take place. He ends up being swallowed by the Darkside Heartless, and is awakened by Kairi on the beach of Destiny Islands, revealing it was a nightmare. Riku motivates them to continue working on their raft in order to explore new worlds. While fetching supplies in a secret cave, Sora encounters a mysterious hooded figure who ominously speaks that this "world" has been connected and tied to the darkness. He accuses Sora of lacking knowledge and then disappears.

One night, the islands are attacked by the Heartless. Sora seeks out his friends, finding Riku first; Riku disappears into darkness, curious about what it contains. Soon after, Sora obtains a mysterious weapon, the Keyblade, to defend himself. Using it to fend off the creatures, he heads for the secret cave, where he finds Kairi near a door. She turns to him, saying his name as the door behind her blows open. The ensuing blast of darkness sends Kairi towards Sora, she disappears before Sora could catch her. After the same blast knocks Sora out of the cave, he fights the creature from his nightmare. A gravitational pull sucks Sora up into the sky and into the void as the Islands now destroyed.

Meanwhile, King Mickey Mouse has left his world to deal with the increasing power of darkness and left instructions for mage Donald Duck and knight Goofy to find and follow the "key". Donald and Goofy use a Gummi Ship to travel to Traverse Town, where Sora has also ended up. Sora encounters the creatures again in the town, and eventually meets Leon, demanding the Keyblade. After a fight, Leon explains the identity of the creatures that attacked him. They are known as Heartless, and that they are creatures that consume hearts (and eventually whole worlds). He further points out that the Keyblade is the only weapon capable of defeating them. The king of Leon's home world, a man named Ansem, is said to have studied the Heartless but now missing. Donald and Goofy are approached by Leon's ally Aerith, who also tells them what they may be looking for. Soon after, Sora meets Donald and Goofy rather hastily, and the three work together to take down a large Heartless.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy decide to search worlds for Mickey, Riku, and Kairi.

From there, they decide to travel together: Donald and Goofy to find Mickey, and Sora to find Kairi and Riku. The three travel to various worlds based on Disney films, finding that the Keyblade also locks "Keyholes", passages that the Heartless use to take the heart of the world. A group of villains, led by Maleficent, seek out the seven Princesses of Heart to unlock the Keyhole that leads to Kingdom Hearts, a repository of knowledge and power and the source of all hearts. This group now includes Riku, who is swayed by Maleficent's promises that she will help find Kairi. She also sows distrust in Riku, telling him that Sora has abandoned him and Kairi for new friends and the Keyblade. An increasingly antagonistic Riku manages to find Kairi's body, but her heart is missing.

Sora and his friends eventually arrive at Hollow Bastion, the home world of Ansem and the headquarters of Maleficent. Riku takes the Keyblade from Sora, claiming that he was fated to have it all along and Sora was simply the "delivery boy". Donald and Goofy, taking their order to follow the "key" seriously, reluctantly leave with Riku. Sora calls on his courage and enters the Bastion anyway, then challenges Riku again, stating that his heart derives strength from his friends. His friends return to him, as does the Keyblade. Shamed by defeat, Riku flees and meets a cloaked man who goads him to give into the darkness.

Ansem, Seeker of Darkness - possessing Riku's body - addresses the existence of other worlds and their connections.
Riku, possessed by Ansem, showing Maleficent the Keyblade of heart.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy destroy Maleficent. They encounter a strangely-behaving Riku with a new Keyblade that unlocks hearts called the Keyblade of heart. He leads them to Kairi's living but unfeeling body; Riku then reveals himself as completely possessed by Ansem. The newly reformed Ansem explains that Kairi is the last Princess of Heart, and that her missing heart has been trapped within Sora's body since the destruction of Destiny Islands. Spurred to action, Sora defeats Ansem; however, he cannot seal Hollow Bastion's Keyhole because Kairi's heart is still in his body, thus the keyhole remains incomplete. Sora uses Ansem's Keyblade to unlock his heart, releasing both his and Kairi's heart, but turning him into a Heartless. Kairi's heart returns to her body, in turn completing the final Keyhole; she then returns Sora to human form by the strength of her heart. The group resolves to follow and end Ansem's plan.

Ansem pontificates on darkness to Sora.
Ansem talks about his views on darkness to Sora on Destiny Islands.

By this time, Ansem has retreated to the End of the World, the combined fragments of worlds taken by the Heartless. Sora and his friends pursue Ansem and eventually find him at the world's core, formed from the ruins of Destiny Islands. There, Ansem explains that Riku viewed his lonely island as a prison, and his yearning to be free made him vulnerable to the darkness. He gives a short sermon about the heart's connection to darkness before attacking, but is beaten back. He falls back to the abyss surrounding the Door to Darkness, where he declares his intention to claim Kingdom Hearts for himself and merges with his battleship, the World of Chaos, for one final fight. Despite temporarily capturing Donald and Goofy, Ansem falls to Sora and desperately reaches out to Kingdom Hearts, begging it to empower him with its darkness. However, as the doors open, Ansem is shocked to learn that Kingdom Hearts is made not of darkness, but of light, and its power vaporizes him.

Beyond the door are Mickey and Riku, back in control of his own body. They help Sora and the others close the door, as there are many Heartless beyond it, but Riku and Mickey must remain inside to help seal it. Riku asks Sora to take care of Kairi. Mickey and Sora then use their Keyblades to lock the door.

Sora promises Kairi that he will return to her.

The destroyed worlds reconstruct themselves; Kairi is pulled back to the Destiny Islands, but Sora promises before separating they will all reunite some day. Sora, Donald, and Goofy resolve to find Riku and Mickey, though they are unsure of where to start. Luckily, Pluto appears, clutching a letter from Mickey in his mouth; he runs off with Sora, Donald, and Goofy in tow, ready for a new set of adventures. The silent narrator from the beginning of the game states in the final scene that Sora's destiny is to open the door to light. Meanwhile, Kairi finds a drawing in the secret cave of Sora giving her a Paopu Fruit; Kairi weeps in happiness and reciprocates the drawing.


Sora fighting a Heartless using fire magic.

Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG with hack and slash gameplay. It has a lot of features with other JRPGs, such as equipment and accessory customization, magic spells, HP, MP, EXP, etc. Sora attacks with a Keyblade which can change form once Keychains are found. Equipping abilities uses AP, meaning the player must choose certain abilities instead of all of them.

In the beginning of the game, by choosing between the Dream Sword, Dream Shield and Dream Rod, the player can choose a growth path that fits their play style—choosing the sword will prioritize abilities that strengthen Sora's offense, while choosing the rod will prioritize abilities that strengthen magic. However, all this changes is the order in which these abilities are learned. Choosing which weapon to keep and sacrifice will also affect Sora's starting stats. The player will be asked three questions which will affect how fast they level up.

Sora is the only directly controlled character, while Donald and Goofy are controlled by AI, although the player can adjust their AI behavior so that they use items and abilities more or less frequently. Because there can only be three party members at a time, the player may swap them out with others, such as Aladdin or Jack Skellington, but only in their respective world. For example, Jack can not become a party member in Agrabah. While the player can stick to Donald and Goofy, the player will need Aladdin in their party during the Cave of Wonders segment in Agrabah to progress.

A Gummi Ship segment.

There are colored Trinity marks which are scattered throughout the worlds. Donald and Goofy must be in the party to activate them, and the color of the Trinity must be obtained through story progress. Note that if playing the original version of the game, there is a permanently missable Red Trinity mark in Halloween Town. There are also 99 Puppies scattered throughout worlds; returning them to Pongo and Perdita in Traverse Town will result in rewards.

The player travels between worlds in a Gummi Ship. The player must ride the Gummi Ship upon visiting new worlds, although it is possible to install a "warp" function for the Gummi Ship which warps the ship to worlds already found.

Worlds and characters[edit]

Dive to the Heart
Destiny Islands
Disney Castle Symbol - Crown.png
Traverse Town
Olympus Coliseum
Deep Jungle
Halloween Town
100 Acre Wood
Hollow Bastion
End of the World
The World That Never Was Symbol - Crown.png
Dark World Symbol - Crown.png

Other releases[edit]

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix[edit]

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is an extended version of Kingdom Hearts. Released only in Japan for PlayStation 2, it uses most of the revisions made for the North American and European releases. It features other additions to the original game: a Final Fantasy X-2 trailer (named "Special Movie") on the main menu, three new Difficulty Levels: Beginner, Standard, and Proud mode, new types of Heartless and palette swaps for most returning Heartless, new Keychains and items, and a new secret boss that appears in Hollow Bastion, known only as "Unknown". It also features an expansion of the secret movie from the first game, Another Side, Another Story [deep dive], foreshadowing more of Kingdom Hearts II.

HD remaster[edit]

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix was re-released in high definition as part of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX for PlayStation 3, and later, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The abilities Zero EXP and Combo Master were added to the game. The Summons menu was moved to the fourth Command Menu slot and the context-sensitive command that occupied that slot was replaced with Reaction Commands. The right analog stick controls the camera instead of the L2 and R2 buttons, similar to Kingdom Hearts II. In addition, cutscenes can be skipped now. The Final Fantasy X-2 trailer that occupied the third slot on the game's opening menu is replaced with a Back command to return to the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX game select menu. Among the models replaced, Cinderella, Aurora, and Snow White's were replaced with their models from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.

External links[edit]