- For a more comprehensive take on the Kingdom Hearts game series, please visit the Kingdom Hearts Wiki! Certain links present here automatically take you to the corresponding Kingdom Hearts Wiki page for that term. Multiple spoilers for the series are present here.
Kingdom Hearts is a video game series born as a collaboration between Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft) and Disney. It is an action RPG that includes appearances of characters from the Final Fantasy series and Disney movies, as well as some characters original to the series.
The first titular game was released in 2002 to massive approval and widespread acclaim. Kingdom Hearts was followed by a sequel, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, released in 2004, which connected to Kingdom Hearts II, released a year later. Since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, three more games in the series have been release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS, acting as a prequel to Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep for the PlayStation Portable, acting as a prequel for the entire series, and Kingdom Hearts coded for mobile phones (and later the Nintendo DS), acting as a "bridge game" to the next release in the series. Though it will not be the next game to be released, it has been confirmed that there will be a Kingdom Hearts III.
Much like the International versions of Final Fantasy games, the series also has updated versions of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II known as Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. In Japan, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ was a 2-pack collection that consisted of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and a PS2 remake version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories known as Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories; the latter was later released as a standalone title outside of Japan.
The series contains elements of both action and role-playing games. The games are driven by a linear progression to the next story event, usually told in the form of a cut scene, though there are numerous side quests available that provide bonus benefits to the characters. The player is primarily in control of the principal protagonist of the series, Sora. Sora is usually accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy, who are non-playable characters that aid Sora in battle. Their behavior can be altered to fit the player's needs by pre-set commands that determine how they act in different situations. The games feature real-time combat that incorporate physical attacks, magic, and summonings. Kingdom Hearts II introduced the "Reaction Command" feature, wherein hitting the Triangle button in response to an on-screen prompt at the right time provokes a special reaction, usually a special cinematic attack unique to the enemy being fought.
Gummi Ships are another common theme in the series, though they are only featured in the first and third installment. The Gummi Ships serve as the main mode of transportation between worlds in the games. The gameplay for the Gummi Ships sections is more akin to a rail shooter, where players shoot enemies as they fly along a pre-set course, earning new Gummi parts as they defeat enemies and completing the course to unlock the next worlds. All three games also feature a journal which is accessible from the main menu. The journal keeps track of information regarding the story, characters, enemies, and locations. In the game the journal is kept by Jiminy Cricket, who was appointed by Queen Minnie as the royal chronicler.
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 culminate 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.
The Kingdom Hearts series focuses on the adventures of Sora and his friends, Kairi and Riku. The first game shows how Sora is separated from his friends when their world is invaded by an army of corrupted hearts known as the Heartless. During the invasion, he obtains a special weapon known as a Keyblade, which can seal worlds off from Heartless invasions. Soon after, Sora meets Donald Duck, the Disney Castle court magician, and Goofy, the Disney Castle captain of the royal guard. Donald and Goofy are searching for the "key" per instructions from King Mickey. The three band together and travel to different Disney-themed worlds, sealing the worlds and battling a group of Disney villains led by Maleficent, who controls the Heartless army. It is revealed that the original researcher of the Heartless, Ansem, is the true enemy, his goal to open the door to the world of Kingdom Hearts to obtain absolute power. Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Ansem, and seal the door with the help of Riku and King Mickey on the other side of the door.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the three begin searching for Riku and King Mickey. They encounter a mysterious fortress called Castle Oblivion, and upon entering it lose their memories. As they journey through the castle to reclaim them, a group of dark hooded villains referred to as the Organization attempt to manipulate a girl named Namine to erase Sora's memories and replace them with new ones befitting their plans. After defeating the Organization members controlling the castle, Naminé puts Sora, Donald, and Goofy to sleep for a year to regain their memories. While the three are ascending to the top floor of the castle, Riku and King Mickey arrive in the basement and began traveling to the top as well. Riku fights the darkness in his heart and learns to accept his dual nature between light and dark, departing to continue fighting the Heartless while Sora sleeps.
A year later in Kingdom Hearts II, Sora, Donald, and Goofy awaken and continue their search for Riku and King Mickey. They learn of the Nobodies that Organization XIII controls, and their desire to use the hearts of the Heartless Sora kills to empower Kingdom Hearts to bestow them with hearts of their own. When they meet King Mickey, he reveals the true nature of Ansem, the antagonist of Kingdom Hearts, as the Heartless of Xehanort, a student of Ansem the Wise - Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, is the Nobody of Xehanort. The three arrive at the headquarters of Organization XIII, a castle in the realm of nothingness with Kingdom Hearts looming overhead. At the top of the castle, Sora and his friends defeat Xemnas, and return to their home on Destiny Islands, reunited at last.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days focuses upon the story of Roxas, the thirteenth member of Organization XIII and Sora's Nobody. 358/2 Days takes place during the year between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II while Sora is asleep. As Roxas completes missions for the Organization, he befriends a girl named Xion, the fourteenth member of the Organization who can also use a Keyblade. As the Organization pursues Riku and Mickey, Xion and Roxas begin to question their identities. Roxas later discovers Xion is an imperfect copy of Sora meant to absorb him to become a perfect replica of Sora, and the two battle. Roxas is victorious, and enraged returns to the Organization's world to avenge Xion and destroy Xemnas. Riku intervenes and battles him, defeating Roxas and capturing him for DiZ, setting up the opening of Kingdom Hearts II where Roxas merges with Sora to allow him to awaken fully.
Kingdom Hearts coded takes place after Kingdom Hearts II. Jiminy discovers a message written in his journal that he didn't write; "We must return to free them from their torment." In order to discover the meaning of the message King Mickey digitizes the journal, awakening a virtual Sora on Destiny Islands. The the digital Sora battles both digital enemies and real enemies who have crossed over, it is revealed that Sora must continue his adventures to free the spirits of those connected to his heart, including the three Keyblade apprentices in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. This was originally a Japanese-only release for mobile phones, but will later be released internationally on the Nintendo DS, under the name Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is a prequel set ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep revolves around the disappearance of a Keyblade master, Master Xehanort, and his apprentice Vanitas. Three Keyblade apprentices, Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, are sent to retrieve him and battle enemies known as the Unversed, created by Vanitas from the negative emotions of others. Master Xehanort's plan is to use Vanitas, born from the dark half of Ventus's heart, to create the X-Blade to open the path to Kingdom Hearts. The blade is a success, but the X-Blade is destroyed when Ventus and Aqua defeat Vanitas, and Ventus's weakened heart drifts to Sora and sleeps within Sora's heart to regain its strength. Old and frail, Master Xehanort possesses the body of Terra to see his plan through, the two emerging as a younger Xehanort. Xehanort is later stripped of his memories in a battle with Aqua and sent to Radiant Garden, setting the stage for the discovery of the Heartless and the events leading up to Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts 3D was recently announced. The game will be an entirely new chapter in the series. The game will feature Riku staring alongside Sora as the two main characters of the game. The game will link up the three latest Kingdom Hearts titles released, Kingdom Hearts coded, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
Kingdom Hearts focuses primarily on original characters, interacting with Final Fantasy and Disney characters who inhabit different worlds.
- Sora - The main protagonist of the series, Sora is a young boy who dreams of seeing other worlds. He gets his wish after the Heartless destroy his home and circumstance causes him to team up with Donald and Goofy to search for his friends and the King. After learning more about the true nature of the Keyblade, he journeys to various worlds to defend them from the Heartless and unravel the mysteries surrounding the Keyblade. His name means "sky" in Japanese.
- Riku - Sora's friend and rival who lives with him and Kairi on Destiny Islands. Initially stronger than Sora, he was intended to wield the Keyblade, but he gave in to the darkness in his heart, thus losing the Keyblade to Sora. After initially acting as Sora's enemy, he reformed and came to wield the powers of darkness in the name of good, acquiring his own "dark" Keyblade and returning to help Sora in his battles. His name means "land" or "shore" in Japanese.
- Kairi - A young girl who arrived on Destiny Islands during a meteor shower several years prior to the beginning of the first game. Having vanished when the Islands were destroyed, she was found without her heart later in the first game, but was restored and returned to Destiny Islands. She was later captured by Organization XIII and freed by Riku, and accompanied him and Sora in the Organization's stronghold, refusing to stand by while they fought. Her name is based on the Japanese and Hawaiian word for "ocean" ("kai").
- Roxas - Sora's "Nobody", created when Sora took his own heart in the first game, he is the main character in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Due to Sora being restored shortly after Roxas's birth, Roxas was initially unaware of his origins and had no memories of his past self. Roxas became a member of Organization XIII, but resigned from them when it became apparent that they had no intention of helping him uncover the truth of his existence. He later merged with Sora when the latter awoke from stasis, but re-appeared to fight him later on in Kingdom Hearts II. Being Sora's Nobody, Roxas has the ability to wield the Keyblade, eventually gaining the power to wield two at once and passing the ability on to Sora when they merged. His name is an anagram of Sora with an "X" added to it.
- King Mickey - The ruler of Disney Castle, Mickey took up his own Keyblade to fight the Heartless and the Nobodies and assisted Sora at various intervals with information and power-ups. He knows much more than he tells Sora and his friends but hides this knowledge for his own reasons.
- Donald Duck - The court magician in Disney Castle and a friend of Sora's. He is searching for King Mickey by traveling to various worlds with the Gummi Ship. He's skilled with magic and uses a variety of abilities to enhance his spells.
- Goofy - Captain of the royal guard at Disney Castle and a friend of Sora's. He is also searching for King Mickey. He's very defense-oriented and learns a variety of support abilities to help his allies in battle.
- Terra, Aqua and Ventus - Three Keyblade apprentices training to be masters, they are the protagonists of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. Their adventures and fates at the end of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep directly set the stage for the rest of the series.
Final Fantasy Characterssửa
The majority of the Final Fantasy characters in the series act as "neutral" characters and appear in the worlds that are not based on Disney worlds, specifically Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, Twilight Town and Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden. The exception is Olympus Coliseum, where a handful Final Fantasy characters pass through. The series implies that Radiant Garden is the "Final Fantasy world" within the series, as Leon, Aerith, and Yuffie claim it was their home until it was taken over, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Cid, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth also appear there. In Kingdom Hearts, the cast of Final Fantasy characters was much smaller, with only nine of them playing a major role. This count was increased dramatically in Kingdom Hearts II to over a dozen, and their importance to the storyline also increased. In both games, several of the characters appear in Olympus Coliseum as opponents.
- Setzer from "Final Fantasy VI" - a top "Struggle" fighter and a flashy ladies man.
- Yuffie from "Final Fantasy VII" - one of Leon's allies and a skilled ninja, she helps him fight off the Heartless.
- Aerith from "Final Fantasy VII" - one of Leon's allies and a healer, she assisted in the restoration of Hollow Bastion.
- Cloud from "Final Fantasy VII" - a swordsman with a dark past, he has been hunting Sephiroth across several worlds, seeking to end a mysterious grudge between them. Although he is focused on Sephiroth, he also helps Leon defend Hollow Bastion.
- Cid from "Final Fantasy VII" - a merchant and Gummi ship engineer, he helped Sora build Gummi ships in the first game and oversaw the security systems for the defense of Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts II.
- Tifa from "Final Fantasy VII" - an ally of Leon who is searching for Cloud, she has followed his trail across several worlds and wishes to help him in his battle with Sephiroth. She also assists Leon in the restoration and defense of Hollow Bastion.
- Sephiroth from "Final Fantasy VII" - an evil swordsman wielding strong dark powers, Sephiroth is the embodiment of the darkness in Cloud's heart. Their rivalry has led them to search for and battle each other across several worlds, with neither so far being the victor. Although Sora has fought and defeated Sephiroth twice, Sephiroth survived as apparently only Cloud can truly kill him.
- Zack Fair from "Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-" - a young boy training at Olympus Coliseum in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, he hopes Phil will take him as a pupil and train him to be a hero.
- Squall from "Final Fantasy VIII" - going by the name "Leon", he is the leader of a resistance group against the Heartless. He assisted Sora against them with advice when possible, also taking up arms to defend his group's home from the Heartless when needed.
- Seifer, Raijin, and Fujin from "Final Fantasy VIII" - the disciplinary committee for Twilight Town, they abuse their authority and take a quick dislike to Sora. Seifer is a top street brawler and "Struggle" competitor.
- Selphie from "Final Fantasy VIII" - one of Sora's friends on their home island, she was left behind when Sora, Riku, and Kairi vanished. She plays a minor role in determining the difficulty of the first game during the introductory sequence.
- Vivi from "Final Fantasy IX" - one of Seifer's fans, he is another "Struggle" fighter and admires Seifer's strength.
- Tidus and Wakka from "Final Fantasy X - Two more of Sora's friends, they were left behind at their home when Sora, Riku, and Kairi were lost. They played a minor role in determining the difficulty of the first game during the introductory sequence.
- Auron from "Final Fantasy X" - a dead spirit revived by Hades to defeat Hercules, Auron initially betrayed him and worked with Sora, but was forced to fight Hercules after having his free will stolen. Sora later restored him and the three worked together to defeat Hades, after which Auron departed back to the afterlife.
- Yuna, Rikku, and Paine from "Final Fantasy X-2" - a trio of treasure-hunting pixies, they were initially allied with Maleficent but switched sides on the promise of treasure from Leon and helped him defend Hollow Bastion.
- Moogles from various Final Fantasy games - they run the item and synthesis shops around the various worlds, selling and creating new items for Sora to purchase.
- Wantz from "Final Fantasy X" and Jessie, Biggs, Wedge and Wallace from "Final Fantasy VII" (members of AVALANCHE) appear as shop owners.
Most of the villains in Kingdom Hearts are taken from the various Disney films that are featured in the game. The most notable Disney villain in the series is Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty), and appears at first to be the main villain of the first game. However, it is later revealed that an original character, Xehanort, is the main antagonist of the series. In Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas and Organization XIII are the primary antagonists, although Maleficent and a handful of other Disney villains appear to fight Sora again.
- Xehanort - an apprentice to a man named "Ansem the Wise", ten years prior to the first game Xehanort betrayed his master and cast him into darkness. Xehanort then stole Ansem's name and research into the darkness of the heart for his own purposes. He later was split into a Heartless and a Nobody, which acted as the antagonists of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, respectively.
- Xehanort's Heartless - initially known as "Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness", Xehanort's Heartless believed that darkness was the true essence of a heart and wished to open the path to Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, and claim its power. He was defeated when he accessed Kingdom Hearts but found it a realm of light instead of darkness as he believed, which destroyed him. Oddly, he seemed to be the only Heartless who utilized some form of intelligent thought, rather than instinct.
- Organization XIII - a group of thirteen powerful Nobodies, formerly including Roxas, who conduct research and experiments on hearts as they pursue Kingdom Hearts. As they did not have hearts, they wished to use the power of Kingdom Hearts to bestow hearts on themselves and all Nobodies. Each of their thirteen members has their own fighting style and command over a certain type of Nobody.
- Xemnas - Xehanort's Nobody and the leader of Organization XIII. Xemnas collects the essences of slain Heartless to empower Kingdom Hearts to bestow a heart upon him. As such, those who can use the Keyblade such as Sora and Roxas, are integral to his plan. After being confronted in his castle, he entered Kingdom Hearts and used its power to battle Sora and Riku, but was defeated. Like his Heartless counterpart, he believed hearts were truly made up of hatred and rage, as he could remember no other emotions from his time as a human.
- Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" - the leader of the Disney villains of the first game and a master of dark magic. She wished to capture the seven Princesses of Heart to open the path to Kingdom Hearts, but was defeated by Sora. She was revived in Kingdom Hearts II and tried, with limited success, to regain a foothold into the world since her death. However, the threat of Organization XIII to her plans forced her to assist Sora in fighting them.
- Vanitas - the apprentice of Master Xehanort, created from the extracted darkness originally from Ven's heart by Master Xehanort's Keyblade to further his plan to create the X-Blade. Master Xehanort decided to create Vanitas because Ventus, his former apprentice, was too reluctant to use his darkness in battle. Vanitas's birth sparked the threat of the Unversed as a side effect of his existence.
- Master Xehanort - a Keyblade master and the original incarnation of Xehanort. He serves as the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and eventually merges his heart with Terra's body, becoming the younger Xehanort seen in Kingdom Hearts II that eventually becomes a Nobody and a Heartless.
The Heartless are living beings, whose hearts were corrupted by darkness, and they play the roles of the "common enemies" Sora and party must defeat. They exist for no other purpose than to consume hearts, be it the hearts of other living beings or even that of entire worlds. If someone loses their heart to a Heartless, they themselves become one. The stronger the heart of the person who became a Heartless, the stronger their Heartless will be. Unlike Nobodies, Heartless are driven only by primitive instinct to attack and steal hearts, and most have no true intelligence.
When a Heartless is created, the empty shell may reform into a Nobody. By comparison, Nobodies are rarer than Heartless due to the shell having to have a strong heart to reform, but they are typically much stronger. They are also capable of speech and thought, and the members of Organization XIII are all exceptionally intelligent and powerful Nobodies. As they have no hearts, they do not truly exist and cannot feel emotions, but a few that retain memories of when they had hearts can "fake it" and act as if they do, except for Roxas and Namine, who despite not having hearts possess real emotions, because their original selves, Sora and Kairi, are still intact and living (Sora was restored by Kairi after she figured out that he became a Heartless to release her heart); this however robbed them of their memories of being their original selves.
The main enemies of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, they are embodiments of the negative emotions in the hearts of others, and are extensions of Vanitas, who has the power to create them. They are the precursors to the Heartless and the Nobodies, and vanish from existence when Vanitas is defeated by Aqua and Ventus.
Connections to the Final Fantasy seriessửa
Besides the numerous characters from the Final Fantasy series that appear, several other aspects of the series directly influence the gameplay of Kingdom Hearts. The spells of the game are all named after Final Fantasy spells, such as Curaga, Firaga, and Reflect. There are Summon spells that can call allies into battle, using mechanics similar to the summon sequences of Final Fantasy X. Although the summons are all Disney characters, a Bahamut summon was meant to be in the original game but was later removed for unknown reasons. Several weapons are named after Final Fantasy weapons, including the Ultima Weapon, Fenrir, and Save the Queen. Items like the Hi-Potion, Tent, and Ether also appear with similar functions to the Final Fantasy series. The various Gummi ships used to travel between worlds are also named after Final Fantasy ships and concepts, and include Highwind, Falcon, and Invincible.
Ability Points are used to assign various special attacks and support powers to party members. In Kingdom Hearts there are special attacks that could be considered to be limits, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Limit Breaks they appear as techniques that allow Sora and an ally to unleash a series of powerful attacks at the cost of all Sora's MP. Some of these Limit Breaks, like Bushido and Comet, take their name from Final Fantasy games. Moogles, recurring creatures in the Final Fantasy Universe, also run various Synthesis shops that allow Sora to trade in certain materials to create powerful rare items. In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, status effects such as Poison, Silence, Regen and Auto-Life were introduced.
There are three victory poses that Sora displays at the end of each match in Olympus Coliseum, two of which are the victory poses of Final Fantasy protagonists Cloud and Squall from their respective games. Roxas' victory pose in 358/2 Days is also based on Squall's. Riku's battle stance is similar to Cecil's while he was a Dark Knight in Final Fantasy IV, and his weapon is called the Soul Eater, which is the typical ability of Dark Knights. Riku begins by using the powers of darkness but comes to terms with his dark powers and learns to wield the powers of light as well, and to reflect this, his Soul Eater weapon later changes into a Keyblade that has both angel and demon wings on it, representing both light and darkness, which parallels Cecil's development in Final Fantasy IV as he becomes a holy Paladin and his weapon changing. The Organization XIII members each command a type of Nobody named after a Final Fantasy job, such as Dragoon or Berserker. The Organization members themselves also roughly fit such profiles - for example, Zexion can mimic the attacks of enemies similar to a Blue Mage, and can create "copies" or illusions of himself like an Illusionist. Each member also controls one element, such as Water, Light, and Earth. Besides Nobodies, several Heartless are named for Final Fantasy enemies, such as the Behemoth and Darkside. Several enemies also masquerade as pots or jars until attacked, or hide in treasure chests and attack when they are opened, a reference to mimics and Monster-in-a-boxes.
Kingdom Hearts was the first game to feature Sephiroth with a single black wing behind his right shoulder, an element of his appearance that was later included in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. In Kingdom Hearts II when Auron turns towards the Underworld in the game's ending he fades into a cloud of Pyreflies, like he did when he was sent by Yuna in the ending of Final Fantasy X. Elements of the battle systems of Kingdom Hearts are present in Dissidia Final Fantasy, where attacks can be linked together and chained depending on the timing of the player's button commands, and Quickmove indicators allow players to climb walls and leap long gaps, similar to Reaction Commands and using the same button to activate.
- Kingdom Hearts was the last game produced by Squaresoft before its merger with Enix.
- Kairi is featured in Dead Fantasy, where she fights alongside Rinoa Heartilly, Yuna, Rikku and Tifa Lockhart against characters from the Dead or Alive series.
- Cloud is the only Final Fantasy character to be featured as a summon in the Kingdom Hearts series.