Why Kingdom Hearts is Unfairly Criticised

Is Kingdom Hearts still at the top of its game? Or has it fell by the wayside?

Kingdom Hearts, the series that we all know and love, is constantly being bombarded with hate and complaints about many aspects of the series itself. If the naysayers aren’t going on about button-mashing gameplay mechanics, they’re saying there’s too much Disney or that there are too many side games, the story is convoluted and too many characters have look-a-likes.

But does Kingdom Hearts really deserve all the flack? Can it really be that confusing? What’s a Ven and why does it look like Roxas, who looks like Sora? Wait… what?

What’s Wrong with Mashing?

I find that one of the first things someone complains about in regards to Kingdom Hearts as a whole is the battle system. Quite frankly, I found the battle system of Kingdom Hearts to be one of its main draws. Having complete control at all times is really great, and being able to carefully attack or go buck wild makes me feel even more in control. Yet you hear people claim that Kingdom Hearts is only “a glorified button masher” and that the system tends to make the games too easy. To some extent, those critics are right, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

The Lingering Spirit of Vanitas battle from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Tell me you beat him by just mashing attack and I won't believe you.

While you do mash a lot to attack, there are a lot of other aspects to battles in Kingdom Hearts. All of your movement abilities such as jumping, dodge rolling and gliding definitely come into play and they add a sense of skill to battles. Especially when it comes to the more difficult bosses of the series, using these skills are vital to simply surviving, never mind beating whichever boss you’re up against.

Still, the general difficulty of Kingdom Hearts may need to be upped a bit. I don’t just mean enemies having more HP and dealing more damage. Enemies need to become more ruthless and inspire players to use more skills to defeat them rather than just mash the attack button with reckless abandon. For now though, for many people, the improvements made in Birth by Sleep as well as Re:coded have managed to sway even some of the biggest Kingdom Hearts naysayers. Let’s hope these improvements continue in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3D and Kingdom Hearts 3.

Story Issues

So there’s this guy named Ansem who tries to plunge the entire world into darkness. But wait, he’s actually Xehanort’s Heartless and now there’s Xemnas who’s the Nobody of Xehanort who’s trying to gain extreme power from Kingdom Hearts but the real Ansem now goes by the name of DiZ or “Ansem the Wise” and he’s trying to stop Xemnas. But wait, Xehanort’s Heartless was created from Xehanort but Xehanort is actually Terra except it’s not Terra it’s just his body and Xehanort is inside him but he lost his memory somewhat and now that leads us back to Xehanort becoming a Heartless–let’s stop right there.

It’s clear to see why people complain about the confusing and convoluted storyline with that alone. There is definitely a lot going on and you may need a map to simply understand what’s going on in one game and an illustrated family tree just to see who’s who and why they look like someone else–never mind the entire series thus far.

Xion from Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. “Complex” doesn’t quite cover it.

There really is no excuse for this one. Series Director Tetsuya Nomura’s first ideas for Nobodies extend back to when the first Kingdom Hearts game was being made. Thanks to the characters’ complexities, people wanted to know about their Somebodies and so that was touched upon in Birth by Sleep. So now we know that there was always a reason why Sora’s Nobody, Roxas, looked so radically different! Of course, the series antagonist Xehanort and all his look-a-like drama had to be explained in Birth by Sleep, too.

Then there’s the Riku Replica, Xion, in 358/2 Days and all her Sora/Kairi resemblanceness (not a word, I know), also Data Sora and Data Riku in Re:coded. Not to mention the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3D features KH1 versions of Sora and Riku–what’s that about? So help us, if they end up being replicas for any reason…

I think the main point here is that Nomura uses the look-a-like plot element a little too much and probably needs to stop at this point. Hopefully it will all end once the “Xehanort Saga” is finished.

The Spin-Offs

Last but not least, many people argue that there are just way too many spin-offs in the Kingdom Hearts series, and they do bring up a valid point. Currently there are more spin offs in the Kingdom Hearts series than there are main titles. What the heck is going on here? Why can’t they just make Kingdom Hearts 3 already?!

With a total of 5 spin-off titles, likely with more to come, have they milked the cow too much?

While we’ve established that the series itself can be a little confusing sometimes, what better way to clear up the confusion than to make new games explaining it all? The side games have always been fun and exciting supplements to the Kingdom Hearts story as a whole. But playing them has never been fully necessary in order to enjoy and understand the series’ main titles. However, if you ever wanted to expand your knowledge, you could do it in the form of any number of fun Kingdom Hearts titles.

One problem with the spin-offs though is that, while they explain and tie up many loose ends, they always manage to create even more mysteries in the process. Main titles have the right to leave off on excellent cliffhangers and end with loose ends, but the spin-offs? Give us a break, Nomura.

Nomura: (Laughs)

When it comes down to it, Kingdom Hearts sells and, hey, Square Enix needs to make money. Can we really blame them for allowing the release of so many games with the Kingdom Hearts name slapped on them when they sell like hot cakes?

The Good and the Bad of Kingdom Hearts

Like most things in life, Kingdom Hearts has its ups and downs, pros and cons. You have to agree that as Kingdom Hearts fans we are spoiled with a rich story and many games over a few different platforms to play our favorite series on. There is honestly nothing about Kingdom Hearts that I have real complaints about. As for the naysayers out there? Some accept Kingdom Hearts‘ idiosyncrasies and just deal with them. The others? Haters gonna hate.

Do you think the KH Series is still on form?

What are your thoughts on the recent years of the Kingdom Hearts series? Are you still as big as a fan as you use to be, or are you itching your head wondering why we are still waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3.