The 4 Things that Made Kingdom Hearts Great

SakuChan goes back to basics to remember what made Kingdom Hearts great

Tetsuya Nomura, the creator of Kingdom Hearts, has gotten a lot of slack these days about his progress on KH, or rather, lack of progress in terms of the main storyline and gameplay progression.

Indeed, each successive spin-off appears to meet colder and more critical reception. The storyline becomes more convoluted, the worlds more repetitive, and the fans have long since wondered: where can all this be going?

On the other hand, with the arrival of Birth by Sleep to, we awake again to the magic that comes with being granted a giant key. It’s a good time to fan the embers and look back on our long-time relationship with KH and the things we fell in love with.

3, 2, 1, fight! Gameplay

KH is not an RPG, it is not an action game-it is the blissful, frantic union of two proven methods that will help you rise from zero to hero. Menu-based skill and accessory customization keeps you up to speed  with your personalized play, while those who eager for some active dodge-roll action are not disappointed.

As if that’s not enough, you can even take to the skies on a little fairy dust.

There is something for everybody and once you’ve hooked on, it’s hard to not look for the same system everywhere else. Luckily, KH will continue to deliver on its unique play style in future titles to come.

The House of Mouse Concept

I recently found youtube videos for episodes of House of Mouse, a non-canon cartoon that brings together a host of Disney heroes and villains on several occasions.

Almost like a reiteration of House of Mouse, KH re-imagines interactions between Disney characters without altering the formula of the plots themselves. The villainous alliance of Maleficient, Jafar, Ursula, Captain Hook and others are woven seamlessly into the larger KH universe. It doesn’t look like it’ll stop, either.

With Birth by Sleep, Disney continues to be central to our experience. I’m sure a bunch of us picked up this title to expect a chance to oust out the big bad bosses, and imagine ourselves personally bringing a happily-ever-after to our story of choice.

Character Design – Zips, frills, and chains

Elaborate yet clean seems to be Nomura’s mantra on character design. He transformed the Final Fantasy wardrobe from their original games to the Disney-friendly worlds of KH where Rikku is not allowed to show that much skin but can still look chic. The popular members of the Disney family like Donald and Goofy got makeovers too. Now, I get confused when I see them in anything but a wizard’s robes and a knight’s armor.

As  KHII rolled around, we see that Sora’s rather oddball clothing choice even makes sense-those pockets come in handy when you’ve got to lug around potions and power bands. KH practicality at its finest!

Sora the Boy Hero

He’s already been front and center in 4 of 6 KH titles as our happy go-lucky protaganist in his unending mission to rid the world of the evil doers.  He has rescued our heroines, freed his best friend and trumped Xehanort more than once. Are we tired of him yet? Or is there something endearing about his goofy, easygoing nature that keeps us rooting for him?

It’s easy to discount Sora’s never-changing attitude about life as naive, or say that his lack of personal conflict makes for a boring hero, but it’s nice to know that we can expect him to never be like Cloud or Kratos. Goodness knows that the gaming market is saturated with gloom-and-doom heroes!

That’s my top 4 list of things I’ve always appreciated in this game, things which I’ll go back and experience time and time again in KHI and II, because hey, it’ll be another 5 years for KH3, so might as well make the most of the wait.

What are you favourite moments of Kingdom Hearts?

Looking back over the past 8 years, what are the moments of the Kingdom Hearts series so far that you remember the most fondly? Storyline, Gameplay or simply the entire concept?

What's the best thing in Kingdom Hearts games?

  • Storyline (66%, 342 Votes)
  • Gameplay (16%, 80 Votes)
  • Character Developments (14%, 72 Votes)
  • Other (Leave Comment) (3%, 16 Votes)
  • Graphics (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 516

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P.S. Look out on Wednesday for how you can submit us a Guest Blog!

Tidy Avatar“The 4 Things that Made Kingdom Hearts Great” was written by SakuChan, moderator on our KH Community Forums. Each Monday, we publish a Guest Blog from a member of the KH & Gaming Community – also co-ordinated by SakuChan.

28 Responses to “The 4 Things that Made Kingdom Hearts Great”

  1. Mc Steven Torres Says:

    I actually liked KH for its unique and awesome gameplay!

  2. Iggy v H. Says:

    The awesome combination of it all! Many games have great Story/Gameplay/Graphics/Characters, but little have it all combined.

  3. ZeroMistress Says:

    I loved the magical atmosphere and the inspiring characters. I could never tire of kingdom hearts.

  4. Rhema Says:

    Yah, really, it’s a combination of all of these that make the game great, but yah, I always liked the gameplay. Very fun.

  5. Zorrin Says:

    While I do love it for the characters and the nostalgia factor, the thing I really love Kingdom Hearts for is how the whole thing feels like some kind of thought experiment or philosophical study. How the light and darkness aspects pan out and how they affect the characters is just so interesting to me. I love you, Kingdom Hearts.

  6. MetalxAssassinx Says:

    soundtrack !!! where is soundtrack !! :S

  7. Gunneraklutz4prez Says:


  8. animefanultimania Says:

    the music was really nice

  9. Turtle Says:

    Zips, frills, and chains? Uh, what?

    That’s like, the second worst part of the series (after the writing).

  10. Dude Says:


  11. Jameslutz2 Says:

    I still don’t see why people are hating on 358/2 Days. Yes, it is arguably the worst game of the series and contributes the least to the overall storyline, but I still like knowing what happened during that year while Sora was asleep. And of course, anymore face time with Roxas the better!

  12. Kevin Lee Says:

    Yeah the soundtrack! I’m disappointed soundtracks for the recent games: 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, and Coded, have not been released yet.

  13. Kevin Lee Says:

    358/2 Days’s gameplay was like a cross between action adventure and the gameplay of Final Fantasy VIII sans the horrid Draw gimmick. And we all know how VIII’s gameplay was received relative to the other Final Fantasy games. Actually, I don’t dislike 358/2 Days in the least. But it seems heavily geared towards multiplayer play. I played a few missions with my cousin and we had a blast. But it’s a repetitive game when played on your own, and it’s hard to find people to play DS games with.

    They really should have tried to make 358/2 Days Wi-Fi compatible.

  14. Andrew Stander Says:

    Don’t forget an unreasonable amount of belts (especially on duodecim Cloud) and one-piece jumpsuits under jackets or suspenders. Then there are those seductive straps. They have some interesting design with symbols also. I chose gameplay though. Are we on the seventh one and still on the Xehanort saga. This is becoming more like star wars and FF. I was thinking two or three years for 3 (2012-2013) b/c we got Re: Coded to stall us off/keep us pre-occupied while they work on other projects. 3DS is the next KH after that. No other side games have been announced for KH so 3 is after that.

  15. Andrew Stander Says:

    maybe they will be put together like the other ones ended up doing.

  16. Lupinpatronus Says:

    I suppose this goes under storyline, but as I am a huge fan of all things Disney I love seeing how the Disney characters and their stories tie into the overall plot, how they’r altred or effected by the presence of the Heartless/Unbirth/Organization XIII, etc. and which of them will end up being most integral to the story of Kingdom Hearts.

  17. phang Says:

    no, the answer is ALL!!!!!!!

  18. Aaa Says:


  19. Arcane Says:

    Making me feel like a kid again at some times, making me feel the gravity of the situation at others. Nuff’ said for me.

  20. Age Says:

    I KNOW! I loved BBS’s soundtrack, and I can’t buy it because it doesn’t exist. Hopefully after Final Mix comes….

  21. Age Says:

    I have to say, the game play is the best for me. It’s just so unique, you’ll never find anything remotely before KH’s game play that’s that same.

    But there’s one quote I can’t agree to more.
    “Now, I get confused when I see them in anything but a wizard’s robes and a knight’s armor.”

  22. Jo Says:

    Visual and audio, the art and the music

  23. JO Says:

    also gameplay and atmosphere especially are huge. Storyline and characters are actually lacking quite a bit

  24. Be a Guest Blogger on Kingdom Hearts Ultimania - Kingdom Hearts Ultimania Says:

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  25. CSamuels17 Says:

    Personally i think that Sora really is a boring protagonist and having every character around him be compelling makes it worse. Literally every other keyblade bearer has more depth to them

  26. avi Says:

    1) The storyline. It had great friendly, smaller Disney episodes, bridged together with a darker villain-oriented story. It had a great system: you go to a Disney world, have a quick villain meeting circle in a spooky castle, then back to Disney world. KH:COM was great with that, but subsequent games (mostly KH2) had too much of a separation.

    2) The characters. The old favorites were unchanged, the Disney characters were still lovable, and the Final Fantasy characters were still tough. KH exclusives, like Sora, were light characters that managed to fit into both worlds, they weren’t too detailed, nor did they have complicated stories to weigh them down. (I feel with everybody being copies of each other now, they’ve gotten too complicated). Plus, they looked cool! (always a plus)

    3) The gameplay. This is the one section I feel only gets better with new games. It is relatively simple, following a basic hack and slash format. But the magic was how it was able to adapt it with Final Fantasy’s detailed command system. Since KH2, the commands have been more customizable, allowing for more group attacks, and more styles of play. Not to mention, since KH2, they’ve all been so damn flashy. (It maybe too easy, but at least your breezing through with a good view)

    4) Tone. This game was aimed primarily at kids and dedicated Square fans, this was not for older teens and adults (hell, I am willing to admit it). This game is childish. But of course, there were small nuggets of mature story with a darker tone. The best part of the first game was that it balanced it well. The story was very simple, defeat the villains, ad love thy friends. Nothing else to it. However, hidden deep at the end of the game was mature back story, it didn’t have much effect on the game, but for the older gamer who needed something more, it was there. My problem with later games, is that the mature content has become more and more integral to the game, which makes for less of the innocent, juvenile content which made the original game refreshing. If I wanted something dark, I’d just go play Final Fantasy.

  27. kairilover Says:

    sora sux! kairi rules!

  28. JK Says:

    I understand where you are coming from. Sora does seem a bit one sided sometimes. However, I also understand why the game makers would find having someone like Sora as the main protagonist to be preferable over someone like Roxas or Riku. Having a happy go lucky protagonist like Sora keeps the game light and fun when it could just as easily turn into something depressingly sad. Personally, I love the way Sora always sees the bright side in any situation and I don’t find him boring at all. On the contrary, I find him refreshingly fun, heartfelt and easy to cheer for.

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