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- 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 KHWiki 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. The series consists primarily of 3D action RPGs that include appearances of characters from the Final Fantasy series, the Disney universe, and other Square Enix properties, 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, six more games in the series have been released: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS, a prequel to Kingdom Hearts II; Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep for the PlayStation Portable, a prequel for the entire series; Kingdom Hearts coded for mobile phones (later on Nintendo DS), a "bridge game" to Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance on the Nintendo 3DS system; and Kingdom Hearts III, released on multiple platforms.
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 two-pack collection that consisted of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and a PS2 remake 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 Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Birth by Sleep were released outside Japan for the first time in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix, and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix for PlayStation 3. A collection of the HD ReMix titles was released for the PlayStation 4 in March 2017, followed by the addendum Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue later in the year; and lastly, a full anthology titled Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far in late 2018.
A spin-off prequel for mobile devices, Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross], was released in Japan in 2015, then worldwide in 2016, adopting its present title in 2017. The game is free-to-play, and is set during a conflict that took place during the founding of the world.
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, who is usually accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy as NPC supports whose behavior can be altered to fit the player's needs by preset 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 preset course, earning new Gummi parts as they defeat enemies and completing the course to unlock the next worlds. The games also feature a journal which is accessible from the main menu, keeping track of information regarding the story, characters, enemies, and locations. In games where Sora is the lead character, 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 three live on a small world called Destiny Islands, and dream of exploring other places. One night, beings of darkness called Heartless attack the island, and Sora receives a special sword called a Keyblade to fight them off. The island is destroyed and Sora awakens in Traverse Town, where he meets with Goofy and Donald Duck, and joins with them to find their ruler, King Mickey, and Riku and Kairi.
Sora travels various worlds fighting the Heartless, and learns that the Disney villains have recruited Riku to their cause, to gather the Seven Princesses of Heart, of which Kairi is one. However, the Disney villains are being manipulated by a man named Ansem, a researcher who was studying the Heartless. Ansem wishes to use the Princesses to open passage to the Heart of all worlds, Kingdom Hearts, and claim its power. Sora and his allies defeat Ansem, but in the process Mickey and Riku are trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora is confronted by a man in a black coat and led to Castle Oblivion, a fortress on the borders of the realms. Members of a mysterious group, Organization XIII, are holding a girl named Naminé hostage, and use her to erase Sora's memories and replace them with new ones befitting their plans. Sora defeats the Organization members, but must be put to sleep to repair the damage to his memories. Meanwhile, Riku awakens in the basement of the castle, and with Mickey's help fights his way out.
A year later in Kingdom Hearts II, Sora awakens and pursues the remaining members of Organization XIII. Yen Sid, Mickey's mentor, explains that the Organization is made up of Nobodies, the empty shells formed by bodies of beings that lose their hearts to darkness. Their leader, Xemnas, is the Nobody of a man named Xehanort, and the "Ansem" Sora defeated as Xehanort's Heartless; the real Ansem has been in hiding under the alias DiZ after Xehanort betrayed him. Sora reunites with Riku, Kairi, and Mickey, and the group destroys the Organization and Xemnas.
The next two chronological games in the series, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts coded, follow a series of side-stories to the main plot. In 358/2 Days, the player takes control of Roxas, Sora's Nobody that was born when Sora lost his heart in the first game. While Sora sleeps after Chain of Memories, Roxas joins Organization XIII and becomes close friends with a girl named Xion, who is revealed to be an incomplete clone of Sora. Roxas is forced to destroy her to stop Xemnas' plans to use both of them, and is then captured by Riku to aid in restoring Sora's memories. In coded, a mysterious message appears in Jiminy's Journal, and Mickey creates a digital recreation of the journal to find the source with help from a digital recreation of Sora. The source is revealed to be information that Ansem planted in Sora's heart during his recovery that concerns three lost Keyblade users.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep takes place ten years before the first Kingdom Hearts, and follows the Keyblade users Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. A Keyblade Master, Master Xehanort, has gone missing, and monsters called Unversed are attacking the worlds, led by Vanitas, Master Xehanort's former apprentice. It is revealed that Master Xehanort wishes to cause a Keyblade War as part of a plan to take the power of Kingdom Hearts. To ensure he will be strong enough to see his plans to fruition, he takes control of Terra's body, creating a younger Xehanort. Terra's spirit reforms in his armor and defeats Xehanort, and Xehanort is later felled in battle with Aqua, losing his memories and coming into Ansem's care. In the outcome of the battle, Vanitas is destroyed, Ven's heart is shattered and his body placed in Castle Oblivion to recover, and Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
In Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Yen Sid and Mickey contact Sora and Riku to give them a trial to become Keyblade Masters so they may rescue the three warriors. Their trial is attacked by a young Master Xehanort, traveled through time as part of a scheme set in place by his older self to gather his various incarnations from across time. It is also revealed that with the destruction of Ansem and Xemnas, Master Xehanort's heart and body have reformed to revive him. Sora and Riku are able to stop Master Xehanort's plan and his other incarnations vanish back to their original time periods, but Master Xehanort escapes to continue his plans to seize Kingdom Hearts. Riku passes his trial and is named a Keyblade Master, and brings Kairi to Yen Sid to train with the Keyblade.
Also, there is Kingdom Hearts χ, a sidegame taking place many years even before Birth by Sleep, and follows the adventures of Keyblade users in service to five Keyblade apprentices.Kingdom Hearts III begins shortly after the events of Dream Drop Distance with Sora beginning a new journey to obtain the Power of Waking and unite the lost Keyblade wielders. During the story, Sora defeats Master Xehanort and seemingly disappears at the end after misusing the Power of Waking in an attempt to revive his friends during the final battle.
- 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 he awakens as a Keyblade warrior to travel worlds fighting the Heartless and Xehanort's incarnations.
- Riku - Sora's friend and rival who lives with him and Kairi on Destiny Islands. Initially manipulated to darkness by Maleficent, he comes to redeem himself and wield the powers of darkness to fight for the light, also gaining his own Keyblade in the process.
- Kairi - A young girl who arrived on Destiny Islands during a meteor shower several years prior to the beginning of the first game, later revealed to be a Princess of Heart. She acquires her own Keyblade from Riku and is training fight alongside him and Sora.
- Roxas - Sora's "Nobody", created when Sora took his own heart in the first game. Roxas became a member of Organization XIII and befriended Axel and Xion, but left the Organization when he realized he was being manipulated by them. After forced to defeat Xion, he was captured by Riku to return to Sora and restore his memories.
- Lea - Lea is a resident of Radiant Garden who is introduced through his Nobody self Axel of Organization XIII who was one of Roxas's few friends. A wildcard in the Organization, Axel's friendship with Roxas motivates him to betray them and help Sora. As of Kingdom Hearts 3D, he has been restored to life as Lea and is training to use a Keyblade.
- Naminé - Kairi's Nobody, born when Sora took his own heart and released Kairi's heart inside him. Due to her unique birth she is able to manipulate Sora's memories and the memories of those close to him. After being freed from the Organization's control and restoring Sora's memories, she merges with Kairi, but her influence in Sora's adventures has continued to be explored in other games.
- King Mickey - The ruler of Disney Castle, Mickey is a Keyblade Master trained by Yen Sid who assists Sora at various intervals with information and power-ups. He also took part in the fight against Master Xehanort in the past, and helped Riku learn to conquer his darkness and reform.
- Donald Duck - The court magician of Disney Castle and a friend of Sora's. Tasked to assist Sora by Mickey, he is 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. Traveling with Donald to help Sora, he is very defense-oriented and learns a variety of support abilities to help his allies.
- Terra, Ventus and Aqua - The protagonists of Birth by Sleep, they are three Keyblade warriors training under Master Eraqus. During the events of the game, Terra loses his body to Master Xehanort, but his spirit now resides in his empty Keyblade Armor. Ventus's heart is damaged and he is placed in Castle Oblivion to rest, and Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
Final Fantasy characters
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 of Final Fantasy characters pass through. So far, twenty-four characters from the Final Fantasy series have appeared in the Kingdom Hearts games.
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. In the game, Raijin and Fujin are known as Rai and Fuu respectively.
- 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 called the Gullwings, 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 various shops around the worlds, usually selling commands, accessories, and items, all of which can be bought with munny, the games' currency. Most shops are run by holograms, as moogles don't enjoy having their pom-poms ruffled. Organization XIII had its own resident moogle, until it followed Roxas to Twilight Town when he left. This is the only moogle to wear an article of clothing (being an Organization member, it wears the black coat).
- Wantz from Final Fantasy X and Wallace, Jessie, Biggs and Wedge from Final Fantasy VII (members of AVALANCHE) appear as shop owners.
The World Ends with You characters
- Neku Sakuraba - A young boy whom Sora encounters in Traverse Town in the World of Sleep. While searching his partner, Shiki, he teaches Sora about Spirits.
- Shiki Misaki - Neku's partner, after being saved by Riku, her "knight" she follows him around. Eventually meeting back up with Neku.
- Raimu "Rhyme" Bito - A young girl missing most of her memories as well as her partner, Beat.
- Daisukenojo "Beat" Bito - Rhyme's partner, he desperately searches for her, eventually running into Joshua and Riku.
- Yoshiya "Joshua" Kiryu - a mysterious young boy who tells Sora and Riku about a different version of the town they each are in.
- Master Xehanort - An elderly Keyblade master, Xehanort wishes to claim the power of Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, to sate his curiosity about the mysteries of the universe and its creation. In Birth by Sleep he possesses Terra's body, becoming Terra-Xehanort, who is later split into Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas. With the destruction of both Ansem and Xemnas, Master Xehanort has been restored to life.
- Organization XIII - A group of thirteen Nobodies led by Xemnas, they collect the hearts of destroyed Heartless to make an artificial Kingdom Hearts. It is later revealed Xemnas organized them with intent to create empty vessels to hold Master Xehanort's heart, creating new incarnations for use in his plans.
- Vanitas - Master Xehanort's apprentice, formed by splitting Ven's heart into pure light and pure darkness. Vanitas' purpose is to merge with Ven and create the χ-blade, a legendary Keyblade that can open the way to Kingdom Hearts. Ven defeats Vanitas and he fades into darkness.
- Maleficent - Leader of the Disney villains, she has been manipulated by Xehanort and his incarnations, who use her to further their own plans. She, too, seeks the power of Kingdom Hearts to claim dominion over all worlds.
- Pete - Maleficent's assistant. For attempting to attack Minnie after an award snub at a festival, he was trapped in the Ocean Between until Maleficent freed him to serve her. He acts as her messenger to other worlds and other Disney villains and sows Heartless to cause trouble wherever he goes.
Connections to the Final Fantasy series
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 series uses the same naming patterns as Final Fantasy for its spells and items, items and spells such as Hi-Potions, Tents, Fire and Stop appearing, among many others. The series also universally uses the same spell suffix systems as Final Fantasy, "-ra" denoting tier two spells and "-ga" denoting tier three. 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 (except for a Cloud summon in Chain of Memories), a Bahamut summon was meant to be in the original game, but was later removed as the development team decided that all the summons in the game were to be of iconic Disney characters instead.
Several weapons are named after Final Fantasy weapons, including the Ultima Weapon, Fenrir, and Save the Queen. The various Gummi ships used to travel between worlds are 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 II, Limit Breaks 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, again take their name from Final Fantasy games. In Birth by Sleep the player is able to fuse commands together to create stronger ones and can infuse items in the fusion to attach abilities to the new command, identical to Materia Fusion in Crisis Core.
The Nobody enemy types are based on recurring Final Fantasy jobs and show some similar behavior—Dragoon Nobodies fight with lances and use Jump attacks, and Gamblers battle using dice and cards. The Organization members themselves also roughly fit such profiles—for example, Zexion can mimic the attacks of enemies similar to a Blue Mage. 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-box.
When fighting in Olympus Coliseum, Sora uses victory poses based on Squall and Cloud's, while Roxas uses Squall's victory pose in 358/2 Days. Riku's growth through the series parallels Kain Highwind, and to a lesser degree Cecil Harvey. Similar to the two, Riku began the series as an antagonist using the powers of darkness and was manipulated by Xehanort, but reformed and become a heroic character that joined Sora on his adventures, now using the powers of darkness to fight for light. Riku's signature weapon, Soul Eater, is named after Cecil's ability as a Dark Knight, and similar to Kain and Cecil's love triangle with Rosa, it is strongly hinted Sora and Riku have romantic feelings for their mutual friend Kairi, with Sora being the victor in the competition.
The Kingdom Hearts series in turn has retroactively influenced the Final Fantasy series. 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. Gameplay elements of Dissidia Final Fantasy are influenced by Kingdom Hearts, such as chaining attacks in different ways based on the timing of button presses. Quickmove and Chase Sequences are similar to Reaction Commands in Kingdom Hearts II, and EX Mode is similar to Sora's Drive Forms in the same game, granting an enhanced set of abilities and an altered appearance for a short time while Sora's Drive Gauge depletes over time, reverting form when it empties. In addition, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy XV, Ardyn Izunia's hair color was inspired in part by Keiji Fujiwara's role as Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series.
Sora makes his first appearance in a Final Fantasy game with a guest appearance in World of Final Fantasy. He is a free DLC character as a Summonable Champion during battle.
In February 2018, a collaboration was launched between the mobile arms of both Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, which sparked a month-long series of events. This collab opened with a website featuring a shooter minigame and developed into playable events for both franchise games.
- 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, and which she is equipped with her Destiny's Embrace Keyblade.
- Cloud and Zack are the only Final Fantasy characters to be featured as a summon in the Kingdom Hearts series. Cloud appeared as a summon in Chain of Memories, and Zack as a D-Link in Birth by Sleep.
- Tifa's EX Mode weapon in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, the Premium Heart gloves, has the Kingdom Hearts logo on them.
- Cloud, Sephiroth and Squall's Kingdom Hearts attire are downloadable content for Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy was originally planned to be a Kingdom Hearts game; however, it was decided that having Disney characters fight each other would not be appropriate, so it was made into a Final Fantasy game.
- The multiplayer mode in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, with Organization XIII as playable characters, was inspired by Dissidia.
- Although most musical tracks in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT are remixes of themes from Final Fantasy titles, the music which plays at the Treasure screen is a remix of "Dream Matchup" from Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. The tracks are titled respectively "Luck's Chime" and "Fulfillment."
- Laguna Loire was originally meant to appear in Birth by Sleep as the head of the Mirage Arena. However, he was removed in favor of him appearing in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, as developers felt he should only appear in one title or the other.
- The randomly generated Link Portals and Friendship Portals in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance feature the name of a Final Fantasy protagonist, such as Lightning or Zack.
- Major supporting characters, Master Eraqus and Master Yen Sid, are inspired by the two companies that made the series possible. The design for Eraqus is based off the physical appearance of Final Fantasy series creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Also, Eraqus's name is an anagram of Square as Yen Sid is Disney spelled backwards.