Welcome back to our Kingdom Hearts Hype Week! We took the day off yesterday (because we were all busy playing the game) but we’re back here with you today to share our fondest memories of the Kingdom Hearts series. There’s only a couple of us in this post today (some of us have fallen into the deep depths of the new game), but we’ve put our heart and soul onto the page.
Take a read, and let us know some of your favourite memories with the series!
I grew up as a Nintendo kid — this meant at the time missing out on consoles like the PlayStation 2. This meant I missed out on Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.
At the time, Hyper magazine had this game that combined Final Fantasy characters with Disney worlds and characters, and it looked amazing. For years I had to miss out on Kingdom Hearts as I would read about them and read the reviews. It wasn’t until 358/2 Days on the Nintendo DS that I would get to properly play a game in this series.
At the time I took what I could get — as a side entry it was relevant to the other games, but on its own it lacked a lot of what the other games had, too. I still enjoyed what I could out of it and it was hard not to be an Axel fan when that game was all you had.
Since then I’ve managed to accumulate all the games and embrace the goofiness and confusion and all-over-the-place timelines the series is known for. It took over a decade, to the point I almost enjoy the series just as much for all those years enjoying it in bits and pieces as much as I enjoy just playing the games… until I’m up against a third form of Xehanort.
In a series as large and complex as Kingdom Hearts, there is so much potential for a favourite memory and moment. I could pick Hollow Bastion, and the way the way the music — with a time signature of 10/8 — keeps you feeling constantly on edge; or the branching, yet intertwined story paths of Birth by Sleep; or who could forget the Battle of 1000 Heartless, which is — without contest — one of the coolest combat sequences in the series.
But I think, for me, the strongest memories come with the tight emotional connection I have with the beautifully performed soundtrack, and how the lyrics and voice of Utada Hikaru pair perfectly with the gorgeously rendered cutscenes to build you up and – oftentimes – punch you Square in the belly.
In fact, these scenes and songs are so deeply ingrained into my psyche that, when I’m feeling too stressed and need a moment of emotional release, it’s not unusual for me to lie down, pull up Sanctuary on my phone, and cry it out for a while.
Oh! Or I could pick Roxas telling Riku to shut up. That was pretty boss. Got it memorised?
Kingdom Hearts has always been a huge part of my life. My infatuation with the series started in 2004 — I was just 8 years old — when I went to EB Games with my parents to buy games for our brand new PS2, which we’d just gotten for Christmas. After looking around for a bit, I came across a game cover that I thought was utterly beautiful. I convinced my mum that all my friends loved it (I’d never heard of it before), so we bought it, and after finally getting it home, spent two straight weeks with every moment utterly embroiled in the game, with my sister and mum watching the whole time.
My fondest memory of the series is of these play sessions, but particularly one boss battle — the first Riku fight in Hollow Bastion, and the scenes that precede it. It’s hard to explain why, and it may sound a bit strange, but I hated this battle as a kid. I lost hundreds of times, my sister lost when she tried, my mum was the same. We sat through the preceding cutscene dozens upon dozens of times; I can almost recite it word for word to this very day. I remember it vividly, I remember Riku taunting Sora with the Keyblade, I remember Sora’s speech about how he doesn’t need a weapon… because his friends are his power.
It’s a scene that’s stayed with me my whole life, those words etched into the back of my mind and the front of my soul. To say that it’s become somewhat of a mantra for me is an understatement.
Although my heart may be weak, it’s not alone. It’s grown with each new experience, and it’s found a home with all the friends I’ve made. I’ve become a part of their heart, just as they’ve become a part of mine. And if they think of me now and then, if they don’t forget me, then our hearts will be one. I don’t need a weapon, my friends are my power!Sora, Kingdom Hearts
We eventually defeated Riku, and went on to finish the game the very same day. But I’ll never forget the weeks, maybe even months, we spent watching that cutscene. In the past, it was a memory of anger, frustration. Now, I look back on it with gratitude. Those failed attempts, and the words that were drilled into my mind with each one, taught me so much more about the person I want to be than perhaps any other piece of media I’ve ever consumed. And for that, I’ll always be thankful.