Recently Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts: All-In-One Package releasing March 17th, 2020, a special collection that includes 10 games. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the franchise. As a supposed huge fan of Kingdom Hearts, I haven’t yet played or purchased Kingdom Hearts III, even with the added DLC (Re:Mind). I gave it some thought as to why that is and found that after playing every single “spin-off” entry over the course of almost two decades, my love for Kingdom Hearts has soured.
My Fond Memories
I remember the very first game back in 2002 and how I instantly fell in love with a game that included Disney and Final Fantasy characters alongside some original ones by Square Enix (Squaresoft). The story was simple yet intriguing as I wanted to know more about these shadow monsters called the Heartless.
How amazing is it to have a challenging game with both characters geared toward children, and having characters from a beloved video game series that have never before made an appearance outside of it? Unlike Super Smash Bros., we got to talk to these characters with new stories and dialog! Plus, I fell in love with Hikaru Utada, Japanese-American singer-songwriter of the theme song.
Then there was Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. By then we knew a sequel was coming and that the game mechanic of using playing cards in battle wasn’t their new direction for the series. I actually enjoyed using cards after I understood how to strategically sort my deck. However, every single level was identical to the first game. No new stories, no new Disney worlds, because it’s an entire game about Sora’s memories. Of course the ending leads up to the events of Kingdom Hearts II (2008), so it helps to tie up some loose ends.
So, What’s His Name?
I gave the series another chance with Kingdom Hearts II and was not disappointed. Although you start the game as “Not Sora”, the fact that we where in a new world, Twilight Town, was promising. The game introduced Nobodies, which are the cast-off shells of those who have become Heartless. When we find out that Roxas is Sora’s Nobody, it’s a cool concept, but the added humanoid Nobodies, and therefore Organization XIII, was where I started to become confused. I mean, I was still trying to figure out the link between DiZ, Ansem, Xehanort, Xemnas.
I know now that DiZ is actually the real Ansem and Xehanort is his apprentice gone rogue, while Xemnas is Xehanort’s Nobody. Just saying that out loud sounds over-complicated so I still ended up feeling like I missed something. At least they added Mulan, The Lion King, Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, etc. Meaning, the gameplay was fun.
Prequels and Other Main Characters
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was a game about Roxas before leaving Organization XIII but without any big worlds to explore. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep was the origins of Xehanort and the introduction of three “key” characters, Terra, Ventus and Aqua. Ventus looks identical to Roxas so I spent most of the game wondering why that is until the end.
Ventus seals his heart and takes refuge within Sora’s which is why when Roxas emerges, he looks like Ventus. Strange, seeing how Roxas was born because Sora briefly becomes a Heartless in the first game. All that can only be put together if you replay Birth by Sleep three times, once for each main character. I know they vary slightly because they go their separate ways on occasion, but no thanks. As for Final Fantasy characters, well, at least we have Moogles.
Dream Drop Distance Appealed to My Collector’s Soul
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance was released in 2012, included new enemies, Dream Eaters and characters from The World Ends with You (another Square Enix game). The story was so far removed from everything there was so far, which was ridiculous. However, they did bring back the Princesses of Heart idea which I always loved because it it connected the Disney Princesses to the Kingdom Hearts’ story.
Even without fully understanding what the Dream Eaters were, I actually loved Dream Drop Distance. I’d say it’s my favorite title of the whole series because the gameplay was just that good. The controls were smooth and I spent a lot of time flying around in the air and twirling around lampposts. On top of that, the Dream Eaters served as companions which turned this game into the “creature-collecting” genre that I adore.
Moreover, I had an adorable fat cat companion, dinosaurs, and even colorful unicorns! It was so hard to choose only two to be at my side so switching to playing Riku wasn’t burdensome this time because I had two more options of Dream Eaters to play with!
So Many Box-Sets, So Many Numbered Titles!
There were mobile games thrown in there but none that were worth mentioning, really. Since all of those titles were originally on PS2, PSP, DS, and the 3DS, it’s great that the developers put everything into a bundle. Not only for newcomers, but for those that wanted all games in one place. I was one of the latter so I bought the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix combo which included everything except for the latest entry on the 3DS and a couple of shorts (Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue).
Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far released on the PS4 last year combined both of those bundles but I didn’t feel the need to buy another pack just to watch a movie that I can find online. Coming back to Kingdom Hearts: All-In-One Package, the PS4 game will include everything…so far…
Do I Still Like This Series? Send Help!
All this to say, I’m curious to know if there will be a lot of people purchasing this pack and I’d like to know why. Is it because you’ve held off from purchasing the other packs? Because you have to have the latest and shiniest Kingdom Hearts product?
By all means, Kingdom Hearts III actually looks amazing and they’ve finally added newer and more modern Disney worlds that I’d love to dive into. However, it’s not so much a price issue as it is a time one. Is Kingdom Hearts III, or any other subsequent game of the series, worth my time? I’d like to know your thoughts, and your personal experiences in the comments below!