• KINGDOM HEARTS: The Story So Far - Part 1

    KINGDOM HEARTS, the product of the unlikely merging of the stars of Disney and Square Enix. Two unique universes with very little in common that, when combined, went on to produce something magical that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Just how did this tale come around? Join us on a journey of adventure as we look back at the foundation of the franchise and chart the story, through all of it's twists and turns in ancitipation of Kingdom Hearts III.

    "I've been having these weird thoughts lately,
    like is any of this for real or not?"

    The inception of Kingdom Hearts is a story that seems as unreal and as unlikely as the very parternship of Square Enix and Disney. Back in the late 90s, Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi were impressed with the then recently released Super Mario 64. They had aspirations of making a game that utilised freedom of movement in three dimensions similar to Super Mario 64. Hashimoto had been in talks with Disney about making a game together in the past, but nothing had come of this. Upon hearing of Hashimoto's desire to make a 3D game, Tetsuya Nomura insisted to be given a shot at making the title. Although Nomura was given the chance, Sakaguchi and Hashimoto however, felt that Squaresoft did not have characters popular enough to rival a Mario game, they felt that they need characters as popular as Disney's in order to be successful. Fate, it turned out, seemed to be on Squaresoft's side. A chance meeting between Hashimoto and a Disney executive, in a lift in Tokyo, gave Hashimoto the opportunity to pitch Squaresoft's idea directly to Disney.

    Disney were interested enough to setup talks with Hashimoto and Nomura. The game was already taking shape in Nomura's mind, but Disney were more interested in seeing if Squaresoft were interested in developing one of Disney's own ideas. Nomura is quoted as having interrupted Disney's presentation during the talks telling them, rather frustratedly, that he "wouldn't make such games." Nomura then pitched the idea for cast of all new characters travelling through words inhabited by Disney characters, presenting them with a primitive sketch of Sora who, at the time, was wielding a weapon that looked like an enormous chainsaw. (it was actually a chainsaw, too) Obviously, not the type of thing you'd normally consider showing to Disney! Clearly though, Disney saw the potential in the idea as they agreed to the collaboration and gave Squaresoft unprecedented creative freedom. This leap of faith, ultimately went on to become the franchise that is today, loved by millions, the world over.

    To date, there have been 7 entries into the main series of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. However, like any good television show or series of novels, each successive title was not always a continuation of where the previous title left off. Several narrative plots span across multiple entries in the series, which has earned the series a bit of a reputation for having convoluted plot lines that have confused fans for nearly a decade.

    This is the beauty of the franchise, one that Nomura strongly believes has lead to it's longevity. There's always something for fans to speculate about, long after the credits roll of each game.

    Let's take a brief look at the order the games were released in, and the general plot of each title. I've delibrately kept the synposis vague, glossing over some finder details, as these points will be explored later in this article series.

    Released: 2002 | PlayStation 2

    Kingdom Hearts told the story of a young boy named Sora who, along with his 2 friends; Riku and Kairi, dreamed of a life beyond the world they called home. After their home is attacked on one fateful night, Sora witnesses Riku disappear through a dark portal. At the same time Sora obtains the weapon called the Keyblade, a mysterious weapon with strange powers. Later teaming up with Disney heroes Donald Duck and Goofy who were searching for their friend Mickey, the trio journeyed from world to world vanquishing strange shadow creatures known as the Heartless before stopping the evil machinations of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and sealing the door to the Realm of Darkness - at a heavy cost, Riku and King Mickey were trapped in the Realm of Darkness.

    KINGDOM HEARTS: Chain of Memories
    Released: 2004 | Game Boy Advance

    Chain of Memories takes place directly after the events of Kingdom Hearts. After sealing the door to the Realm of Darkness, Sora, Donald and Goofy begin searching for a way to be re-united with Mickey and Riku. A mysterious figure, cladded in a black hooded coat, directs them toward a massive fortress called Castle Oblivion. Upon entering the castle, another mysterious figure tells Sora that journeying through the castle will cause him to lose his memories. The adventure sees Sora travelling through the castle, ultimately thwarting the plans of the mysterious group called The Organization, but losing his own memories in the process. During this time Riku also arrives at Castle Oblivion and fights against his inner darkness.

    Released: 2005 | PlayStation2

    Kingdom Hearts II takes place one year after the events of Chain of Memories. Sora, Donald and Goofy have been asleep for the year to allow Naminé to restore their lost memories. During this time, a man named DiZ began enacting his plan to take revenge on The Organization, now identitifed as Organization XIII, after they trapped him away in the Realm of Darkness. Sora, after having his memories restored thanks to the merging of Roxas with his heart, finally awakens to meet King Mickey and Yen Sid who send him on another journey. Once again travelling through a host of Disney worlds, both old and new, Sora and friends search for Riku and ultimately strive to put an end to Organization XIII's plans. Reuniting with Riku and Kairi at last, Sora and his friends destroy Xemnas and prevent him from merging with Kingdom Hearts. However, upon arrival back at the Destiny Islands where their journey began, Kairi hands Sora a message in a bottle. A message from King Mickey...

    Released: 2008 | Nintendo DS

    Coded takes place sometime between the victory over Xemnas and Sora and Riku returning to the Destiny Islands at the end of Kingdom Hearts II. Jiminy Cricket is in the process of organising his two journals chronicling Sora's journeys so far. However, he finds a message he doesn't remember writing, stating "Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it." King Mickey digitizes the contents of the journal to investigate this message but finds the datascape created by it corrupted by bugs and the Heartless. Guiding Data-Sora through the datascape, Mickey attempts to debug the journal. After finding the source of the corruption, the message is decoded by Data-Naminé who explains it is Sora's duty to save three people; Terra, Aqua and Ventus - which Mickey relays to Sora through the bottled message seen at the end of Kingdom Hearts II.

    KINGDOM HEARTS: 358/2 Days
    Released: 2009 | Nintendo DS

    358/2 days takes place during the events that transpire at the end of Kingdom Hearts, through Chain of Memories up until the start of Kingdom Hearts II. A newly born Nobody called Roxas is recruited as the thirteenth member of the Organization by Xemnas. Unlike other Nobodies, Roxas does not remember his original self (Sora) but develops a personality of his own. Roxas is sent on missions, forming a friendship with Axel and Xion, other members within the Organization. Roxas and Xion both contain some of Sora's memories which Xemnas seeks to exploit. Together the trio stop Xemnas's grand plan, Xion merges back with Sora and Roxas is subdued by Riku, leading directly into the events at the start of Kingdom Hearts II.

    KINGDOM HEARTS: Birth By Sleep
    Released: 2010 | PlayStation Portable

    Birth By Sleep takes place 10 years before the start of the original Kingdom Hearts chronicling the story of 3 friends; Terra, Aqua and Ventus. Terra and Aqua undertake an exam to achieve the Mark of Mastery, allowing them to become Keyblade Masters. However, an existing Keyblade Master; Master Xehanort, corrupts the test causing Terra to succumb to the darkness within him and resulting in on Aqua passing the exam. Shortly after Master Xehanort departs, hordes of creatues known as the Unversed begin attacking the worlds seeking the Princesses of Heart. Terra and Aqua are sent to eliminate the Unversed, Ventus chases after the duo despite not being formerly sent. These events were all orchestrations of Master Xehanort who sought to form the X-Blade to unlock Kingdom Hearts and start a Keyblade War. Although his efforts were ultimately thwarted, it came at a heavy cost - with Terra being possessed by Xehanort and slipping into amnesia, Ventus loses his heart and falls into a deep sleep and Aqua becomes trapped in the Realm of Darkness after sacrificing everything to free Terra from Xehanort's grasp.

    KINGDOM HEARTS 3D: Dream Drop Distance
    Released: 2012 | Nintendo 3DS

    Dream Drop Distance takes place directly after the events of Kingdom Hearts II. Anticipating the return of Master Xehanort, Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through the Mark of Mastery exam to make them Keyblade Masters. The two are sent to restored worlds that were formerly destroyed by the Heartless, although the worlds are still in a "sleeping" state that keeps them disconnected from other worlds. Upon sealing all seven Keyholes of Sleep, the duo find themselves in differing versions of the World That Never Was where Xehanort reveals to them his endgame. Sora succumbs to darkness during the resulting battle, but is saved by Lea, the revived human form of Axel - thwarting Xehanort's plans once more. Riku is declared a Keyblade Master by Yen Sid owing to his selfless sacrifices to save Sora. Sora fails the exam, however, but is undaunted as he knows his strength within. Realising the threat of Xehanort's ultimate plan, Yen Sid formulates a plan to ensure victory in the coming conflict, setting the stage for the events of Kingdom Hearts III.

    "A scattered dream, that's like a far off memory.
    A far off memory, that's like a scattered dream.
    I want to line the pieces up -
    yours and mine."

    Confused yet? It's a lot to take in for sure, and we've only just begun to scratch the surface. The current main story arc of the franchise has been officially called "The Xehanort Saga" named after the main antagonist who has orchestrated nearly all the events in the series to date.

    If we were to arrange the games in order of events, the timeline would be as follows:

    Birth by Sleep is the origin story, where we first learn of Master Xehanort and his grand orchestrations. The events at the end of Birth By Sleep set the stage for Kingdom Hearts which directly leads into Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III. The events of 358/2 Days begin at the end of Kingdom Hearts, run parallel to Chain of Memories and conclude at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II. Coded takes place after the final battle of Kingdom Hearts II but before Sora and Riku return to the Destiny Islands.

    The most confusing part here, for fans, was that Birth By Sleep was one of the more recently released games in the series. Fans had been pondering for nearly 4 years after the events of Kingdom Hearts II, just what the connection between the Heartless, Nobodies, Organization XIII and Kingdom Hearts actually was.

    So just who is Master Xehanort? What are the Heartless? Who are the Nobodies? What is the grand goal of Organization XIII? What is Kingdom Hearts? What is Xehanort's endgame?

    We've only just begun to scratch the surface, it's time to take a deep dive.

    Join us for the next edition where we'll go back to where everything began, and take a thorough look at the events of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.

    "It all began with...
    birth by sleep."

    This article was originally published in forum thread: KINGDOM HEARTS: The Story So Far - Part 1 started by Aulayna View original post
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. The Summoner of Leviathan's Avatar
      The Summoner of Leviathan -
      Fantastic article Aulayna!
    1. Lone Wolf Leonhart's Avatar
      Lone Wolf Leonhart -
      This is amazing! I knew the games came out of order, but to see the dates and timeline is really interesting.

      Stop posting such great work, you make me look bad
    1. Freya's Avatar
      Freya -
      Yeah the time line is so all over the place. I'm glad they are releasing the remixs cause i know I wasn't able to play several of them when they first came out duh to the console restrictions.
    1. Mercen-X's Avatar
      Mercen-X -
      I think if Xehanort is going to have 13 embodiments then there should be at least six Keyblade wielders. If for some reason, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra cannot be reconstituted, maybe they can give us some bull that Terra's heart was responsible for reviving Axel and then Aqua would be responsible for recreating Xion and... well, Sora has Ventus' heart within him and we've already seen Roxas. I still don't understand why the two of them need to be together to be whole. If they can be brought back, well then... I'd still like to see the return of Roxas and Xion. That would complete the theme of threes. Three Greeks, three Nips, three "x" names... maybe they'll work in the Kairi aspect popularized by Monty Oum where she transforms into Naminé and fights like Nu or whatever her name is. Or... what if Kairi and Naminé become separate beings? That would bring the total to 10. Will two new characters be introduced to create a team for Naminé? A guy named Kaze? Another guy named Yama? ...Yamacha?
    1. Miss Mae's Avatar
      Miss Mae -
      Awesome article. I look forward to the next in the series.
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