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Kingdom Hearts (game)

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Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts Logo KH.png
Basic Information
Romaji Kingudamu Hātsu
Publisher(s) Square Co., Ltd.
Square EA
Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s) Square Co., Ltd.
Console(s) PlayStation 2
Rating E
Genre Action Role-Playing
Players 1
Development Team
Release Info
Japan March 22, 2002
North America September 17, 2002
Europe November 15, 2002
Australia November 22, 2002
Series Info
Series Kingdom Hearts
Predecessor N/A
Successor Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
Partnered Links
KHWiki icon.png KHWiki Read more on Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing game developed by Square Co., Ltd. in collaboration with Disney Interactive Studios. It's the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series. It follows the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they search for their lost friends and fight to protect their homes from an invasion of darkness. The game features many characters from the Final Fantasy series and several Disney movies.

Kingdom Hearts was released exclusively on the PlayStation 2 on March 28, 2002 in Japan, September 17, 2002 in North America, and November 15, 2002 in Europe. It serves as longtime Square character designer Tetsuya Nomura's first time as a director. It is among the best-selling PlayStation 2 games of all time, and is one of Sony's Greatest Hits. As of 2008, the game has sold 4.78 million copies[1].


The game begins on Destiny Islands, where Sora, Riku, and Kairi prepare to sail on a raft and explore what lies beyond their island home. On the night they are set to leave, the islands are attacked by shadows. Sora tries to find his friends on the island. He first finds Riku, who disappears into the darkness, claiming he's not afraid of it. The Keyblade then appears to Sora, which he uses to fight off the Heartless as he searches for Kairi. He finds her, but she is blown away. The Heartless destroy the islands and blast Sora off.

Meanwhile, King Mickey has disappeared from his home at Disney Castle, leaving instructions for Donald and Goofy to find a "key". Accompanied by Jiminy Cricket, who is assigned by Queen Minnie to chronicle the events, and Pluto, who stows away, the duo head off on their Gummi Ship to Traverse Town to find Leon, at Mickey's request. There, Pluto finds an unconscious Sora in an alley and awakens him, before running off. Sora begins to explore the world, and encounters the Heartless again, before meeting Leon, who explains that the Heartless will attack him so long as he wields the Keyblade, and that the Keyblade is the only thing that can destroy them. He and Yuffie also mention Ansem, who is said to have studied the Heartless.

Eventually, Sora runs into Donald and Goofy, and they decide to travel together to search for their missing friends. The three go to various worlds, searching for the various keyholes of each world's heart, which Sora seals with the Keyblade to stop the Heartless. They learn of Maleficent, who along with other Disney villains, in search of the seven Princess of Heart to unlock the final Keyhole to Kingdom Hearts, a supreme source of knowledge and power. Riku joins Maleficent, who has promised to help Riku find Kairi in exchange for his help. She also begins to sow distrust in Riku, convincing him that Sora has abandoned him and Kairi in exchange for Donald, Goofy, and the Keyblade. He finally finds Kairi's body, but her heart is now gone.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy eventually arrive in Hollow Bastion, which Maleficent has taken as a headquarters. Upon arriving, Riku takes the Keyblade from Sora, revealing that he is the true Keyblade master. Donald and Goofy, following Mickey's orders to follow the "key", leave Sora for Riku. With the help of the Beast, Sora catches up to Riku deep inside the castle, and challenges him, telling him that his friends are his power. His friends return to his side, and so does the Keyblade, to which Riku flees. Riku encounters a cloaked man, who convinces him to give into the darkness. Meanwhile, Sora, Donald, and Goofy battle Maleficent and defeat her. Riku appears again with his new power and a new Keyblade, which he uses to unlock and unleash the darkness inside Maleficent's heart, turning her into a dragon. Despite this, Maleficent is still defeated, and Sora and the gang venture into the castle further to find Riku and a comatose Kairi. Now possessed by Ansem, he reveals that Kairi's heart is inside Sora, and challenges him to release it and complete the Final Keyhole. Even though Sora defeats him, he cannot seal the keyhole without Kairi's heart to complete it. Sora impales himself with Ansem's Keyblade, releasing his heart and returning Kairi's to her, though he becomes a Heartless in the aftermath. While trying to escape with Donald and Goofy, Kairi recognizes Sora's Heartless, and her light restores him to human form. After conversing with Leon and the others in Traverse Town, Sora travels to confront Ansem.

The trio arrives in End of the World, a world made up of the remains of worlds destroyed by the Heartless. There, they face Ansem, who claims that darkness is the heart's true essence, and calls on Kingdom Hearts for the ultimate darkness. However, Sora reveals that Kingdom Hearts is light, which begins to flow out of the open doors, destroying Ansem. Mickey and Riku are found on the other side of the door, and together they close the door, leaving Mickey and Riku on the other side to help lock the door. The worlds destroyed are restored, and Kairi returns to the Destiny Islands. Sora is forced to part with her to search for Riku and Mickey. The game ends with Sora, Donald, and Goofy chasing Pluto, who appears to have a clue to Mickey's whereabouts.

Characters and Worlds

Main Article: Kingdom Hearts (game)/Characters and Locations
  • Sora - The main protagonist and wielder of the legendary Keyblade. He sets out in search of his best friends Riku and Kairi.
  • Donald Duck - The royal court magician of Disney Castle. Upon orders from Mickey, he sets out with Goofy to find the wielder of the Keyblade.
  • Goofy - The captain of the royal knights at Disney Castle. He joins Donald in search of the King and the wielder of the Keyblade.
  • Riku - Sora's childhood friend and rival. He is really intrigued with the outside world, and desires to explore the world beyond his home.
  • Kairi - Sora's friend. She was blown away when the Heartless invaded the islands. Sora and Riku sometimes challenge each other over her.
  • Mickey Mouse - King of Disney Castle. He has mysteriously disappeared, but has left a letter behind, telling Donald and Goofy to search for the "key".


Kingdom Hearts is a role-playing game influenced largely by the Final Fantasy series, another video game series by Square Enix, and carries over many elements from the game. The game features a battle part of three characters, usually Sora, Donald, and Goofy, though Donald and Goofy can be switched out in certain worlds with others. Sora is directly controlled by the player from a third-person perspective. The party is controlled by the game, though the player has some extent of control within the game's menus.

Like other role-playing games, Kingdom Hearts features an experience point system that enhances and increases the character's abilities as they defeat enemies. At the beginning of the game, a miniature tutorial allows for the player to somewhat customize how Sora develops. The tutorial allows for the player to decide an attribute in which to excel and one in which to lack in, the attributes being strength, defense, and magic.

The game progresses as certain tasks are completed, allowing for a linear progression from one story event to the next. Several additional quests and tasks are available that do not progress the story, but provide additional bonuses to the characters.

Kingdom Hearts features a hack-and-slash system, in which battles with the Heartless are in real-time, and require the player to press the controller buttons to activate or begin attacks. The "Commands" menu, found on the lower left corner of the screen, provides options to "Attack" with the Keyblade, use several kinds of "Magic", such as Fire, Blizzard, or Thunder, or use recovery "Items". Shortcuts can be assigned to quickly execute magic attacks without scrolling through the Command menu. Another feature under Magic is Summons. As Sora progresses through the worlds, he acquires several gems which can activate certain Disney characters as summons to aid in battle. Movement is controlled with the left analog stick, while the Command menu is controlled with the right analog stick and directional buttons, allowing for the player to move around and scroll through the menu at the same time.

Sora, his allies, and enemies all have health regulated by "Health Points". They appear on screen in a green Health Gauge. For enemies, this gauge also features additional, overlapping multi-colored gauges, to show additional health. Health is depleted as the character takes damage, reducing the filled part of the gauge. This can be replenished through the use of recovery items such as Potions, dropped health orbs, or using the Cure magic spell. However, if all of Sora's health is depleted, the game is over, and the player must resume from the beginning of an area or a saved point. Sora and his allies also have magic regulated by "Magic Points", represented on-screen by a blue gauge. Blue magic orbs restore this MP, as do other recovery items like ethers. The game also features a currency called Munny, which is used to purchase items, and is accumulated through dropped yellow orbs.

The game features a World Map, which is a map of all the worlds, and serves as the means to choose what world to visit. The most notable mini-game, the Gummi Ship, serves as the main mode of travel in-story between the various worlds in the game. The Gummi Ship is controlled from the same perspective, but does not allow complete free movement, and is similar to a shooter game. The objective is to protect the Gummi Ship as it travels by shooting and destroying obstacles and enemy ships controlled by the Heartless. Surviving the journey grants the player access to the next world, while losing results in having to start over. As the game progresses and the routes are played, obtainable parts left behind by destroyed ships and obstacles can be used to customize the Gummi Ship and better protect it from the attacks.


The concept of Kingdom Hearts came into being during a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi over a game involving Mickey Mouse. Tetsuya Nomura, overhearing this conversation, volunteered to direct the project, due to the impact of Super Mario 64, which had just come out, and the notion of working with Disney characters[2]. A chance meeting on the elevator between Hashimoto and a Disney executive allowed Hashimoto to pitch the idea directly to Disney. The production team included over 100 members from Square and Disney Interactive Studios, and began development of the game in February 2000.[3][4] Bob Iger, then president of Disney, was very nonrestrictive of the worlds that would be chosen, but Nomura chose worlds that were interesting and significantly different from each other. The name of the game came to Nomura from thinking about the Disney Parks. However, needing more than just the term "Kingdom" for a title, the team began to think of "heart" as a part of the story, and combined the two to form "Kingdom Hearts"[5].

Some content removed from the final game included a world based on The Lion King, which was difficult for the program to process movement on four legs at the time, and an optional boss battle against Tifa. In addition, the world of Disney Castle was originally teased to be explorable, a final battle in End of the World against Riku was planned, and Bahamut was planned to be an additional summon. All of these were cut, and except the summon and the battle against Riku, were added to Kingdom Hearts II.

Additional content was added to the North American release, including bosses, an extra difficulty level, and a teaser for Kingdom Hearts II. The additional content, along with even more content, was added to the Japanese version of the game under the title Kingdom Hearts Final Mix.


Kingdom Hearts has received positive reviews, and great sales. During the first two months of the game's North American release, it became one of the three highest-selling video games. By April 2003, it sold its millionth copy in the United States, and became eligible to be listed among Sony's "Greatest Hits". As of October 2013, the series as a whole has sold 20 million copies worldwide.

In 2002, Kingdom Hearts was nominated for PS2's Best Game of 2002 Editor's Choice Award in IGN's Best of 2002 Awards. In 2008, IGN listed Kingdom Hearts as the 9th best PlayStation 2 game of all time.[6] 1UP.com gave the game an A-, while Famitsu gave it a 36/40, and GameSpot gave it 8.2/10.[7]. Kingdom Hearts was also voted 19th best game of all time by Famitsu readers, while users of the GameFAQs website ranked it 16th, and 92nd by IGN users.


Several forms of media and merchandise have been released for Kingdom Hearts. Toys and figurines have been released, and continue to be released for the first game of the series. A manga adaptation of the game has been written and published, both in Japan and throughout the world. BradyGames released a strategy guide for the game in the United States, while Square Enix released an Ultimania book for the game.

In addition, the game's soundtrack has been released as Kingdom Hearts Official Soundtrack. Following the release of Kingdom Hearts II, the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack was released again with the Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories soundtrack as Kingdom Hearts Official Soundtrack Complete. Select songs from the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack were re-released for the 10th Anniversary of the series in Kingdom Hearts 10th Anniversary Fan Selection -Melodies & Memories-.


Kingdom Hearts Final Mix Logo KH.png

In 2002, Square released Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which was a Japanese-only release of the North American version of Kingdom Hearts, with additional content. The game featured additional cutscenes and options, including the fight against an Unknown man in a black coat. An additional unlockable video titled "Another Side, Another Story [Deep Dive], was included and raised interest for a sequel. Additional Keyblades, abilities, items, and a recoloration of the Heartless were also featured in the release.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX Logo KH.png

Square Enix re-released Kingdom Hearts Final Mix in Japan and to the world for the first time in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX in 2013. The HD remaster featured the content from Kingdom Hearts Final Mix in its entirety, with minor changes to better flow with the gameplay of the other games in the series, specifically Kingdom Hearts II. The character models were updated with models from Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and the game in general received an updated texture and remastered music.

Additional Information

Notes and References

Kingdom Hearts Logo KH.png
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