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Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Get Into the "Kingdom Hearts" Franchise

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX.

Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX.

Why now is the Perfect Time to Get into the "Kingdom Hearts" Franchise

As you’ve probably noticed the Kingdom Hearts III The Final Battle is trending on YouTube and you think it looks interesting and you love videogames, you love Disney movies, but you’ve heard the story is complicated and hard to follow and that it’s hard to get into. You’ve also heard of the 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8 numbers at the end of each titles and you’re confused. Well, I’m here to explain what all that means and tell you why this is the perfect time to get into the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Why are the Kingdom Hearts Titles called 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8?

The original Kingdom Hearts game was released for the PlayStation 2 on March 28, 2002. It was well liked by critics and loved by fans of both final fantasy and Disney fans alike. Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix was released in Japan on December 26, 2002. The direct sequel Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was released on Game Boy Advance on December 7, 2004; it was rated lower than the other entries because of the different battle system and made it confusing fans that went from Kingdom Hearts I straight to Kingdom Hearts II.

Kingdom Hearts II was released exclusively for PlayStation 2 on December 22, 2005. The Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+ was released in Japan on March 29, 2007.

The reason the games have odd numbering is that Japan rereleased Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the PlayStation 2 as Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix with extra scenes and improved gameplay. They remade Chain of Memories from the ground up graphics-wise and bundled Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories with the second Kingdom Hearts game, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+. This edition wasn’t available outside of Japan for many years until they released the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 remix on PlayStation 3 on September 10, 2013.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep was released exclusively on the PlayStation Portable on September 7, 2010. It was well received and the fandom enjoyed the game a lot.

Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded as released on Jan 11, 2011. It’s a remake of the mobile game Kingdom Hearts: Coded that was released on November 18, 2008.

It had mixed reviews from critics and fans felt like it was filler so Square Enix only included HD cutscenes in their re-releases of the old games because they didn’t want to remake the game from scratch because of the DS touch controls.

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance was released on the Nintendo 3DS on
July 31, 2012.

The game was very well received by critics and fans were mixed on the game regarding its story, but they enjoyed the new gameplay mechanics of flow motion.

Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue was released on January 24, 2017, and included Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage along with Dream Drop Distance HD remade for the PlayStation 4. It also included Kingdom Hearts: Back Cover a summary video of the mobile game, Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ. It received positive reviews by critics but did not receive critical acclaim as it was basically a glorified demo for Kingdom Hearts III using Unreal Engine 4.

Screenshot from Square Enix

Screenshot from Square Enix

Watching Let’s Plays and Story Summary Videos Is Not the Same Experience!

There are a lot of newcomers that are excited by Kingdom Hearts III, maybe it’s the gameplay trailers or that it looks like a lot of fun. But what do you do if you’ve never played a Kingdom Hearts game before? Can you just watch a story summary on YouTube? The blunt answer is no. It’s not just a simple “‘no”. These are games that are meant to be played, not just watched. Sure you can watch summary videos, but you’ll only be more confused because those summary videos can’t do the series justice.
If you only have an Xbox One console, the summary videos might help, but if you have a PlayStation 4, you can easily pick up Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far and play through the games and watch the cutscenes for some of the Nintendo games, but even the Nintendo games summaries have left out a lot of things from the games.
Kingdom Hearts isn’t that hard to get into. It’s always had that reputation because Square Enix kept putting different games that had different parts of the story on other consoles, making it hard to get every piece of the story because nobody had enough money to afford a PlayStation 2, a Gameboy Advance, a PlayStation Portable, a 3DS and a PlayStation 4. Now with the Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far collection for the PlayStation 4 you can get caught up on the series before starting Kingdom Hearts III.
The Kingdom Hearts series isn’t going anywhere so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up on it even after launch date on January 29th, 2019. I’m playing catch upon Dream Drop Distance since it’s the only game besides 358/2 Days that I haven’t gotten to play and I’ve played all the games except for that and Union X for mobile.

Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix for Beginners

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What Order to you Play the Games in?

Here is the simple order of how you play the games or watch the summary movies in the Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far collection:

  • Kingdom Hearts I: Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
  • Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep –A Fragmentary Passage-
  • Kingdom Hearts: х Back Cover

You can get started right away and you’ll be all caught up to play Kingdom Hearts III.

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The Games are a Blast to Play and Worth the Price Tag!

The Kingdom Hearts series is a lot of fun and if you love JRPGs, you’ll really love this if you like action RPGs, it’s easy to learn but challenging to master. The story’s entertaining, the boss fights are exciting and it’s a fun way to experience your favorite Disney movies in a new and interesting way. You don’t need any experience with Final Fantasy, and this is coming from someone who never played Final Fantasy before starting Kingdom Hearts, but it will be more fun if you have played Final Fantasy games because you’ll enjoy all the cameos and appearances of certain characters from Final Fantasy if you have played them.

The Kingdom Hearts: All-In-One package is also affordable at $49.99 if you’re looking to get into the series and have a PlayStation 4. Xbox fans now have the opportunity to join the fun since Square Enix has brought Kingdom Hearts to the Xbox One platform, but the price of the digital downloads is very expensive at the moment since they are charging full price for Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue so it's hard to justify Xbox users downloading the games when PlayStation owners can get the entire collection for $49.99 from Amazon.com.

why-now-is-the-perfect-time-to-get-into-the-kingdom-hearts-franchise

Don’t Worry if you Miss the Launch, The Game Won’t Be Going Anywhere!

Don’t worry about missing the initial release date of January 29th, 2019 when Kingdom Hearts III launches, the game will be waiting for you when you finish the others, I won’t be able to play mine for a week because I ordered the Deluxe Edition from Amazon and it’ll take a week for me to get it, but you’ll have plenty of time to get caught up on the story.

Sure you can try to get caught up via videos, but there is something special about playing these games that makes the experience so much fun.

This series is a joy to play and well worth the time investment. The games are inexpensive and by the time you play them all Kingdom Hearts III will be out and you can jump straight into it with the shared excitement the rest of us fans have.

I would recommend Xbox users wait for a Microsoft sale because you are being price gouged by Square Enix when it comes to the price of the digital downloads compared to PlayStation console owners.

I’ve been waiting 13 years for Kingdom Hearts III and now new fans are finding this series and having a great time along with all the old fans. The fandom can get a little crazy, especially with lore elitists but you can always ignore them. Come on in, grab a keyblade and hop in a Gummi ship and travel to new worlds with us!

May your heart be your guiding key!

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