As we patiently await the release of Kingdom Hearts III at some point in the future, I think this is a fair time to look back on the series as a whole and appreciate all of the amazing moments the games had to offer. Now if you’re thinking that I’ve deliberately selected seven moments to correspond with the seven princesses of heart and heroes of light, that’s a very astute observation from you that was completely unintentional on my part. I only wish I could be this intentionally witty, but it just so happens that these are the seven moments and events that resonate with me the most strongly from the Kingdom Hearts series.
7. Sora’s Sacrifice (Kingdom Hearts)
Sora sacrifices himself in order to return Kairi’s heart to save her, and in the process becomes a Heartless. Donald, Goofy and Kairi all try to escape Hollow Bastion, and you take control of Sora’s Heartless form and try to catch up with them. Not only is running around as a tiny Heartless adorable, but the events that lead up to this moment is really great as well because it emphasizes just how far these characters will go to protect each other. This whole entire sequence of the game is both fun to play and exciting to experience because of how it affects the story. Unless you don’t get that far because you crack under the pressure and lead Sora off of a cliff.
6. Reverse/Rebirth (Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories)
I have this moment a little lower than it should be, because it’s not so much a single moment as much as an entire narrative experience. After beating Chain of Memories, Riku’s story campaign is unlocked, allowing you to enjoy the game again from an entirely new perspective. Riku’s entire journey in this game is absolutely fantastic because it starts his ultimate transition from a jealous, selfish teenager to a kind and selfless friend seeking redemption for all of his mistakes. We’ve all talked about how great a character Riku is, and it’s because of this moment in Chain of Memories that he gets to that point.
5. The Final Battle (Kingdom Hearts II)
The entire final battle for Kingdom Hearts II is exciting and grandiose, with Sora and Riku teaming up while Xemnas tries to beak their trust in each other throughout the battles. The best moment though is during the final phase. Sora and Riku confront Xemnas and as the battle progresses, things get even more chaotic. Xemnas tries to extract Sora’s heart, allowing the player to control Riku for a full twenty seconds in order to save him, which is super awesome and fun. Then, Xemnas goes all out and shoots a million lasers at Sora and Riku, but you get to block and dodge all of them like champions by button mashing. It’s a really fun intense final battle that doesn’t hold back in terms of a challenge, but also having narrative drama that’s exciting and memorable.
4. Battle of 1000 Heartless (Kingdom Hearts II)
I remember when I first played Kingdom Hearts II and when this part of the game came up. Radiant Garden is being attacked by the Organization and Maleficent, and then, as if things couldn’t get worse, Goofy appears to die before this horde of Heartless begins approaching the town. For my twelve year old brain, this was a huge deal, and I was sort of freaking out because of how high the stakes were. The 1000 Heartless battle itself may have been quite easy, but story-wise, it’s an epic and awesome moment too. Not only is Sora fighting off the Heartless, but so are several of the characters in Radiant Garden (TIIIFFFAAA!), and it’s because of all of this teamwork that I love this part of Kingdom Hearts II a lot. I hope that something just as grandiose will occur in Kingdom Hearts III.
3. Arrival at Hollow Bastion (Kingdom Hearts)
Hollow Bastion marks the moment in which the Kingdom Hearts story started to catapult towards the mature, awesome direction it’s at now. Not only is the atmosphere of Hollow Bastion great, but Sora’s arrival there also marks a huge moment of character development for him too. Riku, having gained more power from the darkness, steals back the Keyblade as he believes himself to be the one true master. Before leaving, he effortlessly strikes down Beast and leaves Sora to fend for himself with a wooden sword. Not only that, but Donald and Goofy follow their orders to follow the Keyblade wielder, whoever that may be, and it results in Sora and the Beast joining forces. Kingdom Hearts was far from a perfect game in light of the later games, but this was the first major moment that showed the series’ potential for surprising twists and great setups.
2. Xion’s End (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days)
When I played 358/2 Days for the first time, I knew very quickly that it was not a good thing for Xion to be one of my top favorite characters. Her lack of existence in the later games spelled disaster for her fate in this game, but I couldn’t help myself. Her friendship with Roxas and Axel is just so sweet and genuine that seeing it all fall apart in the second half of the game is heartbreaking. To make matters worse, she’s the game’s final boss (technically, as Riku’s a tad bit easy to be a true final boss), and it’s really depressing having to fight against her. The battles are long and arduous (although the music is excellent in the final phase), and then, as if the game can’t break my heart any further, we have to watch Xion die. And it’s really depressing. I cry every time. It even made Shaun emotional, and that’s pretty rare. Needless to say, this is a moment that I always associate with why 358/2 Days is such an enjoyable game because of what it adds to Roxas’ already great character development.
1. Roxas vs Riku (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days)
358/2 Days was a fantastic addition to the series for a lot of reasons, the main one being that we get to see the entire context of this fight. The battle between Roxas and Riku had been alluded to a long time ago back in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts. It featured a rainy city with a cloaked individual fighting off Neoshadows and a blindfolded individual on top of the nearby skyscraper. It’s such an awesome secret ending that to this day, I still get chills whenever I watch it. From there, the games continually add extra bits of content and scenes until 358/2 Days, where we finally get the full context of the battle and its aftermath. Part of the reason why this moment is so awesome is because of how it is continually expanded upon in the games, but also because of what an emotional battle this really is. Both characters are fighting for something they strongly believe in, and it makes the battle that much more exciting. Finally, as always the music is top-notch as always which makes this part of the game even more epic.
I’ve been a loyal fan of the Kingdom Hearts series for many years now, and I can’t wait to see what Kingdom Hearts III has in store for us. Until then, I’ll just keep replaying the other games and experiencing my favorite moments over and over again to keep myself from going insane with impatience. Luckily, these seven moments will certainly give me the incentive I need to experience the series again because of how awesome and memorable they are.