Kingdom Hearts: How and Where to Play

Kingdom Hearts is a game series that began on PS2 and has managed to fit into 12 titles and various collections across consoles and portables before Kingdom Hearts III even released on PS4 and Xbox One.

Since Kingdom Hearts II, the numerous unnumbered entries have been a source of frustration for many, and an almost impenetrable obstacle for those eager to check out the series and see what the hype is all about. 

Despite having a massive following and a dedicated fan base, its complex story creates a high entry barrier for new players. To minimize the confusion here is how and where to play Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts: How and Where to Play
Image source: Microsoft

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is a crossover between Square Enix and Disney and set in a fantasy universe. The series focuses on Sora, the main character, and his adventures and encounters with various characters from Disney, Square Enix, and Pixar.

The series’ heroes battle against Xehanort’s incarnations. The series is made up of 12 games released for different platforms, and has plans for future releases.

Gameplay

The gameplay is more analogous to a rail shooter for the Gummi Ship sections. It was altered in the third title because it received critical feedback in the first edition. Many games also have a journal, which can be accessed from the main menu.

This journal keeps track of the plot, characters, enemies, and location details. In the first three games, Jiminy Cricket retains the journal. The central characters write their journal entries in 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance.

The games are inspired by their parent franchise, Final Fantasy, and have moved their gameplay elements to their hack-and-slash structure focused on action. 

Like other conventional role-playing games, Kingdom Hearts includes an experience point system that determines characters’ development.

The player earns experience as enemies are overcome, which eventually ends in a “level-up” where the characters obtain strength and access to new abilities. 

It shares the amount of experience with all party members and each character gets stronger as advances are made.

Kingdom Hearts: How and Where to Play
Image source: Kingdom Hearts

Things You Need To Know Before Playing It

For instance, Kingdom Hearts III  is a little confusing since it’s far from the third game series.  Here’s a list of each title, not including remakes, in order of plot chronology. 

  • Kingdom Hearts (2002)
  • Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories (2004)
  • Kingdom Hearts II (2005)
  • Kingdom Hearts coded (2008–2010)
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009)
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010)
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012)
  • Kingdom Hearts χ (2013-2016)
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- (2017)
  • Kingdom Hearts III (2019)
  • Kingdom Hearts Dark Road (2020)
  • Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory (2020)

Seven good guys can wield Keyblades, and there are 13 bad guys. The issue is three of those good guys, Terra, Ventus and Aqua, are stuck in various locations. 

The remaining good guys, Sora, Riku, Kari, and Axel, must set the three trapped good guys free and establish a unified front before they battle with the bad guys. The bad guys are all one-person incarnations by Master Xehanort.

Master Xehanort is a Keyblade Master. 

Master Xehanort hopes to forge the χ-blade ( also pronounced “keyblade”), a legendary weapon on which all the Keyblades are based and which unlocks the Kingdom Hearts, the door that safeguards the heart of all worlds.

Kingdom Hearts: How and Where to Play
Image source: Square Enix

Conclusion

Kingdom Hearts, as you might be able to tell from its series of absurdly titled games, is a franchise with a confusing plot. If you go unprepared into it, you will undoubtedly find it perplexing.

It is available on PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Web browser, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.