kingdom hearts 1

Kingdom Hearts 1 – Appendix and Tie-Ins

Screenshot_6Kingdom Hearts 1 Manga

I’ve only had one opportunity to read the KH1 manga in the past, and none to read the novelization. I feel I should cover the former since I have technically read it. Unfortunately, I’m not going to have much to say about it. The reason I even have this section is because I have a lot to say about every other Kingdom Hearts manga, but… not this one. The later ones add to the original, or change it to make it work in the new format in interesting ways, or in ways that suck! But not this one. And so I don’t have much to say. I imagine there are a lot of readers that will disagree on this point, but oh well.

The Kingdom Hearts 1 manga adaptation was produced in 4 volumes from October 2005 to July 2006 by Enterbrain. It was later restructured into 3 volumes under the “Final Mix” rebranding, with a few extra scenes. The manga was initially localized by Tokyopop in 2005, and Final Mix was brought back in 2013 by Yen Press, who sell it to this day.

The adaptation is… exact? Faithful? Shit, what do I say? What can I say? This adaptation adds very little, and subtracts only Deep Jungle due to the usual copyright issues, and it also subtracts some minor details that weren’t needed to begin with. It does an adequate job without being stellar or terrible or even unremarkably inadequate. It’s everything in Kingdom Hearts except the gameplay, and it’s a little funnier, but even that doesn’t take as many risks as later projects. I don’t even find the manga preps you for Shiro Amano’s style of writing Sora and the gang in later entries, because the adaptation takes a major turn in CoM, so KH1 isn’t really setting any kind of precedent. I’d talk about the art, if only to fill space, but I’m not familiar enough with manga to really be a judge of that sort of thing.

Screenshot_7As comics reviewer Linkara tells it, comic book adaptations of films were introduced back in the days before the home video, and so served as a sort of “best we can do” home release before the invention of VHS and Betamax. They’re copies, and like Linkara, I’m not entirely sure why you’d want those copies now that home releases are readily available. Unless you aren’t interested in video games, there isn’t much reason to pick up KH1’s Manga instead of KH1, and just as little reason to pick it up alongside KH1. I can see what later KH manga adaptations were doing by adding their own spin, but the Kingdom Hearts 1 manga seems more like cross-promotional piece (from its serialized days) than a standalone one. Maybe this just isn’t my medium.

In a way, this post is half apology and half promise that later Retrospectives on the manga will take up more words and time? Because there really is nothing to say about this one, save that the Heartless actually seem menacing in the manga. That is, until they are pushed into the background forever, seeing as how a comic can’t dwell on minor enemies the way a game can. During Traverse Town, one even rips a grown woman apart (a woman who was… flirting with Sora?). You’d think this would lead to a more mature tone for the book overall, but it really doesn’t. It’s just a blip in the radar before things settle back down to base level, or maybe a little less mature overall. It marches lock-step with the plot from world to world until it finally wraps, and there’s nothing to be said about any of it.

On the plus side, in that same Traverse Town chapter, Cid attacks the Heartless with a makeshift flamethrower. That’s worth the price of release, right? Right?


Yeah, the, uh, later manga retrospectives will be longer. The other mangas made enough changes to justify the additional discussion. This one… not so much.

El Cetro y el Reino

Screenshot_9El Cetro y el Reino (“The Sceptre and the Kingdom”) is a promotional comic released by Spanish retailer GAME as a pre-order bonus for KH1. It’s a surprisingly well-drawn comic book for a pre-order bonus probably commissioned by GAME themselves, not Square, and is hardly canon, but it is interesting in how the characters visit two worlds that hadn’t been seen in the game at the time, and one of which hasn’t been seen yet!

Because the comic is so rare, and doesn’t seem to have been fully uploaded or translated anywhere, I can’t really tell you anything the Wiki doesn’t. Ed: However, Hyperion09 sent me a link to scans from “an Australian magazine” that include an English translation you can see here! If you’re having trouble with the Imgur images, ShardofTruth has uploaded a zip archive. The images were originally posted by GlitchingSpark on reddit.

A strange winged Heartless breaks into Disney Castle, where it steals the “Fairy Sceptre” which it apparently can be used to uncover Excalibur in the world of The Sword and the Stone. Sora and Riku happen to be present (and are friends?) and team up to chase after it, a chase that somehow ends up in Paris during the events of The Hunchback of Notre Dame where Claude Frollo tries to get them executed for witchcraft.


This translation comes from a two-page sample provided by Demyx Xymed on KH13. Sadly, the translation was never completed as far as I can tell, so thank goodness for the Australian English translation above!

Long story short, the kids stop the Heartless with the help of Wart/Arthur and the day is saved. Is wish I could say more but all I’ve got here is a summary and a weird, rare non-canon comic made with a perplexing mix of knowledge of the game.

Actually, Disney Animation Studios director and artist Seth Kearsley revealed in November 2013 that there was a time when they considered making a Kingdom Hearts animated series, but it fell through. This series also had Sora and Riku as buddy-buddies. I guess that’s just far more marketable than “murdering you so I can feel special about myself?” Actually, yeah, I can see how that might be a little more marketable.

Kingdom Hearts: V CAST

vcast-2015-09-09-03h08m49s257Ohhhh boy.

Kingdom Hearts V CAST is… wow, folks.

The short of it is: Disney, without the help of Square Enix except presumably licensing where and if required, developed a game in the Kingdom Hearts series for Verizon Mobile’s “V Cast” service. The game was released in 2004 in Japan, the US in 2005 (a V Cast launch title), and I’m not sure if it was ever taken down prior to V Cast’s December 2012 shut-down, but what information we have about it is slim to none. And that information is that this was not much of a game.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear about the title: the game is simply (and misleadingly) titled “Kingdom Hearts.” Fans calls it “V CAST” to tell it apart from the KH1 we’re familiar with. Hyphenation and capitalization of “V CAST” varies. Before you get smart and suggest “Kingdom Hearts (mobile),” be aware that “Kingdom Hearts Mobile” was also a Kingdom Hearts spinoff title released in Japan around the time of coded, which we’ll be talking about later. I’m sticking with “V CAST.”

Like so many failures before them, KH V CAST is defined by its chronic overshooting of the developers’ abilities. It was a fully 3D game, on old fashioned, number pad cell phones (some Verizon phones featured an arrow pad, but I can’t be certain if this game supported them), and I’m not sure if a good fully 3D game was ever developed for those phones before smart phones arrived on the scene. From the only video that seems to have survived (seemingly taken from recently-retired site, this wasn’t much better.

vcast-2015-09-09-03h29m51s471What story exists involves Sora, Donald and Goofy in the Gummi Ship in the middle of KH1, when Maleficent casts a sleep spell on them and drags them into dreams. Sora awakes on a place called “Swashbuckler’s Island.” Sora sets to work trying to escape.

Let’s take a involved look at the video, or at least as involved as we dare. Sora starts the game facing a parrot, which as I understand was supposed to speak to you. Sora then turns… awkwardly, and not for the last time. This may indicate that the parrot simply has an oversized collision box, but it happens more than once. Sora then runs down the hill, climbs a tree and causes two coconuts to fall into the water, though it’s not clear why he did this as the video fade-cuts to a few moments later. This was probably a promotional video, so it cuts around as it pleases.

vcast-2015-09-09-03h31m02s533In the next section, Sora opens a chest to collect a Potion he will never use (note also the Munny he never uses and the MP bar he never uses), before heading through a door and getting in a fight with some Shadows, which have their health bar in the style of the player’s health bar, but displayed in the bottom-left! That’s probably the snazziest thing here!

The fight begins, and either the player is awful or the game controls terribly, and I think you can guess which is which by watching the rest of the video. The game mysteriously cuts mid-fight, before showing off a canned glider sequence and another suspect fade-cut.

This game does have one thing to its credit: it has swimming! Feel free to rub this in the face of any AAA title that doesn’t! Suck it, industry best-sellers! Kingdom Hearts V CAST could do it, why couldn’t you?

After a third highly suspect jump cut, we appear in an awful, PSX-looking lava area, complete with shitty trigger zones, shitty platforming and a weird chute-like barrel trap that seems to exist “because video games have shitty barrel traps.” The developers made use of fixed camera angles to help with the platforming here, though it’s hard to say if this is a help or hindrance. Controlling the camera on a cell phone would have been a nightmare, but if you’ve ever played platformers with fixed cameras like this, you know how they aren’t much better off. In the video, you can see the player inching their way around to avoid falling off platforms. I feel a rush of empathy every time they squirm.

vcast-2015-09-09-03h31m41s281Finally, Sora climbs a mountain and unlocks a gem of some kind, before we fade-cut to Maleficent for no clear reason. Just when you think this is the climax, we return to Sora to see a feature that might have been even more awful than the rest: the ability to make your own platforms in the water with floating boxes. This is the kind of feature that should never, ever, ever be in a game with terrible platforming controls, by which I mean: no cell phone games, no Kingdom Hearts games, and god help us, no cell phone Kingdom Hearts games!

At this point, the video loses all pretense of being anything but a teaser trailer and has Sora triggering the mountain puzzle again, fighting some Shadows, meeting his evil shadow twin, and seemingly assembling a raft (this may be tied to the sequence with the box-throwing, as the raft has a pirate sail and Sora can be seen collecting a pirate flag, so this may be reminiscent of the Destiny Islands scavenger hunts). Sora then floats away looking just… super bored, before Inception-ing himself into a dream within a dream.

vcast-2015-09-09-03h32m09s733What information we have from that point is slim to none. Wonderland was featured, including the Caterpillar and his hookah, even though the Caterpillar has yet to appear in any official KH game. Agrabah came next, where Jafar may or may not have turned into a giant snake (that’s never been sourced – of course, at this stage in the process, citation may be a thing of the past). And lastly you came to “Maleficent’s Fortress,” which is only described with this sentence I’m about to quote for you, which reads like a dutifully preserved press release: “Maleficent’s Fortress is the final level in Kingdom Hearts V CAST. This is where Sora battles Maleficent in the final chapter. It has the strongest Heartless in the entire game.” The press release-style of the statement implied to me that no one ever actually played the game through to the end.

OR SO WE THOUGHT. Little did we know that almost a year after I made this post, a user named Kingdom King 13 would surface with details on the rest of the actual game, and not just a trailer! You can read the full post here (and should), but what the hell, I’ll do a little summarizing myself.

kh2-2016-06-02-01h51m17s607.pngKingdom King tells us that the Anti Sora seen in the trailer was an easily defeated boss who mirroring your every move, including walking backwards into a pit if you move correctly, which must have been just as pathetic as Kingdom King makes it sound. After Swashbuckler’s Island, you headed to Wonderland, where you would fight local enemies, Kingdom King mentioning the walking bird-glasses from the movie as enemies. The Caterpillar instructs Sora on how to leave the dream, namely by making a potion out of some magical teeth attached to upcoming bosses. The first boss in Wonderland was of a “giant floating ghost crocodile,” goodness knows where that idea came from. Maybe I need to give Alice in Wonderland a closer look!

The only way to hurt the ghost crocodile was using magic, which Kingdom King tells me included Fire and Blizzard, and possibly also Thunder, and he notes that there was no Cure in the game. The game instead ran on Potions that were used automatically once you were killed! That’s certainly a clever way to manage that sort of thing in a low-button setup like a cell phone! Ethers worked the same way for magic. The only way to beat the crocodile was to shoot it in its open mouth with magic, so these fundamentals are important.

kh2-2016-06-02-01h50m55s612.pngAfter the ghost crocodile, you went on to Agrabah, where Sora was able to use Genie’s lamp himself to take on Jafar, followed by, yes, a boss fight with Jafar the cobra! Unlike the past two bosses, Kingdom King doesn’t describe this one as being a sort of puzzle or timing based boss, which is too bad, since a timing based boss was probably ideal for the poor tiny cell phone systems of the day.

The last world in the game (yes, just four) was indeed Maleficent’s Fortress, namely the fortress from Sleeping Beauty, complete with pig guards! Kingdom King says that Donald and Goofy catch up to you here, and you have to use the game’s painstaking tank controls to reach the final boss up a dangerous climb. What a cruel prank for the developers to pull at the eleventh hour! You then fight Dragon Maleficent and return to the real world. Or do you? Kingdom King’s final observation is something I should probably quote directly:

Anyway, for the grand finale, Sora races to one of Maleficent’s cauldrons, create the potion with Donald’s help, dump the Teeth in the potion, lights Goofy’s head on fire because he got in the way of your Fire spell trying to cook the potion, THEN you light the cauldron, and jump inside the Cauldron into the brew. Sora immediately wakes up in the Gummi Ship once more. He tells Donald about his dream and is thankful that it turned out to be just that: a dream. Goofy asks if Sora is sure that it was just a dream… Sora turns back, and Goofy’s head is still on fire.

…The end.

Let the confusion flow through you.

Well I certainly am, what about you?

Again, thanks to Kingdom King 13 for this huge boon to the KH fan community, bringing us probably as close as we’ll ever get to the infamous lost Kingdom Hearts game. If you’d like to show him some thanks, head over to his DeviantArt for some theories and discussions!

Some time after Kingdom King’s post, we later heard news that a phone had been found with the game’s Chapter 1 data installed on it. The game was programmed in Java (unsurprising), and could theoretically be emulated, but there was a serious problem: due to the small storage of cell phones at the time, the game was released in such a fashion that after you finished a section, the game would download the next and delete the old. That means the game is still mostly lost, as the only way to recover it would be to find the original data or to find multiple cell phones, each of which abandoned their KHVCast playthrough at just the right point in the game to complete the set! Unlikely odds, but if that one chapter is ever emulated, I’ll be sure to give it a closer look!

Some time after that, another VCast trailer was unearthed on Youtube, showing gameplay from the remaining worlds (including a few scenes of Sora fighting a mummy?). You can see Stephanie’s post below for more details, but the link to it is here!

Prev: Kingdom Hearts 1 – Sequel Baiting for Fun and Profit
Next: Kingdom Hearts CoM – Go Fish

Kingdom Hearts 1 – Sequel Baiting for Fun and Profit


Some credits screenshots, since obviously the reports don’t have pictures.

I said earlier that I’d address the final two Ansem reports, from Sephiroth and the Unknown, so let’s start our examination of sequel-baiting there. These reports are very curious. Ansem Report 12 has Ansem discussing a certain subject he was studying that lost its heart but did not fade away. “Its memories remain and it has yet to take the form of a Heartless. A close eye must be kept on the situation. Much is still unknown.” It may very well be that this report was written after Ansem cast off his own body given that this is presumably written after Report 10. If that’s the case, then this report may be hinting that Ansem is discussing himself. You might be questioning where he found the paper after turning into a Heartless and appearing god-knows-where, but KH2 pulls a similar stunt, so you can see where I’m coming from.

He then curiously segues into another discussion, about the cosmology of the Kingdom Hearts universe. He says there is “The realm of Darkness. The realm of Light. And the world in between. Wherein lies true nirvana?” And you can’t believe how hard it was to write this endless Retrospective without using the terms “Realm of Darkness” and “Realm of Light” before they were introduced. But that’s obviously not the real focus of this report. What is “the world in between?” He doesn’t give us very much information…

kh1-2015-08-31-21h42m04s647In the 13th and final report, Ansem asks a fundamental question: when the heart leaves the body to become a Heartless, the body disappears. “Where does the body go when it separates from the heart? If the soul remains within the body, is it still considered to be deceased?” He says, if things are exactly as they appear, then there may be another half of someone who became a Heartless, still out there, “abandoned by its heart; a mere shell of its former self.

He then raises an existentialist possibility. If your “self” is your identity, then your Heart must be your identity, since your heart is refined into an identity by past experiences and association. That means it’s the heart that makes up “you,” and your existence is tied to your heart. Ergo, the other “you,” the body without a heart, “cannot truly ‘exist.’

Perhaps unaware of the irony of what he is doing, or perhaps in acknowledgement of the accidental wordplay that went into the name “Heartless”: Ansem dubs these beings of body and soul, these things that lack identity, “Nobody.”

Another side, Another story [deep dive]

We return again to RickyC’s playthrough of the original PS2 release from World of Longplays (YouTube) as our source for screenshots from the secret ending. Unfortunately this means we’ll only get shots from the first of the two endings, but it’ll more than suffice.

kh1-2015-08-31-21h46m07s316Kingdom Heart’s secret endings follow the completion screen, if you’ve completed the requirements for one or both. Now, this is true of many of the secret endings, but as high-intensity trailers rather than narratives, these two are really are more worth watching than reading about, if you’ve never seen them before. (Nevertheless, I’m not going to link anything as these videos have a habit of being taken down.) But like other parts of the game, I’m going to try to approach this from the perspective of a new player trying to deduce as much as possible.

KH1’s secret endings essentially bleed into one another. FM could have sown them together without break if they had wanted, but I’m glad they preserved them as separate videos. In this first video (from the original game), a man in the black cloak of the Unknown walks through a dark, modern city in the rain, to the base of a skyscraper. We do not recognize the man: he is blond with bangs, but doesn’t have Cloud’s build, so we must conclude that he’s a stranger. Another man in a cloak looks down from atop the tallest skyscraper. This second man is unhooded – Riku? It’s hard to say. It really does look like Riku, but there’s an issue where the trailer has such a high level of detail that you could easily be confused just because we’ve never seen Riku this close! This second man is also wearing a blindfold. Just then, Neoshadows begin to rise from the ground around the blond man. T this was their first real appearance in the series in Vanilla KH1, and they look far more menacing than any Hearts we’ve seen before this dark and dismal video. The blond man draws a Keyblade – the Oathkeeper – and then also the Oblivion in his opposite hand. We’ve never seen the Keyblades be dual-wielded before, so this is all very excited to our inner twelve year old.

Above, a meteor shower begins, and below, the first man summons the Heartless emblem in light, cutting him off from the Heartless. In a captioned close-up, the first man asks: “Where’s Sora?”

kh1-2015-08-31-21h46m40s034At this point, the trailer begins throws lines of dialogue and names of new ideas at us, in Japanese and in English. Some of the lines of dialogue are old (“What is this place?”) and some are not (“You are the source of all Heartless.”). Finally, we get the line of dialogue “We’ll go together,” and the title “KINGDOM HEARTS.” In the final shot, what appears to be an older Kairi with long hair stands the beach at the Destiny Islands.

If you’ve unlocked the second trailer, sadly FM won’t show you the first, which is very strange, seeing as how they’re two halves of the same whole. KH2:FM+ would show both trailers if you’ve unlocked both, because that’s elementary. C’mon KH1! Make sure to YouTube the original trailer or beat the game before qualifying for the second video to see both. The second video is called “Another Side, Another Story [deep dive],” and because some people like myself are lazy typists, it’s not uncommon to see both secret videos addressed as “deep dive” from time to time. I’ve been trying my best not to slip into old habits.

Deep Dive opens with a short of Sora at a crossroads in the green field (a shot that became one of the opening shots of Chain of Memories), and the words “Utter silence.” From there, we’re shown a message in a bottle at a dark beach, with the words “A fragmented tale / a world without you / The eyes will close.” Yikes, this is more than a little ominous. Still on the dark beach, we see a cloaked figure with bright yellow eyes step out of a portal from a rock. We see the words “Something so natural” appear, and we get a static effect that returns us to the dark city from the original secret ending.

By the way, the track in these videos, ”Another Side, Another Story,” goes on to become one of KH2’s central musical motifs.

kh1-2015-08-31-21h47m46s240Back in the city, the blond stranger and the Neoshadows engage. There’s a lot of fighting and flips, and the stranger seems to be actually defeating the Neoshadows, unlike poor baby Sora. However, the stranger is using Sora’s Keyblades despite not being Sora, and he uses Strike Raid, further complicating our understanding of what’s going on. During the fracas, we get the text, “The memory beyond.”

The stranger lands at the foot of the skyscraper, and we get the text “Something so simple.” Riku and the stranger lock eyes (so to speak, considering Riku’s blindfold and the stranger’s hood) and the stranger breaks away from the Heartless to begin running up the wall of the skyscraper. Of course, the Heartless follow. I have no trouble believing the Neoshadows can climb a wall, but the stranger doing it puts me in a bind between awesome and preposterous. This actually does happen in KH2 (and Days, which also shows this sequence), but KH2 (and Days) doesn’t go to the trouble of making sure it… makes sense… and that’s sort of ruined the awesome impact of the original visual. The appearance of running up a wall KH2 makes it seem like Nomura was just having fun with this trailer but then felt bound to reproduce it even after he couldn’t explain it?

The text now begins a countdown, showing the number thirteen in roman numerals. It will continue to countdown, swapping randomly between roman numerals and Arabic numerals. XIII is accompanied by the text “Where’s Sora?” from the original trailer, along with some additional text that disappears so quickly that it hasn’t even fully formed from its unfocused transition. I’m having trouble capturing it in freeze-frame! This is a problem throughout the countdown. I think it says “We must hide him.” Or possibly… “We must hid him” [sic]. I don’t think I can blame the FM team if they didn’t bother fully localizing a trailer that was never going to be released in English.

kh1-2015-08-31-21h48m11s157The stranger fights off Neoshadows as he climbs, using the laziest swings imaginable. It looks awful. Just then, a group of Neoshadows appears in front of him, and he cuts through them using Strike Raid with the Oblivion. Riku dives off the skyscraper and intercepts the Keyblade (this scene is revisited in KH2 and Days games, where he seems to be tossing the Oblivion to Riku rather than attacking Neoshadows, or at least that’s my view on the matter). 12: Ansem’s other report. “A creation born of ignorance.” Riku turns in mid-flight to catch the Oblivion, and two briefly lock eyes a second, something that will be a little expanded on once we finally see this play out in canon.

11 and 10 appear during this sequence, but in a questionable decision, 11 “shifts” from 12’s text to 11’s proper text, but spends more time with 12’s text on screen than 11’s! I know we’re not supposed to be reading this without multiple views, but c’mon! 11’s text is properly “Behind the door [is not equal to] Door to Light.” Hmm… 10 has both a title and two lines of dialogue: The secret place / “His voice… It’s left me.” / “This time… I’ll fight.” I originally thought these lines were never used in KH2, but reader dlppictures corrected me on this and several other points. It turns out KH2 did a great job catching all these lines, though the localization may have changed in places. Thanks, dlppictures!

kh1-2015-08-31-21h48m30s809As Riku falls and the stranger continues his anti-gravity run to the top, we are assailed by numbers and text. 9: “The world between = A forgotten world” / “The gathering.” By the way, “The Gathering,” oddly enough, would go on to become the title of KH2’s secret video, so maybe we’re supposed to be looking past KH2’s scope? VIII: “The third enemy = Nobody” Wait, who was the second enemy? “Who is Nobody you ask? They are the nonexistent.” (I believe that’s supposed to say “the nonexistent ones” but the English text is cut off by the end of the screen.) VII: ENDLESS “What took you so long, Kairi?” (Text from the first trailer) “Can we do it? Against that?”

This is a lot to take in at once, but between 9, VIII and the FM Ansem Reports, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce the Nobodies will be the focus of upcoming games, who may be the “creation born from ignorance” from 12. Some others are intriguing, like 10 while others are simply generic. The second dialogue from VII sounds like generic pre-boss text! Are we trying to hype the viewer or are we trying to fill space?

Visuals from KH1 begin to intercut the trailer, and we return to the dark beach, where one cloaked figure, looking like the blond stranger, meets another who is waiting on a rock. Some text appears unaccompanied by a number: HEARTLESS “We have come for you, my liege.” “You are the source of all Heartless.” There’s something menacing about this. Is it possible that they’re being spoken to a protagonist instead of an antagonist? 6: “The Thirteenth Order.” and then “Metamorphosis” / “Sora?” “Sora… Why?” / “Your Highness! But why?” Now it seems like Mickey and Sora might change and betray the others! Taken with VII, this could be an interesting turn. Quickly my friends! We must flock to the banner of the evil mouse!

kh1-2015-08-31-21h49m05s4805 flashes by so fast I had to go frame-by-frame to catch its text. “Change” / “The third key.” That’s not so much a surprise, as some of the others have been: we already know about three keys. It’s just a question of which key the trailer is talking about. It could be addressing the Key to Darkness or Keyblade of People’s Hearts, but it’s hard to make that argument when the blond stranger is swinging around two Keyblades at once. If we take “Key” to mean “Keyblade wielder” as Donald and Goofy did in KH1, it seems likely to me the third key refers to this blond fellow. Depends on how you read it. 4 is a whole wall of text: End of the world / “What is this place?” / “Is this the answer you’ve been looking for?” / “This is the world in its true form.” / “Maybe our journey meant nothing at all.” If you think about it, half of these lines are generic again and could go anywhere, but the last two are very intriguing…

3 says simply “Paradise,” though after a shot of Kairi and Sora being separated at the end of KH1, it adds “-> We’ll go together.” It then shows four cloaked figures from the trailer, as though to clarify they’re all distinct people: the yellow-eyed fellow, Riku, the blond stranger, and someone else who is simply indistinct. Finally, we see the number II, which has no text at all, but is followed by King Mickey in one of these omnipresent black cloaks, the words “Kingdom Hearts.” As nice a visual as this is, Mickey actually isn’t present when this scene plays out in canon, making it probably the biggest break between the trailer and actual events. To our surprise, the countdown stops at II.

In the final scene, the two cloaked figures on the beach meet. The one waiting on the rock turns to the first and says “I went to see him. He looks just like you.” Finally, a dream-visual of Sora flying over a stormy sea and the poorly translated conclusion: “Everything is coming back to me, the true…”

Here’s my best shot at predicting the upcoming game or games while trying to ground myself in the perspective of a new KH1 player. The game will focus on Nobodies and the attempt to find “the world between” proposed by Ansem in his final report. In so doing, Sora will discover something that will make him doubt his efforts (4), and he and Mickey may even take drastic action that will cause them to take on an antagonist role (though I can’t imagine Disney allowing Mickey to go evil for real, so it’s probably just a temporary fake-out on his part, if not both of them). This blond stranger will come looking for Sora at some point (maybe after Sora goes evil), though I can’t decide if the stranger is supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy. The bad guys will be called “The Thirteenth Order,” because that’s not the name of a good guy organization, that’s for sure. Kairi will only show up late (VII) after realizing she’s lost some kind of heart-to-heart contact with Sora (10) but will join the party at that point (also 10). But I guess that’s all just guesswork until the next…


And Conclusion

kh1-2015-08-31-21h49m58s595It’s at this point that I feel almost obliged to sign off with a concluding review. But at the same time, if you’ve read everything I have to say about the game at each individual moment, you probably have a good impression of my impressions. Another issue is that I’m not entirely done talking about KH1, as I’ll be comparing other games to it as we go along, and so on with those games to even later games. It’s a downside of this low-spoiler Retrospective format: I can only compare games once I’ve covered the other games. Up until this point, I could only have said “This part in KH1 is better/worse than this part in KH2” if I was willing to risk a spoiler, but I can easily say “This part is better/worse than this part in KH1” from this point on! In a matter of speaking, criticism of KH1 will go on until the end of the retrospective. As a result, it’s no so easy to have concluding thoughts about it. Maybe I’ll have concluding thoughts about later games, once we’ve had a few more games under our belts, but this one…? Not so much.

To wrap up this discussion of Kingdom Hearts 1, I’m going to spend the next entry talking about some of the promotional tie-ins: the manga, and a few surprises. After that, we’ll be moving on properly to Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.

Prev: Kingdom Hearts 1 – Simple and Clean
Next: Kingdom Hearts 1 – Appendix and Tie-Ins

This retrospective’s screenshots come from Spazbo4’s longplay of the PS3, 1.5 HD version of Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix at World of Longplays (YouTube), and RickyC’s longplay of the PS2, western Vanilla version of Kingdom Hearts 1, also at World of Longplays (YouTube).

Kingdom Hearts 1 – Simple and Clean

kh1-2015-08-31-21h18m45s779The World of Chaos is destroyed, and the Guardian seems to go with it. Soon Sora, Donald and Goofy are floating with Ansem out in the void (Ansem found the time to put his clothes back on, apparently). But it seems it’s… too… late? Wait, what was Ansem trying to accomplish with that all that ship nonsense? Why didn’t he just go to Kingdom Hearts? Because that’s exactly what he does right now. He notes that one Keyblade can’t seal the Door to Darkness alone, and orders the door to open, and for Kingdom Hearts to give him the power he’s been looking for.


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Busting up the Beach Xtreme

kh1-2015-08-31-20h27m03s517Beyond the ornate door, close to the heart of The End of the World, you find the beach of Destiny Islands. I’m sure this will surprise some less than others – KH1 is so referential to its opening hours that this isn’t a very surprising way for it to end. You’re given a moment to explore with Donald and Goofy, but most of the doors don’t work. Inevitably, you’ll realize the game wants you to go to the secret cave, which is when Ansem makes his approach. As he repeats his lines from his appearance on Destiny Islands, the island begins to crumble, corrupt and crack. With the entrance to the cave destroyed, you turn back to find Riku, looking out over the cliff side that was once the beach.

(During this time, PS2 players can access a great glitch to pretty much fly around the island.)


Kingdom Hearts 1 – In the beginning, there was only the Void…

kh1-2015-08-28-17h37m14s754After one last brutal Gummi crawl, it’s time to say goodbye to the old Highwind, with its sixty-three distinct gun decks, and to step into The End of the World, a very different place. This world is a world made from the pieces of the worlds the Heartless have destroyed, an anti-Traverse Town at the opposite end of the map, gathered for some… purpose. Goofy addresses the End of the World as “a Heartless world,” which I believe he’s using not just to mean a world populated by the Heartless, but a world-that-is-Heartless the same way a human can be a Heartless. It’s an interesting idea.

After a whole game of careful, distinct layouts, Square goes all-out with the finale, making sure each room comes off as memorable. They don’t quite succeed due to a double-tunnel near the end, but that’s just me getting pedantic. This is one of the series’ most best worlds, even as a hodge-podge. Let’s get started.


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Estuans interius, &c


Leon muses back on Omega Weapon, probably.

Everything in the previous entry was late-game stuff you could easily do before the final boss, but at this point, we’re well and truly into the list of stuff you should be doing after you’ve beaten the game. But since they’re available now, we might as well cover them. For the record, the term “Superboss” comes from turn-based RPGs, where it refers to bosses measurably stronger than the final boss, which exist just for the challenge. Final Fantasy 1 introduced Death Machine, aka Warmech, which is often cited as gaming’s first Superboss, but it doesn’t actually outclass the final boss, it was just very strong. I can’t say what the first true superboss was (Final Fantasy started to standardize them circa FFV), but Final Fantasy had acquired its first true superboss in FFVII. Kingdom Hearts, though… Kingdom Hearts is really fond of the idea. If you want to prove you’re the best at the game, you’re going to have your work cut out for you with some of these high-class challenges.


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Ego and Candy

kh1-2015-08-20-02h16m17s132Having been informed by Chip and Dale that yet another tournament is open (you have to seal the Keyhole at Hollow Bastion and beat the other three tournaments first), you can head over to Olympus Coliseum and find a surprise: Hades’ face is plastered over the listings on one side of the hall. It seems the God of the Underworld has thrown his own tournament since Maleficent’s plan collapsed, and everyone he hates is invited… though strangely enough, Hercules doesn’t show! Isn’t killing him in a tournament your entire plan?


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Tying Those Loose Ends

ffiv-2015-08-17-20h36m45s570Returning to Hollow Bastion, you’re immediately reunited with Beast, who has decided the best way to protect Belle is to putter around the fringes outside the castle instead of being anywhere near her? I guess you’re the boss. He rejoins, and you begin the long climb back to the top. All the old save points have been disabled until you’ve revisited them, and the Bastion’s new Heartless formations are waiting nearly every step of the way. At least the puzzles are still solved…


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Well that’s the plot everybody, time to go home!

Once you return to the Chapel to save, the door to the Great Hall is open. Inside, you can visit the sleeping Princesses, but can’t do anything to help them yet. There’s nothing to do but to push forward, and curse the game when it cuts you off from some valuable chests by hurling you into a cutscene. What did I say, game? What did I say?

kh1-2015-08-14-15h09m47s309No, I guess Sora can’t resist the chance to have a showdown with Creepy Riku, and he dashes so far ahead of the others that they fall into a trap: Creepy Riku puts up a force field around the emblem platform, trapping Sora and Donald in and Goofy out. I can’t help but laugh, and not because Goofy bonks his nose into the thing: it’s because Kingdom Hearts 2 has a force field fetish and I’m not the first person to joke about the bad guys using the damn things to actually trap people out instead of just delaying Sora with enemy groups. We’re going to talk more about KH2’s little… hobby once we get to that game, but for the time being, just be aware that Sora is now trapped in an arena with Creep Reeks, and no one even seems to notice poor Goofy.

Anyways, welcome, friends. Welcome to the cutscene that PS2 players, lacking a Skip Scene button, had to watch over, and over, and over again. Some players can still recite it from memory!


Kingdom Hearts 1 – Come forth, my creature of shadow!

kh1-2015-08-11-00h55m25s772Even if you’re excited to rush back to old worlds to find the rest of the games’ secrets, there’s a save point in the next room, so you may as well continue. For the time being, the Heartless seem to be leaving you alone, giving you a chance to explore the nearby rooms. Riku has slipped past you through a door with a Heartless emblem-shaped indentation, which is now locked. Through the only other door, you discover the castle’s library. Careful observers will realize it is the one from the vision of Kairi and the older woman. Hollow Bastion is Kairi’s homeworld.