It seems a lot like Disney and Square-Enix are on different wavelengths as far as developing games goes, what with a Warren Spector project in the works and Final Fantasy XIII well on the way. But there was a time when these two juggernauts of adolescent entertainment teamed up to make sweet, sweet video game love in the form of Kingdom Hearts.
Far from being some tender romp in Japanese role-playing game land, the lovechild of Disney and Square-Enix is heavy stuff. There are epic battles, tragic betrayals and more dramatic plot twists than you could shake a DualShock controller at. To keep you on top of it all and get you up to speed on the story behind the upcoming prequel, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for the PSP, we’ve put together as many of the plot points as we can comprehend in this handy primer. (Note: This guide will be even handier if Square-Enix and Disney surprise us all with a Kingdom Hearts 3 announcement this year. It could happen!)
Read on at the risk of spoilers and migraine-inducing confusion.
SPOILER WARNING: Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts II
The Story So Far… Part One
Gather ‘round, children and let me tell you a tale about a kid named Sora. He lives on a peninsula with his buddies Riku and Kairi, plus some de-aged Final Fantasy characters. Every day the six of them run off to an island where they try to build a raft to run away farther from home and discover some uncomfortable facts about adolescence.
Then a guy in a Jedi robe shows up babbling about doors and darkness. Soon after, the planet implodes amidst an invasion of creepy black insect things called Heartless. Kairi vanishes in Sora’s arms and Riku hits puberty a little too soon. Sora wakes up in a dark alleyway near a bar getting his face licked – which would be a problem if it were anybody other than Pluto! Then a ton of Final Fantasy and Disney characters show up and eventually Sora meets Goofy and Donald Duck.
Goofy and Donald are out looking for Mickey Mouse who was promoted to King of the Universe sometime after Fantasia. His Majesty ditched his responsibilities to fly around in a spaceship looking for an explanation about imploding planets. Because Sora has no place better to be, and because he now has a magic key-sword thing, he accompanies Goofy and Donald on their quest.
Eight Disney-themed worlds later, Sora, Goofy and Donald begin to suspect that something is really wrong. For one thing, several villains from various Disney films have formed a league to kidnap “Princesses of Heart,” which consist mostly of Disney Princesses plus Alice and minus Ariel. For another, Riku turned evil and made off with a catatonic Kairi to join up with said villains. And finally, Cloud from Final Fantasy VII is wearing Vincent’s clothing – which is probably as close as a Disney-themed game will ever get to addressing homosexuality.
It turns out that this guy named Ansem (who’s not really Ansem, but we’ll get to that later) – has been manipulating the Disney villains to gain access to something called Kingdom Hearts (we’ll also get to later). After possessing Riku, who is now devoid of fashion sense and willing to kill his best friend, Ansem escapes to the place where planets go to die. While all of that goes down, Sora rescues Kairi, turns into a Heartless, turns back into himself and then goes after the possessed Riku.
Sora, Goofy and Donald eventually find and confront him, whereupon Ansem first turns into himself (i.e. Sephiroth plus Fabio divided by orange contact lenses) and then later into a boat with teeth. A smackdown ensues and after Ansem gets the boat beat out of him, he opens the door to Kingdom Hearts and explodes. Sora, Donald and Goofy try to close the door because it’s chockfull of Heartless. Riku shows up, now no longer evil and significantly better-dressed, as does Mickey Mouse and they close the door to Kingdom Hearts with Sora on one side and themselves on the other.
Now shit gets weird.