What can you solve in an elevator conversation? At the most I can talk about time, since Shinji Hashimoto managed to make a proposal to a Disney executive who had a lot to do with the world of video games.
This series spent a lot of time in our vote, it didn’t get its space in the sun, but this is the perfect time for it to shine. This is From Worst to Best in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which is part of Voxel’s year-end special. Here are our criteria, pay close attention:
The notes presented are based on the Metacritic note aggregator. If the game was released for more than one platform initially, we will take the notes for each version and do an arithmetic average.
We consider the main games in the franchise.
In the case of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, we consider versions 1.5 and 2.5 remix because they contain the main games and some extra content that are important in the franchise’s lore.
Excluding these two cases, we consider the original games
8) Kingdom Hearts Coded (2008) – 66 (Mobile, Nintendo DS)
At the bottom of the list is Kingdom Hearts: Coded, released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS. Unlike the others, Coded seems to be the only game in the series that fans don’t miss much if they just don’t play, as it tells the story of Data Sora, a Sora created virtually to try to eliminate bugs in the talking journal of Cricket.
In the Final Mix compilation, made for the PS4, the game was not even adapted like many others, but was transformed into a short film, remastering only the cutscenes to put in the collection.
Critics liked the variety in gameplay and graphics, but criticized the story and the platform parts. This made him get a very low score, 66.
7) Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009) – 75 (Nintendo DS)
Eighth, we have Kingdom Hearts 358/2, released in 2009, the first game in the series that Sora is not the protagonist. The game gives us a deeper look at each member of Organization 13 and their motivations for being in the position they are in.
We learned a little more about the mysterious nobodies, but you can tell that the definitions can be a little… confusing. The story follows every day that Roxas spent in the organization, having the important job of gathering hearts with his keyblade so that the organization’s plans were completed.
As much as it is loved, 385/2 Days is also well criticized, making fans have a love-hate relationship with the game, and it was no different with criticism. While many critics liked the story change, many criticized repetitive gameplay, a consequence of moving to a less powerful console than the original. Your grade is 75.
6) Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012) – 75 (Nintendo 3DS)
Another game that came out for DS, but this time for the Nintendo 3DS, was Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, released in 2012, which was Sora’s last game before Kingdom Hearts 3, released 7 years later.
The story follows Sora and Riku taking the test to become masters of the keyblade and, for that, they need to travel between sleeping worlds and approach them with the power of the weapon. The game featured new mechanics, some welcome, and others less so. The first was Flowmotion, a very fun and dynamic system that mixes speed with practicality. The other is the infamous Drop System.
In a strange way of getting the two protagonists to continue the story together, the game’s developers set a time limit with each character. Instead of completing a level with Sora and then completing another with Riku, players have to race against a clock within the game that as soon as it reaches zero, the game automatically switches to another character, in another phase.
Another thing that divided opinions was the crazy path that the story began to take, being presented several points like time travel, resurrection of characters, and the concept that they call “norted”, that a character becomes a part of Xehanort, the main one villain of the saga. Most of the analysts liked the changes in the gameplay, but not so much of the story, classifying it as uninteresting in several moments, joining weak dialogs with dubious motivations. Your grade is 75.
5) Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004) – 76 (Game Boy Advanced, PlayStation 2)
Contrary to what many people think, the second game in the series is Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, released in 2004 for the GameBoy. This strange choice of console certainly caused confusion in the Kingdom Hearts fandom.
Square was widely criticized for putting a direct continuation of the first PS2 game onto the GameBoy, forcing fans to have more than one console to follow the story, which has gained a reputation for being extremely confused for that reason.
The plot tells the journey of Sora, Goofy, and Donald Duck exploring the mysterious Oblivion Castle, where the protagonists are introduced to Organization 13, strange figures with long black coats. Upon entering the castle, Sora gains an item, which introduces us to the game’s controversial battle system: Cards. Unlike the first game, the combat in the second is all card-based, in which the player has a limited number of options and chooses an action for half of the cards, such as attacking with the keyblade or using a spell.
When exploring the castle, the characters slowly lose their memory, leaving the players curious to understand what is happening. Critics did not like the card battle system, but the story ended up making up for that. He scored 76.
4) Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix (2013) – 77 (Playstation 3)
And here we have the remastered collection that embraces the very first game, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix, launched in 2013. The idea of having a mix of final fantasy with Disney characters was still so crazy that we would never have imagined it would work so well. It all starts on the island of Destiny Islands, where Sora, Kairi and Riku try to build a small boat so that they can escape the place.
However, even if they did leave the island, it was not quite the way they imagined. A strange storm engulfed the place and, in the process, Sora receives a mysterious sword shaped like a key. Our protagonist is separated from his friends and falls into Traverse Town, where he meets Squall, or Leon, in the game, and Yuffie, characters from Final Fantasy 8.
In the same city he also meets the other two main characters in the plot, Goofy and Donald Duck, and together they travel through Disney worlds like the Tarzan forest, Wonderland and more, all while Sora seeks out her friends, and his Disney partners look for King Mickey Mouse. Even with the strange plot, the game was very well received by the public and the critics.
Analysts liked the visuals, the expanded content of the collection and the adjusted gameplay, but the camera doesn’t help and the jumps are impressive. His grade is 77.
3) Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix (2014) – 81 (Playstation 3)
Thirdly, the remastered collection of the third game in the series! Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix arrived in 2014 and its main game Kingdom Hearts 2, which is a direct sequel to Chain of Memories. The title tells the story of the protagonist Sora, who has no recollection of the events of the past game, again in search of his friends Riku and Kairi while facing Organization 13.
The game features new mechanics that make the gameplay much more dynamic, not to mention the appearance of the “press triangle to win” as its fans call the reaction system. But perhaps the most welcome news was the drive forms.
With them, Sora can have a new style of clothing and combat, assuming even the very stylish dual wield! In addition, new worlds were introduced, such as Mulan’s China, and the Disney world in the 1930s. Critics enjoyed the combat, the unique visuals of the worlds and the great side activities. The problems were the sudden increase in difficulty and the questionable quality of the narrative. Your grade is 81.
2) Kingdom Hearts III (2019) – 81.5 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
After a long wait, Kingdom Hearts 3 was released in 2019. The game continues exactly where Dream Drop Distance ends, and already in the first world we strongly feel the change that the series has undergone. The graphics are beautiful, and the gameplay is more fun than ever. The story follows our protagonists on the way to gather all the guardians of the light necessary to destroy the new organization 13, composed of 13 Xehanorts.
The title gives an end to the saga we have known since the first game in the series, promising the final clash between our heroes against the villain who apparently started all the problems we faced before we got here. For the first time, we can upgrade the keyblades with their level system, and we no longer need to change the weapon every time we enter a new world, being able to use the ones we like best, not the ones that do the most damage!
The attraction system is a very colorful and fun addition to the game, it can summon attractions from the real Disney parks, like a pirate ship and a merry-go-round, but sometimes their button is the same button to open a chest can be a little frustrating. And when we thought it was over, we were surprised with new questions, showing that it was just a new beginning.
The critics loved the different worlds, the captivating characters and the simple and fun combat. The criticisms are linked to the extremely complex and difficult to follow plot, some worlds that seem scarce and the gameplay on the Gummi Ship that is not at all fun. Your grade is 81.5.
1) Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010) – 82 (PlayStation Portable)
Now let’s go to our first place, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. The game that originally came out for the PSP introduced so many new things that it is even complicated to learn everything.
First he starts in a slightly different way, asking you to choose between three characters to play: Terra, a young warrior who cannot control the darkness inside, Aqua, a skilled warrior who at the beginning of the game receives the honor of being a master of the keyblade, and Ventus, the youngest of the trio who acts more like the younger brother of the other characters.
For each of them, we see a different view of the same story, and how that character came to such a point in the story. The story takes place 10 years before the first game in the series, and this is where we are introduced to the villain we hate so much, Xehanort.
In it, we see how Terra goes on a mission to accept who he is, while Aqua pursues him, afraid he is getting lost to the side of darkness. And without either knowing, Ventus also faces his inner demons while trying to find his best friends in the gigantic universe that we already know well. In addition to the interesting narrative style, Birth by Sleep introduced a new skill system, in which before the battle the character could choose unique skills for a character to use in combat, such as a thunder sword or the spells that we are already used to seeing.
Analysts praised the fun and fluid combat, the boss battles, the visuals, the multiplayer arenas and the duration of the campaign, but the camera can cause problems, there is a lot of repetition of environments and music, the voice work of Terra is very bad and there are several long loadings and dropped frames. Even so, the game got 82 and the type on our list.
What’s your favorite Kingdom Hearts world? And which drive form did you use most in games? What’s your favorite keyblade?
Remember, these notes are not ours, but the Metacritic note aggregator. This was the Worst to Best of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which is part of Voxel’s year-end special. Don’t you agree with the list? Leave it there in the comments.