Every Kingdom Hearts game has four essential components: cameos from well-known Disney characters, an overly complex plot revolving around “light” and “darkness,” an infinite supply of anime hair, and a wide variety of key-shaped weapons, each with their own special abilities.
We’re just making light of the series’ overly complicated plot, which can detract from an otherwise great action RPG.
KH’s release schedule, with many entries moving between platforms between games, is an even greater challenge to overcome. In addition to Square Enix’s penchant for giving each game an inexplicable name, this makes the series a real challenge to get into.
To help you out, we’ll be discussing each Kingdom Hearts game in the order in which they were released, as that is the best way to get through the story.
In the future, whenever a new KH release occurs, we will update this list.
And if you want even more gaming advice, check out our other curated lists:
Publication Year: 2002
Sony Playstation 2
Kingdom Hearts, the first game in the series, debuted for the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s and attempted to combine the Final Fantasy and Disney universes for a thematically dark action RPG with some surprisingly mature undertones.
The game’s art direction and cinematic presentation of its cutscene animations earned high marks from critics and players alike.
The plot was occasionally convoluted and difficult to follow, but not so much as to detract from the enjoyment of the experience as a whole.
The success of the original Kingdom Hearts led to the development and release of a slew of follow-ups and offshoots that furthered the series’ cult status, introduced new characters and settings, and complicated an already convoluted narrative arc.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories
Initial Publication Year: 2004
GBA and PS2 are the platforms available.
Chain of Memories is the first Kingdom Hearts game to be released on more than one console, as it was first released for the Game Boy Advance and then ported to the PlayStation 2.
While the first game in the series focused on action-based combat, Chain of Memories shifted the focus to a strategic card battling system that players would execute in real time.
Despite laying the groundwork for Kingdom Hearts 2 and introducing new characters, locations, and plots, this entry is widely considered to have some of the worst gameplay in the series.
Fans will be disappointed to learn that Chain of Memories is among the key Kingdom Hearts games for grasping the series’ overarching narrative and particular characters’ motivations.
Kingdom Hearts II
The year 2005 is the year of public release.
Sony Playstation 2
Kingdom Hearts II, widely regarded as one of the best games in the series, returned to the series’ hack-and-slash roots when it was released for the PlayStation 2 a year after Chain of Memories.
Although it was praised for finally answering many of the story’s lingering questions, some viewers, especially those who didn’t watch Chain of Memories, found it confusing at times.
If you were one of the few players who had already familiarized themselves with Kingdom Hearts’ backstory, you were probably in love with everything KH2 had to offer, from the fantastic voice acting to the state-of-the-art 3D graphics.
Other novel elements, such as party member interactions in battle and a “Drive Gauge,” would become series staples, refined and repurposed in subsequent games.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Date of Publication: 2009
After fooling fans for four years, Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts II for the Nintendo DS instead of Sony’s lineup of platforms, which included the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a prequel to KH2 that explores the origin of certain characters such as Axel and Roxas, who reprises his role as the main protagonist while filling in some of the missing gaps between KH and KH2.
358/2 Days was praised for taking the Nintendo DS to a level of visual fidelity never before seen, even if the game’s success was ultimately limited by the system’s specs.
The release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 ReMIX, which includes about three hours of cinematics from the original game, makes experiencing the game’s story much simpler today.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Expected Publication Year: 2010
Sony PlayStation Portable
Once again switching platforms, this time from the DS to the PSP, Square Enix released Birth By Sleep in 2010.
The game didn’t try to advance the series so much as it looked back at the events leading up to the first Kingdom Hearts from the perspectives of three playable protagonists, one of whom looked remarkably like Roxas from KH2 despite being called by a different name.
As Square tried to make sense of the Kingdom Hearts timeline, they introduced many of the series’ most confusing and convoluted plot points here.
Playing Birth By Sleep is essential to grasp the entirety of Kingdom Hearts’ story, as all of the playable characters would go on to play pivotal roles in subsequent games.
Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
The Year 2010 is the Year of Public Release.
Version of DS as the System
Later that year, Square Enix would release a remade version of the mobile game Kingdom Hearts Coded for the DS under the name Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded.
Even though Re:Coded contains some crucial plot elements for the future of the series, most of them aren’t revealed until the very end, making the game’s middle and early endings feel rather unimportant.
The game’s camera problems, clumsy controls, and numerous irritating platforming sections have all been heavily criticized.
A movie adaptation of Re:Coded’s story is now available in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMIX, so players no longer have to play through the entire game to see how the story unfolds.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
To Be Released in 2012
Media System: Nintendo 3DS
The upcoming Kingdom Hearts game for the Nintendo 3DS took full advantage of the handheld’s improved visuals compared to the DS version.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance also features more responsive camera controls than any previous handheld KH game thanks to the 3DS’ circle-pad functionality.
More action-oriented gameplay is added to many of the systems introduced in Birth By Sleep. It also has some of the most memorable boss battles in the entire series.
Its plot laid the groundwork for the events of Kingdom Hearts III. An improved version of Dream Drop Distance can be played in the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
Kingdom Hearts χ
2013 Is The Year Of Its Disc’s Release.
Internet Explorer, Google’s Android, and Apple’s iOS are the supported platforms.
Kingdom Hearts (pronounced “chi” or “key”) is one of the few games in the series that is not available on Sony’s or Nintendo’s platform, but is instead playable through web browsers and mobile devices.
Since it takes place hundreds of years before the first game and describes the events leading up to the Keyblade War, it is one of the most crucial spin-offs for comprehending the series’ overarching story.
The player assumes the role of a Keyblade wielder serving one of five factions vying for the world’s last remaining source of “light.” Soon after, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 would include a short film based on KH.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
Date of Publication: 2017
Video Game System: PS4
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage won the award for the longest and oddest video game title, and it also served as a prototype for the highly anticipated KH3.
The game’s story revolves around Aqua and her trek through the Realm of Darkness, so it’s only a few hours long.
In order to get players ready for the sequel, A Fragmentary Passage renamed some gameplay mechanics (such as “Command Styles,” which are now called “Style Changes”) and added others (such as “Situation Commands,” which are used in specific situations).
The game’s optional objectives may have been criticized, but they served a necessary purpose in helping players become acclimated to the game’s new mechanics and systems.
Kingdom Hearts III
Date of Publication: 2019
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, etc.
At long last, we’ve reached Kingdom Hearts III, the newest entry and third main installment. In addition to the PlayStation 4, KH3 was also released for the Xbox One, making it the first game in the series to appear on an Xbox console. It also quickly became the best-selling entry in the series to date.
Square had their work cut out for them in trying to make sense of the series’ muddled timeline for both newcomers and veterans, given that it had been nearly 15 years since KH2 was released.
KH3 is one of the most approachable entries to date and arguably the most forgiving in terms of combat, despite its quirks and awkward cutscenes. KH3: Re:Mind, a downloadable add-on released in 2020, featured a new scenario related to the game’s conclusion.
What Weapon Choices Mean
In Kingdom Hearts, the very first decision you make affects your character’s construction. The sword, the shield, and the staff all stand for these things. The consequences of your decisions here are made abundantly clear by the game. You have to prioritize one and give up the other.
- The sword stands for close-range combat.
- An emphasis on safety is symbolized by the shield.
- The emphasis on magic symbolized by the staff.
Although each weapon has a “focus” in its designated area, sacrificing one won’t leave Sora particularly weak in that area. Selecting a weapon gives Sora an initial boost to his attack, defense, or magic. Choosing to give up one of the other two will only slightly reduce his overall statistics in that area. Also, depending on the weapons Sora decides to give up, he may or may not be able to increase the maximum amount of items in his inventory.
Capacity for Sora varies from six to eight items, depending on the selections he makes. Choose your weapon carefully, because it will affect Sora’s progression and the sequence in which he acquires new skills. If Sora chooses the sword, for instance, he’ll level up to level 12 knowing how to use Slapshot. To learn the ability with the staff, Sora would have to wait until he reached level 69.
It is recommended that Sora choose the shield early on to increase his defense, as this will reduce the number of healing items and spells he will need early on in the game, as well as the number of abilities he will learn. With the Guard Armor in Traverse Town serving as Sora’s first true boss encounter, establishing a solid defensive foundation early on is crucial. An early victory can be achieved by dealing as little damage as possible to the boss’s various attack mechanisms.
Even if Sora takes an early hit to his attack or magic, it won’t be disastrous because Donald and Goofy will join him in Traverse Town. Their addition, with their own physical and magical attacks, will help compensate for Sora’s limited offensive capabilities. Now that you’ve made your final choices, it’s time for Sora to venture out into the world of Destiny Islands, where even more trials await.
Destiny Island Questions
You and the other island residents (Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie) are confined to a small section of the island once you arrive at Destiny Islands. The loyal Final Fantasy fans among us will recognize Tidus and Wakka from Final Fantasy 10, as well as Selphie from Final Fantasy 8.
There are three choices for each character’s question. Gameplay-wise, your answers here are more consequential than your weapon selection, but the game doesn’t let you know that. What follows is a set of three questions and their respective answers.
Tidus: What are you so afraid of?
- The effects of aging.
- Having a unique perspective.
- A lack of resolve.
Wakka: What do you want outta life?
- See unique places and things.
- Simply put, I want to expand my horizons.
- With the intention of dominating.
Selphie: What’s most important to you?
- dominating the field.
- The items I hold most dear.
What Each Answer Means
It’s fine to answer honestly from the gut, but you should be familiar with the options.
How many experience points (XP) you need to level up at various points in the game is dependent on the decisions you make. This could go one of three ways. You can make early game leveling easier, maintain a constant amount of XP per level, or make late game leveling easier.
- If you select the first option, the experience points needed to advance through the first 50 levels will be lower and the ones needed to advance through the next 50 will be higher.
- If you select option 2, the amount of XP needed to advance through the game will never change.
- If you go with option 3, you’ll need more XP to reach level 50, but less to reach higher levels after that.
In conclusion, picking the best option for each question is the quickest way to gain experience and levels early on. Choose option two for a mellow leveling experience, and option three for rapid advancement in the late game.
This may seem crucial to your enjoyment of Kingdom Hearts, but you shouldn’t put too much weight on it. If you choose to make leveling up easier after Sora reaches level 50, you’re just making things harder for no reason. If you don’t want to face that kind of difficulty, the best options are to level up quickly at the beginning or to level up constantly.