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Logo of the first Kingdom Hearts. All subsequent games of the series follow this archetype.

Kingdom Hearts is a collaboration between Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft) and Disney. It is an action RPG that includes appearances of characters from the Final Fantasy series and Disney movies, as well as some characters original to the game. It was created in 2002 and became a smash hit.

It was followed up by a sequel released in 2005, Kingdom Hearts II. Also in the series is a "bridge" game between the two, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, released in 2004. New games announced in Tokyo Game Show 2007 for the series are Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep for the PlayStation Portable and Kingdom Hearts coded for mobile phones. Currently, 358/2 Days has been released in Japan, North America and PAL regions while Birth by Sleep and Coded have been released in Japan. Birth By Sleep has been confirmed for a North American and PAL release though its date is unknown.

Much like the International versions of Final Fantasy games, the series also has updated versions of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II known as Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+. Final Mix+ includes a PS2 version of Chain of Memories known as Re: Chain of Memories. Re:Chain of Memories was released standalone outside Japan.



The Kingdom Hearts series of games contain elements from both action and role-playing games. The games are driven by a linear progression to the next story event, usually told in the form of a cut scene, though there are numerous side quests available that provide bonus benefits to the characters. The player is primarily in control of the principal protagonist of the series, Sora. Sora is usually accompanied by Donald Duck and Goofy, who are non-playable characters that aid Sora in battle. In the first and third game, their behavior could be altered to fit the player's needs. The games featured real-time combat that incorporates physical attacks, magic, and summonings; though each game handled battles differently.

Gummi Ships are another common theme in the series, though they are only featured in the first and third installment. The Gummi Ships serve as the main mode of transportation between worlds in the games. The gameplay for the Gummi Ships sections is more akin to a rail shooter. Because it received negative criticism in the first game, it was improved in the third installment. All three games also feature a journal which is accessible from the main menu. The journal keeps track of information regarding the story, characters, enemies, and locations. In the game the journal is kept by Jiminy Cricket, who was appointed by Queen Minnie as the royal chronicler.

The games are influenced by their parent franchise, Final Fantasy, and carry its gameplay elements over into their own action-based, hack-and-slash system. Like many traditional role-playing games, Kingdom Hearts features an experience point system which determines character development. As enemies are defeated, the player gains experience which culminate in a "level-up", where the characters grow stronger and gain access to new abilities. The amount of experience is shared with all party members and each character grows stronger as experience is gained.

The gameplay was given a twist in Chain of Memories. The player controls Sora alone, and uses cards to execute all actions, and the value of the cards determine the power of an attack, or the action's effectiveness. Effectiveness is when the action could not be canceled, or "Card Breaked" by the enemy. Worlds are also explored in the form of cards; each area in a world is opened with a card that can influence the number of enemies and treasures as well as open up shops and save points. The Gummi Ship does not make an appearance.


Kingdom Hearts

North American cover art of the first game.

The three main games in Kingdom Hearts series focus on the adventures of Sora and his search for his friends, Kairi and Riku. The first game shows how Sora is separated from his friends when their world is invaded by an army of corrupted hearts known as the Heartless. During the invasion, he obtains a special weapon known as a Keyblade. Soon after, Sora meets Donald Duck, the Disney Castle court magician, and Goofy, the Disney Castle captain of the royal guard. Donald and Goofy are searching for the "key" per instructions from King Mickey. The three band together and travel to different Disney themed worlds, sealing the hearts of the worlds to prevent more Heartless invasions. Along the way they encounter a group of Disney villains, led by Maleficent, that are controlling the Heartless. The three eventually discover that a man named Ansem is the true antagonist. Ansem's plan is to open the door to Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Ansem, and seal the door with the help of Riku and King Mickey on the other side of the door.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

After sealing the door to Kingdom Hearts, the three begin searching for Riku and King Mickey. They encounter a mysterious fortress called Castle Oblivion. Upon entering the fortress, they begin to lose their memories. The three encounter a group of dark hooded villains referred to as the Organization. After defeating the Organization members in the castle, Sora learns his memories have been manipulated by a girl named Namine who is controlled by the Organization. To allow them to regain their memories, Naminé puts Sora, Donald, and Goofy to sleep for a year. While the three are ascending to the top floor of the castle, Riku and King Mickey arrive in the basement and began traveling to the top as well. Riku fights the darkness in his heart and learns to accept his dual nature between light and dark.

Kingdom Hearts II

Cover art of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+, the international version of Kingdom Hearts II only released in Japan.

A year later, Sora, Donald, and Goofy awaken and continue their search for Riku and King Mickey. They learn of the Nobodies and their leaders, Organization XIII. Afterwards, Maleficent is resurrected and joins with Pete, another Disney villain, to continue her quest for power. Sora once again travels to many Disney-themed worlds and resolves the troubles caused by Organization XIII, the Heartless, Maleficent, and Pete, and local villains. Meanwhile, Kairi is kidnapped by the Organization. They meet King Mickey, who reveals the true nature of Ansem, the antagonist of Kingdom Hearts. The Ansem who Sora defeated was actually the Heartless of Xehanort, a student of Ansem the Wise. Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, reveals himself to be the Nobody of Xehanort. The three arrive at the headquarters of Organization XIII, with Kingdom Hearts looming overhead. Ansem the Wise uses a device that dissipates some of Kingdom Hearts' power, but a system overload causes the machine to explode and kill Ansem. At the top of Organization XIII's castle, Sora and his friends battle Xemnas, who uses the remnants of Kingdom Hearts to fight them. After Xemnas' death, Sora and Riku are reunited with their friends at Destiny Islands, their home.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days focuses upon the story of Roxas, the thirteenth member of Organization XIII and Sora's Nobody. 358/2 Days takes place mostly during the year between Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II while Sora was asleep. In the game, as Roxas completes missions for the Organization, he befriends a girl named Xion, the fourteenth member of the Organization who can also use a Keyblade. After questions about her identity, brought on by an encounter with Riku, Xion runs from the Organization, later causing Roxas to do the same when his dreams and visions of Sora become too important for Roxas to ignore. Roxas later discovers Xion is an imperfect copy of Sora, and after a battle, Roxas proves himself superior and absorbs Xion's power. Afterwards he is captured by DiZ and Riku, setting the stage for the events of Kingdom Hearts II.

Kingdom Hearts coded

After Kingdom Hearts II Jiminy discovers a message written in his journal that he didn't write; "We must return to free them from their torment." In order to discover the meaning of the message King Mickey digitizes the journal, awakening a virtual Sora on Destiny Islands. The game's antagonists are the "Them" that the message refers to.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

A prequel set ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts. Birth by Sleep revolves around the disappearance of a Keyblade Master, Master Xehanort and his apprentice and the three Keyblade apprentices, Terra, Ven, and Aqua that are sent to find them.


The main characters of the Kingdom Hearts series. Sora is seen twice in the middle, being flanked by Roxas (left) and Riku, with Organization XIII on the bottom.

Kingdom Hearts has its original characters, though they are joined by a cadre of characters from the Final Fantasy series and the Disney franchise.


Main characters are, in this case, defined as characters with the largest effect on the storyline, who are either one of the series main protagonists, or tied to them.

  • Sora - The main protagonist of the series, Sora is a 14-year-old boy who dreams of seeing other worlds. He gets his wish after the Heartless destroy his home and circumstance causes him to team up with Donald and Goofy to search for his friends and the King. After learning more about the true nature of the Keyblade, he journeys to various worlds to defend them from the Heartless and unravel the mysteries surrounding them. His name means "sky" in Japanese.
  • Riku - Sora's friend and rival who lives with him and Kairi on Destiny Islands. Initially stronger than Sora, he was intended to wield the Keyblade, but he gave in to the darkness in his heart, thus losing the Keyblade to Sora. After initially acting as Sora's enemy, he reformed and came to wield the powers of darkness in the name of good, acquiring his own "dark" Keyblade and returning to help Sora in his battles. His name means "land" or "shore" in Japanese.
  • Kairi - A young girl who arrived on Destiny Islands during a meteor shower several years prior to the beginning of the first game. Having vanished when the Islands were destroyed, she was found without her heart later in the first game, but was restored and returned to Destiny Islands. She was later captured by Organization XIII and freed by Riku, and accompanied him and Sora in the Organization's stronghold, refusing to stand by while they fought. Her name is based on the Japanese and Hawaiian word for "ocean" ("kai").
  • Roxas - Sora's "Nobody", created when Sora took his own heart in the first game. Initially unaware of his origins, Roxas was a member of Organization XIII, but left when it became apparent they had no intention of helping him uncover the truth of his existence. He merged with Sora when Sora awoke from stasis, but re-appeared to fight him in Kingdom Hearts II. He is the main character in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Being Sora's Nobody, Roxas has the ability to wield the Keyblade, eventually gaining the power to wield two at once. His name is an anagram of Sora with an "X" added to it.
Goofy, Sora, and Donald
  • King Mickey - The ruler of Disney Castle, Mickey took up his own Keyblade to fight the Heartless and the Nobodies and assisted Sora at various intervals with information and power-ups. He knows much more than he tells Sora and his friends but hides this knowledge for his own reasons.
  • Donald - The court magician in Disney Castle and a friend of Sora's. He is searching for King Mickey by traveling to various worlds with the Gummi Ship. He's skilled with magic and uses a variety of abilities to enhance his spells.
  • Goofy - Captain of the royal guard at Disney Castle and a friend of Sora's. He is also searching for King Mickey. He's very defense-oriented and learns a variety of support abilities to help his allies in battle.

Final Fantasy in Kingdom Hearts series

The majority of the Final Fantasy characters in the series act as "neutral" characters and appear in the worlds that are not based on Disney worlds, specifically Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, Twilight Town and Hollow Bastion, though the "dead" Auron appears within the Hercules-themed underworld as a thrall of Hades, the god of the dead. The in-game script implies that Hollow Bastion is the "Final Fantasy world" within the series, as Leon, Aerith, and Yuffie claim it was their home until it was taken over, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Cid, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth also appear there. In Kingdom Hearts, the cast of Final Fantasy characters was much smaller, with only nine of them playing a major role. This count was increased dramatically in Kingdom Hearts II to over a dozen, and their importance to the storyline also increased. In both games, several of the characters appear in Olympus Coliseum as opponents.

  • Setzer from "Final Fantasy VI" - a top "Struggle" fighter and a flashy ladies man.
  • Yuffie from "Final Fantasy VII" - one of Leon's allies and a skilled ninja, she helps him fight off the Heartless.
  • Aerith from "Final Fantasy VII" - one of Leon's allies and a healer, she assisted in the restoration of Hollow Bastion.
  • Cloud from "Final Fantasy VII" - a swordsman with a dark past, he has been hunting Sephiroth across several worlds, seeking to end a mysterious grudge between them. Although he is focused on Sephiroth, he also helps Leon defend Hollow Bastion.
  • Cid from "Final Fantasy VII" - a merchant and Gummi ship engineer, he helped Sora build Gummi ships in the first game and oversaw the security systems for the defense of Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Tifa from "Final Fantasy VII" - an ally of Leon who is searching for Cloud, she has followed his trail across several worlds and wishes to help him in his battle with Sephiroth. She also assists Leon in the restoration and defense of Hollow Bastion.
  • Sephiroth from "Final Fantasy VII" - an evil swordsman wielding strong dark powers, Sephiroth is the embodiment of the darkness in Cloud's heart. Their rivalry has led them to search for and battle each other across several worlds, with neither so far being the victor. Although Sora has fought and defeated Sephiroth twice, Sephiroth survived as apparently only Cloud can truly kill him.
  • Zack Fair from "Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-" - a young boy training at Olympus Coliseum in Birth by Sleep, he hopes Phil will take him as a pupil and train him to be a hero.
Squall Leonhart as "Leon" in Kingdom Hearts
  • Squall from "Final Fantasy VIII" - going by the name "Leon", he is the leader of a resistance group against the Heartless. He assisted Sora against them with advice when possible, also taking up arms to defend his group's home from the Heartless when needed.
  • Seifer, Raijin, and Fujin from "Final Fantasy VIII" - the disciplinary committee for Twilight Town, they abuse their authority and take a quick dislike to Sora. Seifer is a top street brawler and "Struggle" competitor.
  • Selphie from "Final Fantasy VIII" - one of Sora's friends on their home island, she was left behind when Sora, Riku, and Kairi vanished. She plays a minor role in determining the difficulty of the first game during the introductory sequence.
  • Vivi from "Final Fantasy IX" - one of Seifer's fans, he is another "Struggle" fighter and admires Seifer's strength.
  • Tidus and Wakka from "Final Fantasy X - Two more of Sora's friends, they were left behind at their home when Sora, Riku, and Kairi were lost. They played a minor role in determining the difficulty of the first game during the introductory sequence.
  • Auron from "Final Fantasy X" - a dead spirit revived by Hades to defeat Hercules, Auron initially betrayed him and worked with Sora, but was forced to fight Hercules after having his free will stolen. Sora later restored him and the three worked together to defeat Hades, after which Auron departed back to the afterlife.
  • Yuna, Rikku, and Paine from "Final Fantasy X-2" - a trio of treasure-hunting pixies, they were initially allied with Maleficent but switched sides on the promise of treasure from Leon and helped him defend Hollow Bastion.
  • Moogles from various Final Fantasy games - they run the item and synthesis shops around the various worlds, selling and creating new items for Sora to purchase.

Secondary roles

Main Villains

Most of the villains in Kingdom Hearts are taken from the various Disney films that are featured in the game. The most notable Disney villain in the series is Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty), and appears at first to be the main villain of the first game. However, it is later revealed that an original character, Xehanort, is the main antagonist of the game. In Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas and Organization XIII are the primary antagonists, although Maleficent and a handful of other Disney villains appear to fight Sora again.

  • Xehanort - an apprentice to a man named "Ansem the Wise", ten years prior to the first game Xehanort betrayed his master and cast him into darkness. Xehanort then stole Ansem's name and research into the darkness of the heart for his own purposes. He later was split into a Heartless and a Nobody, which acted as the antagonists of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, respectively.
  • Xehanort's Heartless - initially known as "Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness", Xehanort's Heartless believed that darkness was the true essence of a heart and wished to open the path to Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, and claim its power. He was defeated when he accessed Kingdom Hearts but found it a realm of light instead of darkness as he believed, which destroyed him.
  • Organization XIII - a group of thirteen powerful Nobodies, including Roxas, who conduct research and experiments on hearts as they pursue Kingdom Hearts. As they did not have hearts, they wished to use the power of Kingdom Hearts to bestow hearts on themselves and all Nobodies. Each of their thirteen members has their own fighting style and command over a certain type of Nobody.
    Xemnas, the antagonist of Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Xemnas - Xehanort's Nobody and the leader of Organization XIII. Xemnas collects the essences of slain Heartless to empower Kingdom Hearts to bestow a heart upon him. As such, those who can use the Keyblade such as Sora and Roxas, are integral to his plan. After being confronted in his castle, he entered Kingdom Hearts and used its power to battle Sora and Riku, but was defeated. Like his Heartless counterpart, he believed hearts were truly made up of hatred and rage, as he could remember no other emotions from his time as a human.
  • Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" - the leader of the Disney villains of the first game and a master of dark magic. She wished to capture the seven Princesses of Heart to open the path to Kingdom Hearts, but was defeated by Sora. She was revived in Kingdom Hearts II and tried, with limited success, to regain a foothold into the world since her death. However, the threat of Organization XIII to her plans forced her to assist Sora in fighting them.


The Heartless are living beings, whose hearts were corrupted by darkness, and they play the roles of the "common enemies" Sora and party must defeat. They exist for no other purpose than to consume hearts, be it the hearts of other living beings or even that of entire worlds. If someone loses their heart to a Heartless, they themselves become one. The stronger the heart of the person who became a Heartless, the stronger their Heartless will be. Unlike Nobodies, Heartless are driven only by primitive instinct to attack and steal hearts, and most have no true intelligence.


When a Heartless is created, the empty shell may reform into a Nobody. By comparison, Nobodies are rarer than Heartless due to the shell having to have a strong heart to reform, but they are typically much stronger. They are also capable of speech and thought, and the members of Organization XIII are all exceptionally intelligent and powerful Nobodies. As they have no hearts, they do not truly exist and cannot feel emotion, but a few that retain memories of when they had hearts can "fake it" and act as if they do.

Connections to the Final Fantasy series

Besides the numerous characters from the Final Fantasy series that appear, several other aspects of the series directly influence the gameplay of Kingdom Hearts. The spells of the game are all named after Final Fantasy spells, such as Curaga, Firaga, and Reflect. There are Summon spells that can call allies into battle, using mechanics similar to the summon sequences of Final Fantasy X. Although the summons are all Disney characters, a Bahamut summon was meant to be in the original game but was later removed for unknown reasons. The various Gummi ships used to travel between worlds are also named after Final Fantasy ships and concepts, and include Highwind, Falcon, and Invincible.

Ability Points are used to assign various special attacks and support powers to party members. In Kingdom Hearts there are special attacks that could be considered to be limits, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Limit Breaks they appear as techniques that allow Sora to fuse abilities with an ally and unleash a series of powerful attacks at the cost of all his MP. Some of these Limit Breaks, like Bushido and Comet, take their name from Final Fantasy games. Moogles, recurring creatures in the Final Fantasy Universe, also run various Synthesis shops that allow Sora to trade in certain materials to create powerful rare items.

There are three victory poses that Sora displays at the end of each match in Olympus Coliseum, two of which are the victory poses of Final Fantasy protagonists Cloud and Squall from their respective games. Roxas' victory pose in 358/2 Days is also based on Squall's. Riku's battle stance is similar to Cecil's while he was a Dark Knight in Final Fantasy IV, and his weapon is called the Soul Eater, which is the typical ability of Dark Knights. Riku begins by using the powers of darkness but comes to terms with his dark powers and learns to wield the powers of light as well, reflecting Cecil's development in Final Fantasy IV as he becomes a holy Paladin. The Organization XIII members each command a type of Nobody named after a Final Fantasy job, such as Dragoon or Berserker. The Organization members themselves also roughly fit such profiles - for example, Zexion can mimic the attacks of enemies similar to a Blue Mage.

The two games also share naming conventions. Several weapons are named after Final Fantasy weapons, including the Ultima Weapon, Fenrir, and Save the Queen. Items like the Hi-Potion, Tent, and Ether also appear with similar functions to the Final Fantasy series. Most type of Nobodies are named after Final Fantasy Jobs, and several Heartless are named for Final Fantasy enemies, such as the Behemoth and Darkside. Several enemies also masquerade as pots or jars until attacked, a reference to mimics. In Chain of Memories, enemies also appear hiding inside treasure chests which is another Final Fantasy tradition.

Kingdom Hearts was the first game to feature Sephiroth with a single black wing behind his right shoulder, an element of his appearance that was later included in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. In Kingdom Hearts II when Auron turns towards the Underworld in the game's ending he fades into a cloud of Pyreflies, like he did when he was sent by Yuna in the ending of Final Fantasy X.

Recently, the Kingdom Hearts series has drifted away from the Final Fantasy series: no Final Fantasy characters (aside from Moogles) appear in 358/2 Days, and thus far the only Final Fantasy characters to appear in Birth by Sleep are Zack Fair and the Moogles. In Birth by Sleep, one of the original charatcers, Lea, carries a frisbee with a Bomb design on it.


  • Kingdom Hearts was the last game produced by Squaresoft before its merger with Enix began.
  • Kairi is featured in Dead Fantasy, where she fights alongside Rinoa, Yuna, Rikku and Tifa against characters from the Dead or Alive series.

External links

This article uses material from the "Kingdom Hearts" article on the Final Fantasy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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