When I was a kid, there was this big campaign for one of the brands of breakfast cereal (darned if I remember which one) that involved them putting PC games in their boxes of cereal.
They were pretty heavily targeted at kids; and along with things like Wheel of Fortune and Sorry! and Monopoly Jr., there was one game I wanted more than anything.
That game was Timon and Pumbaa’s Jungle Games.
Of course, I had no real idea what the game was. I just wanted it because it was Disney characters.
When we finally dug it out of a box of cereal, I was thrilled. In a hyper fit of childhood enthusiasm, I’m fairly sure I pestered my mom into installing it on our computer for me, and I was off to the races. It very quickly became a favourite game of mine, especially the Jungle Pinball.
I’m sure I would have been indifferent if it had been any other characters.
Looking back, I’m not sure why I never tried Kingdom Hearts. It was basically an extra-epic version of the game I’d loved just for being Disney; it had so many more characters, and I could play through the stories.
I mean, sure, it probably had a lot to do with us not having any consoles until much later, but still—even after getting a console that let me play it, it took over a year for me to try playing it.
My first experience with Kingdom Hearts
When Shane and I first started dating, his PS4 lived at his parents’. Once in a while, it would travel to my apartment with him, but most of the time, our Diablo 3 sessions would be reserved for when I ventured out of the basement.
He was also working nights at the time, so he’d have lots of time in the mornings before he went to bed to play video games.
One of his favourite things to do in that time was to find new games for me to play, not tell me what they were, and just hand me a controller and let me have at it. The first game he handed me was World of Final Fantasy, which went super well.
The second game he handed me was Kingdom Hearts. It did not go as well.
He’d bought the remix version when it came out, so my first experience was with 1.5. That version had been redesigned a bit from the original, and focused much more heavily on the player’s ability to counter things.
Which is probably why, when I was running around the island trying to get experience points, I ran into Waka, got my butt handed to me several times, and rage-quit.
I never even made it off the island.
Getting back into the game
One of the biggest announcements in our little household during E3 this year was that there are finally some concrete details about Kingdom Hearts 3.
I knew Shane would be ridiculously excited as soon as he saw it, but I hadn’t even played the first two yet.
Funny enough, he actually sent the videos to me about three hours later, geeking out and figuring out when he could pre-order it. That was when I decided I’d give it another go.
This time, I went for a different build. I picked the wand and gave up the sword, headed to the island, and got Shane to kick Waka’s butt for me.
This time, I made it off the island.
How it stole my heart
As it turns out, escaping the island was all I really needed to get addicted to the game. See, the island is all unique characters—they’re loveable, sweet, and complex, but they’re not related to Disney at all.
As soon as you get off the island, though, you start to see what a beautiful hybrid of Disney, Final Fantasy, and unique characters it really is.
For example, in the first world you reach after you escape the island, you run into a moogle restlessly pacing around the town square. Then, you run around the town, defeating Heartless and chasing down Donald and Goofy.
Then, you meet Leon, and have to battle him. And if you play it like a Final Fantasy game and wait for the right openings, you can actually defeat him.
That night alone, I logged over six hours into my game. I didn’t stop until I reached the final boss in Wonderland, died several times, and rage-quit. It took a few days, but I did hop back on—and only fell more in love with the perfect combination of my favourite Disney and Final Fantasy characters.
Now, I’m several adventures in, and I can’t wait to see where the games will take me. It’s my goal to finish both before the third game comes out, so I can immerse myself right away!
Have you played Kingdom Hearts?