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Gamer Tuesday

August 14, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer Presents a Year Long Celebration

Ten Years of Hearts, Keyblades and Disney Magic: A Kingdom Hearts 10thAnniversary Celebration

Last time on the Kingdom Hearts Retrospective

'Disney villains! Good versus evil! Redemption! Light versus Darkness!'

And now...

Part 8: The Journey Begins in a Brand New World

Every journey has a first step... So famously said the first teaser trailer for 1999's Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. In the Kingdom Hearts universe, that first step happened a long time ago, long before Sora responded the call to action, long before Master Xenahort decided to destroy the lives of so many in his pursuit of power, hundreds enjoyed the light's warmth.

This is a story that was told by Kairi's grandmother just as the first chapter of Kingdom Hearts is nearing its end. Yet, in order for us to fully understand the reason why the whole Kingdom Hearts universe works the way it does, it is best for us to learn that story.

The story goes as follows:

Long ago, people lived in peace, bathed in the warmth of light. Everyone loved the light. Then people began to fight over it. They wanted the light for themselves. And darkness was born in their hearts. The darkness spread, swallowing the light and many people's hearts. It covered everything, and the world disappeared. But small fragments of the light survived... in the hearts of children. With these fragments of light, children rebuilt the lost world. It's the world we live in now. But the true light sleeps, deep within the darkness. That's why the worlds are still scattered, divided from each other. But someday, a door to the innermost darkness will open. And the true light will return. So, listen, child. Even in the deepest darkness, there will always be light to guide you. Believe in the light, and the darkness will never defeat you. Your heart will shine with its power and push the darkness away.

This simple story sums up the reason of being for many of the characters and places in the Kingdom Hearts mythology. It dives into the belief that all of us are naturally bathed in light from a supernatural force looking over us, and that we all desire to be part of that force. Yet, if we allow greed into our hearts, we become separated from that power and from each other. Only true innocence and pureness of heart can lead us back to that power. As stated in the previous chapter of our retrospective, the theme of light versus darkness is one of the most commonly seen in fiction so it is clear why Square Enix chose it as part of the Kingdom Hearts narrative: not only is it a very family fantasy trop it inspires our beliefs that we exist for a reason, whether it be to be servants of light or servants of darkness.

The worlds Kairi's grandmother is talking about are the Disney worlds that have been so prominently featured throughout the series. A fun fact about this piece of the mythology is that it turns out it is a perfect excuse to explain why the Disney characters can't interact with each other. When Square Enix was in talks with Disney Interactive to develop the game, Disney clearly stated that the Disney characters wouldn't leave their worlds and interact with each other. Sure, Disney shows like House of Mouse would state otherwise, but let us remember that this Disney story is working with an universe that is different from everything else Disney has established for many years.

Many of the artwork pieces created for the series features both subtle and literal representations of light and darkness. In this piece, Sora is floating

These Disney worlds (and the original worlds seen throughout the series) are the remnants of the light world that was vanquished by darkness, then saved by the purity of children's hearts. As you can probably guess, the pure of heart were those Disney heroes and their friends who were able to keep the worlds alive, and the dark hearts belong to the Disney villains that wish to obtain the power for themselves.

The separation of the worlds from light also explain one major plot element in Kingdom Hearts: all worlds have hearts ruled by both light and darkness. If these hearts are attacked by forces of evil, its existence is put into jeopardy. If the villains take control of the worlds, they are closer to obtaining the ultimate source of light: Kingdom Hearts. One thing to do in order to prevent disaster is to lock the keyhole that lead to the heart of the world.

The keyholes seen throughout the Kingdom Hearts series are a way to get to the world's heart, its source of light and darkness

To sum it all up: All worlds used to be united as one world by the power of light, but were destroyed and separated by the darkness in the hearts of its people, ultimately saved by the pure light in the hearts of the innocent. In all these worlds, there lies a heart that keeps everything alive and is one of the few connections to the original world of light. If darkness invade it or villains try to harvest its power and shower it with darkness, all life on that world is over.

And this is just a small sample of what the whole Kingdom Hearts saga has to offer. The story has become so expansive that it has become its own weakness as new characters come in and add a side to the story that makes things more complicated. Even with that, though, players can't help but be engrossed by its themes and desire to see a chapter be completed.

Come back next month as we finally celebrate Kingdom Hearts's tenth anniversary by looking at how the journey truly begins... with a dive into the heart.


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