In May 2001, Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) announced a game at that year's E3. Much to everyone's shock, the game showed scenes of Disney characters fighting tandem with Final Fantasy characters. The reception wasn't positive, and many thought Square had gone off the deep end. And then, the game came out.Kingdom Hearts is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, which merges characters from Disney and Square Enix properties along with a slew of original characters. It proved popular enough to result in (to date) five sequels and a prequel.An update, called Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, was released in Japan only and contains all the English voice acting as well as bonus content. On February 25, 2013, Square Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX would be released in North America in Europe in the fall of 2013 and that the version of Kingdom Hearts included with this would be the Final Mix version.A manga adaptation by Shiro Amano was released not long after the game. It has been translated into English twice; first by Tokyopop, then again as a retranslation in 2013 by Yen Press.
This game contains examples of:
Adaptation Dye-Job: Zigzagged. In the stained glass level, Cinderella's hair color is brown, despite being blonde when she appears in person. This may be a symptom of the fact that her hair was a light brown in the original 1950 film, but all merchandising since the '90s has shown her as a blonde. She is blonde when she appears later on though. Also a non-hair example. Aurora's dress on the stained glass level is purple when in the film it's either blue or pink. It's blue when she appears.
Alas, Poor Villain: Unlike the rest of the Disney villains, Clayton is treated like just another victim of The Heartless rather as a megalomaniac psychopath, whose heart was lost when he'd a moment of weakness and became an emotionless puppet for them to use. After his death, the party expresses pity for him, with Tarzan saying that Clayton was a lonely, bitter and friendless man, and so an easy target for the Heartless.
A.I. Breaker: Possessed-Riku is one of the game's toughest bosses, but it's possible to lock him in a loop preventing him from ever using his Dark Aura move.
Always Night: Traverse Town, Neverland, and Halloween Town all take place perpetually at night. In fact, the only level with any real form of the passage of time is Agrabah, in which some areas are daylight, and others are night, due to the amount of time it takes to travel between the two (which is thankfully skipped with a brief cutscene). Olympus Coliseum also sometimes switches to night for some battles, with the implication being that the tournaments take place over several days, as opposed to the twenty minutes or so the player spends on them.
Anachronic Order: Ansem's Report is collected page by page, and you never get the pages in consecutive order. For most of the game, you only find odd-numbered pages, but they do give you a fair understanding of what Ansem was doing before he went missing. Later on, you get all the even-numbered pages at once, and they change the meaning of the rest of the report completely.
Apocalypse How: Class X-2. Although it's downplayed quite a bit (possibly due to the age of the primary target audience), the universe in which the games are set is essentially being ripped apart at the seams; by the beginning of the first game, many worlds (and their presumably billions of inhabitants) have been completely obliterated, and the remaining ones are in danger of suffering the same fate. Traverse Town, the main city in the game, is essentially an interdimensional refugee camp for the few survivors, and even it is in danger of falling, being subject to a sizable attack not long after the player arrives.
Badass Boast: Several when Sora's about to face off against villains; one notable example has Maleficent screeching, "You poor, simple fools! You think you can defeat me? Me, the mistress of ALL EVIL?!"
Badass Normal: Captain Hook. Consider it this way. By this point in the game, Sora has punched out very powerful Heartless, a god-like genie, god-like entities in general, villains the size of small buildings, etc. You have an insane aerial advantage over Hook as well. Also, he's not overflowing with the power of darkness either (at least compared to other villains) and lacks real magic. Yet somehow, he still manages to put up a good, solid fight and doesn't die.
It's not an isolated incident either. Captain Hook is tough to beat in both Chain of Memories and Birth by Sleep as well.
Badass Princess: Ariel may not be a Princess of Heart but she gets to be an action party member (and quite useful too).
The Battle Didn't Count: Upon arriving in Traverse Town, Sora is confronted by Leon. Either Leon wins (and beats Sora unconscious) or loses (and Sora passes out from the effort). The only difference is that if Sora "wins", he gains experience from the fight, and he receives a Elixir from Aerith after the battle with the Guard Armor, who says it is a gift from Leon.
As of Dream Drop Distance, the latter is canon, as while witnessing the events from Sora's perspective in Traverse Town, he falls over in his passing out animation.
Big Good: Ansem is portrayed as this; he's been researching the Heartless for a long time and presumably has the most knowledge about them. Other characters say he'll help you defeat the Heartless, but he's gone missing, so you need to find him. However, this is completely turned on its head once you get to Hollow Bastion and find out that he turned himself into a Heartless and has been commanding the Heartless from behind the scenes. However, the trope is Double Subverted, due to details revealed in the sequel.
Also, Mickey to a lesser extent.
Bittersweet Ending: Sora defeats Ansem, saves Riku from the darkness, and teams up with King Mickey to stop the destruction of all worlds. However, he is separated from Riku and Kairi (the people he spent the entire game trying to save) in the process, and is now left in an unknown world without a clear direction of where he needs to go. In addition, Riku and King Mickey are stuck in the realm of darkness until they can find a way out.
Sephiroth, Phantom, Kurt Zisa, Ice Titan, and Xemnas, with the last only appearing in Final Mix.
Hades and Hercules apply as well, since fighting them isn't a requirement for anything other than 100% Completion.
Similarly, either Atlantica or Halloween Town can be a Bonus World, as you can choose one or the other and immediately go to Neverland, and from there, beat the game, without ever visiting the world you did not choose.
While you can't avoid Monstro, you don't actually have to complete the level either, you can just move on to a new world after landing there, due to their being no keyhole in Monstro for obvious reasons.
Boring Yet Practical: The Leaf Bracer ability in Final Mix/1.5, which does nothing except keep you from taking damage as you cast Cure/ra/ga. You will want this active during basically every boss battle.
Boss Bonanza: Hollow Bastion has you fighting 4 incredibly tough bosses in a row with little to no breaks in between. First you fight Riku after regaining the Keyblade. Then Maleficient comes in to stop you from reaching the princesses, and immediately afterwards, she gets turned into a dragon by Riku, and after defeating her, you must fight an incredibly powered up version of Riku.
Breath Weapon: Cerberus, Giant Ursula, Dragon Maleficent, and Chernabog.
Bridal Carry: In Neverland, Riku carries Kairi, who has lost her heart.
Butt Monkey: Poor Captain Hook is this during the end of Neverland. After you make his life a living hell (see Video Game Cruelty Potential) he lands in the water and runs away since the crocodile's after him.
Call Back: Everything about the Ultima Weapon Keyblade. At its center is the Dream Sword from the very beginning of the game, it's covered in golden coral filigree that brings Destiny Islands to mind, its teeth are, like the Kingdom Key, a replica of Sora's necklace, and its keychain is a gilded heart connected to the Keyblade by glimmering thread.
Camera Screw: One of the main criticisms of the game. Combined with very small combat environments, this can lead to a great deal of frustration.
Luckily, in the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix re-release, the camera is mapped to the right analog stick to help with this. But even so, if you happen to have to go into a corner to platform jump the camera will get stuck and you will still have to make a blind jump.
Changing Gameplay Priorities: The big change comes when you learn Cure magic. The game can be easily divided into "pre-Cure" and "post-Cure" sections. Healing magic is so overpoweringly useful that it single-handedly makes Magic Points the most important stat in the game.
Chekhov's Gun: When Leon picks up the Keyblade, it appears back in Sora's hand. Later, Sora uses this technique to snatch the Keyblade away from Riku. Also, the fact that Riku was able to take the Keyblade from Sora in the first place without it automatically moving back to Sora's hand.
Additionally, the locations for the Keyholes in many of the worlds are inside conspicuous-yet-innocuous looking objects.
Climax Boss: Maleficent and Possessed Riku, both of whom are candidates for That One Boss and have very long Cutscenes preceeding them, which can only be skipped in Final Mix.
Luckily in the 1.5 HD Remix, instead of having to watch the cutscene at least once to skip it, you can skip all cutscenes whether you've watched them already or not. This comes in handy for if you're just playing for the Final Mix exclusive content and already know the majority of what happens in game.
Cooldown Hug: Kairi to Sora to bring him out of his Heartless form.
Damage-Sponge Boss: What few attacks the Rock Titan has are easy to avoid, and the fact that he's the last Hades Cup fight (after more challenging ones like Hades himself) just makes it weird.
Degraded Boss: The Behemoth, the "boss" of the second Hollow Bastion visit, shows up again in the Hades Cup and at the End of the World as little more than a Giant Mook. The tournaments do this to a few other bosses as well.
Determinator: Beast, who survived the destruction of his world and got to Hollow Bastion to save Belle without the help of a Gummi Ship through sheer force of will alone. And he ain't gonna let a spoiled brat, a crazy witch, and some actual ugly freaks of nature stop him once he's there.
Certain cutscenes will play out differently if you sequence break. If you complete Deep Jungle before sealing Wonderland's Keyhole, Snow White will take Alice's place in the following cutscene. If you take so much time before beating Cerberus that you've already beaten Maleficent, she won't be in the following cutscene with Hades. Similarly, if you complete Hollow Bastion before Monstro, Riku won't help you in the fight against Parasite Cage or converse much with Sora due to being possessed by Ansem.
Not to mention, if you beat Hollow Bastion and then return to other worlds whose bosses you haven't beaten yet, they will actually be stronger.
You actually don't have to beat Cloud, Leon, or Sabor when you first fight them... but the game will acknowledge you beating Leon if you manage to do that.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Hollow Bastion. Let's review: it's the place where all the Disney Villains have been meeting, Riku and Kairi are there, and it's said to be where the Heartless originate from. This is lampshaded in one of Nomura's interviews, where he asserts that a lesser game would've actually ended with Hollow Bastion and the Maleficent battle.
In terms of actual game length, it would probably be Monstro, coming right in the middle of the game and signaling a big difficulty spike, as well as the part when the game starts to drop its sillier aspects and takes on a more serious tone since that's when Sora discovers that Riku is now working for Malficent.
Disney Death: Sora, if being turned into a Heartless counts as death. In any case, it should at least constitute Loss of Identity, which it doesn't in Sora's case.
Disney Princess: The Princesses play a key part in the game. Oddly, Alice is included in this group while Ariel is not, presumably for logistical reasons (Ariel's still stuck underwater).
Distressed Damsel: Kairi, Alice, and all the Disney princesses — andWendy. Though Kairi is something of a subversion in that her heart was actually protected within Sora's all along.
Throughout the game, Sora hallucinates that Kairi is with him in various places, but only he seems to be able to see her. That's because a part of her is in his own heart.
Triton tells Sora that the Keyblade is a weapon that brings destruction - and given that, in Birth By Sleep, the Keyblade War was revealed to nearly be the catalyst for the destruction of the universe, he's got a point.
When Sora reunites with Riku, Riku briefly takes Sora's Keyblade from him before willingly tossing it back, unlike how it disappeared from Leon's grip. This is a subtle hint that Riku was meant to use the Keyblade to begin with.
Unintentional at the time, but notice how the straps on Riku's chest form an "X", and how he gets possessed by Ansem, an incarnation of Xehanort. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora has a similar "X" on his chest, and Master Xehanort attempts to pull a similar trick with him. This is because the "X" is a Recusant's Sigil, which allows Xehanort to track whoever is marked with it; in both cases, Xehanort was tracking the hero to use as a potential vessel.
Ansem's speech before the first battle with him notes how Riku is simply an adventurous boy who dreams of getting off of his island to explore other worlds. Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance both show that he had these very ambitions as a child, and that he lived on the very same island.
Pretty much everything to do with Xemnas/Unknown, from him calling Sora incomplete and claiming that he looks like "him", to the Ansem Report the player gets after the battle discussing what happens to a person's body after their heart is taken by the Heartless. Bonus points for said Ansem Report actually giving the Nobodies their name.
Unfortunately, Sora will still call out their name if he uses an item to heal them.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: At the beginning of the game, Donald wakes up Goofy with a Thunder spell. In the actual game, Donald (and Sora) wouldn't be able to access the Thunder spell until after doing the pre-liminary trials at Olympus Coliseum. This can't even be explained with Obfuscating Stupidity.
Also, there is a locked door puzzle even though Sora has a Keyblade.
Genre Blindness: Nearly every villain in the game, including Ansem, who honestly thought darkness was the source of all life in a Disney story.
Gratuitous Italian: The titles of a few pieces on the soundtrack, as well as the vocals from "Destati" and its derivatives.
Gravity Screw: Wonderland's Bizarre Room is a partial example. There are several different doors to it hidden throughout the level, and where the "floor" is for the trio depends on which door you use.
Grind Boots: Tarzan, as in the film. Sora apes him during the Jungle Slider minigame. Not only can you do this along trees, but through a cave.
Guide Dang It: Finding the 101 Dalmatians. Sure, you might stumble upon a couple of these chests by accident, but finding them all? Jiminy's journal tells you how many chests remain unopened in each world, but that still leaves room for a lot of hands-on searching.
Heroic Sacrifice: Sora's suicide, to save Kairi. It turns out he's not quite dead a few minutes later, though... he's just became a cuddly, adorable, little Heartless.
Inexplicably Identical Individuals: There are three identical NPCs in Traverse town which are easily recognizable by their blue shirts and symmetrical hair styles. One becomes a Heartless during a cutscene, one stands outside the gate to the Third District and the third takes (who even lampshades it) over the accessory shop after Cid starts selling Gummi Blocks. A fourth is one of two NPCs that appear in Agrabah after you seal the Keyhole there. He has a white shirt and darker hair. The other NPC looks a lot like Wakka, but not exactly.
Infinity–1 Sword: Two of them: Oathkeeper on the magic side; Oblivion on the physical side— raw attack power plus a really high critical hit rate at the cost of magic.
Divine Rose in the Final Mix version. It is on the physical side, and is even stronger then Oblivion, but has a shorter range of attack.
Infinity+1 Sword: Ultima Weapon for Sora, which combines the strengths of the two Infinity–1 Swords but loses its critical hit rate. But the boost in power makes up greatly for it. Save the King/Queen for Donald and Goofy. All three are homages to recurring Final Fantasy weapons.
Just Following Orders: After you defeat Lock, Shock and Barrel, Barrel whines as their defeat quote that they were "just following orders." (Oogie Boogie's orders.) He says it again if you talk to him after the battle.
La Résistance: Leon's gang. They actively protect Traverse Town from Maleficent and the Heartless as they try to find the Keyblade master so that they can reconquer Hollow Bastion and finish the Heartless off for good.
Lip Lock: The game showed off a very thorough facial animation system for a large chunk of its cutscenes, but most of the time the characters' faces are locked into a static looping texture with no regard for lip synch.
Lost Forever: The Trinity at Oogie Boogie's Manor in Halloween Town. There is a Trinity at the base of Oogie's Manor and you must use that Trinity before fighting Oogie Boogie for the first time as he ends up becoming the manor after you beat him and beating him a second time makes him collapse to the ground, thus rendering the Trinity Lost Forever. You also need to have Donald and Goofy in your party instead of the Guest Character for the world for them to work, which can only be done on the map at a Save Point at the top of the manor. This also makes 100% Completion impossible and, thus, the reward for it is Lost Forever.
However Final Mix/1.5 HD Remix fixed this by moving the Trinity to an area that remains accessible after the boss fight.
Love Triangle: There is an implied one between Sora, Kairi, and Riku.
Low Level Run: The HD Remix gives you the EXP Zero ability on Proud Mode that lets you do this.
Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Riku was somewhat guilty of this at the start of the game: calling the darkness that destroyed his world was a deliberate choice, but the destruction of the world itself was unintentional on his part.
Mood Whiplash: Within Monstro, Jiminy is panicking over the fact that Pinocchio seems to have lost his heart, and this happens:
Pinocchio: Jiminy... I'm not gonna make it... [nose grows an inch] Pinocchio: Oh... I guess I'm okay!
Morton's Fork: Riku gets into one of these while trying to gather the Seven Princesses of Heart's hearts in order to rescue Kairi's—uh, heart, at Maleficent's recommendation. The problem: Kairi is a Princess of Heart, meaning that, if he even could gather all seven hearts, he wouldn't need to. It's implied that Maleficent knew this, and was simply using him to gather the other Princesses.
Nerf Arm: In Hollow Bastion, your Keyblade is taken away from you, and you're given the toy sword from Destiny Islands, severely decreasing your strength. Made even more noticeable in Final Mix when you can't even HIT the Heartless, as the wooden sword does not affect them, just like on the Destiny Islands before you get the Keyblade. You can still use Magic to harm them, or sic Beast on them though.
No Cure for Evil: Averted - Green Requiems can't hurt you, but they will annoy you by healing all the damage that you do. Similarly, when you fight him, Clayton will regularly heal himself.
Palette Swap: Final Mix does this to most of the Heartless, including almost all of the Heartless bosses.
People Jars: The Princesses' unconscious bodies are stored in crystal cases in the wall while Maleficent attempts to use their hearts to open the Hollow Bastion Keyhole. For some gamers, the lack of the game ever addressing this make this even creepier. What, you're going to ignore the sleeping girls like they're just part of the decor?
In the cases of at least four of these princesses, it's implied that they were sleeping in crystal for years!
Persona Non Grata: King Triton enforces this on Sora out of belief that the boy will only bring ruin to Atlantica for possessing a Keyblade.
Puzzle Pan: In the beginning, before the race with Riku.
Regional Bonus: Among other things, the game's Bonus Bosses weren't actually in the original Japanese version, so the Japanese had to wait until Final Mix for the bonuses. This is at least justified with Kurt Zisa, whose name actually came from a contest to win your name in the game...that was held outside of Japan.
Reset Button: At the end of the game, all the worlds destroyed by the Heartless (most notably Destiny Islands) are recreated. Nobody on the formerly-overtaken planets remembers the events, save for those who were Summons (e.g. Simba and Mushu). Worlds that were attacked but survived retain their memory.
Retcon: Many involving Ansem would show up in later titles, not the least of which involves the fact that Ansem stole his name from his mentor. Also of note is the fact that Ansem's possession of Riku wasn't just for the sake of Ansem himself having a body - it was an early attempt to "recruit" Riku as one of Xehanort's vessels for the true Organization XIII, since after all Ansem is essentially Xehanort's heart.
The events of Deep Jungle were retconed out of continuity due to legal issues; the retcon was sealed as it was left out of Roxas' dreams in KHII, implying that Sora never visited that world.
Revive Kills Zombie: A variant. The Final Mix exclusive Grand Ghost is immune to all forms of attack but will die with enough healing items to the face. Thankfully it drops them if you do attack it normally.
The Secret Ending after the credits that has the trio traversing the world where Castle Oblivion resides, formerly known as the Land of Departure. They see Pluto, who has a letter from the king, implying he knows where he and Riku are. He then starts running, prompting the trio to follow him, which they do. Then a quote is shown, saying Sora will be the one to open the door to light.
Also, the Secret Ending, "Deep Dive", a post-ending cinematic.
Sequence Breaking: Because the game does not lock you into a world before continuing, you only need to beat a few worlds (the ones that give you the Gummi Blocks upon completion) before progressing to the next area. Thus it's possible in theory to beat the game without having even set foot in Atlantica or Halloween Town, but the question is, would you want to? In fact, certain scenes are altered if you do this - (see The Dev Team Thinks of Everything).
Many walkthroughs actually suggest this as well for a mild example - Cerberus is often considered to be too difficult given how limited you are in terms of items (and munny) at that point in the game, so many people instead preferred to beat Deep Jungle, get cure, get the weapon from Deep Jungle, and then beat Cerberus.
Sleep Mode Size: When Sora defeats the Ice Titan, it goes from being gigantic to small enough for Sora to step on. It promptly runs like mad.
Stationary Boss: Giant!Ursula, Chernabog, and most bosses bigger than you. Ansem in his final form may also count, since he's hooked up to his World of Chaos and can't move much in any direction.
Stealth-Based Mission: Sniper Wilds occasionally appear in Traverse Town while playing the Final Mix edition. Upon finding Sora in their sights they summon an endless swarm of monkeys to shoot Sora to death unless he escapes. They also have the Power Stones you need for synthesis. Getting spotted will stop you from getting any more. Have fun.
Stealth Pun: One enemy is called Blue Rhapsody, after George Gershwin's famous composition Rhapsody In Blue.
Genie: So, master, what'll you have for Wish Number-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r Two? Aladdin: Hmm, how about making me a fabulously wealthy prince? Genie: Oooh! Money! Royalty! Fame! Why didn't I think of that? Okay, you asked for it! A hundred servants and a hundred camels loaded with gold! [pretends to dial an invisible phone] Just dial that number and I'll deliver it in 30 minutes or less, or your meal's free. Hey, I'll even throw in a cappuccino!
Triang Relations: Type 4. Sora and Kairi are the most heavily-implied pairing in canon, but you'd have a hard time arguing that Riku doesn't have a crush on Kairi. It seems to be resolved by the end of the game, though.
True Companions: Ariel and Sora seem to become this. Ariel reveals her inner most feelings to Sora, something the other Disney characters don't really do or at least aren't so up front about it. They bond even more in the second game beyond anything romantic since Ariel's in love with Eric now. And Ariel is the only Disney character that worries that she won't see Sora again.
Unique Enemy: Final Mix adds one to each world except for Atlantica. They all drop unique synthesis materials.
Universal Driver's License: Played straight in the game when Sora begins to pilot the Gummi Ship (after the events of Deep Jungle). Averted in the manga adaptation, with Sora ramming it into a meteor near Traverse Town.
Donald: That's the last time I'm letting you fly our ship!!
When you fight the card guards (and instead have to destroy the tower), you can go over and smack the Queen of Hearts in the face (funny thing is she falls over in one hit). Actually, it's a relatively good idea to do this as this causes the red guards to stand still for a bit.
You can also make Captain Hook's day a living hell before you beat him up. Hit him with Fira? Then you light his pants on fire and he starts running around. Throw him off the ship, and he jumps up and yells, "YOU'LL NOT GET ME OTHER HAND!" For extra fun, he might land off the ship if you light him on fire.
Goofy's at just the right height to chuck barrels in his face.