It’s been nearly fifteen years since the last major console release of a Kingdom Hearts game. Not a remaster, not a collection, a full brand spanking new release. It’s also been about four years since I’ve pre-ordered the damn game, so to have the knowledge that I am mere days away from finally having this game in my hands, it’s quite something.
When I think about how I got into the series, it’s really funny remembering. When the original Kingdom Hearts came out, I laughed at it. Here I am, y’know, a 14 year-old teenager who’s trying to be a little more edgy cause it’s supposed to be cool and you think for one second I’m gonna play a video game with a bunch of Disney characters?! Fuck that shit, right? That doesn’t sound cool, who cares that it’s being made by the same company who just a year ago, released what would become my all-time favourite game in Final Fantasy X. It’s fucking Disney, that’ll be stupid and childish!
Then I saw a friend playing it. He was running through the Hades Cup and if I remember correctly, the first battle I ever saw was against Cerberus. It looked pretty goddamn fun, which threw me for a loop. “No no no no! It’s a fucking Disney game, it has to be lame!” I kept thinking to myself and yet I would just get drawn in further. But I did hold my ground a little bit, I went a few more months without playing it.
But once it made the Greatest Hits list, thus it was cheaper, all bets were off.
I was stunned, absolutely stunned. The world, the story, the characters, the gameplay, the music, the graphics, the atmosphere…it all clicked, it all blended together and it was all Grade-A quality stuff! I couldn’t believe it, here I was thinking a game featuring a shit-ton of Disney properties would make a garbage game and yet I was sitting on my couch enjoying the hell out of playing through Tarzan’s world. Couldn’t believe it.
When it was all over, I was all in. Now I wanted more. So the day Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, I had my money saved up and was ready to go. I got so impatient, that I decided that the day before, I was going to lie to my Science teacher that I had a dentist appointment, so I’d miss my last class of the day. It honestly didn’t bug me that much, I hated the class and I was doing more than fine anyways. So I walked all the way from my school to the only EB Games we had at the time, which was an hour walk away. My walk home? 20 minutes. Didn’t care, I wanted that game and I wanted to play it as soon as I could.
Same deal, was blown away. Couldn’t believe just how much they could’ve improved that game, but they far exceeded any expectations I could’ve had for the series. Keep in mind that Chain of Memories for the GBA was released months before and it was no slouch either, though it had its problems. But once I put down Kingdom Hearts 2, I was a forever fan and I couldn’t wait for the third installment.
Except…it never came. I kept my PS2 a few years into the following generation (Persona helped) and waited to hear when Kingdom Hearts 3 was coming. But it just kept never being announced. Instead, we got mobile games, handheld games, web browser games, anything but a console title. Sure, some of the games were all right, but I never got the same feeling of them, and honestly? I’ve never finished a Kingdom Hearts game since Kingdom Hearts 2. I’ve had to watch YouTube videos to get the full story I’ve missed, in preparation for KH3.
I was truly upset, because why the fuck was Square Enix being so stupid by not releasing a third installment and instead releasing sidestories no one cared about on not-consoles?! What the fuck was the matter with them?! Did they not like money?! Well, we’ve seen over the last 10 years that it might be true, but that’s besides the point! I was beyond mad and turned elsewhere to find my new gaming niche. I went away from PlayStation, got a Xbox 360 and was getting ready for hours upon hours of Minecraft, Mass Effect and eventually, Destiny.
But in 2013, they just had to fucking tease it. 8 years of nothing and OH MY GOD, IT’S FUCKING HAPPENING, OH MY GOD!!!
And another five years since have ensued and we come to today. In just over a week as I release this, the game will be in my hands. A game I have basically waited nearly fifteen years to play. Fifteen long fucking years.
I don’t know what to think, to be honest. I mean everything I’ve seen looks incredible, especially the graphics. I can’t fathom how I’ll feel being in the Toy Story world as it looks like a movie and not the game. But in terms of my emotions going in…I can’t quite explain how I feel. I mean the best I can do is say that I’m excited without being excited. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long, maybe it has more to do with how old I am now in comparison to how I was when Kingdom Hearts 2 was coming out.
In the end, what I do know is that this may just be my happiest moment as a gamer since I impatiently awaited playing Mass Effect 2. I get the feeling that the moment the first second of the initial cutscene starts, a flood of emotion-filled nostalgia will envelope me. I’m actually considering the idea that I may actually well up, but I won’t cry. I’ll have teary eyes with the biggest smile on my face, because in those first moments, I will truly feel at ease.
Because when I hit start on Kingdom Hearts 3, fourteen long years will have passed. And I’ll be as thankful as can be that I got to experience this moment before the decade’s end.