When you think of Square Enix, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is the RPG genre and Final Fantasy. In 2002, Square Enix and Disney decided to collide and make something magical and brilliant for gamers everywhere. Thus, Kingdom Hearts was born and created a huge following. This series follows a fourteen year old boy named Sora and his two friends: Riku and Kiari. They live in a place called Destiny Islands and dream of a vast universe full of different worlds they wish to explore. They get their wish when a strange darkness comes to the islands and splits all three of them up. As they vanished, Sora was left with a powerful weapon, the Keyblade, in order to fight against a new horde of enemies, the Heartless.
The player plays in the role of Sora--going from world to world searching for Kiari and Riku with his two new companions: Donald and Goofy. Kingdom Hearts spawned not only a sequel, but a list of side stories for multiple portable gaming devices. This is the list as released in North America:
- Kingdom Hearts (2002) – PS2
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004) - GBA
- Kingdom Hearts 2 (2005) – PS2
- Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (2008) – Nintendo DS
- Kingdom Hearts Mobile (2008) – Cell Phones
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days (2009) – Nintendo DS
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010) – PSP
- Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (2012) – Nintendo 3DS
Why did Square Enix go about creating this franchise with so many side stories? Fans of the franchise wanted a true Kingdom Hearts 3 sequel--not side stories. Some feel this was done just to "cash in." And while it is true that some of the earlier portable titles left something to be desired, the last entry in the franchise, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, ties everything together. The final battle has been set up and now all that is left is Kingdom Hearts 3. There’s even a secret message at the end of Dream Drop Distance that proves it.
With the close ties of the Kingdom Heart franchise on Sony consoles, we may see a Kingdom Hearts 3 announcement, at E3 2013, for PlayStation 4. I expect this next entry of the franchise to feature graphics that will rival the newest animation releases from Dreamworks or Disney Pixar. But no matter what it looks like, fans of the franchise want to see Kingdom Hearts 3! Enough with the side stories that seem to milk the franchise without giving fans what they want. After waiting over 7 years, the time appears to be ready for Kingdom Hearts 3 featuring Sora, Riku, and Kiari. Stay tuned!