Kingdom Hearts is a crossover series that saw its initial release on March 28 of 2002 but has just seen its latest release on January 25 of 2019. Combined with the fact that it has been seeing regular releases in between those two installments, it can be considered one of those long-running series that have managed to secure a consistent measure of success over time. However, it is important to note that the Kingdom Hearts series has seen plenty of changes over the course of its existence, which have enabled it to continue appealing to both old players and new players.
How Has Kingdom Hearts Changed Over Time?
For starters, Kingdom Hearts is a crossover between Square Enix and Disney. As a result, each title has seen the player interact with a mix of characters from Square Enix games as well as both Disney and Disney-owned properties. Over time, the selection of Square Enix games has seen some expansion, as shown by the inclusion of The World Ends with You. However, it is the other side of the crossover that has seen much more dramatic changes.
In part, this is because there are so many Disney properties out there, which is a number that is increasing on a constant basis as the company continues to make new movies. As a result, even the first Kingdom Hearts featured more than a hundred Disney characters, while subsequent releases have seen huge increases to that number for the series as a whole. However, it should also be remembered that Disney has been very successful in recent times, thus enabling it to buy not just Pixar but also Marvel and Lucasfilms. So far, Marvel and Lucasfilms elements have not managed to make it into the Kingdom Hearts series, though they haven’t been ruled out at this point in time either. In contrast, Pixar properties such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. have already managed to make it in. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that the Kingdom Hearts series has become bigger over time and promises to continue becoming bigger in the times to come.
Story-wise, the Kingdom Hearts series has seen a fair amount of progress, though perhaps not as much as what some fans would have liked considering the sheer amount of time that it has been in existence. Essentially, everything from Kingdom Hearts in 2002 to Kingdom Hearts III in 2019 have served to cover a single narrative arc. Certainly, the titles in between the main installments have followed a wide range of characters in a wide range of circumstances in the same setting, but each of their stories have been connected to the central narrative running throughout the series so far. With that said, it should be mentioned that the narrative arc has been brought to a conclusion by Kingdom Hearts III, which means very interesting things for the series to come. After all, the people behind it have revealed that they have plans for more stories in the same setting, meaning that the Kingdom Hearts series is bound to continue in a new direction in the future. It is natural for people to have mixed feelings on this matter, particularly if they have been following the story for close to two decades. However, it isn’t unreasonable to think that future Kingdom Hearts titles possess the potential to make the crossover series even richer.
Summed up, the Kingdom Hearts series has remained very consistent in some ways. For instance, its titles are still action RPGs centered on characters wielding magical weapons called Keyblades. However, the Kingdom Hearts series hasn’t stagnated but has instead managed to continue evolving over the course of its existence, which can be considered one of the factors behind its continuing success.
With that said, the Kingdom Hearts series seems poised to see greater changes in the times to come. Some changes such as the inclusion of more and more crossover elements seem relatively predictable in nature. In contrast, other changes such as what future Kingdom Hearts titles will focus on are much less so. Whatever the case, it seems safe to say that the Kingdom Hearts series will continue to catch the interest and captivate the imagination of a wide range of players for years and years to come.