Ranking Kingdom Hearts

Hello guys, blaze6106 here, making his triumphant return onto the blog scene! God of Irony just posted a drawblog, and it was written about Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. I had the desire to rank the Kingdom Hearts series for a while, but that blog finally gave me the inspiration to write this.

Kingdom Hearts is one game series that I absolutely adore, and it's incredibly hard to explain why I love it. It has oodles of charm, and it oozes creativity. Square Enix meets Disney in a crazy tale that mixes original characters, Final Fantasy characters and Disney characters. It's an idea that should never work, but somehow it does, and it works incredibly well at that. In this blog I'm going to rank my favorites, starting from the bottom until my favorite game. Re: Coded is not included because I've never played it, but I heard I wasn't missing much. So, without further adieu, let's begin!

6.) Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

No Kingdom Hearts game is bad necessarily, but if I had to pick a least favorite this would be it. I like the story, as it expands upon the daily life of the Organization XIII. Axel, Roxas, Xigbar, Siax, and even Larxene and Demyx get  lot of character building in this game. You get to see these relationships form and then grow. You get to see the inner workings of the villainous group, which doesn't seem to be to evil in reality. Xion, the character introduced in this game is interesting, but really she takes a backseat to the already established members of the organization. This is really Roxas' coming of age story, and his decision to leave the only thing he could call a family.

The problem with this game is the mission structure. It feels like there is NO variety. Maybe that's just how I feel, but I really don't like the way its setup at all. You travel to all of the same worlds, but it doesn't feel like you're really progressing to a greater goal. I know other games in the series do this as well, but it feels the least effective in this one. I wasn't the biggest fan of the panel system. It's not bad, but I don't love it. The gameplay also doesn't feel like it's been perfected for handheld systems. It takes a step back from the console games, but the problem is that it tries to emulate them and it isn't as successful as I would hope. The multiplayer is nothing to speak of really, it felt really tacked on to me, but it did have potential and it was cool to play as the enemy. All in all, the game isn't bad, and the story is pretty good. Still, it is my least favorite, even more so than this next game.

5.) Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

The original handheld Kingdom Hearts game attempted to bridge a big gap between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. This game introduced the Organization XIII and Castle Oblivion. It introduced elements that would come into play for every game since. Not only that, but it was unique, challenging, interesting, and most importantly... pure fun.

I know everyone hates on the card battle system, and yes its very different, but I personally think it fits the handheld game more than 358/2. The way you could chain cards, combo them, learn the strengths and weaknesses of sing certain cards at a certain time, it all added a deeper strategy element to the game. The 2D sprites looked really good, and the way the battles played out felt very natural. Bosses were a highlight in this game, especially since you got to fight a majority of the Organization. Axel comes to mind with his wall of fire, as well as Vexen, with his shield of impenetrability. It is certainly the black sheep, but it has a great system that works really well for the platform that it is on.

This game does however suffer from some of the same things 358/2 days does. The game takes you to all the same worlds just to travel through the Castle. Only, your slowly losing your memory and all these places are just figments of your imagination so no one knows who you are. In the Disney worlds, your basically just living out Kingdom Hearts all over again. This is definitely frustrating, but the story in the Castle itself is one of the best and most coherent. It deals with Sora's amnesia and the girl who's pulling the strings. It pulls a lot of twist and turns and its very fun to play out. There is also a second story mode in which you play as Riku, and he plays totally different, giving you a whole new experience. I really like Chain of Memories and I personally believe its hated on far too much.

4.) Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

Already things are getting more difficult. Ranking these games is incredibly difficult because each game has something that you really have to love about it. Birth By Sleep has a lot of things to love. The combat is amongst the best in the series, and probably the most polished. The command deck makes it easier than ever to chain combos and pull off spectacular feats. This also feels much better than the previous handheld outings. The controls are fluid, fast, and fun. It's just all around excellent. The worlds in this one are probably the best of the handheld games, even if that isn't saying much. Deep Space, Stitch's world is probably my favorite of the Disney bunch. They are all pretty well made and interesting to play, though nothing compares to the console brethren.

The story is also spectacular. I usually love origin stories and this one is particularly well done. Three different perspectives really makes the story feel fresh every time you play it. These characters also change the way you handle the battles. Aqua is primarily a magic user, while Terra is the strongest of the three. Ventus is the balanced character of the bunch, which can be both good and bad. He has no particular strength and his final boss happens to be insanely difficult. The stories will interconnect in fun ways, but still stay separate enough that each playthrough feels different. All your favorite Organization members play a role in this game as well, and it really builds up to the first game really well. This is a must play game, and is really one of the best PSP games you can buy.

3.) Kingdom Hearts

The game that started it all. Kingdom Hearts. The pioneer attempt by Square and Disney to create a game unlike any other. This game has it all. Comedy, Action, Story, Fluid Combat, Awesome Bosses, Memorable Characters, and so, so much more. The game follows Sora and his quest to find his friends Riku and Kiari after they are separated from each other on Destiny Islands. Sora must travel to many Disney Worlds and seal the keyholes so the heartless will stop invading the worlds. Eventually he hopes this will reconnect the world and he can find his friends again. The premise is silly, outrageous, but the execution is pure genius. The stories within the Disney Worlds follow closely to their original stories, yet throw in some spice with heartless and an overreaching story that connects all of these worlds to each other. 

The combat is also a simple, yet nice blend between fast action based game play and strategic RPG elements. Magic, potions, and many other staples of the RPG franchise make their way into this game, but mix into combo style action gameplay. The enemies require different strategies, navigating the environments is a mix of platforming and puzzle solving, and boss fights are always well done. Many of the bosses are the enemies of the Disney heroes, such as Hades in the Olympus Coliseum or Jaffar in Agrabah. This is a common trend and makes for some interesting boss fights. It's definitely a highlight in the game.

The biggest issue I have with this game Hollow Bastion. The world is creative, you meet Beast, and you get to fight Malicifent and Riku, two awesome bosses, but I still have a few problems with it. they take away your keyblade and you're stuck not being able to kill anything for a while. The world is also incredibly confusing and there is almost no direction at all. This happens very rarely in any other world, so this is a total difficulty curve that blows your mind. Most of the puzzles feel like trial and error or just really hard to figure out period. But the end of the world makes up for it with the great boss fights. Also the camera is very bothersome all throughout the game, but it isn't completely broken. This game is excellent and had me enraptured, despite a few issues I have with Hollow Bastion. The only problem is that it isn't as good as these next two games.

2.) Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

I'm so happy that Kingdom Hearts III is following this battle system. The new flowmotion system that they installed gives a whole new feel to an already faces pace game. You can dive off of walls, send a shockwave through the ground, swing around poles and even more. It makes traversal easier, it makes fighting more interesting and creative, and just all around more fun. The reality shifts that were included make interesting use of the touchpad and give you even more ways off affecting the environment and the enemies within the environment. You can also catch dream eaters, which are your allies, and you can grow them and give them new abilities and such. It's also the method used to give you abilities. I don't particularly love this method, but the flowmotion system makes this my favorite combat system in any KH game.

The thing that kills it is the story, or the convoluted mess that leads to Kingdom Hearts III. The cliff that your left hanging on makes it okay, and the characters that are set to play a major role in KH III definitely make me excited. Still, the dream world and the sleeping worlds and the time travel and all of the other things that try to find a place in this game leave it a bumbling mess. The stories within the worlds are cool, especially the Fantasia and Tron worlds, which are standouts. The boss fights are also really fun, though the final bosses are infuriating and lack any sense of balance.

The game looks fantastic and sounds fantastic, just as KH always does. The combat is fast paced, strategic and still feels classic. The worlds are fun and most of them can compete with the big worlds of the console games. The story is a little wack, but the sheer fun makes up for the odd story. All in all, an excellent game and my second favorite Kingdom Hearts game.

1.) Kingdom Hearts II

I think we all saw this coming. What else could it be. Kingdom Hearts II built upon every foundation that was laid out in the first game. More characters, including the other (and better half) of the Organization XIII. The action is ramped up with new keyblades, reaction commands, new abilities, limits, and drive forms. All of these things create a fast paced, entertaining, even if a little easy of a battle system. The story is also remarkable since it focuses more on the characters of the Organization and the other characters rather than the main theme of heartless and getting hearts. The character development is deep and complex, as well as surprising and insightful at times. The worlds are also almost completely new and even more fun than the last. There is so much to like about this game.

Talking about the gameplay, reaction commands are probably the biggest addition to the series ever. The reaction commands allow you to dodge attacks, counter things, and just generally react to an enemy. Drive forms also add in a new element of action. A drive gauge will build up as you kill enemies and allow you to unleash different forms. Valor form wields two keyblades and is heavy on attack, wisdom form can shoot bullets of energy from your keyblade, and master form has two keyblades and the ability to glide. Final form, unlocked at random towards the end is almost unbeatable and so much fun to play around with. Limits unleash ultimate attacks and these cause masssive damage and usually have a lot of cinematic flair to it. The fighting is easy, and this is a common complaint, but a lot of the bosses will give you one hell of a tough time. Late in the game, the fighting requires more strategy and won't be called a button masher.

Speaking of bosses, this game certainly leads the pack as far as boss fights go. Xaldin, Xigbar, Demyx, Scar, Jafar, Siax, Luxord, and certainly the four stages of Xemnas are all outstanding fights. all of these fights take strategy and skill to defeat. They have unique patterns and their special abilities all give them a unique edge that you need to overcome. Xaldin, Xigbar, and Luxord are all particularly interesting and creative.

The story begins with Roxas and eventually leads to Sora awaking and going after Xemnas to stop him from opening Kingdom Hearts, but that's not really the highlight of the story. The best parts are the characters, Demyx's quirkiness, Axel's devotion to Roxas/Sora, Riku's battle with the darkness, Xenmas' plans to save the entire Organization. A lot of time these characters make you think. The worlds in this game are also better than ever. Mulan's land of dragons conveyed the story perfectly and demonstrated an awesome final fight with Shan Yu. Lion King's Pride Lands had you turn into a lion and team up with Simba to take down Scar. Pirates of the Caribbean put a more realistic spin on Kingdom Hearts and had some cool moments. All of these worlds combined with past worlds really made a great setting for this game.

I can nitpick and find several flaws in this game, but none of that diminishes the amount of fun I had when playing this game. There are a ton of amazing characters, areas, gameplay advancements, and even more. The Organization plays a huge part and they really make this game a different experience. I like every Kingdom Hearts game, but I absolutely adore this game in particular. Thanks for reading my comeback blog, hope you enjoyed.

- blaze6106