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Kingdom Hearts is one of the most miraculous achievements in video games and really media history. They essentially took the video game equivalents of peanut butter and mixed it with tomato sauce, and had that work somehow. Final Fantasy and Disney? I couldn’t think of things more unalike. Final Fantasy was a mature videogame series that was one of the first games to introduce mature language and themes into the gaming world and also features one of the most traumatic death scenes in video game history. Disney was a billion-dollar company focused on making cartoons at the time, although I guess you can argue Bambi’s mom dying was pretty traumatic too, so I guess that’s similar. Regardless, these two forces coming together created one of the most interesting and confusing videogame series ever made.
I’ve played every game in the series, including the PSP games, so I’ve been exposed to all of the insanity that comes with knowing and talking about the characters that make up this delightfully wild and dark story. We’ve got everything from Mickey Mouse to Sephiroth in this massive library of characters, so let’s get into it.
Heartless is one of the main villains you’ll face in Kingdom Hearts. They are the living forms of darkness that are created when a person’s heart is consumed by darkness. They are born from the Realm of Darkness. As individuals, they act purely on instinct and seek only to increase their numbers by consuming more hearts. They get controlled from time to time by different villains, but they ultimately will only follow the most powerful when their services are town between two sides. The Heartless take tons of different forms, and while their base form is just a somewhat innocent-looking black shadow, they can take on massive, monstrous forms and even evolve into looking like a human does. Several villains and heroes in Kingdom Hearts have heartless versions of them appear at certain points.
Nobodies are created when a person’s Heart gets swallowed by darkness. Unlike the Heartless, the Nobody retains the body, and the soul of whoever’s Heart became consumed. Some people manage to retain their full human form, while others become mangled and twisted shapes. A person’s will determines which form their Nobody will take. Nobodies are not necessarily evil, and some of the ones you encounter in Kingdom Hearts will help you along the way. They are incapable of emotions at first, but they can learn to possess them from memories of their formal lives. Unlike the Heartless, they think individually, making them far more dangerous.
The main character of the series, Sora, is the chosen one of this story. He starts off as an innocent kid enjoying his life on Destiny Islands, but it is quickly invaded by the Heartless, and it is there that he comes in contact with the Keyblade, a legendary weapon with the power to seal the darkness. From there, Sora travels to multiple Disney worlds in an attempt to save them from the darkness as well. He matures throughout the many games in the series and always defends his friends at all costs. Throughout the journey, we see Sora go from a naive child to a strong and confident young man. His mannerisms change as the series progresses and his willingness to do the right thing never wavers the entire time. He is a playable character in most of the Kingdom Hearts games.
Riku is Sora’s best friend and rival at the beginning of the Kingdom Hearts story. They competitively spar and play together, and Riku has always had an intense curiosity to visit other worlds. Riku’s curiosity initially leads him into the hands of darkness, though throughout the series, Riku overcomes this to become a trusted ally to Sora and company time and time again. He is a more extreme character than Sora, often going to scary lengths to try and do what’s right. Riku is manipulated by several villains throughout Kingdom Hearts, and he even sacrifices his body to save his friends. He is very much the 1B hero to Sora’s 1A in the story of Kingdom Hearts and is a fascinating character to follow throughout. He is playable in several of the games as well.
Kairi is the childhood companion of both Sora and Riku. She is swept up and kidnapped in the initial storm that hits Destiny Island, and throughout her journey, she discovers her purpose as one of the Princesses of Heart, who harbor no darkness in their hearts. She’s a strong and charismatic character who is brave against all odds, and despite facing some terrible situations throughout the story of Kingdom Hearts, she remains friendly and caring regardless.
Terra is one of the more interesting characters in Kingdom Hearts. Making his debut in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Terra is one of the three training with Master Eraqus to become a Keyblade Master along with Aqua and Ventus. Along the way, he becomes corrupted by the evil Master Xehanort, which makes him vulnerable to the darkness. Xehanort jumps on this opportunity to possess him, which becomes a battle of wills throughout the series, leaving Terra in a constant battle for his soul. Terra is cool and collected but constantly tempted by the darkness as Riku is. This connection between the two is set in stone when Terra passes on the right to wield the Keyblade without anyone knowing, while Riku is just a boy. Terra is a tragic character who faces some of the worst situations in the series, and his struggle to break free of Xehanort’s possession is one of the more intriguing threads to follow throughout the series.
Aqua is one of the others training with Terra and Ventus to become a Keyblade wielder in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and, because of that, makes a huge sacrifice to ensure their safety. She is the leader among the three and has ultimate faith in her friends to persevere. Because of this, she ends up stranding herself in the realm of darkness to save Terra. She’s incredibly modest and often talks down her incredible abilities. She’s a mother figure to Ventus in many ways as well, and her protectiveness and kindness make her the perfect choice to lead her friends into battle.
Ventus is one of the main characters of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. He is a Keyblade wielder and incredibly smart and cheerful compared to his more mature and sullen friends. Ventus has a dark past that he is unsure of, and part of that past is recovered during Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. He finds out he is the reason that Vanitas, the embodiment of darkness, exists. Master Xehanort extracted the darkness of his Heart after taking him under his wing. He used this darkness to create Vanitas as his apprentice and left Ventus in a comatose state as a result. Master Xehanort then takes Ventus to Destiny Islands and leaves him there to die. Ventus is sent into the Dive to the Heart, where he comes into contact with Sora as a newborn, connecting his Heart with Sora’s. This allows Ventus to return to life and fight on. Ventus’s connection to Sora’s is what allows him to be able to use a Keyblade, despite not having the same ceremony that Terra had with Rikku.
Namine is the Nobody of Kairi’s Heart. She was born from the light in Kairi’s Heart, and whereas others with darkness in their hearts would create Heartless, ones that were pure light created Nobody’s instead. Namine also is part of Sora’s body and soul, and this connection with him allows her to impact the story in several ways. Namine lacks any memories or emotions, though she grows to become more humanlike over time. She feels guilty about her manipulation of Sora and rebels against Organization XIII because of it. Namine is an extremely important character throughout this twisting and turning story.
Ansem The Wise
Ansem The Wise is a scientist who became obsessed with what the darkness of people’s hearts could do to his homeworld. To figure out the effects, he started experimenting using Xehanort’s Heart. This led to horrendous experiments on the human Heart and caused the world to fall into chaos. All of Ansem’s apprentices became corrupted by the darkness and were lost to it. Ansem considers himself responsible for unleashing the Heartless on the world and has done his best to help Sora and friends restore the world. His apprentices end up being some of the biggest villains in the series and considering it was him who led them there, Ansem The Wise is responsible for the chaos taking place within Kingdom Hearts, whether he meant to cause it or not.
Xehanort began as a Keyblade Master until the lure of darkness led him to begin experimenting with the power it could bring. Ansem tried to stop these experiments, but Xehanort banished him into the Realm of Darkness, and from there, he used the Heartless to obtain ultimate power. He has multiple versions of himself, including the Heartless version of himself that he named Ansem and the Nobody version called Xemnas. Both retain qualities of Xehanort and are incredibly evil in their own right, seeking the ultimate knowledge obtainable through Kingdom Hearts regardless of the cost.
Lea is a former member of Organization XIII who used to serve as their assassin. He starts like a broken man searching for his best friend in Kingdom Hearts II but eventually becomes an ally to Sora and even a Keyblade Wielder himself. Despite his adult looks, he’s very childish and sarcastic. He’s also fiercely loyal to his friends and desires to use people’s memories of him to live forever. Lea has a Nobody named Axel, who initially befriends Roxas and develops human personality traits through their friendship.
Leon might look familiar to Final Fantasy fans as he originally goes by the name of Squall Leonhart, the main character of Final Fantasy VIII. Leon is a member of the Heartless Resistance and has ended up in Traverse Town after his world was destroyed by the heartless. He changed his name to amend for his mistakes. Leon gives Sora the information he needs to defeat the Heartless in the first Kingdom Hearts game and fights alongside him t several points.
Cloud is the main character of Final Fantasy VII and one of the most popular videogame characters in history, and here, he plays a prominent role as well. A fierce swordsman, Cloud is a cold and calculated individual searching for his fated rival, Sephiroth. While he helps Sora after Sora rescues him from being killed by Cerberus, Cloud remains laser-focused on his mission to find Sephiroth and has several showdowns with him throughout the games.
A legendary villain, Sephiroth is initially just a special opponent to fight at the Olympus Coliseum. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sephiroth plays heavily to the Heartless Invasion on Hollow Bastion. Sephiroth even defends his rival Cloud at one point, seeking a better option to settle their differences than killing each other. His fate remains unknown, though in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, it is strongly suggested that he is the one who attacks Zack during the ending.
The Disney mascot has a sizable presence in Kingdom Hearts and acts as King Mickey Mouse, the King of Disney Castle. He is one of the characters that remain on the light side throughout the story and is one of the most powerful characters around. He fights alongside Sorta many times while also guiding Riku many times as well. He is even playable in a few games as well. He works secretly with Riku throughout the story and is essentially using Riku as an undercover agent to discover more and more about the Heartless and Xehanort’s plans.
Donald is one of the main companions throughout the Kingdom Hearts series. He’s Sora’s trusty sidekick and joins him shorts after Kingdom Hearts begins. Donald is a fierce combatant, and although he isn’t controllable, Donald is customizable in his attacks and equipment throughout the games. He’s a loyal follower of the one who wields the Keyblade, and while that’s Sorta at the start when Riku steals it from him, Donald has no choice but to follow Riku. Donald eventually refuses the duty and returns to Sorta despite being bound by the Keyblade. Donald has a big hand in all of the events of Kingdom Hearts and is one of the more loyal companions around.
Goofy is the captain of Mickey’s Royal Knights, and because of that, he’s loyal to anything his king demands. He’s incredibly brave and will defend those that he loves no matter what. He even tries to sacrifice his life for Mickey in Kingdom Hearts II by throwing himself in front of a boulder that is going to hit Mickey. Of course, he recovers moments later. He’s extremely wise and smart, despite his cartoonishly dumb voice. In combat, Goofy is incredibly strong and uses a shield to attack his enemies.
Maleficient is behind many of the bad things that happen throughout Kingdom Hearts. She is one of the main antagonists of the series and uses her intellect and manipulation skills to pull the strings of many of the main characters of the series. She plays in heavily throughout the main story and is one of the original villains of the story, with her exploits dating back to Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Her main motive is to capture all of the Princesses of Heart to claim them for her own. She takes on the help of several Disney villains throughout the series. She faces off against Sora and is eventually killed off by him after fighting in her dragon form. In the following game, Kingdom Hearts II, she is revived. She has multiple appearances and even manages to help out Sora and company at one point, appearing to sacrifice herself for Sora and Riku to prevail at the Castle That Never Was. She, of course, appears again in Kingdom Hearts III as a villain once again, proving that her actions in Kingdom Hearts II were entirely self-serving.
Yen Sid is one of the original Keyblade Masters and is known as one of the most powerful beings in the world of Kingdom Hearts. He is a master of magic and guides Sora along in his quest at several points. He gives Sora new powers along the way too. Yen Sid is often behind the scenes, following Sora’s story from afar. Eventually, Yen Sid realizes the threat of Master Xehanort and summons Sora and Riku to take their Mark of Mastery exam and become Keyblade Masters themselves.
In Dream Drop Distance, Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through the exam by assigning them to wake up several worlds that have been in the form of deep sleep after Ansem wreaked havoc upon them. Yen Sid eventually becomes forefront in the fight against Xehanort and plans to directly oppose Xehanort’s plot to pit the Princesses of Light against Organization XIII by bringing together the seven Keyblade wielders of light. Because of this, Kairi ends up training to become a Keyblade user as well. He’s incredibly intelligent and often is the main voice of authority throughout the series.
Roxas is Sora’s Nobody and an original member of Organization XIII. Roxas was meant to disappear when Sora’s Heart was restored, but he instead survived until Sora eventually had to reabsorb him and awaken. Sora, being the selfless hero that he is, then began to seek a way to revive Roxas. He eventually succeeds, and Roxas becomes real. Unlike Sora, once Roxas gains a body of his own, he’s incredibly self-assured and even cocky at times. He’s also incredibly kind and brave, fighting for the ones he cares about on several different occasions. His best friend is Axel, who is Lea’s Nobody, and it is through their friendship that they begin to experience emotions for the first time.
Xemnas is the Nobody of Terra-Xehanort, which is a separate being from the original Xehanort. He’s an extremely dangerous and powerful character who holds control over all the other Nobodies. He is the founder of Organization XIII and the oldest known Nobody, possibly being the first one. He has no emotions or feelings and has very few memories at all. All he believes in is hatred and anger. Because of this emotionless state, he shows no remorse for the deaths of comrades as they fall one by one around him. He only desires power and nothing else. His personality is made up of parts of Terra and Xehanort, with long-winded speeches accompanying quieter moments where he is reflective of his actions. Xemnas serves as the main villain of Kingdom Hearts II but returns in Kingdom Hearts III as well.
Ansem, Seeker of Darkness
Ansem is the main villain of the first Kingdom Hearts and is the Heartless form of Xehanort. Created after Xehanort gave himself to the darkness, his Heartless form retained itself and memories. Through this creation, he gained command of an army of Heartless and used their power to seek the ultimate knowledge of Kingdom Hearts, a land of infinite power and knowledge. This led him on a relentless journey to find the Final Keyhole, and thus, his plan to use the Princesses of Heart to open it was formed. He saw Sora as a way to complete his goal and sent Kairi to Destiny Island before the first game as a secret Princess of Heart to awaken the Keyblade wielder in Sora. He eventually gets absorbed by Riku during the final battle of the first game and begins a struggle within Riku that plays out throughout the next few games.
Lingering Will is the embodiment of Terra’s soul within his Keyblade armor. He is a fierce warrior that possesses not only the combat prowess of Terra but also wields the Keyblade as well. The Lingering will is unable to function as a Heartless or Nobody and, therefore, has nothing but hatred for Xehanort. He appears several times throughout the series as a powerful force that either helps or hinders the main characters.
Larxene is another member of Organization XIII and one of the Seekers of Darkness in Xehanort’s ultimate plan. She’s also the only female member. She originally trained Roxas against her will and is consistently one of the most annoyed and frustrated characters you’ll encounter. She has the power to control Nobody’s and is a lightning-quick warrior who moves like a ninja. She’s incredibly sadistic and finds joy in watching our heroes suffer. She consistently taunts Sora each time they meet up and is one of the last bosses to face in the series. Originally, Larxene was known as Elena, a Keyblade user during the Keyblade War. Her darkness created a Nobody who became known as Larxene.
Marluxia is one of the most dangerous members of Organization XIII. He wields a massive, pink scythe and has control over flowers and Reaper Nobodies. A close friend of Larxene, Marluxia, creates the plan to use Namine to deceive Sora. They plan to eliminate the other Organization XIII members to take power for themselves. Axel ends up tricking both of them and freeing Namine from Marluxia and Larxene. He appears throughout the series as a rogue member of Organization XIII who is eventually dubbed one of the Seekers of Darkness in the Keyblade War of Kingdom Hearts III, leading Sora to defeat him along with Larxene before the final battle.
Luxord is one of the special members of Organization XIII who has the power to possess time. Instead of the typical fights, you have with villains throughout the series, Luxord prefers to toy with his opponents and makes them play sadistic games, killing them if they fail. He teamed up with Roxas many times during his days with Organization XIII and is one of the more sadistic members of the group. As one of the more powerful members of Organization XIII, Sora has several tough battles with him throughout the series, and each time, his fights involve some kind of puzzle-solving. Eventually, he is finally killed by Sora at the end of Kingdom Hearts III, offering him a helpful item before fading away.
Xigbar is one of the older characters in the series, which starts the entire conflict by giving Xehanort the Keyblade during Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. His original form was Braig, and eventually, Xehanort betrayed him by killing him with a Keyblade, creating Xigbar in the process, which then works for Xehanort’s Nobody, Xemnas. In Kingdom Hearts II, he hinders Sora’s project a ton and fights with two-bladed weapons. He also controls Sniper nobodies, who do a ton of damage when their shots hit. In his Braig form, he strikes a deal to help Xehanort in response to his help in manipulating Terra into embracing the darkness. Although he is defeated in Kingdom Hearts II, he gets revived in the subsequent games.
Master Eraqus is a key piece to the puzzle that is Kingdom Hearts. He is the Keyblade Master that teaches Aqua, Ventus, and Terra in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. He is friends with Master Xehanort, though he suspects his darkness from the beginning.
He eventually is forced to turn on Ventus to stop Xehanort’s plan to use him in his plans. Terra then steps in to defend Ventus and is Eraques is forced to fight his former pupil. Eraqus loses the fight and regrets his actions heavily; Terra then witnesses Master Xehanort appear and deliver the killing blow himself. He eventually finds himself residing within Terra’s Heart because Xehanort kills him with a Keyblade, and Xehanort possesses Terra’s body, that small bit of Eraqus is what helps Terra resist Xehanort’s influence throughout the series.
Eraqus is incredibly stern and every bit the combat master he is made to be. He feels responsible for losing Ventus and Terra to the darkness and hates that he must eliminate them to preserve the light in the world.
The Foretellers are Keyblade Masters from the Age of Fairy Tales. The apprentices to a mysterious character known as the Master of Masters. In their journey, they try to stop worlds from being taken by the darkness. Each one of the Foretellers wears an animal mask, and they appear to be older than the majority of the other Kingdom Hearts characters. These characters are spoken of plenty, though they are rarely elaborated on. They will take on greater importance in future games of the series, mainly Kingdom Hearts X.
Question: Which is the first chronological game in the Kingdom Hearts series?
Answer: The first game is technically Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, though future titles have promised to go even further into the past to reveal what led to the original Keyblade War.
Question: How many playable characters are there in Kingdom Hearts?
Answer: It depends on the game, but you will either have control over one character or several, and many of the controllable characters are a total surprise, so I won’t spoil them for you here.
Question: Are the Kingdom Hearts games multiplayer?
Answer: There are a few exceptions, but when it comes to the main Kingdom Hearts series, you are going to be playing as one character the majority of the time.
You probably wouldn’t expect the craziness that goes on throughout Kingdom Hearts story since Disney is involved, but it’s one of the craziest stories in gaming history. While the plot is great, the characters that make up the journey are so memorable and well written that every beat the story takes is elevated because of them. With memorable heroes, villains, and side characters, this is easily one of the most engaging casts of characters to ever be gathered.
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