Did Disney Really Make a Hack-‘n-Slash Game?

The short answer is: yes.  The longer answer is: yes, they did it beautifully, it has a whole franchise, and they didn’t do it by themselves.  Fair warning, this will have spoilers throughout it.  So, if you don’t want spoilers, keep that in mind.

In case you have been hiding under a rock since 2001, Disney actually does have a Hack-‘n’Slash video game franchise.  Okay, so in all fairness, the franchise is classified as a Single Player Role Playing Game.  So, why do I say it is a Hack-‘n-Slash game?  That is because this particular franchise is made in a partnership with Square Enix, formally known as Squaresoft or Square.  That is the company that made the “Final Fantasy” games.  As such, elements of the game play used in those games were brought in to the games for this new franchise.  The most prominent is the Hack-‘n-Slash game play.  Still don’t know which game franchise I’m talking about?  The franchise is named after the first game in that was released to the public back in 2002:  Kingdom Hearts.

This particular game franchise is amazingly popular all over the world, not just in the United States and Japan.  It is also popular with people of all ages, gamers and non-gamers alike.  It is truly amazing in what it does and it is probably going to be just as popular as the “Final Fantasy” franchise when all is said and done.  There are numerous reasons why this has become so popular.  Let’s take a look this game and figure out why it has become so popular.

One of the biggest thing that this franchise has going for it is that it combines the lovable characters from the a variety of Disney movies and shorts and characters from the amazingly popular “Final Fantasy” franchise.  In fact, three of the main characters are Donald, Goofy, and Mickey.  Cloud, Aerith, Leon, Cid, Yuna, Rikku, and Paine all make appearances in the games.  Sephiroth is even an optional boss of the several of the games!  However, there are plenty of new characters as well!  Sora, Riku, and Kairi are the main characters of most of the games.  Aqua, Terra, and Ventus are featured in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.  The main antagonists of all the games are Master Xehanort and Organization XIII.  All of these characters make it easy to love the series by those who are looking to get into gaming.  The Disney characters make for a series of games that can be enjoyed by children, teens, and adults alike.  

The game play of the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise is easy to learn.  It also helps that the tutorial for how to learn how to play is actually part of the game.  When playing through the tutorial you don’t feel like you are playing a tutorial.  You get to keep your items and you also get to keep those experience points and the choices that you are presented with do make a difference as to how you level up during the game.  It is fairly straightforward and even when you get new abilities it is explained through actual game play.  The easy of play and fun, part of the game tutorial, make this series of games amazing for new gamers that want to get into the world of gaming.  Since the game borrows a lot of the game play mechanics from its game franchise parent of “Final Fantasy”, it makes the game fun for older gamers that want a game to play with an older form of game play mechanics.

The music of this game series is amazing.  You can read a more in depth review of the game soundtracks by clicking here.  The soundtrack is beautiful.  It is really amazing what they can do with the technology today.  Not only does this soundtrack have familiar Disney songs and “Final Fantasy” themes, but it also includes a bunch of new beautiful pieces.  They are even heard in their full orchestral form in the game!  It is a beautiful thing and it makes the whole experience worthwhile.  It truly makes for an amazing experience.

Graphics can make or break a game and probably the best at doing video game graphics rendering is the Square Enix.  Back before the merger of Square and Enix, three years after Kingdom Hearts was first put into development, Square was known for having some of the best graphics in the video game industry and always being ahead of their time.  Think about the “Final Fantasy” games.  Those have amazing graphics.  Final Fantasy VII, one of the most beloved of the franchise, won tons of awards for how ahead of its time it was with its 3D cut-scenes and backgrounds.  The original Kingdom Hearts featured Square’s beautiful 3D renderings for the PlayStation 2.  It is so easy to get drawn into the game with such beautiful graphics.  Here are a couple images from the Kingdom Hearts Wiki from the first game.

Destiny Islands from game play

Ending Cut Scene









Kingdom Hearts II is even more of a feast for the eyes in terms of graphics.  The designers really know how to make some beautiful 3D renderings.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that this company wins so many awards.  Seriously!  Even the Disney characters look amazing!  These are just a few of the amazing things that came out of the second game.  I just cannot get over these graphics that were made for the PlayStation 2!  The next game is going to be for the PlayStation 4 and I can’t wait to see those graphics.  The remakes of the main series games, there are seven of them to date, for the PlayStation 3 feature such amazing updated graphics that it is easy to get excited at what the next game will have for us to play through and watch in terms of cut-scenes.  This image and gif are also from the Kingdom Hearts Wiki.

Donald, Sora, and Goofy

Sample of the game play from Kingdom Hearts II









In terms of the story line and characters, this game has got that down.  Disney has always been know for the wonderful family friendly original stories that it tells and even the re-imagining of those macabre fairy tales from long ago.  As such, it should be no surprise that the “Kingdom Hearts” series has quite possibly the most complex and fun story of any family friendly game on the market today.  It has elements from the Disney realms that it encompasses and some from the other Square Enix worlds that when combined with the new characters for the series it makes for something truly magical.  The familiar Disney characters placed in such different situations is done so well that it is easy to get caught up in the story and sometimes forget that these characters don’t interact outside of the games.  Take Donald for example, he has always been one of my favorite characters.  Donald is a quirky mage character that is wonderful to have on your party.  However, he also retains his, at times, annoying personality when he heals you right after you use a potion.  This has made me actually yell at the screen and it usually is something like: “Come on Donald!  Seriously?  Why couldn’t you do that when I was getting pummeled to death‽”  Then you have Mickey.  Ah Mickey, the most recognizable Disney character of all time.  Mickey is actually King Mickey in this game.  He and Minnie rule over a world known as Disney Castle.  Mickey is so much fun to play as.  I will admit it, I have actually let Sora get pummeled to the point of blacking out just so I could play as Mickey in Kingdom Hearts II.  Mickey is pretty kick ass in this series.  Kudos Disney.  The story line was, for a long time, a bit confusing.  Not in terms of singular games.  Those were pretty easy to figure out.  I am talking about as the whole “Seeker of Darkness Saga” that is the current saga to be concluded in Kingdom Hearts III.  With the games being released out of order in a similar way to how The Chronicles of Narnia were, it leaves a lot to figure out if you are playing them in the order they were released.  I’m happy to say that it actually works though!  It leaves you wanting the next game to come out so that you can figure it all out.  Sora, the main character of the whole thing, is the center of it all.  Even though he is a great character and I do like him, I really loved it when we were able to play as the members of Organization XIII, the villains of the game, and as Riku, the anti-hero of the game.  I died a little inside of sheer joy when I discovered that in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, one of the games that falls between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, you get to play as Riku for an entire half of the game!  Talk about giving the fans what they want!  Riku is one of the most popular characters of the series and who doesn’t dream of playing a game from the bad guys’ point of view?  

The lovablity of these games is easy to see when you take into consideration all the various things that it has going for it.  The characters, story, graphics, music, and game play work so well together that it makes for one amazing experience.  I have always loved Square Enix’s games, yes, even when they were two separate companies.  Many gamers will have played at least one game by this company or its predecessors.  Also, admit it, even if you say you hate it, everyone loves Disney.  What isn’t to love about it?  I mean, Disney theme parks are “the happiest places on Earth”!  Who doesn’t want to go and get their picture taken with the lovable characters from stories they grew up with?  I know I want to get my picture taken with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy even more now!  The highest rating on these games is E10+.  Despite that, if I had young children, I would let them play it.  There really isn’t anything wrong with it.  Compared to the other games out on the market, this game is as tame as a Disney film terms of violence.  Of course, when one of the companies involved in making is Disney that is to be expected.  As an adult, I love it.  I love that I get to experience the stories and characters that I grew up with in a whole new way.  Whenever someone asks me for a recommendation for a new game to play, I always recommend these games.  If you are looking for one to play, give it a shot!  You will probably be surprised by how much you like it since there is something in them for everyone.  Like long stories where to go on?  This game has you set for at least eight games when the next game comes out.  Want something with fun mini games?  Like the “Final Fantasy” franchise, this game’s got that too.  Looking for something that you can play on a stupid easy, child’s setting once and then turn around and play it through on a level so hard it takes you months to play it and you “die” numerous times for each boss battle?  These games have you covered on that as well.  With a variety of platforms to play it on, there is something for everyone!