My Dear Kingdom Hearts

Donald scolds Sora in the Gummy Ship

The hype for Kingdom Hearts 3 is at its peak after the game’s release only a few days ago. Social media has been lit aflame by the passion of players both young and old as gamers share their stories and experiences with it.

For me, the game sparks a lot of emotions and feelings of nostalgia. I’ve found myself aching for my childhood, my old friends, and my old life.

I’d like to consider myself among those who have been there since the beginning. I was the general target audience that the game marketed to for the original release of the first game. I remember the Disney channel exclusives (channel 26 of course) on the game back when we had a tube TV on the floor of our living room.

Sora's mock Instagram post

It was my girlfriend that got me into the game and thus opened the door to our 5-year long obsession and passionate friendship. Through Kingdom Hearts, we explored fan fiction, fan art, comic books, cosplay. All of this lead us through the gateway into this fanciful world. Through our shared passion of Kingdom Hearts, I learned to write, I learned to draw, I learned to think creatively, and became very intimate with that part of myself. It was beautiful. And aside to her, Kingdom Hearts has been a common ground for me to share passion and make other friends some of who I’m thankful to still have in my life.

Now, before I get too derailed, I’ll explain that as the second game came and went, I graduated high school, went into college, and found myself still aching for that passion that kept me going for so many years. When Square Enix continued to release games, I cleaved to them, thinking that they would continue to satisfy this hole within me that I know recognize as growing pains.

Sora stands with his old friends from Twilight Town

But the games were lacking, hollow, convoluted, and they left me feeling incomplete. I depended on Kingdom Hearts for so much of my inspiration as a child and a teenager, and I was frustrated that the in-between games couldn’t give me that same satisfaction.

I turned away from them and moved on with my life, forgetting the fandom and losing that part of myself that had played a key role in shaping who I am today.

Everyone kept saying a 3rd game was on its way and that was 12 years ago. I didn’t believe it until less than a year ago when Square Enix’s marketing team started taking things seriously in promoting the game.

Well, I’ll be damned. My interest peaked.

I tried to play through the in-between games in a desperate attempt to understand the needlessly convoluted storyline, and that endeavor was more annoying than I thought it would be. It was like trying to stuff sawdust in my mouth and made me wonder why I was even bothering. They almost made me dread the new release.

Sora's memories from previous games

But now the Kingdom Hearts 3 is actually in my hands, and something has begun to glow inside of me. Suddenly I’m thinking about writing fan fiction, looking at fan art. I feel giddy to see Disney characters meet Sora. All of a sudden, I found myself missing my friend from school who I haven’t seen or heard of close to 10 years now. To put it simply, it’s been like a sucker punch straight to the gut.

Playing this game isn’t like playing the in-between games. It feels like a Kingdom Hearts game, like how 2 felt, like how the original one felt.

It’s had me almost forget how much time has gone by. I’m married now. I have children, so much has happened and changed me. But these past few nights when I close my eyes I feel like a teenager. I remember what it was like to lay on the floor with a controller wired to the console. I remember the smell of my friend’s house. I remember the notes we pass in the halls; the comics we drew; the role plays we did.

How could a game do this? How could it stir such deep, soulful feelings within me?

I cried. Not because the game brought me to tears, but the game did such a damned good job at reminding me something I had forgotten. As far as capturing this feeling of such nostalgia I will take my at off to Square Enix and say thank you.

Playing this game will be more than just a video game for me.

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