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20 Years of Kingdom Hearts

kingdom hearts 20th anniversary

Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. The lore-filled crossover series has built a big base of fans over the years! We here at Siliconera are sharing our favorite Kingdom Hearts memories.

Hands-down, it has to be the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix secret ending. I remember a crunchy old YouTube video being shared online, mostly through websites like LiveJournal and Blue Laguna, and being completely transfixed by it. At that point, I had only played Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the GBA myself, and was mostly attracted to the presence of Final Fantasy characters in the franchise. But this was definitely the first time I was actually interested in Kingdom Hearts as a franchise. I still think that cinematic is super cool to this day! — Kazuma

kingdom hearts 20th anniversary mulan

Considering that my entire seventh grade was spent on Kingdom Hearts (and I’m not exaggerating), I have a million memories from the game. I was writing fanfiction in class and frequenting Livejournal communities and watching Flash videos. But I vividly remember just playing for hours one weekend. And when Sora finally found Riku in Kingdom Hearts 2 and started crying, I actually started to cry a little bit too. It was like I also found Riku, you know?

Well, unfortunately, my mom came into my room right then and saw. And she didn’t say anything, though of course the news passed around the Asian Parents Gossip Pipeline. Until, that is, I started my second playthrough of the game. She came into my room again while I was finishing the first Mulan story and saw the scene of the Emperor thanking everyone. She said, “You were crying from this game, weren’t you? Was it because Donald Duck and Mulan got married?” I don’t think I could ever forget the sheer confusion I felt from that question. — Stephanie

we like cards here

Guess what? I was so excited about the GBA release of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories that I was at Best Buy when it opened to get a copy. (I was really excited about the card-based battle system, because I’m me.)

At the time, the series wasn’t as popular as it is now. Which meant when I got to the store, it wasn’t on the shelves. There were still these open, but not yet unpacked, boxes in the video game section. Which meant I went on an impromptu quest to find out if it was actually even there. (It was!)

This was also the only time I ever bought a Kingdom Hearts game at launch! — Jenni

kingdom hearts 20th anniversary sephiroth

When I think about Kingdom Hearts II, my brain mainly remembers a really cool QTE from Riku and Sora’s final battle against Xemnas. My soul, though, remembers the dozens of times I tried and failed to take down Sephiroth, just because I had heard that a really super-cool cinematic would play if I did it. Even now, my thumb aches a bit when think about that fight.

In retrospect, I probably could’ve skipped the ordeal by playing on Proud Mode, since unlocking that scene on Normal Mode required completing Jiminy’s Journal, effectively “100%’ing” the game. But there’s no use crying over lost time. I did eventually put that one-winged dastard in his place, and in doing so created an unforgettable memory (or a traumatic recollection). — Josh

What are your favorite Kingdom Hearts memories? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! And read our other handy roundtables for more thoughts from the Siliconera team.

Graham Russell
About The Author
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.