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Kingdom Hearts 1 or 2?

Kingdom Hearts is a franchise that will never un-glue itself from my memory or my soul. It is one of the greatest gaming franchises of all time and both Kingdom Hearts I and II offer spectacular windows into the adventures of Sora and his pals Donald & Goofy in in their own right.

But which one is better? Kingdom Hearts 1 or 2?

I spent most of my time with the second game, and then recently went back to play through the first.

Kingdom Hearts is a far simpler game than its successor, that’s for sure. It offers up a simple and clean story revolving around Sora and his quest to seal up the keyholes found on each world he visits. The end goal is to locate and find Kingdom Hearts, a place of extreme darkness and power as main antagonist Ansem puts it.

XIINobodies

The vast Organization XIII, though interesting can also be very convoluted.

While KH2 brings in a whole new slew of characters in the form of Organization XIII (an elite group of nobodies all seeking to reclaim their hearts), It also opens with an entirely new character for the first two or so hours of the game, while Sora completes his hibernation process. I actually found this opening to be quite refreshing.

Though each member of the organization is unique in their own way, the main one I remember the most is without a doubt Axel. The others all kind of fade together after a while, and it makes the threat in Kingdom Hearts II feel less intense as it did in the first. Not to mention the difficulty – even on proud – is nowhere near that of the first game.

Gameplay

No sense in mucking around here, this goes to Kingdom Hearts II. The ability to move the camera with the right stick and play around with the reaction commands adds a huge amount of polish to the Kingdom Hearts style combat. The fighting in the second, although very similar to the first, neatly polishes and refines to a “t” what Kingdom Hearts 1 was only beginning to fully realize.

Sound

Few would disagree that sound is an extremely important part of a video game. Without the right soundtrack, specifically composed melodies to accompany darkly spawned cut scenes, the effect of the entire scene and game as a whole will have diminished.

Luckily, both Kingdom Hearts I and II have the amazing¬†Yoko Shimomura backing them. The taste of her music is touching to say the least. Both games truly shine when accompanied by their soundtracks. I cannot give either game any points here, as both are just too beautiful. It’s a tie.

Story

In the first Kingdom Hearts, the story is so pure, unspoiled almost. And I think the main thing about the first Kingdom Hearts and its wonderful story is how innocent it is. We see Sora team up with two unlikely partners and watch as their friendship grows strong almost in defiance of the ever spreading darkness around them.

And Riku battles with his own demons as he tangles with that very darkness, all while Kairi is there, waiting for her friends to come back and save her.

I think my favorite line from the entire series so far is when Sora says to Riku while defending Kairi from his keyblade strike “There’s no way you’re taking Kairi’s heart!”

Lasting Impression

Now both Kingdom Hearts I and II are truly fantastic and going back, you’ll have over 120 hours of play time between the two of them (and that’s not counting the optional bosses).

So which is the better game overall?

I think that they’re both incredible, really. And in order to favor the second one, you’d have had to play through and experience the first. Kingdom Hearts I has more charm and innocence than its successor, but the second vastly improves almost everything the first did wrong (especially the Gummi ship sections).

I can’t decide; I love them both way too much. Maybe you can help?

But If you can’t, that’s okay.



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