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With the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 right around the corner, I wanted to share my story of how I came across Kingdom Hearts and the incredible impact it has had on my life. So, my story begins in the year 2007. When I was 11, my best friend (also my niece) passed away after a hit and run by a drunk driver; she was eight. My nephew (her little brother) was seven. When this all happened, and being so young, we were pretty scared and damaged by this. We both lost a sister. We didn’t understand what death was. It was a very huge tragedy that impacted our whole family and after the events that transpired I barely got to see my nephew.
A full month passed, and then on my birthday, my father took me to a near by game store called "ToyNGameland" asking me if I wanted a game. I told him yes, but I wasn't very enthused that I was going to find anything I wanted. We walked into the small shop and walked all the way to the end of the store where the video games were located. I began looking through the glass casing where all the PS2 games were. Back then we didn't have a lot of access to game reviews to see what sucked or not and I didn't have any access to the internet, so picking a game back then would've been by just looking at the covers of the games and reading the description in the back. While looking through the glass, I saw the box art of Kingdom Hearts and even though I was 12, I’ve always been a sucker for art, especially anything kind of anime styled—plus the name “Kingdom Hearts” just jumped at me; I gravitated immediately. “I WANT THAT ONE,” I basically yelled at my dad.
He asked, “Are you sure?”
I said, “Yeah, I want this one,” while pointing at the glass.
He didn't ask too many questions as to why I wanted it, especially since he saw a couple of familiar Disney characters on the cover, too. He bought it for me and took me home. I was so excited! I opened it early and popped the game in and MY GOD.... the opening of this game was something I had never seen before. Hearing Utada Hikaru's voice for the first time with the incredibly amazing visuals was insane to me. I had never seen a game look so good at the time, and at that very moment, I truly fell in love with gaming—and for the first time in a month, I felt a strange sense of happiness overcoming me.
When I played, I didn't get to play for too long. I only got up to the part where I’m searching for the things needed for the raft. Then I stopped, cause it was time to be sung happy birthday, which honestly I really wanted to skip, but obviously I couldn’t. Everyone was sad, but pretending to be somewhat happy for my sake; there was no music, and overall, was just a very short thing. I immediately went back to my room and contemplated playing, but was too bummed out honestly.
The next day, my nephew—surprisingly enough—was dropped off by his mom. At this point we weren’t really talking or interacting much because it was awkward not to have my niece around with us at the same time. It was always the three of us. I felt bad and awkward because I realized we never really played together, just me and him, or bonded more just us. He was very different from how he was before what happened, he didn't talk much, and he stared off into the distance a lot. I quickly got a lightbulb idea. I ran up to my room, brought my PS2 to the living room, and said, “Look Junior, you wanna play this?”
He very quietly asked, “What is that?”
And I said “It’s Kingdom Hearts!” as I handed him the PS2 case.
“What is it about? Is it a fighting game or something?”
“It's not a fighting game, but I don’t really know yet, I just got it. You wanna try it though?”
He said, “Uh okay.”
And we started to play together, either by taking turns or helping each other out if we got stuck. Little did we know how much this game was going to completely suck us in. We fell in love with every single aspect of Kingdom Hearts: The characters, the complicated lore, the combat, and emotion. We fell in love with EVERYTHING, and then for this first time ever, we had something to talk about. Something we heavily bonded over.
After we were done with KH1, we had the strongest bond possible; this game literally helped us a little with our grief. It made things a little bit better for us. When we found out there was a second Kingdom Hearts, my nephew asked his dad for it and he bought it. We stayed up late nights, almost til morning, and at this point, were completely obsessed and we started crashing in the living room with an air mattress on the floor every single night. Until we beat it, then we just wanted more!
We played the spinoffs like Chain of Memories together and we always had something to talk about regarding Kingdom Hearts. Now, so many years later, here we are. I’m now 23 years old and he’s 18. Kingdom Hearts 3 releases tomorrow and we can’t believe it. I’m still kind off in shock LOL, but I’m going to proudly pick up my deluxe copy tomorrow for PS4 and reminisce on how it all started for me—for us... this game is so near and dear to me.
It became the light that helped me out of my darkness.
Writer's Note: Thank you to whoever read this, I hope you enjoyed and I didn’t go on for too long. ❤️
Here's the 'Kingdom Hearts' opening!
I couldn't find an HD version. Sorryyy!