A friend of mine asked me to write what I think about the Kingdom Hearts series. It is one of her favorite gaming franchises ever, and she is not the only person I know who adores this series. She was hoping to get my take on it: what I thought was good and bad.
I have never played Kingdom Hearts. And I don’t foresee that changing in the near future. It’s not that I don’t want to play them. With several friends who continue to rave about how much they enjoy Kingdom Hearts, I’m certainly curious. And I did take the time to watch a Let’s Play of the first game, so it definitely looks like something I could potentially enjoy.
I remember seeing the ads for the game back when it was first coming out. I thought how delightfully absurd the mix between Final Fantasy and Disney was. And then I proceeded to not get the game.
Trying to Fit in
The first Kingdom Hearts arrived in the US in September of 2002. I was just starting high school in the American South, the land of football, unreasonable amounts of fried food, and guns. And like any teenage high school boy, I was definitely worried about looking cool (a state of being I was in no danger of achieving, just trust me on this).
So when Kingdom Hearts was being advertised, I remember pointing out the commercial to one of my big, beefy, football-playing friends. And his response was something to the effect of, “Psh, what a stupid baby game. Disney characters and animes? C’mon, let’s go play Halo on my new Xbox. It has GUNS.” And so, suitably chastised from my potentially aberrant behavior, I proceeded to not get Kingdom Hearts and basically miss out on that entire franchise.
This is far from the only time something like this happened. In Elementary school, Pokemon Red and Blue came out, and Pokemania swept the world. It was one of those rare instances where I was ahead of a curve on a popular thing, being one of the only one of my group of friends to actually have a Game Boy. I introduced a whole bunch of my friends to Pokemon, everyone went nuts for it. We kept getting the games, the cards, the plushies and we could perform the Pokerap from memory.
In 1999, we all headed to middle school, and everyone I knew tried to sweep Pokemon under the rug. We were all clearly old and mature now, and Pokemon was clearly only a fad for babies. Sure, I wound up getting Pokemon Silver, but it was definitely one of the things that the cool kids didn’t do.
I spent the next several years trying to convince myself that I definitely didn’t like Pokemon. Every now and then I would go on one of the fansites and look at what news was coming out about the upcoming versions, trying to tell myself that these are stupid things. Every now and then I would catch an episode of the anime, to talk down about Ash Ketchum and his Pokemon, because watching it certainly wasn’t cool.
My brother wasn’t convinced. At some point when I was in High School and he had started college, he couldn’t take his poor brother lying through his teeth anymore, so he went out to the local Game Stop, and came home with a used copy of Sapphire. He told me to play it and not to let anyone stop me.
Here we are, many years later. I still pick up Pokemon every so often, finding new and exciting things to complain about with every release. Yet I still haven’t played Kingdom Hearts.
Acceptance of Who You Are
I wish someone told me in high school it was ok to enjoy video games that others thought were beneath them. This is actually one of the reasons I am grateful for the expansion of the internet and the so-called “Information Age” we live in. It helped to normalize geeky interests no matter what your age is. Luckily, I’m not alone. No matter how ridiculous my random interests may make me look or feel sometimes, there are other people out there who see me with my hobbies and think it is super cool.
So to any of you readers out there who are young, and who worry about their taste in video games making you look like a baby, or look ridiculous, or make you look uncool, I’m here to tell you: don’t worry about it. I know it’s cliché to hear this, but in a few years, it won’t matter in the slightest. At the end of the day, life is too short. Enjoy your hobbies and don’t let people get you down for them. Chances are, there is someone else out there who is just as excited about your passions as you are.
In the meantime, I’ve got to figure out a way to play Kingdom Hearts.