Like many children born within the mid-’90s, I spent my childhood obsessing over Kingdom Hearts. I dove into the sequence for Donald, Goofy, Aladdin, and that fixed tease of Mickey Mouse. However I saved bumping into characters with gunblades, big-ass swords, large shuriken, and zippers who I knew nothing about. These had been, in fact, Remaining Fantasy staples Leon (Squall Leonhart), Cloud Strife, and Yuffie — characters who would lead me right into a love for Remaining Fantasy 20 years later.
At first, I didn’t give a rattling about these people — I purchased the sport for the speaking duck who does magic. However over childhood years replaying the unique Kingdom Hearts, weathering my previous technique information and ready three years for the sequel, these characters grew to become a part of my Disney canon. I didn’t battle alongside Leon, Yuffie, Cloud, Aerith, and Sephiroth from the Remaining Fantasy sequence I’d by no means performed; it was Leon, Yuffie, Cloud, Aerith, and Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts.
Regardless of understanding they had been from different video games — simply as Aladdin, Peter Pan, and Ariel had been from their very own films — I by no means opened my coronary heart to Remaining Fantasy. The concept of transferring to a turn-based sequence with plenty of studying wasn’t interesting to childhood me. However a long time later, I’ve gotten deep into Remaining Fantasy by means of Remaining Fantasy 7: Remake, Yuffie’s Intergrade DLC, Remaining Fantasy 15, and Remaining Fantasy 14. Remaining Fantasy 7: Remake’s sequel and Remaining Fantasy 16 are a few of my most anticipated video games of the following few years. Almost 20 years later, it seems like my Kingdom Hearts schooling is lastly paying off.
Kingdom Hearts: The JRPG gateway drug
In case you haven’t performed Kingdom Hearts since childhood, you’d be stunned to return and see that it begins as extra of a Remaining Fantasy recreation than a Disney one. Exterior of some brief seems at Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy, and the chipmunks in Renaissance Honest cosplay, the primary a number of hours include hanging out on a seaside with Remaining Fantasy characters Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka. When Sora results in Traverse City, Pluto kilos on his chest, and he wanders round a city that has extra Remaining Fantasy characters than Disney ones.
“Who the hell are these folks?” I bear in mind pondering as a baby. However both in my pure pleasure about glimpses of Donald and Goofy or the sheer boredom of being a baby with limitless free time, I pushed ahead previous Leon’s unwinnable boss battle and exposition-laden speeches. I shortly warmed to Leon given his Huge Silly Sword Gun (the notorious Gunblade, which I nonetheless assume is cool).
I added the entire numerous Remaining Fantasy characters to my mind over years of learning Kingdom Hearts and its sequel. I sorted them into containers full of half-truths and a 10-year-old’s grasp on their backgrounds. I assumed Yuffie and Leon had been from the identical Remaining Fantasy recreation, and I by no means knew Aerith’s true destiny. I saved my distance from the Remaining Fantasy sequence as a child, however I saved that field with all these reminiscences locked away in my mind.
Crops years within the making
I bought a duplicate of Remaining Fantasy 15 in school, though I can’t bear in mind why. I used to be excited however skeptical to dive into the sequence 15-plus entries in. To my shock, I adored all the things about it. I used to be genuinely moved by a second when one occasion member misplaced his sight and continued to attempt to battle. “Is this what I’ve been lacking?” I assumed. Once I found that many Remaining Fantasy lovers didn’t take care of 15, I cataloged my expertise as a fluke.
When Remaining Fantasy 7: Remake got here alongside, it modified my total perspective and reignited my curiosity. I’d discovered by means of 15 that I might love Remaining Fantasy, even with out the sequence’ wealthy historical past, and I’d at the least heard of Cloud Strife by means of my time with Kingdom Hearts. In Remake, I discovered a few of the similar sort of storytelling and frenetic fight that I liked from Remaining Fantasy 15. However even higher, I unearthed that field of reminiscences I’d hidden away years in the past.
Right here had been the characters I knew from my childhood! Cloud, the brooding jerk conflicted by his darkish previous. Aerith, that quiet lady who hangs out with Donald and Goofy. Sephiroth, that piece of shit with the not possible boss battle. I knew these folks; properly, I knew a model of them.
That understanding feeling actually hit residence with Yuffie’s Intergrade DLC final month, as she was one of many extra vocal forged members within the unique Kingdom Hearts. It was weird to see this character I met in childhood devoid from what I considered her unique setting, thrust again into the sequence she got here from. I acquired to uncover who Yuffie is yet again and see how she’s totally different from the assured, smiley Yuffie from Kingdom Hearts.
It felt like watching Area Jam after which going again to a Bugs Bunny cartoon, or maining Samus in Tremendous Smash Bros. earlier than enjoying any of her video games. These characters are acquainted to me, however they’re not the identical. I do know them, however solely by means of an imposter.
Kingdom Hearts spent years making an attempt to get me to care about Remaining Fantasy, however all I got here away with was a bunch of names and fond reminiscences of Winnie the Pooh, Merlin the wizard, and Cid the Gummi mechanic. I ignored Tetsuya Nomura’s name as a baby, however I got here again as an grownup to search out all these characters ready for me.
In a manner, I’m grateful for this attitude. If I’d adopted the trail Kingdom Hearts set out for me once I was a child, I might’ve skilled your complete Remaining Fantasy sequence main as much as 15 and Remake. However I additionally might’ve turn out to be bored with the components and even the fandom. My path to Remaining Fantasy was a roundabout one, lined in weird fever desires involving Ansem and Alice in Wonderland. Nevertheless it’s created a fan who is aware of simply sufficient concerning the unique variations of those characters to be excited concerning the future with out the burden of the franchise’s 34-year historical past.