When it launched back in 2002, Kingdom Hearts on PlayStation 2 pretty much stole everyone’s heart.
A crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy, it seemed at the time a pretty peculiar pairing to make — but it worked better than anyone could have imagined. In the fifteen years since the first game released, it’s spawned an official sequel and a lot of other spin-offs — with a third official entry finally coming out next year.
But being one of the most popular franchises of recent years, there are a lot of interesting tidbits about Kingdom Hearts. Here are five facts about the franchise that you (hopefully) don’t already know…
1. Kingdom Hearts 2 was the first Disney game to get censored
‘Disney’ and ‘censored’ are two words that you don’t expect to find in the same sentence. Disney’s one of the most family friendly companies in existence, so why should anything they do have to be censored? Well, some scenes from the original Japanese release of Kingdom Hearts 2 were deemed a bit too adult for Disney’s western audience, so were cut from the English language version of the game.
Should you pick up a Japanese copy of Kingdom Hearts 2, you’ll find that Hydra leaks green blood rather than smoke, the Pirates of the Caribbean world Port Royal has gun violence, and, apparently, there’s even a scene where Daisy Duck spanks Donald. Oo err missus.
2. Kingdom Hearts‘ fastest speedrun time
The world record for speedrunning Kingdom Hearts is held by a player called ‘Zetrile’ who completed the Japanese PS2 release in just 5 hours, 17 minutes and 31 seconds. Considering the average time to complete the game is somewhere around 25 hours, that’s pretty impressive.
The Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD version that released earlier this year on PlayStation 4 has allowed players to complete the game even quicker. MistMaster1 managed to complete the game on beginner difficulty in just 2 hours 14 minutes. Sheesh. I think I was still busy exploring Traverse Town after that amount of time.
3. Mickey Mouse is the most prolific Disney character in video games
Kingdom Hearts‘ King Mickey — plain ol’ Mickey Mouse the rest of the time — is the one Disney character to have starred in the most games. According to Wikipedia, it’s over 40. I can’t think of many other video game characters at all who’ve starred in that many.
Of those, nine of them are from the Kingdom Hearts franchise (including the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3). Poor mouse. He’s almost 90 years old; he deserves a break, the old lad.
4. The original Kingdom Hearts was Disney’s best-selling game
The original release of Kingdom Hearts sold 6.4 million copies worldwide. That’s pretty impressive considering it was just on one single format, PS2. It’s Disney’s best-selling game to date; even the multi-format and hugely popular Disney Infinity only managed around 5 million across all formats.
It’s a shame that Disney’s gaming division is now largely defunct, but at least Kingdom Hearts continues to live on thanks to Square Enix.
5. Kingdom Hearts has Super Mario 64 to thank for its existence
While Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 may seem a world away from Kingdom Hearts in terms of gameplay and design, it’s actually because of Mario’s 3D adventures that Kingdom Hearts ever came to be in the first place.
In a conversation with Saturo Iwata, Nintendo’s late CEO, Tetsuya Nomura, the director of Kingdom Hearts, admitted that Mario 64, in particular the way the game let you run around in big, open 3D spaces, was his inspiration. Working on Final Fantasy VII at the time, he told his colleagues he’d like to make a game similar to Mario 64. They told him that Mario is too popular, and it wouldn’t work with a new character.
One of his colleagues chirped up to say it’d only be possible if he used characters as well-known as Disney’s. Turns out that not long after, Square did get the chance to work with Disney. And well, the rest is history.