Twenty years ago today, on March 28, 2002, publisher Square – not yet merged into Square Enix – introduced the world to a brand new series. Kingdom Hearts, which started its life as a single action-role playing game for the PlayStation 2, is now a beloved franchise with over a dozen titles released for various consoles including PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox devices. The series tracks the journeys of several Keyblade Wielders, chosen to protect the realm of light, Kingdom Hearts itself, from the forces of darkness. Kingdom Hearts is unique in that it combines original characters and locations with those from Disney and Pixar films as well as games from fellow Square Enix franchise Final Fantasy.
Twenty years ago today the original Kingdom Hearts first launched in Japan and we started an unforgettable journey with Sora, Donald and Goofy.
— KINGDOM HEARTS (@KINGDOMHEARTS) March 28, 2022
Fans are hoping that the twentieth anniversary of the series will bring with it major news – particularly anything regarding Kingdom Hearts 4, the long-awaited fourth mainstream title. With Kingdom Hearts having not released a game since 2020’s Melody of Memory and Dark Road, and Square Enix’s recent focus placed heavily on the recently released Final Fantasy Origins: Stranger of Paradise and upcoming Final Fantasy 16 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2, Kingdom Hearts could definitely use its time in the spotlight in 2022.
So far, Square Enix has confirmed that an anniversary celebration will be held in Tokyo, Japan on April 10, 2022. The event will include a Q+A session with the Kingdom Hearts development team, a concert featuring music from throughout the series, exclusive limited merchandise, and more. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continuing to limit travel to and from Japan, a video of the event will be released globally at a later date.
On April 10th we're hosting a Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event in Tokyo!
We'll kick off the 20th anniversary celebrations with a mini concert, a chat and Q&A with the development team, an exhibition and much more. A video of the event will be made available at a later date. pic.twitter.com/gNLAs2waV6
— KINGDOM HEARTS (@KINGDOMHEARTS) January 18, 2022
So far, 2022 has seen the release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts III + ReMIND DLC for the Nintendo Switch via cloud streaming (no, not Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy 7, cloud STREAMING). In addition, limited edition Kingdom Hearts Tamagotchi devices were announced, allowing players to “raise” up to 20 digital characters ranging from series protagonist Sora to Disney standbys Donald and Goofy.
The future of the Kingdom Hearts series is currently unclear. 2020’s Melody of Memory and Dark Road, a rhythm game and expansion to an existing mobile spinoff respectively, saw the conclusion of the Dark Seeker saga, which featured recurring antagonist Xehanort as the central character and a number of recurring protagonists including Sora, Riku, Aqua, Ventus, King Mickey, and more. The next game – whether it is Kingdom Hearts 4 or yet another spinoff – is rumored to introduce a new antagonist, and possibly new protagonists as well.
Still, despite the future remaining in question, fans hope that the Kingdom Hearts series will continue for another 20 years – or even more!
How are you celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kingdom Hearts? Replaying the games? Listening to Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean” on repeat? Let us know!