I consider myself a gamer. From Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to GoldenEye on Nintendo 64, Pitfall and Dig Dug on Atari, and Call of Duty, I have played them all. I love the escapism of video games where you can enter worlds that you can only dream about.

Over my years of gaming, I have always looked for and played any Disney related games. The original NES game Adventures in the Magic Kingdom was a cherished childhood game because it brought the Disney characters to life in the gaming world, as well as the Magic Kingdom attractions. It was the perfect filler for amusing myself between the Disney World trips my family took.

There are dozens of first person shooters for the major consoles, but very few Disney related console games. There are even fewer successful Disney related console games, except for Kingdom Hearts.

I have never played Kingdom Hearts because I didn’t own a PlayStation. But, being an adult means I can make big purchases and with the recent Christmas treat of a PlayStation 4, I’m going to soon (finally) get to play Kingdom Hearts. I was always curious to know more about what made this game so popular. The Wii had the successful but unpopular Epic Mickey, Xbox 360 had Disneyland Adventures, yet they haven’t set the sales charts on fire. So why is Kingdom Hearts so popular while Disney fans tend to ignore Disneyland Adventures, and show hostile rage towards Epic Mickey? Because Kingdom Hearts is well made, and fun.

From what I have learned, you must have more than just characters to have a successful video game. There must be a point to the game, adventure, decent to incredible graphics, and it must be fun. I played Epic Mickey — it was not fun! I was bored within minutes, and the story didn’t catch my attention. I didn’t even bother trying the sequel. Disneyland Adventures is a great game for the Disney Parks enthusiast, but I wish to God it wasn’t an XBox 360 Connect game. That game would have sold like gangbusters had it been a standard controlled game rather than forcing the player to be active. I lost count of how many times and hours I spent reorienting my avatar because it kept turning in a circle.

From what I have read Kingdom Hearts has everything I believe a video game should have as well as the inclusion of my favorite Disney characters. Created by Square Enix, Kingdom Hearts was born out of luck. As the story goes, “a chance meeting in an elevator” between the designers and Disney people. The game soon premiered and the game was heralded as an enjoyable action adventure game.

Players spend most of the game controlling one character named Soro, who is aided by an artificial intelligent bot version of Donald Duck and Goofy. I wish every game had these two as my sidekick.

How did the gaming world receive Kingdom Hearts? As of March 2014, over 20 million copies of the series have been sold worldwide. That’s right, I said series. The original Kingdom Hearts game has spawned multiple sequels, which have sold well, but have also distinguished themselves for the many accolades they receive in the gaming world.

The six games in the series have always stood out for their visuals. The main four games in the series have received a 36/40 from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, which is well known for its harsh grading system. Awards like Best Crossover, Best Story, Best Art Style, and Game of the Year 2005, are just some of the kudos that the Kingdom Hearts series has received from the gaming world. The fact that there are multiple sequels tells you how popular it is with gamers.

As I embark on my journey into this popular gaming franchise, I am excited by the fact that for the first time, I will be playing a very popular game franchise that includes the many characters of my first pop culture love, Disney. Not only that, but from everything that I have read, and the numerous videos I have watched on YouTube, Kingdom Hearts is a beautifully designed game, with magical worlds that any true gamer would be interested in exploring. 

I can’t wait to play Kingdom Hearts 2.8 and bring you my full review tomorrow!

** Full disclosure, I have received Kingdom Hearts 2.8 to review for free **