Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing game developed by and collaborated between Square Enix and the Walt Disney Company. It was released on March 28, 2002 for PlayStation 2. Kingdom Hearts includes characters and settings from both Disney and Final Fantasy. Its main characters are Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, Kairi, Riku, and the Heartless. Sora is a 14-year-old boy with an upbeat attitude and has a strong sense of justice. He can excel in strength, defense, or magic depending on what the gamer chooses, and he has the Keyblade, which is a large key-like weapon. Donald Duck is the feisty but impatient court wizard, and he is also King Mickey Mouse’s loyal servant. He excels in magic. Goofy is the easygoing but clumsy captain of the royal knights, and he is also a soldier who does not like weapons. He excels in defense. Kairi is a delicate but strong 14-year-old girl. Riku is a cool and collected 15-year-old boy with a curiosity for the unknown. Both Kairi and Riku are Sora’s friends. The Heartless are mysterious beings that hunt Sora, and there are many types of Heartless. The Heartless is controlled by Ansem, the seeker of darkness. Kingdom Hearts is basically about Sora who must battle against the Heartless with the help of Donald Duck, Goofy, and even other Disney characters that he will meet on his journey. They travel to the different worlds (i.e., Olympus Coliseum, Agrabah) on the Gummi Ship to seal each keyhole so that the Heartless does not destroy the world. Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy must also look for King Mickey Mouse, Kairi, and Riku. The gamer controls Sora, and the computer controls all the other characters.
By 2009, 12 million copies of Kingdom Hearts were sold worldwide. During the first two months of its North American release, it was one of the top three highest-selling video games. At the end of April 2003, Square Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts had sold its millionth copy in the United States. Kingdom Hearts was followed by several sequels, which includes Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded.
The Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack was released on March 27, 2002. It contains two CDs with 41 tracks on one and 35 tracks on the other.
Yoko Shimomura (pictured above) helped compose and arrange the music of Kingdom Hearts. At first, she was afraid to score this kind of demanding project. She had no idea what music would be right for a Square Enix and Disney collaboration. She did a lot of trial and error. She eventually created stage, battle, and boss themes to fit every world based on the scripts and illustrations. Yoko Shimomura is a Japanese video game composer. She is known as the most famous female video game music composer in the world. She has been working in the video game music industry since 1988. In 2002, she wrote the score for Kingdom Hearts, which she says is her most special soundtrack and a turning point in her career. The soundtrack sold more than four million copies worldwide. It is ranked as the fourth-best role-playing game title track of all time. Shimomura also composed music for other Kingdom Hearts games in the series. Even piano sheet music from Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II has been published as music books by Yamaha Music Media. Shimomura’s favorite track that she composed is “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts (featured in the video below).
Hikaru Utada (pictured above) also helped compose and arrange the music of Kingdom Hearts. She also helped perform the music. She actually made two theme song contributions to the Kingdom Hearts series. This is the first time Hikaru Utada had produced a song for a video game. She composed, arranged, and performed “Simple and Clean” for Kingdom Hearts (featured in the video below) and “Sanctuary” for Kingdom Hearts II. She sings both the English and Japanese versions of both songs. Hikaru Utada is actually a famous Japanese American singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer. She was born in Manhattan, New York.
The Kingdom Hearts soundtrack basically features music from Disney films and Final Fantasy. Most of the music is orchestrated, but there are some vocal songs such as Hikaru Utada’s “Simple and Clean.” Like all video games and their music, the music of Kingdom Hearts helps set all the action making music an important part of the video game.
Written by Camille Garcia