Remember what you were doing 13 years ago?
Some of the Internet’s biggest gamers do. While a little-known teen called Taylor Swift released her first single, and Daniel Craig single-handedly made James Bond pretty cool again in Casino Royale, avid gamers across the world were continuing the adventures of Sora, Donald and Goofy in Kingdom Hearts II, and eagerly waiting for the sequel. And waiting. And waiting.
Sure, Square Enix released some other Kingdom Hearts games. In 2009 they released the oddly-titled Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and 2011 saw the general release of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, which followed events after Kingdom Hearts II while not being an out-and-out sequel. Both of these Nintendo DS games were gladly received and devoured. Fans even happily bought the next side game, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, in 2012 for the 3DS. Those who didn’t were content to wait until 2017 to pick up the most confusingly-titled Kingdom Hearts title yet, the collection Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which came out for the PS4. It included many of the side games released after Kingdom Hearts II, as well as bonus footage and additional content. This was all well and good, but the series’ hardcore fans were licking their lips waiting for the real next course, which had been announced way back in 2013 and was slowly making its way to release.
Now, 13 years after the worldwide release of Kingdom Hearts II, its sequel Kingdom Hearts III is finally here, and people you didn’t even realize knew what a Keyblade was are coming out of the woodwork to flip out over it. Combined with the long-anticipated release of the re-imagined Resident Evil 2, it’s been a good month for nostalgic gamers. Critical response has been broadly positive, though not unreserved.
Let’s be honest, though. After all this time the game isn’t for industry critics to deliberate over like a technical masterpiece in the style of The Last of Us or Super Mario Galaxy. This is a labor of love for the fans. And the fans have been going out of their minds for it. Sales in Japan are crushing every other charted game put together, with 610,000 units sold last week alone.
YouTube and Twitch are no exception. On Twitch Kingdom Hearts III is outperforming reliable favorite Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and holding its own against Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, just outside the top 10 games on the platform. A highly unusual position for a JRPG to find itself in! Popular gaming YouTubers Hollow and Tetraninja are also uploading Let’s Plays, with Hollow’s in particular netting well about his average views.
In an interesting case of art catching up with technology, protagonist Sora is taking a leaf out of influencers’ books, and posting all kinds of travel selfies while on his adventure. He has strong caption game, too. Intrepid chipmunks Chip ‘n’ Dale made him a cellphone, which, honestly… raises questions. Just goes to show, while Sora’s still a lovable teen in the Disneyverse, technology in the real world has marched on since 2006, when nobody had even heard of an iPhone.
Are you on board the Kingdom Hearts hype train? Got any great Sora selfies? We wanna hear about it.