Over the past 15 years, the Kingdom Hearts series has been taking fans on an adventure to different worlds they’d never thought possible. Through each entry, the story has evolved to include new characters and worlds to fit the growing franchise.
The same can be said for Sora’s trusted weapon, the magical Keyblade. First introduced in the original Kingdom Hearts, the Keyblade is a magical weapon with the power to possess good or evil capabilities, represented by Light and Darkness, respectively. The Keyblade appeared to Sora after an outbreak of Heartless invaded his peaceful home, Destiny Islands: it was here that players first witnessed all that the Keyblade could do. However, this is not a “History of Kingdom Hearts” piece. No, instead we are going to look at Sora and how he’s grown with the legendary Keyblade, as well as how the action has changed over the course of the series.
Kingdom Hearts has the most simplistic version of the Keyblade in terms of battle systems. In the beginning, Sora is able to execute short combos with limited ways to connect them. Throughout the game, players were able to equip extra skills that added moves such as Slide or extended aerial combos. Looking back this system was extremely basic but, for its time, the systems introduced in the original Kingdom Hearts would serve as a staple for the action RPG series.
Going back to the original Kingdom Hearts after playing one of the more recent entries in the series reveals just how sluggish and clunky the combat can be. This slow action most likely had a huge impact on the battle system introduced in Kingdom Hearts II. In this numbered entry, Sora can execute reaction timed attacks, which allows him to use a special skill against an enemy, if timed correctly.
Additionally, Kingdom Hearts II allowed players to enter a new form with the use of the “Drive Gauge,” a transformation system which introduced players to a handful of new terms: Valor, Wisdom, Master, Anti Drive, Final, and Limit. In these modes, Sora could wield two Keyblades at once and unleash devastatingly powerful attacks against even the most difficult of enemies. The new system sped up long-winded battles dramatically as it increased Sora’s strength, movement, and skill powers.
Being the last of the numbered entries in the Kingdom Hearts series, there were also a couple of interesting Keyblade systems introduced in some of the handheld releases. One of these can be seen in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories which brought a strategy element to the series by having players build up card decks and use the cards to activate magic as well as special attacks.
The battle system in the handheld entries of the series more or less built upon themselves, but I think the most notable one would be the Nintendo 3DS’ Dream Drop Distance. Unlike the spin-off releases before, Dream Drop Distance aimed to bring Sora back to the fast-paced 3D action introduced in Kingdom Hearts II, while giving Sora a few new moves.
During battles in Dream Drop Distance, players are able to utilize most of the skills Sora has acquired over the time of becoming a Keyblade master, minus the dual-wield forms, while adding a few more ways for players to streamline battles. One of these new systems was called “Flowmotion,” a way for players to use their surroundings to assist them in battle while also allowing them to execute special attacks.
However, with all this said, nothing could have prepared anyone for the new Keyblade systems introduced in the latest Kingdom Hearts III trailer. After watching Sora leap into battle, he quickly transforms his Keyblade into “Boost Hammer” mode and begins to swing the enormous hammer-type weapon at enemies, causing the ground to crack with every pound.
Next up, the Keyblade transforms into “Drill Punch.” This weapon pretty much attaches itself to Sora’s arm and gives him the ability to not only dive into the soil and launch back up under an enemy, but also be used as a whip to affix itself to an enemy and slam them into the ground.
Over the past 15 years, the Keyblade has served as the staple for the Kingdom Hearts series. We’ve seen many different upgrades and new systems over the years, but none as dramatic as the leap in innovation shown in Kingdom Hearts III. These forms could potentially be linked exclusively to the worlds that fit their theme, but for now it seems the possibilities are endless when it comes to the power of the legendary blade.
Kingdom Hearts III is currently in development for PS4 and Xbox One, and expected to arrive sometime in 2018.
What are some Keyblades that you’d like to see make an appearance in Kingdom Hearts III or what are some of your favorite battle systems in the Kingdom Hearts series? Let us know in the comments below.