During development, there was discontent as to who should be the protagonist of the series: Disney wanted Donald Duck, whereas some of the Square development team wanted Mickey Mouse. Tetsuya Nomura wanted neither and preferred an original character, and ultimately designed Sora as a compromise for both, having design influences from Mickey and strategic influences (such as magic) from Donald.
The Lion King's Pride Lands were originally supposed to be featured in Kingdom Hearts, but time constraints forced it to be cut. The world was instead included in Kingdom Hearts II. The same constraints forced the developers to cut Final Fantasy VII character Tifa Lockhart from the game, where she was supposed to be a secret boss battle. She too was instead put into Kingdom Hearts II as both a main story character and Colosseum opponent.
Kingdom Hearts is the NINTH best-selling PS2 game of all-time and is still the most commercially successful entry in the franchise.
When winning battles in Olympus Coliseum tournaments, Sora's victory poses are typically derived from various Final Fantasy characters' own poses from their respective games: Cloud's from FFVII, Squall's (Leon) from FFVIII, and Zidane's from FFIX.
Kingdom Hearts's origins lie in a mere chance encounter. One day, Shinji Hashimoto, a Final Fantasy developer, got into an elevator with a Disney executive. As they began talking, the conversation ultimately veered towards what it would be like if the two franchises came together, and so Kingdom Hearts was born.
When battling Chernabog in the Japanese release, the normal boss music plays, although the boss music during the same boss in localized versions is actually the "Night on Bald Mountain" theme from Fantasia, the franchise of Chernabog's origin.
The names of the three main characters in the series - Sora, Riku, and Kairi - respectively mean "sky", "land", and "sea" in Japanese.
Early concept art for Sora show him as a half-human, half-animal hybrid with special resemblances to Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII. He also was originally supposed to wield a chainsaw/sword hybrid.
The opening orchestration and ending credits theme were arranged and orchestrated by Kaoru Wada and performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra for the game.
Kingdom Hearts was first concieved when Shinji Hashimoto, a producer at Square, happened to meet a Disney executive in an elevator and pitched the idea to him directly. Squaresoft (now Square Enix) and Disney had worked in the same building in Japan at the time.
Originally, Kingdom Hearts was to have its story mostly inspired by Disney and therefore much simpler. However, the story was changed during development so that it would be a bit more serious and drawing in Final Fantasy elements, appealing to Final Fantasy fans as well.
The initial idea for the game started during a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi. The plan was to make a game with freedom in movement similar to Super Mario 64. This idea was scrapped due to Mario's popularity and it was argued that only Disney characters could rival a Mario game.
Tetsuya Nomura was assigned to direct the game after overhearing the starting conversation between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi. He volunteered to lead the project and both producers agreed to let him direct the game.
The development team consisted of over 100 members from both Square and Disney Interactive.
Tetsuya Nomura turned down many proposals from Disney in order to pursue his own concept featuring an original character not based on a Disney property.
Development of the game began in February, 2000.
Development originally focused on gameplay with a simple Disney-based story to appeal to a younger target-audience. Hironobu Sakaguchi urged Tetsuya Nomura to develop the story further thinking the game would be a commercial failure if it did not appeal to fans of the Final Fantasy franchise.
The Disney worlds chosen to be used in the game were based on which worlds had distinctively different looks. The characters from each of these worlds were also factored into this decision making based on what would be "interesting."
Bob Iger, then president of Disney, gave the Square team almost complete freedom to choose which Disney worlds they wanted to include in the game. The only significant restriction was that each character used in the game be strictly associated with the Disney film which that character originated.
The game title was conceived by Tetsuya Nomura and his team when Nomura was constantly thinking about Disney theme parks, especially Animal Kingdom. Nomura could not secure an IP to the word "Kingdom" so the team further brainstormed and often mentioned "Heart" as being a core part of the story. This thought process led to the decision to name the game Kingdom Hearts.
Additional content was added to the US release that was not present in the original Japanese version, including new optional bosses, an extra difficulty level, and a teaser of Kingdom Hearts II.
The Lion King world was cut from the game because a new program was required to process movement on four legs. Sora would morph into a lion in this world making the new program necessary.
The main vocal theme song is called Hikari which translates to Light in English. The song was retitled Simple and Clean in the United States and was given that name for the Japanese re-release of Kingdom Hearts. The song was composed and performed by Utada Hikaru.
Utada Hikaru was the only singer Tetuya Nomura had in mind to perform the vocal theme. This game marked the first time Hikaru performed a song for a video game.
The release of Kingdom Hearts was supported with a huge promotional campaign. The game was first announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2001 and Square launched a website that featured the "Name-in-Game" sweepstakes. The Disney channel also briefly covered the game.
Many of the original voice actors from Disney films reprised their respective roles in Kingdom Hearts including Scott Weigner, Dan Castellaneta, James Woods, Wayne Allwine, Kathryn Beaumont, Jodi Benson, Robby Benson, Eddie Carroll, Pat Carroll, Jim Cummings, Tony Goldwyn, Gilbert Gottfried, Jonathan Freeman, Linda Larkin, Kenneth Mars and Russi Taylor.
Kingdom Hearts is the last title SquareSoft worked on before they merged with Enix that was localized to audiences outside of Japan.
Submitted by: Zero_Maniac. Rate it:
Donald: Aw, what do you know, you big palooka?
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Ansem: It is futile. The Keyblade alone cannot seal the door to darkness. Kingdom Hearts! Fill me with the power of darkness.... Supreme darkness....
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Maleficent: You see? It's just as I told you. While you toiled away trying to find your dear friend, he quite simply replaced you with some new companions.
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All worlds begin in darkness, and all so end. The heart is no different. Darkness sprouts within it. It grows, consumes it. Such is its nature. In the end, all hearts return to the darkness whence it came. You see, darkness is the heart's... true essence. - Ansem
Submitted by: Sour. Rate it:
Unknown Man: "This world ... has been connected. Tied to the darkness."
Leon: We may never meet again, but we'll never forget each other.
"There's no way your taking Kairi's heart!" Sora.
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Riku-Ansem: It is I, Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness!
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Connection to Other Media
In Ariel's Grotto, you can examine a doll which will play the "Who Am I?" theme from Final Fantasy VII.
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