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Case Studies for Article

Kingdom Hearts, Square Enix, 2001 – 2010

Collaboration between Disney Interactive Studios and Square Enix

Director: Tetsuta Nomura (Square Enix character designer)

The first game begins with giving the player the options of choosing one and giving up one of the three items (staff, sword and shield) that are revealed to Sora. The next stage determines what ‘path’ the player will take, making his journey harder or simpler. The player goes through various training process to familiarise with the gameplay but this seems to appear as a dream because Sora wakes up on the beach at his home world, Destiny Island. During this part of the game the player assumes that they will be performing normal day to day tasks by competing against other characters and achieving small milestones in the game. This also provides the player a calm environment to practice the skills of the character. Sora has a flashback of his childhood with Kairi in the cave while he draws himself giving Kairi a star fruit. This demonstrates that Sora’s affections towards Kairi could be something related to the Narrative yet to unfold in the game. Sora is then interrupted by a being in a dark figure which then introduces the dangers yet to be faced by the player.

The conversation the characters have causes the player to immerse and believe in what the characters say and come to believe the virtual world they’re in to be almost reality. Suddenly their world also becomes the world of the player. The narrative then starts off with King Mickey’s letter and then concludes that there are other worlds that all of them are in danger of disappearing. This is why Donald and Goofy set out to find the wielder of the Keyblade and to help King Mickey, taking along with them a cricket names Jiminy who records knowledge that the player uncovers.

The narrative of the game is centred on Sora, Kairi and Riku, even though the gameplay involves Sora, Goofy and Donald. The player generally controls the protagonist of the game series called Sora, who is aided by non-playable characters Goofy and Donald. Whilst visiting other worlds the player is capable of swapping Donald or Goofy for that world’s protagonist (e.g. Mulan while visiting Land of Dragons or Aladdin while visiting Agrabah). This offers the gamer a sense of change to use diffreent techniques. The games include real-time combat that incorporate physical attacks, magic and summonings but the battles in each game are different.

Kingdom Hearts series is a third person role playing game that is influenced by the parent franchise, Final Fantasy; it contains action and is set in fictional worlds derived from the Disney theme. The gameplay and the narrative link all the Disney themes together and characters from Final Fantasy. Like many RPG games, Kingdom Hearts has an experience points system, which determines character development.

Although Alice in Wonderland is a theme within the game, it appears that Kingdom Hearts is influenced by the narrative course of Alice in Wonderland. He is away from home like Alice and is aided by Donald and Goofy just like Alice is aided by many more but the White Rabbit and the Hatter at the most.

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