Turning back the clock to a couple decades ago, nobody could have predicted that Square Enix and Disney were going to team up to create something as odd and fitting as Kingdom Hearts. When thinking of the concept, ideas of Cloud teaming up with Mickey Mouse may have entered your head. However, the franchise would not focus on these characters alone, but Square Enix created unique characters for the games. Sora, an original creation, is one of these. Together, Sora and the player may explore different Disney worlds throughout the game. All of the nostalgia for the series had me thinking: ‘Sure, Final Fantasy is a gaming giant. And yes, Disney is an iconic IP one can’t escape from. But is Kingdom Hearts as iconic? Will we be thinking about it in thirty or so years?”
Why Mickey Mouse Is Iconic
Video game characters that most people think of usually start with Super Mario. This is the same idea with Disney. No Disney character comes close to the fame of Mickey Mouse. These characters are powerful because of their staying power. Despite Mickey Mouse being created in the 1920, Disney still knows how to use him to warrant crowd attention. In the modern day, Mickey is usually seen on children’s television and movie spin-offs that do not hit the theaters.
Why Super Mario Is Iconic
Super Mario is also constantly changing with the times, but also maintains the essence of his timelessness as well. He may constantly be on adventures to save the princess, but on the weekends, he parties with his friends and go-carts with Bowser. Both Mario and Mickey have longevity because they are easily recognizable and malleable to whatever people need him to be at the time.
For the past two decades Square Enix has needed Mickey to be a warrior who fights with a key, acting as a catalyst for an original character named Sora to visit different Disney properties. As a catalyst, Mickey has not broken a sweat. The mouse (along with a certain duck and dog) acting as a guide and a knight fits perfectly. The biggest question regarding Kingdom Hearts’ longevity is whether or not Sora, as the main protagonist, has the potential to become an icon similar to Mickey or Mario.
Could Sora Become Iconic?
Possibly. After all, the games themselves are fun. What could be better than visiting world after world, defeating Jafar in his genie form or playing in Andy’s toy box? Sora, Donald, and Goofy can change into whatever they need to be for whatever world they visit.
The main issue for Sora, is that his existence is dependent on Disney’s relationship with Square Enix. The series can continue (or reboot if needed) as long as the two companies can work together. This is what makes Kingdom Hearts less malleable than other key icons in video game history.
How To Make Sure Kingdom Hearts Lasts
One could argue that Kingdom Hearts has tons of original characters that don’t need Disney’s blessing to continue without them. Riku, Kairi, and Xehanort could move on to a different property, and they could reboot to a place with the princesses of light instead.
Things would then take a turn for the existential. Would Kingdom Hearts still be Kingdom Hearts? Would the magic of the series be lost? I may simply be getting wistful, but maybe that’s what makes Kingdom Hearts special. Unlike Mickey or Mario, Sora grows up. It isn’t going to last forever, and I know I will appreciate this weird and quirky series for as long as it’s around.
But what do you think? Do you think that the Kingdom Hearts franchise can stand the test of time? Is Sora as iconic as Mario or Mickey Mouse? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been playing video games. I also do standup and improv. The game that made me realize that video games could be more than just a toy, was Metal Gear Solid 2.