Kingdom Hearts Turns 20: Here's Why This Series Never Soured

Sora, Donald, Goofy. As of March 28, the dearly beloved and iconic trio of the "Kingdom Hearts" series has officially been parading through Disney and Disney-inspired worlds together for over 20 years. That is, at least in Japan, where "Kingdom Hearts" aficionados are currently celebrating the series' 20th anniversary. And, even though longtime fans of "Kingdom Hearts" have largely grown up, many still carry nostalgic memories of those halcyon days – when the world was simpler, the PlayStation 2 heyday was at its height, and Square game director Tetsuya Nomura could casually announce a "Final Fantasy" spinoff that takes place squarely in the "Disney Cinematic Universe" while nobody batted an eye.

"Twenty years ago today the original Kingdom Hearts first launched in Japan and we started an unforgettable journey with Sora, Donald and Goofy," tweeted the official "Kingdom Hearts" Twitter account (@KINGDOMHEARTS); "Whether you're new to Kingdom Hearts or have been with us from the very beginning, thank you for everything ❤️ #KH20th".

"Kingdom Hearts" was officially released by Square in Japan on March 28, 2002. It was later released in the United States by Square Electronic Arts on September 17, 2002, and then in Europe by Sony Interactive Entertainment on November 22, 2002. It is now developed and published worldwide by Square Enix.

Nostalgia is the key to Kingdom Hearts

As a property, "Kingdom Hearts" has earned endless flak from critics and gamers alike for its inconsistent usage of time travel and metaphysics to revive fan-favorite characters several times over, sprawled across a plethora of releases that bear obscure names like "Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days" and "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue" (yes, both are real) that once spanned many different platforms but still carried necessary information, underpinning the series' jumbled mess of a plot.

But that's never seemed to deter the series' biggest fans, who tend to cite the classics. It's common to hear a lifelong "Kingdom Hearts" fan paint their memories of playing "Kingdom Hearts" on the PlayStation 2 with the same warmth they'd associate with an old friend. That's because both "Kingdom Hearts" and its immediate sequel, "Kingdom Hearts 2," captured a specific combination of imaginativeness, accessibility, and depth of emotion that other video games of the 2000-2006 era simply did not, and most current fans were likely in their early teens back then.

Twitter reacts to Kingdom Hearts' 20th annniversary

The level of hype and nostalgia surrounding the "Kingdom Hearts" series is big enough to attract a response from its core fans. The original "Kingdom Hearts" 20th-anniversary announcement tweet, which only went live this morning at 6:01 AM PDT, now sits at over 30.3k likes. Twitter user and famed musician Alex Moukala (@alex_moukala) commented underneath the announcement, stating, "I met a new friend the other day and was trying to explain them why Kingdom Hearts means so much to me and some of the people I grew up with... The nostalgia got too strong and I started crying out of nowhere. I'm 29. Happy birthday to this incredibly weird yet wholesome saga!"

Meanwhile, @KarlJacobs heartily thanked Square Enix; "Thanks for all of the memories :]". His and Alex' responses are just a few of many carrying the same exact sentiment. If you're interested in trying a "Kingdom Hearts" game, you can most conveniently download and play the entire "Kingdom Hearts" compendium by purchasing the "Kingdom Hearts: All-In-One-Package," available on PlayStation at an MSRP of $99.99. If PlayStation isn't your jam but you still want to try the series, each "Kingdom Hearts" game is now available for individual sale on Xbox and Nintendo Switch consoles as well, but you may want to opt in for the "Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix" pack, which contains most of the games. In the words of fan-favorite character Axel, "Got it memorized?"