My 'Dearly Beloved' letter to the Kingdom Hearts franchise
I was working at GameStop when Kingdom Hearts II was set to release. Like any good Senior Game Advisor, I was looking to get as many pre-orders on the game as possible.
Anyone who’s been inside a GameStop store knows that they each contain a kiosk for the three consoles currently on the market, one for Nintendo, one for Sony, and one for Microsoft. Usually, the discs inside each console are either a promotional disc given from the publisher or a disc requested by GameStop corporate. However, our store was a little bit different. Our absolutely fantastic regional manager knew that our clientele was different. She also knew that we had an excellent pulse on them, so we were able to get away with putting in games of our personal choosing. For example, we put Resident Evil 4 in the GameCube before launch and promptly sold out of our allocation before release day.
Based off similar successes, we did the same thing for Kingdom Hearts II. In the spring of 2006, Kingdom Hearts lived in our store’s PlayStation 2. This was a fact unbeknownst to many customers…until they heard the music from the game’s title screen. Nostalgic smiles would quickly appear as I rang them up, leading some to say, “That’s right, I need to pre-order Kingdom Hearts II.” Others were embarrassed when their girlfriends mentioned how they were looking forward to the game, helping to showcase the mass appeal the Kingdom Hearts franchise has. While not every boyfriend would be willing to put the money down, it did remind them that they should reserve Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, so mission accomplished there.
The simple fact that such a subtle and relaxing musical selection from the game’s title screen can elicit those types of responses proves how memorable the game’s composition is. When you combine two powerhouses like Disney and Square Enix, the sky truly is the limit. Many would point at storytelling being the cream of the crop in this regard, but 1.) the quality story telling of both companies back in 2006 was up for debate and 2.) a good musical score can still evoke response when traditional narrative fails.
There’s just something about the combination of visiting our favorite Disney worlds and seeing our favorite Disney characters in an RPG setting with the well-crafted music that Kingdom Hearts provides. It puts a smile on your face and takes you back to a world that you thought you left behind. The enchanting notes dance around your ear drums and invite you to continue exploring.
It’s no wonder why the game’s title screen got those responses back in 2006, just like it’s no wonder why we got goose bumps when we heard that familiar tune during Sony’s E3 2013 press conference.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a tear in my eye.