Ranking of all Kingdom Hearts openings:
A consistent feature in nearly every entry of the Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series is an introductory film. The opening videos are played before th...
A consistent feature in nearly every entry of the Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series is an introductory film. The opening videos are played before the game begins and serve as an introduction to the upcoming gameplay experience. The manner in which these openings prepare you for the game varies; some serve as thematic preludes, while others may summarize the preceding games in the series.
Each of these introductory videos is accompanied by a musical backdrop, typically a song by Hikaru Utada that complements the visual presentations. However, not all of these openings achieve the same level of success. Therefore, we now aim to evaluate and create a ranking of each opening featured in the Kingdom Hearts series.
10 Back Cover
Kingdom Hearts Back Cover loosely fulfills the definition of a game, as it is a collection of HD cutscenes that narrate a portion of the story from the mobile game Kingdom Hearts Union X. This is evident in the game's opening, which showcases scenes from Union X. However, this footage hardly provides an engaging introduction, as the mobile recordings are reduced in size and the chibi art style is not conducive to conveying emotions.
This is also the only opening video in the series that does not feature a song by Utada. Instead, the melancholic menu theme of the series is utilized. While it is a popular piece in its own right, it feels out of place for an introduction.
9 Re:Chain Of Memories & Re:Coded
Both Re:Chain of Memories and Re:Coded have very similar opening videos, as they are both compilation of cutscenes from previous games in the series, accompanied by the same remix version of "Simple and Clean" that was already used for the opening of Kingdom Hearts 1.
The reused footage serves its purpose of reminding the audience of significant moments from previous entries, but it offers little beyond that. It is unfortunate that there isn't any original music, as while "Simple and Clean" is iconic, it becomes overused in the opening videos of Kingdom Hearts games. Both openings have a similar level of quality, but Re:Coded falls slightly behind due to the symbols splashing across the screen, which become a distracting clutter in certain scenes.
8 358/2 Days
358/2 Days has a similar type of opening video to Re:Chain of Memories and Re:Coded, as it features a reused song accompanying reused footage. However, it stands out slightly from the crowd.
Instead of "Simple and Clean," "Sanctuary" is used in 358/2 Days, which appears only in a different opening, and the reused footage is repurposed to reintroduce the audience to the members of Organization XIII, who play a much more significant role in 358/2 Days. The shots of the members accompanied by descriptions are effective, albeit slightly unintentionally humorous, but at least this aligns with the spirit of Kingdom Hearts as a series.
7 Melody Of Memory
The opening of Melody of Memory is somewhat disappointing, primarily due to the opening videos of other Kingdom Hearts games released prior to it. It was released shortly after Kingdom Hearts 3, 0.2, and Dream Drop Distance, all of which had high-quality original opening videos. Therefore, it was frustrating to see Melody of Memory being treated with an opening based on reused footage, similar to older non-numbered entries.
At least it uses the original version of "Simple and Clean" instead of the remix that is often used in other Kingdom Hearts opening videos. However, the lack of new footage is disappointing, as it would have been great to see more of Kairi, who plays a major role in this game. The game itself features many fantastic new cutscenes with Kairi in the campaign mode, so incorporating some of them into the opening video could have added much-needed visual splendor to it.
6 Birth By Sleep
Although Birth By Sleep uses the same remix of "Simple and Clean" as 1, Re:Chain of Memories, and Re:Coded, it at least features new footage that showcases our new protagonists.
However, the reused soundtrack is still a bit frustrating, considering how unique the world of Birth By Sleep is compared to the previous Kingdom Hearts games. With a new group of characters and brand-new worlds, it feels like a missed opportunity to use the same opening song again. Nevertheless, the new footage featuring Aqua, Terra, and Ventus looks fantastic and aligns perfectly with the rhythm of the track.
5 Dream Drop Distance
Dream Drop Distance is closer to the end of the series of non-numbered entries in Kingdom Hearts, which were released between the launch of Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3. It showcases that Square Enix has learned from the mistakes of the previous opening videos in the non-numbered entries and has opted for a completely new approach.
While the melody of "Simple and Clean" returns, an orchestral instrumental version of the song is used, giving the opening video an epic and emotional atmosphere that sets it apart from other Kingdom Hearts opening videos. The nostalgic feeling of the video is enhanced by the popup book visuals of Mickey and the main cast, making watching this opening a rollercoaster of emotions for any fan of the series.
4 Kingdom Hearts 3
The opening of Kingdom Hearts 3 had the seemingly insurmountable task of not only summarizing the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 but also the multitude of non-numbered entries. However, it managed to be successful in some way, with relative elegance, by showcasing each character whose story concludes in 3.
The visual effects of this opening are breathtaking. The chess motif gives it a strong identity and showcases the tremendous effort put into Kingdom Hearts 3. Additionally, a brand-new song by Utada called "Face My Fears" is used. Although the decision to use a song with strong dubstep influence may have felt somewhat outdated at the time of its release in 2019, it works in a remarkable way as the instrumentation seamlessly blends with the visual effects.
3 0.2 Birth By Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage
Although Kingdom Hearts 0.2 is just a short three-hour game that shows us what Aqua has been through since the original Birth By Sleep, a lot of effort was put into the opening, which pays off immensely. While "Simple and Clean" is used again, it receives a new remix that transforms the classic song into the Tropical House genre.
This joyful interpretation of the song fits perfectly with the beautiful visual effects that capture a central ocean/water theme and align with Aqua's name. It effortlessly conveys the context of Aqua's journey leading up to 0.2 and thus makes it the best opening for a non-numbered entry in the Kingdom Hearts series.
2 Kingdom Hearts
The opening of the first Kingdom Hearts game was in a unique position - being the first game in the series, it had nothing to reference or summarize. That's why it's so surprising how effective and memorable the opening is. Although the visual effects with their Y2K-influenced aesthetics may appear a bit dated and give a strong impression of background graphics from Dance Dance Revolution or arcade games, it suits the song well and remains impactful even in the modern era.
The depicted events are notoriously abstract, yet captivating. Scenes where characters stare at each other meaningfully may seem out of place, but they leave the audience with lingering questions that they want to answer by playing the game.
1 Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts 2 has the best opening in the Kingdom Hearts series as it combines the impressive melody of "Sanctuary" with stylish visual effects that perfectly complement the song. These visual effects may appear abstract at first glance, but they serve to summarize the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 and Chain of Memories, a game that many skipped due to its significance.
The animation used in this opening is still iconic for good reason. Many scenes are incredibly memorable, such as Sora and Riku walking up the stairs in opposite directions - a metaphor for their dynamics but also a direct reference to the structure of Chain of Memories. "Sanctuary" is the perfect background music as it emphasizes the emotions present throughout the series and even helps new fans understand how these characters feel, even without any context.