Kingdom Hearts χ
|Kingdom Hearts χ|
Kingdom Hearts χ, stylized as Kingdom Hearts χ[chi], is a Japanese role-playing browser game developed by Square Enix, Disney Interactive and Success Corporation, and published by Square Enix for web browsers as the eighth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series. Gameplay involves players navigating a customized avatar through Disney-inspired worlds fighting enemies, along with taking down bosses in multiplayer matches in competition with other teams. A version of the game for mobile devices, Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, was released as the ninth installment of the series in Japan in September 2015, and worldwide in 2016. In April 2017, Unchained χ was rebranded as Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross].
Kingdom Hearts χ is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series as a whole, taking place more than 100 years prior. It takes place before the Keyblade War, which established the organization of the Kingdom Hearts universe as of the original game. The player assumes the role of a Keyblade wielder who joins one of five factions led by Keyblade Masters fighting for control of the limited light existing in the world. The game's plot is connected to Kingdom Hearts III, the next main entry in the series. The title refers to the χ-blade, a weapon central to the series' story arc.
The game was designed as a playing experience that newcomers to the series could come to. Its presentation was compared to that of a fairy tale, as depicting the usual style of the series would have been difficult on the platform. Both Tetsuya Nomura and Yoko Shimomura, veterans from the main series, returned as director and composer respectively. The game received favorable reception from critics.
Kingdom Hearts χ is a role-playing video game set in the universe of Kingdom Hearts which includes original characters and locations as well as ones from Disney and Final Fantasy media properties. Before beginning, players create their own character. Players can customize the gender, hair, and clothing, and choose accessories themed after both Square Enix and Disney universes present in the Kingdom Hearts series. Story missions are unlocked by the player. After a certain amount of the available content has been completed, new story missions become available. Players navigate their surroundings by dragging their cursor across the screen. Players navigate different worlds, defeating monsters known as the Heartless. The base game is free to play, with optional microtransactions. Actions use up AP, which can be replenished by either waiting or by using potions, which can be earned or bought. Rare items such as special cards can also be purchased. Alongside the single-player mode, there is a multiplayer mode where teams of players take on Raid Bosses, gigantic Heartless with high HP.
Enemies appear on-screen, and can be engaged by clicking on them. During the player's turn, three cards are randomly drawn from a deck of nine, each resulting in an attack. If the cards' combined strength and attached skills are insufficient to exhaust the enemy's HP, the heartless will counterattack. If the player survives this attack, or continues by spending additional AP, a new turn begins. Upon defeating an enemy, the player earns Lux (which unlocks rewards as it accumulates, but resets weekly), experience points (through which the player advances in level), and Munny (an in-game currency). The player also earns Fragments, cards based on the characters original to the Kingdom Hearts series and those from Disney and Final Fantasy franchises: the fragments are imbued with different properties depending on the character, such as physical or elemental strikes. Players can level up their cards to improve their attack and defense. Players can strengthen their Keyblade using materials found in each world, and new Keyblades are acquired as the story progresses. Each strengthens different types of cards; for example, Starlight is an all-around Keyblade offering boosts for Power-, Speed- and Magic-type cards, while the Snow White-inspired Treasure Trove is Power-type focused.
The mobile version of the game, entitled Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, shares multiple gameplay features with its browser counterpart: the main exception is that this version is tailored for a touch screen. The ability to travel freely between different Disney worlds is also replaced with a stage system. These stages, called quests, are confined to specific areas of specific worlds. Instead of spending AP on individual actions, AP is paid to start a quest, and the player can attack as many enemies, collect as many materials, and open as many chests as he or she can find before defeating a target Heartless. If the player's HP is fully depleted, a choice is offered between forfeiting all progress in the quest or continuing to fight by spending Jewels, a new general-purpose in-game currency. Lux is considered another name for character-leveling experience points. Clothing, hair, and accessories are obtained through Avatar Boards, which each contain an array of nodes on branching pathways. These nodes are unlocked, in set sequences, with Avatar Coins, and may also yield such benefits as increased limits for AP and HP. Cards from the browser version are here replaced by Medals, which are no longer drawn randomly in battle. Instead, each equipped Medal is presented one at a time, and the player is given the choice of attacking one enemy, attacking all enemies (dealing less damage), or using the special attack granted by the Medal (provided the Keyblade's special attack gauges are sufficiently filled). Medals can be combined with matching Medals to improve their special attacks.
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|Kingdom Hearts |
Kingdom Hearts χ is set before the legendary Keyblade War, a conflict sparked over disputes between Keyblade wielders over the light that created the world, triggering a calamity that created the world of Kingdom Hearts as seen in the first game in the series. Prior to the war, an unnamed Keyblade Master bestows a book called the Book of Prophecies to five of his six apprentices before disappearing. The book has the ability to predict and even manifest objects and people from the future. The five apprentices learn of a prophecy foretelling the world's destruction. In order to prevent this, each of the apprentices uses the book to manifest powerful warriors from the future as the Fragments. Each eventually begins hoarding pieces of light, called Lux, from the monsters known as Heartless, and each creates their own "Union" themed around their individual animal icon: Ursus, Anguis, Unicornus, Leopardus, and Vulpeus. The player character, a newly awakened Keyblade wielder, chooses to support one of the Unions and works to ensure the chosen faction's supremacy.
Kingdom Hearts χ story
Kingdom Hearts χ opens in pop-up book format, showing Kairi and her grandmother in Radiant Garden while Kairi is told a story about the light and the darkness. The narrative switches to the distant past where a newly awakened Keyblade wielder, who is controlled by the player, is given a choice of joining one of five "unions": Unicornis, governed by Master Ira (イラ); Anguis, governed by Master Invi (インヴィ); Leopardos, governed by Master Gula (グウラ Gūra); Vulpeus, governed by Master Ava (アヴァ); and Ursus, governed by Master Aced (アセッド Aseddo). Once the player chooses, they are brought to Daybreak Town and assaulted by an army of Heartless coming through a portal. Before the player is overwhelmed, however, a powerful Keyblade wielder known as a Foreteller arrives and pursues the Heartless back through their portal. A Dream Eater named Chirithy (チリシィ Tirisii), which had been accompanying the Foreteller, befriends the player's character and explains their destiny. The player must use their Keyblade to collect light and stop the Heartless from conquering every world and spreading darkness. Chirithy also reveals he has been tasked by the Foreteller to aid the player in his training, and part of that process is the finding of powerful cards called Fragments to augment their power.
After exploring Daybreak Town and defeating several Heartless, the player is approached by the Foreteller, who tells them that defeating weaker Heartless is possible to do alone, but they will need others help to defeat more powerful opponents. The Foreteller also describes how many others are collecting light as well, though some may secretly be doing so to gain power instead of fighting the darkness, and the player must decide who to trust. Chirithy then encourages the player to explore other worlds and help rid them of the Heartless before it is too late. The player then visits the illusion future visions of Disney worlds, where they interact with the locals and help defeat the hordes of Heartless. The player is brought to each world under Chirithy's direction, and together the two search for the origin of the darkness. As the player succeeds in defeating the forces of evil, Chirithy begins to reveal the full extent of his knowledge regarding the war between light and darkness. Chirithy remembers being born in a place of light, with his creator smiling upon him in the beginning. The creator would later vanish, but before doing so he renamed six of his followers and gave five of them a prophecy of the future. The five, later known as the Foretellers, were shocked to discover that the future ended with a great battle in which the light would be defeated and the eternal reign of darkness would begin. To save the future, the Foretellers began to use the hidden powers within the written copy of the prophecy known as the Book of Prophecies (which creates the future worlds that the players travel to). Through this book, the Foretellers projected the future into their era to grow more powerful and save the light from final defeat. The power retrieved from the future is manifested as the Cards the player gathers to grow stronger.
As the player moves from world to world, eradicating the Heartless, Chirithy has brief conversations with one of the Foretellers and another Chirithy regarding concerning events. Once in a while, the player return to Daybreak Town where they meet another Keyblade wielder named Ephemer (エフェメラ Efemera, "Ephemera"), who is part of a rival union. He wishes to explore a mysterious tower that lies within the center of the town, and against Chirithy's wishes, the player agrees to help find a way in. Ephemer, however, abandons the player to explore the tower himself. During the player's exploration, the tower is discovered to be the base of the Foretellers, and while there, the player is confronted by Master Ava, the Foreteller they had met previously. She challenges the player to test their strength, and afterwards tells the player they have sadness in their hearts, which links them to the darkness. Undeterred, the player continues their mission and later meets another Keyblade wielder named Skuld (スクルド Sukurudo), who comes from Ephemer's union. She expresses an interest in further exploring the mysterious tower of the Foretellers. She and the player encounter warring Foretellers from different unions and new kinds of Heartless that are revealed to be corrupted Keyblade wielders as well as a dark vision of Chirithy called Nightmare Chirithy (who is the same Chirithy that had been speaking with the player's).
To further understand the mysteries of the Foretellers and the future, the player, Chirithy, and Skuld re-enter the Foretellers' tower where they are caught by a Foreteller. They are also told that Ephemer is a traitor to his union and that he has disappeared. The player then challenges the Foreteller to a duel, assuming Ephemer has been captured, but is easily defeated. The Foreteller reveals that she is in fact Master Ava, and that the player's quest was a test of their character to see if they are worthy of leaving this world before the Great War between light and darkness. Keyblade wielders that can resist the darkness and fight for what they believe in, like their friends, are worthy of becoming elite Keyblade warriors known as Dandelions and going on to the Realm of Light and avoiding the coming universal war. All who stay will become a part of that war and must face an uncertain future. Skuld accepts the offer, but the player's character is uncertain if they should join Ephemer, who has gone on to the Realm of Light, or stay and fight to save the future. Later, they encounter two Keyblade warriors accusing each other of stealing Lux from their unions, and the player is forced to fight Master Aced, who defeats them. Ira arrives to stop the fighting. Aced claims that he is collecting more Keyblade warriors to prepare for the upcoming war before leaving. Ira informs the player, Skuld, and Chirithy that the war cannot be avoided and that there will be no victor. The only Foreteller who may have a solution is Gula so the trio go to look for him.
When Gula is found, he reveals that the only one who can alter these predicaments is the Master of Masters, the Foreteller's mentor, who had disappeared recently along with the sixth apprentice, Luxu (ルシュ Rushu). Meanwhile, Ava tracks down Luxu, who had been ordered to watch the place by their Master. He reveals that he wants to move forward to see the end of the upcoming Keyblade War after discovering what happens in the "Lost Page" in the Book of Prophecies. Once Luxu reveals the truth about the events that have been occurring and the identity of the true traitor, a shocked and furious Ava engages Luxu in a duel, ringing the clock bell and starting the war. Meanwhile, Skuld returns to her union and the player encounters Nightmare Chirithy, who is surprised that the player is choosing to stay out of the war. He then summons the corrupted Keyblade wielder Heartless from earlier, forcing the player to fight them. After they are defeated, Nightmare Chirithy fuses them and himself in a giant Heartless. After the player defeats it, Nightmare Chirithy dissolves into darkness, but vows to meet them again.
A few days later, the Keyblade War begins and the player battles four Foretellers before collapsing in exhaustion. The war ends with numerous Keyblades planted in the ground, forming the Keyblade Graveyard and with the player's character laying in the middle of the graveyard (presumably dying) while Chirithy, Skuld, and Ephemer approach them.
Sometime later, the player wakes up to Chirithy at a simulation of Enchanted Dominion within the Realm of Sleep. Chirithy claims that the events of the Keyblade War have really been a dream the player has had ever since turning down Ava's offer to join the Dandelions in order to hide the truth and the two decide to rest after confronting a wall of thorns. On the other side of the thorns, Maleficent (who is heavily implied to have found the Book of Prophecies) congratulates herself with what she has accomplished whilst wondering where Pete is. Confident that Sora and company cannot meddle in this world, she contemplates on conquering this iteration of her home world that she has entered in.
Limited-time events sometimes introduced additional material into the story. For instance, during the game's first anniversary event (July 2014), the player meets and befriends Goofy and Donald Duck, whose Gummi Ship has crash landed in Daybreak Town and broken into many Gummi Blocks. The player agrees to help collect the Gummi Blocks to repair the ship, and meets King Mickey, Chip, and Dale while doing so. Once the Gummi Ship is repaired, the player watches the others depart for their world. Meanwhile, a Moogle has constructed a Gummi Ship in his own image, but is unable to locate an entrance into his design.
During a later event (February 2016), the player is sent to defeat Heartless in the Corridors of Darkness and Chirithy presents them with the Bracelet of Light, which can protect them from the darkness, but only temporarily. After the player defeats a giant Heartless and completes their mission, Chirithy speaks with a Foreteller, who wanted the player to strengthen their resistance to the darkness early, because the light will soon need warriors on its side.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ/ Union Cross story
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ starts off with the same story, but diverges partway through the narrative. This story takes place after the original Kingdom Hearts χ, where the player is sent to the Realm of Sleep, and they restart their adventure in order to forget the tragedy that happened in the Keyblade War.
The story first differs in quests 501–525 (occurring just before Skuld's introduction), where the player encounters two Keyblade wielders from a different union. One is antisocial, rejecting friendship from both his fellow union member and the player. When the second wielder is injured saving the first from his own reckless attack on a new breed of Heartless, the player helps avenge him. The first wielder reveals that he has been pushing his friends away to keep them safe, but he now agrees that friends are one's true power.
Later, the player visits the Moogle's shop and discovers it has been attacked by a giant Heartless. The player helps four Keyblade wielders chase down the Heartless in the sewers but it proves to be very powerful while in water. While the four Keyblade wielders hold it off, the player drains out the water and defeats the giant Heartless. Afterwards, they return to the Moogle's shop just as the Moogle has repaired the damage and returns to chat with the four Keyblade Wielders, who now admit that they are friends and continues to assist them in various missions (either together, separately, or alone). Throughout this point, significant scenes are shown as the player progresses (which actually take place in the real world either before or after the Keyblade War): the first scene takes place after the end of the Keyblade War, where Ephemer meets up with Skuld, revealing that they are two of the five people selected to become new Foretellers. Two others selected Keyblade Wielders, Ventus and Brain, appear to greet them followed by the fifth selected person, Lauriam. Later, they come to the Foreteller's room where they learn that they must start their own unions and to avoid the terrible incidents that happened in the past, they decide to create Spirit Dream Eaters to help the other Keyblade Wielders. The second shows a flashback of the Master of Masters instructing Ava to form the Dandelions and select five of them to be the new Foretellers, who also plans to give the Book of Prophecies to one of them. Ava later informs this to Ephemer and plans to have him and four others become the new Foretellers. The third shows Chirithy informing Ephemer and Skuld that the player's character is dreaming and Ephemer warns them that a stronger source of darkness is coming and plans to form the Union Cross to stop it while encouraging Chirithy to protect the player. The fourth introduces Strelitzia, a Dandelion Keyblade Wielder who has secretly been following the player on their quest until being recruited by Ava, revealing that she is the true fifth selected Keyblade Wielder. She is skeptical of this but is encouraged by her Chirithy to do so, despite also having doubts. After realizing that the player is not a Dandelion, she decides to find and convince them to join the Dandelions. While searching a dark building, she and her Chirithy are ambushed by an unseen person, who steals the book that Ava gave her. The dying Strelitzia carries her Chirithy towards the door before they fade from existence. Later (taking place after the player fights Master Aced), the story itself goes through an entirely different plot, also revealing that the player is dreaming after fighting in the Keyblade War. The player and Chirithy later meet another Chirithy, who entrusts them a gift from the Foretellers, a Spirit Dream Eater.
Other original content includes quests set in a Cinderella-themed world and Sleeping Beauty-themed world. Additional quests take place during traditional holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, and White Day), a Time Attack challenge, and an encounter with a mysterious Keyblade Wielder who later assumes leadership of the team.
Kingdom Hearts χ was co-directed by Tetsuya Nomura, one of the series' creators, and Tatsuya Kando, who had previous directed Nintendo DS game The World Ends with You. The game's music was composed by Yoko Shimomura, a regular contributor to the series' music. The game was co-developed by Square Enix and Japanese studio Success Corporation. Square Enix originally handled the planning and design itself, but due to their developers inexperience with creating browser games, development was transferred to the Success Corporation, who were familiar with the process. Despite multiplayer elements being included, the game was "fundamentally single-player", as with most other entries in the series. Chirithy, the player characters' companion, was designed around the concept of a supportive yet unobtrusive guide. Nomura based the characters design on the Scottish Fold domestic cat.
Due to difficulties that arose adapting the core Kingdom Hearts experience into a browser game, the presentation was designed in a fairy tale-style instead of the locations encountered previously by series protagonists Sora and Riku. And because the game was to be played with a mouse instead of a game controller, the gameplay focus became simple controls and "flashy" battles. In an interview, Nomura stated that the work on developing Kingdom Hearts χ was paused for a time so developers could work on Kingdom Hearts III. He also stated that at the time they were exploring ways to allow more fans of the series to experience the game. The stories of Kingdom Hearts χ and Kingdom Hearts III were both written at the same time, and thus share a strong connection. Despite this strong link, it was described by Tetsuya Nomura as a title where story was not the focus, and that its content was completely separate from the main series, making it accessible for newcomers. The game's title refers to the χ-blade (chi-blade), the original Keyblade and a weapon central to the Kingdom Hearts storyline.
The creation of a mobile version of the game was decided upon while the browser version was still being developed. Nomura initially planned to release both titles simultaneously, with each being updated individually. However, as development went on, the team's efforts became focused on finishing Kingdom Hearts χ, and development on Unchained was halted. The original plan was to make the game a simpler version of its browser counterpart, but with the increasing specs of mobile devices, the workload increased, contributing to the halt to development. As mobile devices employ a different control set-up to web browsers, Unchained could not work simply as a port of Kingdom Hearts χ. Its title "Unchained" signified the gameplay and story of Kingdom Hearts χ being released into a mobile format. One of the changes instituted during the games mobile remake was to make the gameplay more "casual" than Kingdom Hearts χ, with battles being shorter and potentially easier.
In March 2017, ahead of the first anniversary of the North American launch of Unchained χ, Square Enix announced that the mobile game would be rebranded as Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] in April 2017. The relaunch of the title will see the inclusion of the new Union Cross multiplayer mode, allowing parties of up to six players to take on the Heartless together through the game's matchmaking feature as they communicate with each other through emotes and text options, and a theater mode to rewatch unlocked cutscenes and animations.
The game was first announced at the Tokyo Game Show on September 20, 2012 alongside Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix under the tentative title Kingdom Hearts for PC Browsers. Its official title was announced in February the following year. To promote the game, codes for special items and in-game currency were included with first-print copies of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. A closed beta for the title began on March 22, 2013, with Beta recruitment beginning on March 13. The test was available for users who had a Yahoo Japan ID, and included in-game items and currency as a starting gift. An open beta test began on July 9, 2013, and the game's official service began on July 18 of the same year. Since the original release, the game received constant updates to its story missions, providing additional content to players. In April 2016, Square Enix announced that the browser game would be discontinued in September 2016.
Disney Interactive was forced to delay a western localization of the game when the game's publisher Playdom, a social game network owned by Disney, was shut down. Despite this, planning continued for a western release with playtesting taking place to improve upon the game before launch. The western localization was revealed to the public with the title Kingdom Hearts Unchained X at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Unchained χ was released in Japan on September 3, 2015, in North America on April 7, 2016, and in Europe on June 16, 2016.
In September 2015, Square Enix announced a new game entitled Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. The collection features Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover, a 60-minute cinematic film that focuses on events unseen in the original game that serve to reveal new parts of the series' history. It was released on January 12, 2017 in Japan and January 24, 2017 for other countries.
By September 2013, 200,000 users were announced to have enrolled for the game. During the 2013 WebMoney Awards, Kingdom Hearts χ was among the games voted into the "Best Rookie of the Year Good Games" category, with most voters praising the game for being accessible to series newcomers, and fun to play. Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku was generally positive, saying that despite it being similar to other Japanese browser games and using a micro-transaction system, it was "an enjoyable little time waster."
Unchained was also well received, with Metacritic giving the game a score of 70 out of 100 based on 5 reviews. AV Club praised the game for being a true Kingdom Hearts title despite its free to play format. TouchArcade gave the game three out of five stars, praising the music and graphics while calling the gameplay shallow with an overcomplicated user interface. Gamezebo called the title "better than expected", citing the game's fun but simple combat and extensive character customization but critiquing the game's dialogue for being cheesy and the story for being weaker than the console Kingdom Hearts titles. In the month after it was released, the mobile version was downloaded over two million times.
- キングダム ハーツ キー Kingudamu Hātsu Kī
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