Since its inception into the video game industry back in 2002, Kingdom Hearts has become a powerhouse series that has begun to rival the two franchises that inspired it to begin with. However while the Disney characters and worlds make up the backbone of the series the Final Fantasy characters are beginning to appear few and far between. Originally Nomura added these characters to the series to give it a familiarity where original characters may have turned audiences away. Thus after the first 10 minutes of the original Kingdom Hearts we’re already interacting with Tidus, Wakka and Selphie, three favourites from Square-Enix’s flagship franchise. However which cameo appearances have meant the most to the series as a whole?
#1: Leon, Aerith and Yuffie (Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy VII)
In the original Kingdom Hearts it doesn’t take long before the idyllic Destiny Islands is engulfed in darkness and all Sora’s friends disappear into the unsettling darkness. With all comfort and familiarity thrown into chaos, Leon and his friends are step in to point Sora, Donald and Goofy in the right direction. A disorienting battle with Squall (taking the alias of Leon after his world was destroyed) begins what becomes a strong friendship throughout the remainder of the series. Leon, Aerith and Yuffie are three lost individuals just trying to get home again making their plight quite relatable for the young Sora whose quest for his friends acts as the driving force of his first adventure. In many ways the three can be seen as the older iterations of Sora, Riku and Kairi, their bond giving hope for the main characters strained relationship while also giving a sense that they are passing on the baton of protecting the worlds. This friendship returns in Kingdom Hearts II with the three still retaining their roles as helpful advisers while taking a more back seat role now Sora has really grown into his shoes. While it was originally disappointing to see them missing from Birth by Sleep, their story and their plight just doesn’t have the same effect without Sora and his friends to bounce off. Perhaps nowadays Terra, Aqua and Ventus have superseded these guys as Sora, Riku and Kairi’s predecessors, but their story will most likely continue as long as Sora is wielding the keyblade and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them return once more in Kingdom Hearts III.
#2: Cloud and Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
Originally, Vincent Valentine was to battle Sora at the Olympus Coliseum in Kingdom Hearts but later on into the development process his design was passed onto the Final Fantasy VII main protagonist Cloud. Then in the international and Final Mix releases Sephiroth was added as an extra, super difficult boss battle. Since then the rivalry between these characters has found a way to blossom despite all the heartless and nobodies threatening everybody. Perhaps it’s the melodrama of it all but despite the importance of protecting the worlds from darkness, Cloud and Sephiroth just won’t stop fighting each other. Even in Kingdom Hearts II you may be able to defeat Sephiroth but he still shrugs you aside in favour of his arch nemesis. Perhaps this story arc will grow into something more in Kingdom Hearts III because you’d like to think that there’s some importance in their battle that goes far beyond anything Sora and friends can comprehend. Certainly Tifa seems to know more than she’ll let on about it. It’d be great to see this storyline finally clash with the main plot in some way and yet perhaps their struggle will always remain a mystery to us. Either way, fighting Cloud is fun and fighting Sephiroth is definitely one of the highlights in both the main series releases. Here’s hoping to see them return once more in Kingdom Hearts III.
Next time, the worst Final Fantasy cameos…