Kingdom Hearts 3D North American launch event report
Kingdom Hearts 3D may have launched last week in North America, regardless, our New York correspondant Joey Chiu had a chance to visit the event which took place at the Nintendo World Store. His first-hand account takes us on a journey of launch day memories, fan meetings, merchandise and more.
I’m always interested in going to video game events around NYC, especially if it’s something I have an interest in. I think the least I’ve ever done for a game event was go to chat with the guys on the front of the Gears of War 3 launch party line and then head right back to work. The most I did was get off work at noon and line up for 12 hours to the midnight launch of Metal Gear Solid 4, and only make it home by 3am. I blame shortsightedness and ordering car service all the way from Brooklyn for that last part.
When I heard that Square Enix would be having a pre-launch event at the Nintendo World Store for their latest Kingdom Hearts title, my nostalgic memories regarding the first game trumped all my cynicism and skepticism towards the titles since and I decided I’d pop by the store in the morning of the event. What I didn’t expect was a gargantuan line that went around two corners of the block before they compressed it for safety reasons.
As the clock ticked down to 9am when the doors to Nintendo World would open, I decided to chat a bit with the first three people in line. Did they actually do the whole “camping out days in advance” deal? How did they deal with that horrendous weather on Thursday evening? How deep into the rabbit hole did their Kingdom Hearts fandom go? Here’s what I uncovered:
Me: Can I get names from you guys?
Jean: My name’s Jean, and-
Me: All right. Can I get your 3DS Friend Codes- Nah I’m kidding.
Me: If you can rattle it off the top of your head, that’s another thing entirely.
Jean: We can’t. I just got it yesterday.
Victor: Don’t you mean Thursday?
Jean: Oh, I’m sorry. The days are blending together.
Me: At first I thought, “Yeah the weather’s gonna be SHIT this weekend,” so I’m surprised that the line’s here at all.
Richie: Yeah, we said the same thing but we came anyway.
Me: When did the bad weather start, it was Thursday basically, right?
Jean: It was Thursday. We were here, just hanging out in the store most of the day, they were about to close and the weather had been nice the whole day. So we come out, we set up our chairs and everything, then after about 15 or 20 minutes, the thunderstorm kicked in.
Jean: We realized that the umbrellas that we brought with us... weren’t umbrellas, they were parasols instead. They started leaking a bit on us, we were like “Crap,” so we ran around the city trying to find shelter until it let up.
Me: You guys were seriously here since Thursday afternoon?
Jean: At first we were just thinking, “Oh we’ll just show up on Saturday morning, but we’ll reserve the Mark of Mastery Edition today and make sure it’s there for us.” But then they said, “Oh, you can’t reserve, first come first serve.” We had no idea how many people were gonna be here, so we decided, “Let’s be the first ones here.”
Me: It goes without saying that you guys are huge fans of Kingdom Hearts then, huh?
Jean: I got my PS2 about 2 years after the original Kingdom Hearts came out. It was one of the first games I got after Final Fantasy X. I ended up falling in love with the game, and I remember when Kingdom Hearts II came out in Freshman year of High School. I rushed the day it came out and started playing that. My grades suffered a little bit, but I was done with it within a week so they bounced back quick enough. After that I just made sure to keep buying every Kingdom Hearts religiously.
Me: From 1 straight to II? You didn’t get Chain of Memories?
Jean: I ended up getting that later, both the GBA version and the PS2 remake Re:Chain of Memories.
Richie: My Kingdom Hearts story is hilarious. When I got Kingdom Hearts II, I actually had to pack bags all day from 8 in the morning to 8 at night to get $70 to buy that game. I was the happiest kid, because I didn’t really get into 1, but II sucked me right into the universe and I couldn’t stop. I played Re:Chain, went through the DS ones...
Jean: I actually bought a PSP just for Birth by Sleep.
Me: And the two of you just bought your 3DSes just for Dream Drop Distance.
Victor: I got into the series through a rental at Blockbuster. Eventually my mom ended up buying the game for me, and we moved to Florida after I beat it like 3 times. After that I’ve been an addict ever since.
Me: Okay, between the three of you let’s get all the Kingdom Hearts titles in chronological order.
Jean: The first one is Birth by Sleep...
Richie: Oh I don’t know this one, Jean help me!
Jean: ...That would be Kingdom Hearts 1. *chuckle*
Richie: Oh, Kingdom Hearts, yeah.
Victor: 358 Days/2, and Chain of Memories happen simultaneously-
Jean: Only, 358 started slightly before Chain of Memories.
Victor: And then it ended slightly after Chain of Memories.
Jean: And then we have Kingdom Hearts II, and then we have Re:coded- *makes vomit-like noise*
Me: What is with that violent reaction?
Victor: I’m sorry. Whenever somebody mentions that- THAT game...
Jean: Despite my love for the series, I must admit that Re:coded is by far my least favorite.
Victor: It’s an okay game, it just didn’t add anything to the story.
Jean: Oh, and I guess we forgot to mention, now, 3D coming. I guess that’s the last one chronologically.
Victor: And then, supposedly after this, Kingdom Hearts III.
Jean: Hopefully, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Victor: You know, as long as they don’t try to make that HD Collection or anything else, we should be good.
Me: The HD Collection would be justified, Wii U will be the same technological level as 360 and PS3, and Kingdom Hearts has already been on so many Nintendo platforms.
Me: Could you guys give me a rundown of the stuff that people are looking forward to in this new game, both plot and the new game features?
Jean: Playing as Riku is definitely a plus, definitely looking forward to how Riku’s going to deal with the Darkness inside of him. From what I’ve heard that’s going to be a huge part of the storyline, but also what’s happened to the Nobodies from Organization XIII.
Victor: Organization XIII’s reformation! And the Flowmotion controls are awesome.
Richie: You get to float now, jump on rails and slide, I find that pretty cool. The fact that you can launch him into the air like a slingshot...
Jean: Oh, and also the soundtrack. Soundtrack’s always nice.
Me: Let’s hear your favorite moments from the series.
Victor: Ventus, Aqua and Terra fighting Xehanort and Vanitas.
Jean: For me, it’s from the first Kingdom Hearts, when Riku and Sora just decide to have that random race, to decide who will get to share the Paopu Fruit with Kairi.
Victor: Most hated moment?
Me: Besides the entirety of Re:coded?
Victor: Fighting Xaldin! I could not- It was horrible!! How many times did Mickey have to come save me? Like, 3 or 4 times?
Jean: My most hated moment? Atlantis in II. I did not enjoy it.
Richie: My worst moment would be when my PS2 broke in the middle of the Thousand Heartless Fight.
Everyone but Richie: *laughs*
Richie: I was almost done too, I was like “Having a good time,” PS2 shuts off and I’m like- Ahh!!
Me: It wasn’t even like it broke or-?
Richie: No no, just shuts off. My stepmom never bought me a new one until a month later. Put in my memory card, went at it. Best moment of my life.
Me: “I’ve waited God knows how long for this fight, I’m gonna GET IT NOW!!”
Richie: At that point when I didn’t have a PS2, I would buy PS2 games and play them at [Jean’s] house. All the time and had my own memory card, remember?
Jean: That was how our friendship started.
Richie and Jean: *high five*
For being the first guys to wait in line, Jean, Richie and Victor each got a unique t-shirt with the Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance iconography on the front that people had to normally win through a raffle. Needless to say, they also got their hands on the extremely limited Mark of Mastery Edition of which Nintendo World only had about 50 copies. Heck, so many people dropped by the event that as the Square Enix Members Twitter and blog reported, they even ran out of the standard edition of the game!
Thanks to the aforementioned nostalgia that I had surrounding the first game in the series (and seeing how it is the only game in the series that I’ve beaten to date) and the fact that I had cash money in my pocket, I decided to buy the game as well. I have yet to open it or put it in my 3DS because I’m still hooked on Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. The last time I attended a pre-launch event but didn’t get to a game until long after the day of purchase was Batman: Arkham City, and that ended up being my favorite game of last year. I wonder if Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance will follow in that tradition.