A consistent feature in almost every entry in Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series is an intro movie. The opening movies will play before you start the game and serve as an introduction to the forthcoming game. The way these openings prepare you for the game varies, with some serving as a thematic preparation, while others might summarise the previous games in the series.
These all feature a musical backing, usually a song from Hikaru Utada to match the visuals. However, while some of these openings are successful, others are not as successful. So, let’s rank every opening featured in the Kingdom Hearts series.
10 Back Cover
Kingdom Hearts Back Cover loosely fits the definition of a game, with it being a collection of HD cutscenes that tell part of the story of mobile game Kingdom Hearts Union X. This is highlighted clearly in the opening of the game that displays scenes from Union X; however, this footage hardly makes an appealing introduction with the mobile footage scaled down, so it isn’t stretched, and the chibi art style not lending itself to any portrayal of emotion.
This is also the only opening in the series that doesn’t feature an Utada song, with the melancholic menu theme for the series used instead. It’s a beloved track on its own right, but for an intro it feels misplaced.
9 Re:Chain Of Memories & Re:Coded
Both Re:Chain Of Memories and Re:Coded have very similar openings, with both being cutscene compilations from previous games in the series set to the same remix of Simple and Clean that was used for Kingdom Hearts 1’s opening.
The re-used footage serves its purpose of reminding the audience of what happened in the prior entries by showing key moments, but it does little else. It is a shame that there is no original music either, since while Simple and Clean is iconic, it does get overused in the openings for Kingdom Hearts games. Both of these openings are of a similar quality, but Re:Coded is slightly inferior, with the symbols splashing over the screen being a messy distraction on some scenes.
8 358/2 Days
358/2 Days is a similar style of opening to Re:Chain Of Memories and Re:Coded, with it being a reused song over reused footage, however, it stands out a little from the rest.
Instead of using Simple and Clean, it uses Sanctuary, which is only used in one other opening, and the reused footage is repurposed to reintroduce the audience to the members of Organisation 13 who are much more important in 358/2 Days. The shots of the members surrounded by descriptors is effective, if not a little unintentionally funny, but at least that is true to the spirit of Kingdom Hearts as a series.
7 Melody Of Memory
The opening of Melody of Memory is a little disappointing, mainly due to the openings of other Kingdom Hearts games that came before it. It launched soon after Kingdom Hearts 3, 0.2 and Dream Drop Distance, all of which have high quality original openings, so it was frustrating to see that Melody Of Memories got the treatment of older non-numbered entries with a reused footage opening.
At least it uses the original version of Simple and Clean instead of the remix that is often used in other Kingdom Hearts openings, but the lack of any new footage is disappointing since it would be great to see more of Kairi who stars in this game. There are so many great new cutscenes of Kairi in the game’s campaign, so even using some of these would’ve given the opening some needed visual flair.
6 Birth By Sleep
While Birth By Sleep uses the same remix of Simple and Clean used in 1, Re:Chain Of Memories, and Re:Coded, it at least has new footage with the video showing off our new set of protagonists.
However, the reused track is still a little annoying since the world of Birth By Sleep is so unique compared to the Kingdom Hearts games that came before it, with a new cast of characters and brand-new worlds, so getting the same opening song again feels like a missed opportunity. However, the new footage used of Aqua, Terra, and Ventus looks amazing and fits the beat of the track perfectly.
5 Dream Drop Distance
Dream Drop Distance is nearer the end of Kingdom Hearts’ series of non-numbered entries between the launch of Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3, and it shows Square Enix has learned from the mistakes of previous non-numbered entry openings with a brand-new approach.
While the melody of Simple and Clean returns, an orchestral instrumental of the track is used, and it gives the opening an epic and emotional feel that helps it stand out from other Kingdom Hearts openings. The nostalgic feel of the opening is reinforced with the pop-up book visuals of Mickey and the core cast that make watching this opening an emotional roller coaster for any fan of the series.
4 Kingdom Hearts 3
The opening for Kingdom Hearts 3 had the seemingly insurmountable task of summarising the events of not just Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, but also the litany of non-numbered entries as well. However, it somehow managed to succeed with relative elegance, displaying every character who has their arc concluded in 3.
The visuals of this opening are stunning, with the chess motif giving it a strong identity, and it displays the hefty effort that was put into Kingdom Hearts 3. It also uses a brand-new song from Utada being Face My Fears. While the choice to use a song with heavy dubstep influence was a slightly dated choice even at launch in 2019, it somehow works with the instrumental tying in with the visuals seamlessly.
3 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
While Kingdom Hearts 0.2 is only a short three-hour game showing us what Aqua has been up to since the original Birth By Sleep, its opening had plenty of work put into it that pays off massively. While Simple and Clean is used again, it gets a new remix that transforms the classic song into the tropical house genre.
This upbeat take on the song fits the gorgeous visuals that play into a central ocean/water theme that matches with Aqua’s namesake. It also effortlessly contextualises Aqua’s journey leading up to 0.2 making it the best non-numbered entry opening in the Kingdom Hearts series.
2 Kingdom Hearts
The opening for the first Kingdom Hearts game was in a unique position — as the first in the series, it had nothing to reference or summarise. This is why it is so surprising just how effective and memorable the opening is. While the Y2K influenced visuals are a little dated, giving a very Dance Dance Revolution/Arcade background graphics feel, it works with the track and is still effective in the modern era.
The events portrayed are notoriously abstract, but are still entrancing. Scenes of the cast staring at each other meaningfully might seem out of place, but they work to leave the audience with questions they want to answer by playing the game.
1 Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts 2 has the best opening in the Kingdom Hearts series for how it melds the impactful melody of Sanctuary with stylish visuals that are perfectly timed to the track. These visuals are abstract at first watch, but work to summarise the events of Kingdom Hearts 1, as well as Chain of Memories, a game many skipped not knowing its importance.
The animation used in this opening is still iconic for a reason, with plenty of scenes being incredibly memorable, an example being Sora and Riku running up opposite sides of a staircase, a metaphor for their dynamic, but a literal reference to the structure of Chain of Memories. Sanctuary is the perfect backing music as it accentuates the emotion present throughout the series, and helps even new fans understand how these characters feel, even without any context.
Next: Kingdom Hearts: Coolest Keyblade Designs, Ranked