I know we just finished up Final Fantasy week, but after receiving a GameStop gift card I ended up buying Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix to go along with the first HD remake for the games in the series. And the more I delved into things, I ended up remembering what I always said about the series in general; and that was it should have ended after the first game. Why, you may ask? Because Square-Enix has continually slighted not only the main character of the franchise, but the signature weapon of it, too.
If you remember going back to the first game (and this is without the other fifty million prequel sequel alternative timelines they keep trying to add on), it is said that Riku was the rightful wielder of the keyblade, but because he chose darkness over light, the keyblade chose Sora instead. Obviously this is an allegory to the phrase “the ends justify the means”, whereas Riku was willing to let the darkness into heart, even with his good intentions, he still lost to Sora in the end because Sora wasn’t willing to let darkness into his heart. This is important, because the fact is that Riku was always stronger than Sora (and arguably a cooler, more interesting character) but because of his actions, Sora proved to be the right choice. Which is the way it should be. At the end of the first game, it is shown that there are only two keyblades. The one that Sora carries, and the one King Mickey has, both of which signify the keyblades of light and darkness, respectively. This made sense, one keyblade for both sides of the heart. Characters in the game talk about THE keyblade wielder, not A keyblade wielder.
But it doesn’t take long for the series to really let anyone and everyone have a keyblade. In the tutorial for the second game, Roxas has the Kingdom Key and later on, he has the Oathbringer and Oblivion to fight Axel. While it seemed like there was yet another keyblade wielder, it is revealed that Roxas is really Sora’s Nobody (another convoluted concept Square couldn’t help but push), so it made sense. Still, just Sora and King Mickey were the only two. Throughout most of the game, it’s those same two. At least until you get to the very last world, where Riku is a playable party member. It is revealed here that Riku has his own keyblade that signifies the road between light and dark. This of course goes back to Chain of Memories, where you play as Riku taking the middle ground. But the point with Riku is that he was always shown to be so strong even without a keyblade. He was basically the Han Solo of the franchise. The one guy who could compete with others despite not having the flashy weaponry or powers. It had been established in the first game that he lost the keyblade, but yet he gets one for what reason? To appease the fanboys/fangirls? To up his coolness factor? Riku already had a signature weapon in the Soul Eater, did he really need something else? Still, it wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened next.
Later on during this same part of Kingdom Hearts II, we find out that Kairi can wield a keyblade too. They just couldn’t help themselves to having more keyblades. What’s the reason? Well, they explain why she can in Birth by Sleep, but there is no justification as to why there are so many keyblades. They give it out like candy that I no longer am surprised when I see someone wielding one because they have cheapened it. It went from being a very exclusive part of the series to being one that everyone and their brother can use. So what makes Sora special then, since everyone can use his signature weapon? Sora is already handicapped by the fact that he’s the main character and is expected to be overly nice and really not have a lot of character depth. They’ve tried to mitigate this by saying that he is the only one (other than Roxas, who is a part of Sora) who can wield two keyblades at once. But how long before everyone else can use that too?
And it didn’t even stop there, because in the next game, they have Sora completely act cocky and out of character during the Mark of Mastery exam, and Riku ends up passing it while Sora fails. Yes, Xehanhort interfered with Sora, but you’re telling me the guy who has been harping in every single game he’s appeared in about never trusting darkness gives in during an exam? I don’t believe it. But this brings us back to the main point, which is: RIKU DOESN’T NEED ANY MORE PERKS, SQUARE-ENIX. HE’S ALREADY MORE POPULAR THAN YOUR MAIN CHARACTER THANKS TO YOU CODDLING HIM LIKE THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD.
Why not just make Riku the protagonist of Kingdom Hearts if he’s going to outshine everyone? I get that he’s arguably the breakout character in an ensemble cast here, but he can’t do everything. The creators ruined what he was supposed to represent. By giving up on light and embracing darkness, despite his strengths, he lost his chance to be the keyblade wielder. And while it is nice to show that yes, you can be forgiven for your mistakes, you also don’t get your way too. And by giving him a keyblade, and then making him a master before the protagonist of the franchise, you’ve basically given a giant middle finger to your main character. By giving everyone a keyblade, you’re giving another middle finger to your main character. When you did the prequels it made sense, but to do it during the main timeline of the game is overkill. Having a breakout character is nice, but overusing one can make the other characters seem unimportant. And that’s what Square-Enix did. All I can say is, please please please stop with Kingdom Hearts 3. Let the series rest, there has already been enough damage to try and control.
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