Which Kingdom Hearts games are worth playing and what can I skip?
You can definitely skip some of them.
Kingdom Hearts games have finally landed on Nintendo Switch. This includes Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts 3. However, instead of downloading and playing them locally, you access them via cloud streaming, so make sure you have a good internet connection.
If you're at all familiar with these titles, then you know that the first two are actually a collection of games. 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix contains six games, while 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue contains three games. But do you need to play all of these? Or can you just stick to the first Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3? Simple and Clean, here are the important ones and the ones you can skip.
Which Kingdom Hearts games can I skip?
All Kingdom Hearts games are available on Nintendo Switch with the vast majority accessible through cloud streaming. This means that you likely won't need to make any room on your microSD card to play them.
- MUST PLAY: This is an entry you absolutely have to play through to understand and enjoy the overall story, also known as the Dark Seeker saga.
- RECOMMENDED: A game that could be skipped if you want, but lore, relationships, and characters from MUST PLAY games will make more sense if you play them.
- SKIP: Superfluous entries that don't do anything to further your understanding of the overall plot. However, they might make you understand the depth of some characters' friendships. Skipping them won't ruin your overall experience.
Which Kingdom Hearts games are worth playing? — Quick list
You can read more about each entry and why it's worth skipping or playing in the section following. If you are confused by any plot points or characters, check out our Kingdom Hearts FAQ.
- Kingdom Hearts (MUST PLAY)
- Re:Chain of Memories (RECOMMENDED)
- Kingdom Hearts II (MUST PLAY)
- 358/2 Days (SKIP)
- Birth By Sleep (MUST PLAY)
- Re:Coded (SKIP)
- Dream Drop Distance (MUST PLAY)
- Fragmentary Passage (RECOMMENDED)
- Back Cover/Union Cross (SKIP)
- Kingdom Hearts III (MUST PLAY)
- Melody of Memory (RECOMMENDED)
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix Cloud Version
- Kingdom Hearts FINAL MIX: (MUST PLAY) This is a revised version of the original PS2 game that started it all in 2002. Here you'll learn about how Sora got separated from his friends Riku and Kairi before teaming up with Donald and Goofy. You'll meet several Disney characters, Final Fantasy characters and get an idea of what the Heartless are. This should be the first game you play and is the start of the overarching Dark Seeker saga.
- Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories: (RECOMMENDED) Sora, Donald, and Goofy find themselves in Castle Oblivion, confronted by members of a strange robed group called Organization XIII. This game was originally released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 after the first game but then got the remake treatment on PS2 after Kingdom Hearts 2 launched. It introduces you to some key characters that you'll be seeing throughout the rest of the series' main storyline, most notably, Axel and Namine. However, it also has you revisiting many of the same locations from the first game and feels very watered down compared to more substantial entries.
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: (SKIP) So this was originally a Nintendo DS game released in 2009, but within this grouping, it is reduced to simply being a collection of cutscenes. You get to see a new character named Roxas and learn about his friendships with Organization XIII members, including Axel and Xion. Watching this will help make the introduction to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix make more sense, but you don't need to watch it unless you really want to.
- Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix: (MUST PLAY) Many consider this to be the best game in the series, but it will start in a rather confusing fashion where you follow the character named Roxas (first introduced in 358/2 Days) for several hours before Sora and the gang show up. Organization XIII features prominently throughout the levels as you dive into even more Disney worlds and meet iconic villains. The storyline is complicated and might make you feel all the feels. You'll start to learn about a grand evil plot that appears in every game following.
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix: (MUST PLAY) This game was originally released on PSP in 2010 and has you take a break from Sora and his pals to dive into a prequel that takes place 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game. Terra, Aqua, and Ventus are all students working towards achieving their Mark of Mastery. Xehanort, a character introduced in Kingdom Hearts II, plays a major role in this story and manipulates the three friends against each other. You'll dive into several Disney worlds that we haven't seen until now, including locations found in Sleeping Beauty, Lilo and Stitch, Snow White, and more. You will not understand a significant portion of Kingdom Hearts 3's plot if you skip this game.
- Kingdom Hearts Re:coded: (SKIP) Skip, skip and, double skip this one. This is basically a collection of cutscenes from a Nintendo DS game that was released in 2010, but the story has absolutely no bearing on the series' overarching plot. Jiminy Cricket discovers something is wrong with his journal, so Mickey Mouse creates a digital Data-Sora to fix the bugs. Unless you really want to see everything Kingdom Hearts-related, this entry isn't worth watching at all.
Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Cloud Version
- Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD: (MUST PLAY) This game was originally released for Nintendo 3DS in 2012 but has been recreated in HD. Following the events of Kingdom Hearts II, Sora and Riku set out to pass the Mark of Mastery Exam to take on Xehanort. Time travel is a major factor and has the two revisiting events from the first game. Most importantly, Xehanort's master plan gets revealed, and you understand exactly what the overarching plot is heading into Kingdom Hearts 3.
- Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage: (RECOMMENDED) This is the shortest game of them all and launched in 2016 as part of the 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue collection. You play as Aqua following after the events of Birth by Sleep and start to see how she and her friends are connected to Sora and his friends. You'll dive into more Disney worlds and see what Mickey Mouse has been up to over the last several years. It's short enough that it's worth running through real quick and will help you understand what Aqua has been through, but it isn't an absolute necessity.
- Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover: (SKIP) Also known as Kingdom Hearts Unchained/X/Union Cross, this was a mobile game that was released in 2016. Strangely enough, it's set long before the events of any previous Kingdom Hearts game but dives deep into the lore of the Keyblade. If you really want to learn about prophecies and The Keyblade War, you'll want to watch this, but you don't need to in order to enjoy Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts 3 + Remind (DLC) Cloud Version (MUST PLAY)
This is the game everything was leading up to, and it ends the overall story for the Dark Seeker saga. You'll find that it ties all of the characters together from past games, so it's definitely one you want to play through. Not to mention seeing the jump in graphics from the last entries is kind of mind-blowing.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy frequently slip into slightly different art styles to blend into their surroundings. For instance, they take on a very realistic shading style in Pirates of the Caribbean while having a very cartoony Pixar style when visiting Sully and the other Monster's Inc. characters. The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, implying that another game is likely coming.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory (RECOMMEND)
This is actually a rhythm game, and while you might be inclined to skip it, it seems to be paving the way for the next major game in the series. It recaps the entire Dark Seeker saga storyline before showing you things that take place following the events of Kingdom Hearts 3.
You'll see Kairi training with her Keyblade as she and Riku work under Aqua and Yensid, respectively. They learn of a strange city called Quadratum, which is likely something that was alluded to during the Toy Box section of Kingdom Hearts 3. Even though this game is so different from other Kingdom Hearts entries, it looks like it's going to be an important bridge to understanding the next big Kingdom Hearts game, so you probably should play it.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory | $30 MSRP (opens in new tab)
This rhythm game has you pushing buttons to the beat of memorable Kingdom Hearts tunes. There are 140 songs total and this entry even continues the overall Kingdom Hearts story.
Buy from: Amazon (opens in new tab) | Best Buy (opens in new tab) | Walmart (opens in new tab)
Not so simple and clean
The plot is confusing, dark at times, and a bit convoluted considering these stories center around a hopeless optimist and Disney characters. However, you do not need to play all of the games in order to enjoy the series. At a minimum, you should play Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth by Sleep, and then Kingdom Hearts 3.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.