As I was playing through Kingdom Hearts II HD’s most memorable level, A Timeless River, a deluge of nostalgic memories kept enveloping my mind. The level is entirely based on Walt Disney’s 1928 cartoon short, Steamboat Willie. Like the cartoon, A Timeless River contains a monochrome aesthetic and mono sound, adding to the overall experience.
My 12-year-old sister walked in on me playing through the level one time and was instantly captivated. This wasn’t anything she’s seen before. As a 20-year-old, I grew up watching classic Disney movies and a plethora of other cartoons. The Lion King, Aladdin, Tom and Jerry, Beauty and the Beast, The Flintstones—this is just a sampling of what my childhood consisted of.
You see, this is a far cry from the entertainment that she’s currently growing up on. The daily splurge of YouTube videos, a dive into social media, and watching the latest CGI Pixar flick or live-action Disney adaptation is all most young kids know. Those classic cartoons that I mentioned are simply lost on them. After spending a healthy amount of time watching me play Kingdom Hearts II, suddenly my sister had a newfound interest in those classic cartoons.
Kingdom Hearts II made my sister and me watch those largely forgotten shows and movies together. With a whopping eight-year gap between us, we managed to find that one thing that brought us closer. My sister has now watched A Goofy Movie, Hercules, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and much more.
Though we’ve always gotten along, there was a certain spark that was missing between my sister and me. Sports had never really been a way for us to bond, nor had watching or playing modern movies or games. These might have been acceptable options for siblings that were closer in age, but not us. One of Square Enix’s zanier, more eccentric franchises was the unexpected answer for us. And I find that pretty awesome.