Despite campy scenes and convoluted plotlines, the Kingdom Hearts series has charmed the hearts of millions worldwide. The series fuses elements and characters from Square Enix games and Disney worlds. And throughout the series, no object is more characteristic of the games than the tool wielded by most of the protagonist: the keyblade. It didn't matter that this wasn't a realistic weapon. Put simply, in every game it was just fun to beat bad guys by swinging around a giant key.
In the story, the forging of keyblades is kept mysterious; sometimes keyblades are created from existing objects or changes in the wielder's fervor. In most of the games, the keyblade's form can be changed by swapping out the keychain attached to the bottom of the hilt. Most of these keychains give the keyblade an aesthetic related to the unique Disney world they've visited. As a result, a cornucopia of fantastical and silly keyblades have existed in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
Keyblade designs are in the extremes. Some are fan favorites, amazingly useful, or act as a crucial part of the story. And naturally, some terribly-designed or useless keyblades were introduced into the mix over the years. Square Enix's hit-or-miss style even brought about a few keys that could fit neatly on either list. Keep reading for some of the best and worst keyblades.
15 Best: Master's Defender
The Master's Defender is best known as the keyblade wielded by Master Eraqus. In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, Master Eraqus instructs Ventus, Terra, and Aqua in the ways of Keyblade mastery. When Eraqus dies, the Master's Defender is passed down to Aqua. This keyblade boasts outstanding stats, with a good balance of high strength, high magic, and long reach. But, to be fair, I suppose it didn't really do a good enough job defending the master.
Its appearance is a little plain, but its quaint look isn't a dealbreaker. It does have a big drawback in its limited use. For plot reasons, Aqua pretty much only gets plot-use out of the keyblade at the very end of Birth by Sleep. Perhaps to make up for this, Aqua continues to wield Master's Defender in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- as she battles her way through the Realm of Darkness.
14 Worst: Umbrella
As a recurring joke weapon, the Umbrella might be worth a chuckle or two. In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith can equip an umbrella; and in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Zack wields an umbrella during beach missions. In KH358/2, its stats are low, and its ability isn't terribly useful or unique (it can be powered up with Ultima panels, but I'm not even going to try to explain that).
The Umbrella is held by Roxas or Xion if either of them are equipped with the Casual Gear (which exclusively gives gaudy joke weapons to every character). In-game, the Umbrella's ground combo animation isn't terrible. Admittedly, it irked me to see the way this weapon is held; with the umbrella's end as the keyblade's hilt and the umbrella's handle as the keyblade's tip. The one thing I can't hate on is the keychain; the snail token's cuteness isn't lost on me.
13 Best: Two Become One
No keyblade list is complete without Oathkeeper or Oblivion. One, the materialized feelings Sora has for Kairi, and the other, gained whenever Sora reunites with Riku. With one in each of Roxas' hands, it represents the clash of light and darkness that is so meaningful to the series. After Sora defeats Roxas in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Sora obtains the Two Become One (also called the Two Across Keyblade). It is a weapon that represents the Roxas within Sora.
Aesthetically, the color scheme for this keyblade derives from a fusion of Oathkeeper and Oblivion, while also borrowing heavily from Nobody design elements. The handle is checkered the same way as Roxas' wristband. Its stats aren't amazing (with its balance of strength and magic), but one of the main draws of this weapon is its ability, Light & Darkness, which makes it so that whenever Sora tries to enter any Drive Form, he will only become Anti Form or Final Form. In KH358/2, the attack animations for this keyblade are based on Roxas' movements in his battle against Riku.
12 Worst: Crab Claw
Keyblades from the first Kingdom Hearts weren't intended to provide more unique styles of play, as they are in later games. Instead, perhaps the first keyblades were centered around being souvenirs from each world. However, at a certain point, the player has to wonder how much crap they're going to be getting. The Crab Claw was received too late into the game for its offensive power to be anything impressive.
The biggest gripe many have with this weapon is its design. Kingdom Hearts loves cartoony fun, that much we can see (especially in Sora's shoes). But does anyway really want a clam keychain that changes the key's teeth to a plastic crab? Atlantica had enough fantastical themes to draw from without becoming downright silly. Did anyone else hope that the keyblade from this world would be reminiscent of King Triton's trident or crown? Because I did.
11 Best: Sleeping Lion
Sleeping Lion is keyblade quite popular with fans. It first appeared almost midway through Kingdom Hearts II by talking to Leon, the KH interpretation of Squall from Final Fantasy VIII. The token on Sleeping Lion's keychain is identical to Griever, Squall's necklace, and the keyblade's design is based on Revolver, Squall's default weapon. It's not only useful, but also easy to obtain as the story progresses. Other keyblades received before this point have similar or weaker stats.
In KH2, Sleeping Lion's power and magic are both above average, while also giving Sora an additional hit to his ground combo. In Kingdom Hearts Union χ, each upgrade to Sleeping Lion reforms its design away from the dreary Revolver, taking on a blue glow and more wing imagery, which makes it more like of FFVIII's Lionheart; Squall's ultimate weapon. Admittedly, regardless of which game it appears in, the biggest draw for fans of this keyblade is its similarity to Squall's gunblades.
10 Worst: Star Seeker
The Star Seeker is overrated. It first appeared in Kingdom Hearts II, and has since appeared in most KH games released since then. From very early in the game, it's basically forced onto the player by fairies and cemented in place; neither removable or equipable as the main weapon until Sora obtains another keyblade to swap it with.
In the past, this keyblade was used by Mickey while the king was still an apprentice under Yen Sid. As such, he is seen wielding it in many of his appearances in prequels (as well as in data form). Its teeth and token are a crescent moon. Though already a bit goofy-looking, it's even weaker than it looks. To be fair, while it's only as powerful as the default Kingdom Key in KH2, Star Seeker's other appearances in the series are marginally better.
9 Best: Twilight Blaze
Twilight Blaze is a powerful keyblade that only appears in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. The weapons in KH358/2 take form depending on what 'Gear' the character is equipped with (determined by the game's panel system). Twilight Blaze is held by Roxas and Xion whenever either of them are equipped with the Ultimate Gear. It has great attack strength and critical hit rate, as well as gives the user the ability to block or jump while in the middle of an attack combo.
Twilight Blaze's design themes are sometimes mistaken for being dedicated to Axel and his fire. It's garnished with the 'X' design particular to the Nobodies in the key's tip, and its token is (slightly) similar to Axel's chakrams. The slot for an Axel-based keyblade is actully already taken by Bond of Flame, a similarly powerful key that recurs in other games. Instead, Twilight Blaze is simply a recolor of an earlier keyblade found in KH358/2, the Abaddon Plasma. Despite this, it's still a great keyblade.
8 Worst: Monochrome
Travel through time to the Timeless River, a world in Kingdom Hearts II available at Disney Castle. After an adventure with a few cute nods to oldie cartoons, Sora teams up with Pete from the black-and-white past against Pete from the present. It should be fascinating, but ends up being fairly annoying as a boss sequence. I was hopeful that my efforts would be aptly rewarded, and I was disappointed to receive the Monochrome.
As its name suggests, it's colorless. The design is riddled with steamboat themes; with the ship's wheel as its token, the ship's whistles as key teeth, and a ring buoy as the keyblade's hilt. It isn't unsightly, but it's fairly unusable. Timeless River's stats are garbage, and the keyblade's ability is notably less than mediocre; it increases the effectiveness of healing items. For most players, healing items were rarely used (other than Elixers which already fully heal).
7 Best: Fenrir
In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora obtains Fenrir after defeating Sephiroth. As Fenrir is the name for both the motorcycle and emblem used by Cloud (in his Final Fantasy VII Advent Children iteration), so the token is naturally Cloud's lone wolf emblem appearing on his earrings and chest. The blade is based on a motorcycle key and is wrapped in bandages like Cloud's weapons throughout the KH series. The fandom is conflicted over its clunky appearance, but it may be the keyblade closest to the usability of an actual sword.
Sephiroth, an optional super-boss, is significantly less tedious to fight in KH2 than his previous appearance. After beating him, Cloud drives Sephiroth away, and Tifa gives Sora the Fenrir keychain. This keyblade has long reach, and the highest attack strength in the game. Fenrir does has poor magic power and its Negative Combo ability decreases the amount of hits Sora has during an attack combo. There are some players that stack this with another Negative Combo for builds that only utilize combo-finishers (this can be useful for some minigames and bosses).
6 Worst: Sweet Memories
The warm, fuzzy feelings intended from the keyblade's design didn't go completely over my head (though, the noise its impact sound can get irritating), but Sweet Memories endows no attack strength nor magic power. This is understandable as the weapon is literally a hollow branch. It has the innate ability to increase item drop rates. But... Sora learns this ability naturally.
Players sometimes use this weapon to handicap themselves. In reissues of KH2, it has improved. It's given a fair amount of magical power and a more useful ability; Drive Converter, which converts incoming munny into drive orbs. With it, Sweet Memories becomes usable for grinding levels into Sora's Master Form.
5 Best: Zero/One
The Zero/One is arguably the best keyblade in Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, and it's exclusive to the game. Upgraded to level two, many players have difficulty deciding between Auto-Dodge and All Critical. Fully upgraded, it has an arsenal of offensive abilities for the user to choose from; including the excellent Targeting Scope, making 'attack misses' a thing of the past.
Its design seems to be a heavily-pixelated Kingdom Key, and also carries a silver Mickey token at the end of its chain. Some don't love the look, but its aesthetic is certainly a good representation of Re:coded's computerized themes. Zero/One's name is based on binary code. This, like other powerful keyblades, is limited only in its use. Other than post-game antics, the Zero/One is used mainly in the final area of the game, where the enemies aren't that big of a deal.
4 Worst: Jungle King
The Jungle King keyblade is given to Sora in the first Kingdom Hearts after locking the keyhole for Tarzan's world, Deep Jungle. Normally, I would be a huge supporter of keyblades that have a long reach, and many players use this weapon early on, as it's stronger than the default Kingdom Key. The jungle aesthetic is understandable considering it was a gift from Tarzan, but the finished design just looks tacky.
It seems to be made mainly of bone and leather, with blunt sticks as the spikes of its teeth. The token at the end of its keychain (more like keyvine) is a blue and orange butterfly. At the very least, the weapon does not recur throughout the series. Disney was forbidden from reusing Tarzan's world in subsequent games, so it and the Jungle King were removed during the development of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories despite being included in early screenshots of the tie-in.
3 Best: The χ-blade
The χ-blade (pronounced ki-blade) is a legendary weapon in the KH universe whose name means 'Death.' It is the truest base from which all other keyblades were modeled (both the hilt and the token are simply two crossed Kingdom Keys). It is also the source of much of the conflict in the lore as it is so highly coveted. This is because its the protector and only key to open the true Kingdom Hearts.
The player doesn't get to wield the χ-blade in-game. According to the backstory, it shattered, becoming thirteen shards of darkness and seven fragments of light that eventually illuminate within the Seven Princesses of Heart. As Ventus, an unmasked Vanitas wielding an incomplete version of the χ-blade must be defeated.
2 Worst: Sweetstack
The Sweetstack is exclusive to Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. It's equipable by Terra, Aqua, and Ventus and between the respective wielders, its form has a descending number of ice cream scoops that compose the shaft. It's obtained by tediously collecting the ingredients for, and making every kind of ice cream in the game.
For many, it's hard to hate this keyblade when they look at its great stats (both in attack and magic). While it does have a shorter reach, the Sweetstack bears a 100% critical hit rate. But honestly? I was unhappy that this keyblade was so strong, because I didn't even want to be caught dead equipped with this monstrosity. Ice cream in the handle, in the blade. The chain is a series of cones connected to a sundae... We get it, it's the ice cream keyblade. But, did anyone need such a thing to exist?
1 Best: Ultima Weapon
Appearing in almost every Kingdom Hearts game, my number one keyblade is the Ultima Weapon. Though it usually takes heaps of effort to create, there is no other keyblade that is as consistently phenomenal throughout the series. Aesthetically, it has a few changes in each rendition, but carries a lot of its themes through to the other games. It always a heart at the center of its token, an ornate hilt, and flowery gold or blue metal threads enveloping a longsword.
The Ultima Weapon usually has high, balanced-stats, both in its attack and magic and often the longest reach. In the first Kingdom Hearts and KH:COM, it has no competition for the strongest keyblade. In KH2 and KH Re:coded, it also provides Sora with some of the best survivability skills in the game. In KHBBS, the Ultima Weapon's high stats also come with a 75% critical hit rate. In KH3DS, it's on par with the Unbound, which is described as 'keyblade perfection.'