If you don't like Kingdom Hearts, you don't like it and that's not bad. I've only played the first one and had maybe 1% fun the whole time. In the time since I watched all the cutscenes and it did almost nothing for me. As a classic Disney fan, it saddens me to see that whole element so divorced from what matters. Like you, I've wondered why people love the series so much and the best I can come up with is that they might have low standards? Play the games if you want, but don't let the anticipation of other people determine what you're "supposed to" like.
I respect the technological and gameplay advances that have come from Kojima's games. Some of his characters are dicey and nonsensical, but most are at least memorable. It's fun to fuck around doing impressions of them with your friends. Personally, I remember crazy moments and setpieces more than the story itself. The endless layers of bullshit disguise that, like others in the thread said, these games don't have a terribly complex message. But I could say the same for a lot of stories, especially in video games. Honestly, I think a lot of the auteur status was projected onto the guy by the Dans of the world, and maybe it went too far.
As for Death Stranding... I have not really felt anything from the trailers. Not because the game looks bad, but because they feel made for Kojima superfans who have already decided to buy the game. I'll need the Quick Look or streams to know if it's worth my time.
So yeah, basically genius Kojumbo can do no wrong, I have built a Norman Reedus shrine in my backyard and I am pickling babies.
@ntm: I'm going to go against the grain and say that you should play all three. The first two are very charming games (though the original is better). As for your worry about missing references in Nuts & Bolts, you would be correct. There are a thousand little easter eggs about the series in that game. One of the levels is a museum devoted to the past two games. It's your choice, though.